BIKING

Best Bike Helmet: Keeping Your Brains on The Inside

Best Bike Helmet
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Riding a bike is definitely one of the best ways to get around and for some people, it’s basically an essential form of commute. Whether you’re a professional cyclist, an enthusiast or simply a commuter, wearing a helmet is pretty much a no-brainer.

Wearing a helmet is not just for the matter of safety but it’s also illegal in many states and countries not to wear one while riding. Not many people would ride a car without strapping on a seat belt, so why should you hop on a bicycle without a helmet?

When shopping for the best bike helmet, you’ll find that there are so many types and products out there that it can become overwhelming. With this guide, you’ll get the right information on how to choose the best helmet and learn some of the top-rated products that your money can buy.

Choosing The Right Bike Helmet

So you are probably asking, isn’t one helmet good enough for all types of cycling? Perhaps, if you just own one bike then you’ll probably need just one helmet. However if you’re quite the hardcore rider with a small quiver of bicycles, then it will serve you best to own at least a couple of different bike helmets.

Choosing The Right Bike Helmet

There are many different types of cycling and for each type, you’ll find the best cycling helmet that will keep you safe.

Types of Bike Helmets

Helmets are mostly designed to keep you safe from impact, but are also made to be lightweight and comfortable too. There are many types of helmets made for cycling but the most basic ones are:

  • Recreational helmets: also referred to as multi-use or casual helmets, this is the economical choice for recreational riders, commuters and mountain bikers. They are also often used by inline skaters and skateboarders.
    This type usually comes with a visor for protecting your eyes from the sun. This is the cheapest type of helmet that you can buy and offers the most basic head protection.
  • Road bike helmets: roadie enthusiasts go for this type of helmet because of their light weight, aerodynamic design, and ample ventilation. Unlike recreational helmets, the road bike type generally does away with the visor in order to keep the weight low and to make sure you have a clear, unobstructed view when riding in an aggressive position.
  • Mountain bike helmets: these are designed to be well-ventilated at low speeds. Mountain bike helmets are distinguished by their visors, better head coverage, and the extra secure fit which is important if you’re riding on a rough terrain.
    There are also variants that feature full-face coverage which is preferred by many downhill riders and cyclocross riders.

These are just the basic types of bike helmets as there are more specific ones that cater to specific types of cycling or terrain.

Helmet Construction

A lot of helmets utilize an in-mold construction which is basically the process of fusing an outer shell and inner liner without making use of a glue.

Helmet Construction

This process results in gear that are light yet durable. In general, riders are not really concerned when it comes to the weight of the helmet but the weight savings come highly appreciated.

  • Shell: most bike helmets are covered with a shell that’s usually made of plastic. The shell holds the helmet together and in place, and serves as the primary protection in a crash.
    The shell is also puncture-resistant and will slide upon impact to protect the rider’s head and neck.
  • Liner: the helmet liner provides the much-needed comfort and ventilation. Helmet liners are generally made of polystyrene foam. Upon impact, the liner will dissipate the force to protect the head from injuries. When buying a helmet, make sure that the liner sits properly in your head.

Bike Helmet Features

The best bicycle helmet are the ones that offer more safety, ventilation, adjustability and comfort features.

Bike Helmet Features

When buying a cycling helmet, be on the lookout for these features and see if it fits your needs:

  • MIPS technology: there are some cycling helmets come with a feature called Multi-directional Impact Protection System or MIPS. This is a construction method that aims to give additional protection from rotational forces during a cycling crash.
    Basically when a MIPS-equipped helmet is subjected to impact, the helmet will slide relative to the user’s head which can greatly reduce impact-related injuries.
  • Ventilation: head ventilation is important as it enhances the wind-flow over the rider’s head, keeping him cooler and comfortable while riding. The more vents a helmet has, the lighter it is.
  • Visor: some riders like to have some sort of protection from the sun which is why many prefer to have helmets that have visors. A visor is quite common on mountain bike helmets.
    Keep in mind that the visor can add a little bit of weight as well put up a slight wind resistance.
  • Full-face protection: those who are into downhill mountain biking and park riding prefer to have helmets that include a wraparound chin bar that provides full face protection. Many enduro racers also prefer helmets with full face protection.
  • Straps: nothing complicated here. Just make sure that you choose a helmet that has a strap system that’s easy to buckle and unbuckle, and should be comfortable and not ill-fitting.
  • Hair port: if you have long flowing hair, you might want a helmet that will accommodate your ponytail.

Finding The Right Fit

There is no way to overstate the importance of a good fit when it comes to bike helmets. You don’t want to be wearing an ill-fitting helmet because not only is it uncomfortable, it can also compromise its ability to protect you from injuries.

When it comes to purchasing a bike helmet with the correct fit, it’s always best to go to a brick and mortar bike shop and physically try the various makes and models that they have. Otherwise, you also have the option to order online but you will really need to do your research in order to find the best fit.

