Best Bike Helmets: Protect and Cushion Your Head
Use any of these top-rated bike helmets for your daily commutes and outdoor adventures
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New helmets get launched every year, but an avid road cyclist knows that not all of them are perfect for cushioning and protecting your head. You need a well-fitting helmet that cradles your head and doesn’t rock back and forth as you cycle. Our buying guide features some of the best cycling helmets that will keep you safe on roads and trails.
Giro Register Bike Helmet
Schwinn Thrasher Bicycle Helmet
Retrospec Classic Helmet
Benefits of Bike Helmets
- Safety: This is the “no-brainer” reason for wearing a helmet. Bike helmets provide protection for your head in the event of a fall or crash, possibly preventing brain injury. They could potentially produce some improved visibility in traffic or on a trail, depending on the color you choose.
- Style: If you’re the type of person who likes to put their personality on display, a helmet is a great way to do it. There are literally thousands of colors and schemes, so finding something to match your personal taste won’t be a challenge. Choosing only one, however, might be.
- Weather Protection: Most bike helmets today come with some type of visor. These visors can help make the sun glare manageable or keep the rain out of your eyes. Being able to see in traffic or on the trail can do a lot for your safety and the enjoyability of your ride.
Types of Bike Helmets
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Recreational style helmets are the laid-back player in the helmet game. These helmets are suitable for casual riding and commuting. They’re usually a rounder shape and may not have a visor. They offer decent protection for impact, and come in a wide variety of colors and sizes for adults, children, and toddlers.
Road, or road racing, style helmets are designed for speed. They are lightweight, aerodynamic, and breathe very well. They’re designed for road racing, so an unobstructed sightpath is extra important, as well as comfort for long-range, non-stop style riding. Wind resistance is a big factor, so these helmets are usually very sleek and low profile.
Mountain bike style helmets are all about protection. They’re designed to offer extra protection in the rear of the helmet, while also having longer visors for eye protection. These helmets are typically bulkier than road helmets, as drag is less of a factor on the trails. Mountain bike helmets can come in open- or full-faced designs and provide extreme protection.
BMX style helmets are made to provide extra protection in the event of a fall. Many BMX riders spend most of their time at skateparks or on the street performing tricks. The increased likelihood of striking a hard surface necessitates good protection. These helmets also come in open or fully enclosed styles.
Bell Helmets have been a staple in the cycling industry for more than 60 years. Getting its start in the 1950s California car culture scene, Bell Helmets has produced quality head protection for a very long time. They produce everything from toddler helmets to racing protection, like this super cool Bell Super 3R MTB Helmet.
Giro Helmets was formed in 1985 and is headquartered in Santa Cruz, Calif. Specializing in products for extreme people, Giro positions itself on the cutting edge of technology and at the forefront of new products, producing the first modular mountain bike helmet like this Giro Switchblade MIPS MTB Helmet.
Nutcase Helmets bring some fun to wearing a helmet. Formed in 2000 and based in Portland, Ore., Nutcase produces whimsical, fun helmets that can really display the wearer’s personality. Just take this Metroride Bike Helmet for example, with its bright colors and retro-style pattern.
Troy Lee Designs
With its roots in motocross racing, it’s easy to tell that speed has an influence in Troy Lee Designs Helmets. Started in 1981 and based in Corona, Calif., Troy Lee Designs produces some unique patterns and designs aimed at the racing world like this Troy Lee Designs A2 Jet Helmet.
Bike Helmet Pricing
- $25 and under: This range may be ideal for the commuter or child. Helmets in this range will usually be of lesser quality and comfort.
- $25 to $75: This is a good range for most recreational bike riders to take a look at. Helmets in this range are typically comfortable and of decent quality.
- $75 and up: Now we’re talking about some serious headgear. Helmets in the $75 and up range are usually the highest quality of the bunch.
This is about protecting your head, after all. Your helmet should be certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission standards, which you can check out here. The CPSC makes sure that the helmet can handle its intended purpose, whether it be BMX, road, or casual riding. The certification should give you confidence knowing you bought a safe helmet that will protect your head.
There are a lot of “universal” helmets on the market, and while they do provide some level of adjustment, make sure your helmet fits properly. You don’t want your helmet shifting position in the event of a fall. Features like adjustable straps and Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) make getting the right fit easier.
- Style: Consider what style helmet you really need. While a full face downhill style helmet might look cool, you’ll probably overheat on your way to work if you’re a commuter in a warmer climate. Conversely, a road style helmet may make you look fast, but might not provide the level of protection you need for doing bar spins and tailwhips at the X-Games. Choose the appropriate helmet for your style of riding.
