Best Bike Helmets For 2017 – Top Selections For MTB, Road Bike & BMX Bikes

Regardless of what kind of cycling you do, you should wear a helmet. In some countries it is a legal requirement to wear a helmet while you are on a bicycle, but even if it is not the law, a helmet can save you from serious life changing injury or death in the event of an accident.

Although some studies have found that car drivers leave more space when passing cyclists not wearing a helmet, it is better to be wearing one just in case. If you are going mountain biking, there is no excuse not to wear a helmet. If you crash while riding off road, there are many objects on the trail that could cause you a serious head injury, such as rocks, roots, trees or even other riders.Best Bike Helmets

There is a huge number of helmets on the market and in the last few years there have been some fantastic advances in technology, allowing lighter and better ventilated helmets with very impressive protection to become available.

It is recommended to replace a helmet after three years of use, or after a crash that involved an impact to your head. Not sure if a crash was enough to damage your helmet? If there is any visible damage to a helmet, such as holes or cracks, then you must replace it. However, it is not always possible to see damage as the foam inside a helmet is designed to absorb the impact internally.

For this reason, if you crash and feel an impact to your head that made you grateful to be wearing your helmet, then you should replace it. It is always better to stay on the side of caution because a helmet will not protect you if you crash again. The exception to this is certain BMX helmets that have been designed to cope with multiple low speed impacts.

Kali Protectives recently gave away free helmets at bike events in return for damaged helmets. They were shocked by how many people were riding around on helmets that had obviously been involved in multiple crashes and simply were not safe to be using any more.

Whether you are looking to buy your first cycling helmet or it is time to replace one, we have rounded up a selection of the best helmets available. You will find suggestions for road cycling, touring, mountain biking and BMX, as well as kids and women’s specific versions.

Considerations When Buying Best Bike Helmets

Safety Standards

Do not buy a helmet if it does not conform to international and local safety standards. In the USA the CPSC regulates which helmets can be sold and the EN 1078 is the European standard. Other countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Japan have their own standards as well.

Style of Cycling

Different types of cycling have different helmet needs. A mountain bike helmet will protect more or all of the head and will be heavier as a trade off for more protection. Mountain bike helmets commonly come with a visor to keep sun, rain and branches out of the rider’s eyes. A road helmet will be very well ventilated and lightweight.

Ventilation

More vents will keep your head cool but will usually provide less protection.

Comfort, Fit and Weight

A heavy helmet will become uncomfortable after a couple of hours. Likewise, if the helmet is too small or the padding too big, the pressure on your head will give you a headache. A helmet must fit correctly to protect you. If it is too small or large, it will move around in a crash and not protect you. The straps must be easily adjustable to get the correct fit. Not everyone has the same head shape and you will find that some helmets are oval while others are more spherical.

Liner

Expanded polystyrene is the most common material used in helmets and is bonded to an outer shell that prevents the liner cracking. Some modern mountain bike helmets use the MIPS system or similar to provide extra protection from rotational forces. See the end of the article for an explanation of MIPS and the benefits of it.

Price

Lighter helmets and better protection will cost more money, although all helmets on sale will protect you because they must conform to international and local safety standards.

Extra Features

If you use a GoPro or want to go night riding, you will appreciate helmets with built in mounts. Some manufacturers offer a crash replacement policy so you can get a new helmet at a discount if you do crash. If you think you are likely to crash (mountain bikers or BMX riders for example), it is worth paying more for a helmet with a replacement policy.

How to Fit a Helmet

It is no good owning a helmet if it is not set up properly. First you need to select the right shape and size for your head. Measure around your temple and look at the manufacturer’s size chart to determine which size you need.

To fit a new helmet, first place it on your head. It should feel reasonably snug. Add or remove pads to customize the fit and tighten the retainer at the back until it sits on your head comfortably. It should now feel snug without applying any pressure. To test if it fits at this stage, keep the straps undone and tip your head upside down. Be ready to catch the helmet if it falls off. If the helmet fits properly, then it will stay put.

The next step is to adjust the straps. First, open the side buckles and move them so that they sit below your ears. You want them to be as close as possible to your earlobes without actually touching them. Do up the buckles. Next, adjust the chin clip or buckle so that it can be closed comfortably. You should be able to easily slide a finger between the strap and your chin but no more. Any tighter will be uncomfortable and could restrict your movement, breathing or even ability to swallow.