You might think you know the measurement of your head and which size you theoretically want but the head’s circumference is not the only factor that needs to be considered when buying a helmet.

Finding The Right Fit

The shapes and sizes of the helmets may depend on the manufacturer. Some companies produce helmets that are spherical while there are those that make oval-shaped headgear.

How do you know if you’ve got the right shape? Once you put on the helmet and it feels snug but not tight, and with no pressure around the edges, you got yourself a nice-fitting helmet. If the helmet isn’t a great fit at first, you should try moving the internal padding and see if it helps.

Finding the right bike helmet may seem like a daunting task at first, but as long you know exactly what you are looking for, it shouldn’t be that hard to come up with a shortlist of options that cater to your needs as a cyclist.

Best Bike Helmets that You Can Buy

Speaking of shortlists, we took the liberty to compile some of the best cycling helmets that you can find in the market. These are some of the best-reviewed helmets out there and you are bound to find one that should suit your preferences.

Giro Synthe Bike Helmet

Giro Synthe Bike Helmet

Weight: 1.56 lbs

Dimensions: 7.2 x 9.4 x 13.9 inches

Specific Features: An unparalleled blend of aerodynamics, ventilation, and fit, Wind tunnel testing, The Roc Loc Air fit system, Elaborate internal channeling and massive vents, Weighs only 250 grams

Best Use: cycling, road biking, downhill biking, mountain biking, enduro cycling

Description: At just 1.5 pounds, the Giro Synthe should attract the attention of bikers who are looking for a lightweight helmet. However the Synthe is not just a lightweight helmet as it offers a lot more in other departments. T Giro’s Roc Loc Air fit system is also capable of some pretty interesting things.

The system is basically an adjustable plastic cradle attached to the back part of the helmet. This is a key design because it allows the Synth to fit a vast majority of head types. In terms of ventilation, it’s safe to say that this helmet is one of the best thanks to its massive vents and heat-sensing head form.

The helmet is also designed with aerodynamics in mind, so expect little to no wind resistant. The overall design and shape resulted in a rather great-looking helmet that seems to suit anyone who wears it.

Specialized Airnet MIPS Helmet

Specialized Airnet MIPS Helmet

Weight: 3 lbs

Dimensions: 14 x 10 x 8 inches

Specific Features: 4th Dimension Cooling System, Ultra-light Mindset micro-dial fit system, Drirelease Merino wool pads, Thin, soft, and lightweight 4X DryLite webbing, Vent grippers

Best Use: cycling, enduro cycling, road biking, downhill biking, mountain biking

Description: Specialists touts the Airnet MIPS as the “ideal blend of functionality and performance for riders seeking both adventure and style.” In that regard, we are compelled to agree. The Specialized Airnet helmet stands out when it comes to comfort.

The long and narrow shape might suit some riders than others but there are three sizes to choose from and each comes with its own dial adjustment to ensure great fit. The numerous Merino wool pads inside the helmet not only keep it comfortable, but also prevent it from smelling too bad after many uses.

It’s a good thing that it’s also a very well-ventilated helmet which can be attributed to its 4th dimension cooling system. The only complaint that we have about this helmet is the weight, which is still not too bad.

Kask Mojito Helmet

Kask Mojito Helmet

Weight: 1.6 lbs

Dimensions: 14 x 10 x 8 inches

Specific Features: Leatherette chin strap is hypoallergenic, Reflective stickers on straps and back, 100% made in Italy, Reinforced In-mold composite construction, 26 Air vents

Best Use: cycling, enduro cycling, road biking, downhill biking, mountain biking

Description: If a helmet is good enough for legendary cyclists like Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, then one can say that it will probably be good for most of us. The Kask Mojito offers just about everything that you can expect from a good high performance helmet.

It weighs very little, ventilation is on-point, comfort is top-notch, and it has high level of adjustability. There’s no mistaking that this is a pro helmet through and through. There are 26 air vents around the helmet, which does a great job of getting rid of hot air.

The inner padding is well-positioned and relatively slim which provides a secure and comfortable fit. The adjustment system is also quite flexible as it can help accommodate a large range of head circumference.

Another great thing about the Mojito is that it’s available in a wide variety of attractive colors. Whether you’re a pro or simply a casual biker, there’s a lot to like in this helmet.

Lazer Z1 Road Bike Helmet

Lazer Z1 Road Bike Helmet

Weight: 1.4 lbs

Dimensions: 13 x 10 x 7 inches

Specific Features: In-mold ABS shell, 32 vents, Advanced Rollsys System, adjustable chin strap

Best Use: cycling, cross-country mountain biking, enduro cycling, road biking, downhill biking

Description: With 32 vents, the Z1 by Lazer might just be one of the best in terms of ventilation. When riding at high speed, you can swear that a powerful fan is being pointed at your head. Its simply hard not to be impressed by the Z1’s airflow.

Another major trump card by the Z1 is the excellent fit which is superior to many high-end performance helmets. The Advanced Rollsys System does a great job of evenly distributing pressure while avoiding hotspots.