- Your Taste: There are so many options on the market today, you’ll be able to find a helmet you’ll love. You may want a plain helmet that blends in with the crowd, or a loud color that stands out. Whichever helmet you choose, make sure that you like it. If you hate your helmet, you won’t wear it, and that just defeats the purpose.
Best Bike Helmet Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Our Best Overall pick is the Giro Register Bike Helmet. The Register is a universal size helmet, utilizing Giro’s Roc Loc Sport MIPS Fit system, so twisting a dial should provide a snug fit easily. The Register has a molded outer shell fused to a foam liner inside for impact absorption. It also comes in a wide variety of colors.
The Giro Register’s features give it a leg up on the competition. The inside of the helmet is well-padded, making it very comfortable, while also featuring a quick-drying technology. The hardbody outer shell and foam work well to make the Register highly shock absorbent but also allow it to be lighter and cooler than other products in its range. The Register comes in so many colors that coordination with your bike or jersey shouldn’t be a problem.
There are some things to be aware of before you purchase the Register. Although the fit is designed to be universal, some users have found that the Roc Loc Sport MIPS Fit system may not be as comfortable as other helmets. Also, non-adjustable straps may make finding that perfect fit that much harder.
Our value pick is the Schwinn Thrasher Bicycle Helmet, which is a lightweight microshell helmet that is produced in adult, youth, and children’s sizes. It features a 360-degree comfort fit system while remaining lightweight. It also comes in several colors.
The Schwinn Thrasher Bicycle Helmet has some built in features worth talking about. The shell itself has 21 vents, making airflow a non-issue on hot rides. The adjustable straps are helpful in getting a proper fit. The moisture wicking technology inside the Thrasher helps make long rides more comfortable. It also probably comes in a color scheme to match your style.
There are some drawbacks to the Thrasher. For one, some users have found that the straps have come loose from inside the helmet. Also, these helmets might break upon a hard impact, making them unusable afterwards.
This skate-park style helmet is good enough to deserve our honorable mention spot. This is a classic design and is suitable for many different sports like biking, skateboarding, and rollerblading. Retrospec also offers the Classic in a range of colors and size options.
Protection is probably the most noteworthy aspect of the Retrospec Classic. The heavy padding inside, large shell, and high-quality construction show safety was the number-one priority during design. Despite the thick padding, the Classic stays cool on your head, letting air flow through. The adjustable straps will also keep the Classic where it needs to be, no matter what sport you’re participating in.
This versatile and safe helmet does have some issues that require thought before purchase. The fit is not universal, so you need to make sure you choose the right size. The thick padding and shell make the helmet feel big and bulky. It’s also worth saying that the vibrant colors may fade over time.
This adult bicycle helmet has urban styling and comes in either black or white. It comes in either medium or large. The helmet is both durable and lightweight and complies with CPSC and CE.EN1078 safety standards. The helmet has large venting holes throughout to help encourage airflow and keep you cool. You create a custom fit by adjusting the tension and chin strap.
What makes this helmet stand out is the built-in USB rear light. You can recharge the light in two hours so that it’s always ready when you want to ride in lower light or at night. You can choose from three lighting modes: constant, flash, and slow flash.
One downside of this helmet is that you’ll need to be careful where you plug it in. You can overpower the helmet and cause it to spark or smoke. The sizing of the helmet also runs small, so you may want to size up when ordering. The body of the helmet isn’t very durable and can crack.
This stylish bicycle helmet comes in several colors, including black, black/red/white, black/white, fluorescent green, light blue, red/black/white, titanium, white, and white/gray/red. The front of the helmet has a smoked visor. The entire helmet is full of air channels to help direct air and keep you cool. The construction of the helmet is made of EPS foam core with a polycarbonate outer shell.
What you’ll like about wearing this helmet is its adjustability. You can attach the visor to hang down and cover your eyes or turn it up and out of the way. You could also completely remove it. This helmet will also help you stay visible and safe while riding at night, thanks to the LED light on the back.
Unfortunately, the straps aren’t as durable as the rest of the helmet. You may also find it challenging to get the helmet adjusted right. This is made more frustrating by an inaccurate sizing chart.
This CPSC-certified bicycle helmet comes in black/white, blue/white, carbon fiber, pink/purple, pink/white, and all white. It will fit people who have a head circumference of 25 to 46 cm. The chin strap is also adjustable between 54 to 62cm. The shape of the helmet is an aerodynamic design to encourage increased ventilation and reduce wind resistance. The helmet is made from EPS, PC, and PVC.
What’s nice about this helmet is that the interior lining is removable. This makes washing and keeping your helmet clean easier. There’s also a small visor on the front of the helmet to help block the sun.
Unfortunately, the chin strap doesn’t stay secure. The straps can also start to fray with use. The adjustment toggle on the back of the helmet isn’t durable and can get stuck. This makes it challenging to adjust the helmet.