Recommended Best Bicycle Helmets in 2017

Road Bike Helmets

1. Giro Synthe Bike Helmet

Giro SyntheIt used to be impossible to find a helmet that is well ventilated, light and looks good while giving great protection as well as comfort. Giro have ticked all the boxes with the Synthe helmet. The advantages do not end there as the Synthe has also been designed to be aerodynamic. A lot of work was put in to reduce its drag.

The design of the vents ensures that your head stays cool and has air flowing over it, even at low speeds. The retention system does away with the need for a lot of padding, further helping to keep your head cool. This, along with an exceptionally light weight ensures all day comfort. The Synthe will fit oval shaped heads.

Pros

  • Aerodynamic, light, well ventilated, comfortable

Cons

  • None
Giro Synthe

Giro Synthe Bike Helmet

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2. Lazer Blade Road Helmet

Lazer BladeThere is no need to shell out lots of money if you can get great features at a lower price. 22 vents keep the weight down and your head cool. The roller retention system ensures a comfortable fit and the slight gap between the cradle and shell further helps ventilation.The Blade does not come too far down the back of the head, making it suitable for anyone with a ponytail.

Pros

  • Low price, light, well ventilated.

Cons

  • Not available in some countries.
Lazer Blade

Lazer Blade Road Helmet

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3. MET Rivale Road Helmet

Met Rivale HESAccording to Met, the Rivale is so aerodynamic that you will get a saving of 3W at 50kph. Compared with similar helmets, this will give you a one second advantage.

Aside from this marginal gain, the Rivale is a comfortable helmet and can be adjusted to fit many heads. There is a good ventilation despite the closed, protective appearance. It also conforms to CE, USPC as well as Australian safety standards.

Pros

  • Aerodynamic, affordable, conforms to many standards

Cons

  • Some testers found that the straps can twist.
Met Rivale HES

MET Rivale Road Helmet

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4. Scott Cadence Plus Road Bike Helmet

scott cadence amazonGreat comfort and ventilation with a MIPS liner. The large vents channel air over your head at all angles and speeds. The vents are so effective that Scott includes inserts to block them up in winter to stop your head from getting cold!

Designed to be aerodynamic, the Cadence feels fast when in use. The fitting system has a rotating dial, three cradle heights can be chosen and the straps are kept far away from your ears, making this a very comfortable helmet.

Pros

  • Great protection, comfort and ventilation, can be used all year round.

Cons

  • Heavier than other helmets but by no means heavy.
scott cadence amazon

Scott Cadence Plus Road Bike Helmet

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5. Catlike Vacuum Road/Mountain Cycling Helmet

Catlike VacuumExcellent ventilation and fit. The design of the cradle can be adjusted to fit any head shape and even works with ponytails or odd shaped skulls. The numerous vents have been directed through the helmet to suck (hence the name) and channel air over your head.

This is particularly noticeable and impressive at slow speeds, such as riding up hill. Other helmets will let sweat build up in this situation, but not the Vacuum.There is even a removable peak included to make it more suitable for mountain bikers or commuters.

Pros

  • Ventilation and fit that excels.

Cons

  • Not as aerodynamic as others
Catlike Vacuum

Catlike Vacuum Road/Mountain Cycling Helmet

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6. Specialized S-Works Prevail

Specialized S-Works PrevailA firm favorite with many racers, the Prevail has been seen at races for many years. This helmet has a certain presence due to its size and shape but offers great comfort and protection.

The rear covers more of the head than other helmets, giving a more peace of mind. The cradle has five positions available and combined with the dial at the back will get the Prevail fitted comfortably to almost any head shape. The vents do an excellent job of channelling air over your head. It is not hard to see why this helmet has remained popular for so many years.

Pros

  • Extra rear protection, fits almost anyone

Cons

  • Not all of the inner shell is covered externally, so care should be taken during transport.
Specialized S-Works Prevail

Specialized S-Works Prevail

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Mountain Bike Helmets

7. Smith Optics Forefront

Smith ForefrontInstead of polystyrene, the Forefront uses Koroyd, a plastic structure that looks like honeycomb. Koryoyd absorbs 30% more impact energy to help keep your head safe and saves weight. Parts of the outer are constructed with carbon fiber for lightweight strength.

The retention system is easy to use and the helmet can be fitted to most heads. Protection extends reasonably far down the back of the head. Smith has designed the Forefront to be compatible with their goggles and there is also a mount for your GoPro or light.

Although the Koryoyd looks good through the vents and gives the impression of a breezy helmet. The structure does let heat escape but does not let air flow through the helmet. Consequently, the Forefront is very cool in cold weather and can be too warm in hot weather.