As for the safety aspect, you’ll be happy to know that it has met three safety standards: CE, CPSC and AS. Somehow, Lazer has made a design that meets all these safety standards. The Aeroshell is surprisingly flexible and shows no sign of snapping and cracking even when rolled up.

The overall aesthetic might not be for everyone but it’s still a solid, high performance helmet that features great fit and ventilation.

Bern Unlimited Allston Helmet

Bern Unlimited Allston Helmet

Weight: 1.4 lbs

Dimensions: 10 x 12 x 8 inches

Specific Features: Zip mold liquid foam technology, Flip Visor, Crank Fit dial, Meets Safety Certification ASTM F 2040, CPSC and EN 1078

Best Use: cycling, mountain biking, enduro cycling, road biking, downhill biking

Description: One of the first things that you’ll notice about the Bern Unlimited Allston Helmet is its unique style and shape. Most bike helmets you’ll see nowadays feature that all too familiar almond shape. The Allston features this rounded urban aesthetic that should appeal to many different types of riders.

With that said, it’s nice to have more options when it comes to style. It’s not only different in shape, but it also quite light. At 1.4 lbs, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a lighter, high performance helmet.

The adjustable liner allows for some comfortable snug fit without feeling too light. The helmet also features a flip visor for added style and deflecting the elements while riding.

The Crank Fit dial in the back of the helmet enables you to easily secure or loosen the fit around your head. With all these features, this helmet is tough to beat for the coin.

Uvex Boss Race

Uvex Boss Race

Weight: 256g

Dimensions: 6.69 x 11.97 x 15.12 inches

Specific Features: double technology mold, high impact shell, IAS 3d system, belt system progressive FAS

Best Use: cycling, mountain biking, enduro cycling, road biking, downhill biking

Description: If you are looking for a bike helmet with all-around performance, consider getting the Boss Race from German company Uvex. The main trump card of the Boss Race is its excellent adjustability, thanks to the IAS 3D adjustment system.

This allows the fit to be adjusted in both vertical and horizontal planes. You’ll find a dial at the rear which is common on high-end helmets. The dial is a breeze to use and offers a good level of adjustment for fitting your head circumference.

Ventilation is another aspect that Uvex gets right with this helmet. It’s not as groundbreaking as its adjustment system but there’s definitely some good airflow in here. The inner padding IS anti-allergenic but it’s quite minimal which might cause some comfort issues for some people.

For a mid-range cycling helmet, the Boss Race definitely has the goods to compete with the best of them.

In terms of performance, construction, ventilation, adjustability and style, these are the helmets that get our highest recommendation. You certainly can’t go wrong by starting your search with these top-notch products.

Final Thoughts

You can’t just buy a bike helmet and call it a day. You need to consider many factors before buying because an ill-fitting helmet is the least of your worries, you’re putting your own safety at risk as well. We are hoping that you’ve learned something from this article on how to choose the best helmet that goes along with your personal preferences.

Choose your Bike Helmet

What do you think are the top bike helmets out there? Feel free to share you thoughts in the comments. Don’t forget to share this post in your social media feed as well.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Alexander Bianco

    I have to say that, although I do not have one (yet), I like the look of the Kask Mojito helmet above. While I have a full face helmet for the mountains and such, I have been looking for something that would be a better fit than what I have for road and recreational use.

  • Daniel Carraway

    Hi Alexander! Most of my buddies have the Kask Mojito helmet – very lightweight and comes in attractive colors. Why opt for black ones when you can have the rainbow, right? I love the fact that it’s hypoallergenic so you won’t be afraid you’ll wear this and itch after. I say, good choice on the Kask Mojito!

  • Samantha Brown

    That’s so interesting! I never knew there was such a thing as mountain bike helmet. I live near some mountains and there’s a nice Parkin the area. So after reading your article I’ve definitely decided to invest in a specific mountain biking helmet.

    • Daniel Carraway

      Hi there Samantha! I’m so pleased that you finally got a mountain bike helmet. This head gear is essential for your safety. I’ve seen a lot of my friends tumble during their bike rides and we are in agreement that wearing those helmets prevented serious head injuries. Stay safe and I hope you got a helmet that fitted you well and are at par with industry safety standards. 🙂

  • John Jacobs

    Ok you’ve got to explain enduro cycling to me. I like to do general cycling here and here not too far. I’m assuming it’s for long periods of time. So you would need a specific kind of helmet for long periods of bike riding? Very interesting.

  • Daniel Carraway

    Hello there John! You can read about enduro cycling in a post by my pal Jerry Mueller:
    http://myoutdoorslife.com/gear/biking/best-enduro-mountain-bike.html

    Since enduro biking entails cycling in a trail full of full of muds and holes, plus rocks – a bike helmet is essential. At high speed and facing these challenging downhill racing trails, you need a head gear that is top-notch, has full face protection, lightweight and offers Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS).

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