This cycling helmet is both ASTM- and CPSC-certified for safety. It comes with two removable liners. You can choose from small, medium, and large for sizing. Then there are several colors you can choose from, including black, blue, deep blue, gray, lemon, mint green, orange, pink, red, sea green, and white.
What makes this helmet stand out is that it’s incredibly solid and secure. It has limited venting holes that are focused on the center of the helmet, which gives it more structural integrity and protection ability. The helmet also looks cool with matching colored straps. The two liners give you a greater ability to achieve the perfect fitment.
Unfortunately, even with the two liners, it can still be challenging to achieve a correct fit. This is because the helmet covers a large portion of your head and requires you to have a specific head shape. The helmet can also feel hot with the limited air vents.
This sporty bicycle helmet for both men and women has a detachable visor, LED light, and is CPSC- and CE-certified. This helmet comes in black, black/green, black/white, black/white/red, blue/white, green, titanium, and white/red/gray. The construction of the helmet uses PVC, PC, and EPS foam. It has integrated molding for great strength and protection. On the back of the helmet is an LED light.
You’ll like wearing this helmet thanks to the circumferential head adjustment system. This helps you achieve a secure fit. It also has an intricate ventilation system that has 22 integrated flow vents that will help you stay cool.
One downside of this helmet is that it isn’t very durable. The glue can start to come undone, which results in the outer shell separating from the foam core. The detachable visor is also not very effective, thanks to the holes in it.
This adult bicycle helmet is CPSC safety certified. It comes in either matte black or white. There are two sizes to choose from: either S/M or M/L. The helmet features a removable visor, adjustable dial fitment, quick-release buckle, soft chin pad, and adjustable divider strap. The helmet is incredibly lightweight with the S/M size weighing 0.6 pound and the M/L helmet weighing 0.63 pound.
You’ll find this helmet cool and comfortable to wear thanks to the 22 large air vents distributed throughout the helmet. The helmet also feels lightweight on your head. You’ll be able to keep your helmet fresh by removing and washing the chin strap cushion and internal pads.
Unfortunately, the helmet is designed to fit two sizes, which makes it too big for the one size and too small for the other. The bands on the inside of the helmet are also not very durable and can come apart.
This bold bicycle helmet has a sporty design and is suitable for both men and women. It comes with the option of either with or without an LED light on the back. The light has three modes: constant, fast flashing, and slow flashing. For colors, you can choose from black carbon, black/gray, black/green, black/purple, black/red, gray, orange, and red. The helmet has several features, including a chin pad, quick-release buckle, adjustable side buckle, and removable visor.
You’ll enjoy wearing this helmet thanks to the ventilation channels throughout that will help keep you cool. The helmet is easy to adjust to ensure you get a secure fit. The EPS foam core is lightweight, and the PC shell gives the helmet a stylish look. It’s also lightweight at 190 grams.
Unfortunately, the thin pads on the inside of the helmet start to peel away from the foam core with use. The materials used for the construction of the helmet feel low-quality. If you have a more oval head, you may find that this helmet applies too much pressure to your forehead.
- Consider buying elbow and knee pads to protect yourself from cuts, bruises, and broken bones in case you fall off your bike. You should also wear eye goggles to protect your eyes from flying road debris.
- If you are cycling on a busy road, switch on your front and rear lamp and use recognized hand signals to communicate that you want to stop or turn.
- You should dress in a reflector vest and brightly-colored clothes to make yourself visible to other drivers and avoid a collision.
- Pay attention to potential hazards on the road brought on by changes in weather or other road conditions. Slippery, uneven, or rugged surfaces may cause you to lose balance and crash.
- Do not wear earphones while riding. You need to maintain maximum situational awareness to avoid collisions.
Q: Does a bike helmet help prevent a broken jaw?
A: You can get a full helmet that covers the head and jaw area, which will also protect your teeth in case of an impact. If your helmet covers only the head area, you may still break your jaw if you fall on it. However, in other instances, the helmet will absorb the impact of the fall, and protect both your skull and jaw.
Q: How often should you replace a helmet?
A: Replace your helmet if the foam padding starts to thin, when the helmet feels uncomfortable, or when the straps get broken or loose. You should also replace the helmet after a crash even if you don’t notice any visible cracks, as its integrity may still have been compromised.
Q: What is strap creep?
A: Strap creep happens when the straps loosen and the helmet slips to the back of your head, exposing your forehead. You can use little rubber bands or make a few stitches to fasten the straps. If it gets too uncomfortable, consider buying a new helmet.
Our top pick is the Giro Register Bike Helmet. It’s well-ventilated and its aerodynamic design is great for road cycling or racing.
If you’re looking for a cheap bike helmet with an aerodynamic design, consider the Schwinn Thrasher Bicycle Helmet.
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