This write up describes how the Forefront performed exceptionally well in big crash.

Pros

  • More protection and lighter than other helmets, MIPS version available.

Cons

  • Too warm in hot weather.
Smith Forefront

Smith Optics Forefront

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8. Giro Montaro MIPS Bike Helmet

Giro Montana MIPSAvailable in both a men’s and women’s version, the Montana is one of the most affordable helmets with the MIPS system. Well ventilated despite the full coverage on offer, the Montana also can mount a GoPro or light and will retain goggles too. The visor can flip upwards to provide a storage space for goggles when not in use.

The padding has an antimicrobial treatments and will absorb up to 10 times as much sweat as standard pads, allowing you to get sweaty in comfort. The comfortable fit in general will keep you happy wearing the Montana all day.

Pros

  • Affordable helmet with MIPS, excellent features

Cons

  • None
Giro Montana MIPS

Giro Montaro MIPS Bike Helmet

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9. Bell Event XC MIPS

Bell Event XC MIPSThe Event helmet is an affordable XC race helmet featuring the added protection of MIPS.

Although not the lightest helmet available, the added protection and low price make the Event XC attractive to racers on a budget (or those who are still looking for a sponsor). The fit is comfortable and easily adjustable, catering to the diameter and position of the retention system. The vents do a great job at keeping your head cool and the visor can be repositioned to get it where you need it,

Pros

  • Affordable with good comfort and great protection.

Cons

  • Heavy.
Bell Event XC MIPS

Bell Event XC MIPS

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10. Giant Realm

Giant Realm Bicycle HelmetAlthough Giant are known for their bikes and not helmets, they have done a fantastic job with the Realm. The weight, ventilation and features will have left other helmet manufacturers wondering how they did it at such a low price.

The large vents keep your head cooler than lots of other helmets and Giant have designed the Realm to stop any sweat from dripping into your eyes. For anyone who has suffered the salty, blinding sting of sweat out in the hills, this is a great plus. There is a goggle strap at the rear and the visor can be pushed out of the way to place your goggles there when not in use. Space has been left for a GoPro mount, although this will restrict the visor movement a bit.

Pros

  • Great price, comfort and features.

Cons

  • None.
Giant Realm Bicycle Helmet

Giant Realm

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11. Bell Super 2R

Bell Super 2RPerfect for trail riders who sometimes need a bit more protection in extreme situations, this helmet converts between a half shell and full face.

When the chin bar is installed it does not conform to the ASTM full-face safety standard, but will still protect your face in a crash. The top part of the helmet is well ventilated and comfortable to wear. Attaching the chin guard is a quick procedure. Removing it again is not quite as fast as the clasps can need a bit of muscle to move. This is a consequence of the secure fit though, so not really a problem.

Although slightly on the heavy side, the Super 2R is better ventilated and allows easier breathing than dedicated full face helmets. Goggles fit nicely and there is also a MIPS version available for more protection at a slightly higher price.

Pros

  • Full face protection that can be worn as a half shell.

Cons

  • Heavy
Bell Super 2R

Bell Super 2R

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12. Fox Proframe Helmet

Fox ProframeA lightweight, well ventilated full face helmet unlike any other seen before. Full face downhill helmets are known for being warm and difficult to breathe in. Riders have been happy to put up with this due to the extra protection on offer and lack of alternatives.

The Proframe has just changed the game with a lightweight helmet with great ventilation and MIPS liner that will still conforms to several standards, including full face helmet standards. There is a massive vent on each side of the chin to allow airflow to your mouth and keep you breathing even going uphill.

Pros

  • Full face certified, breathable, light. A true full face option for all mountain bikers that want or need a higher level of protection.

Cons

  • None.
Fox Proframe

Fox Proframe Helmet

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BMX Helmets

13. S-One Lifer Helmet

S-One Lifer HelmetDesigned and certified to cope with multiple low speed impacts or completely absorb one large impact, the lifer is a great choice to keep you protected and comfortable.

The pads are antimicrobial and wick sweat away.

Pros

  • Durable.

Cons

  • Some testers found it sits too low.
S-One Lifer Helmet

S-One Lifer Helmet

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14. Bell Full Flex

Bell Full FlexMore protection and attention to detail at a higher cost. The Full Flex can withstand multiple impacts and has a number of well thought out features.

There is a goggle loop at the back and mesh covering the vents. Even in warm weather, the Full Flex is comfortable to wear thanks to the good fit and vents.

Pros

  • Great protection and comfort

Cons

  • None
Bell Full Flex

Bell Full Flex

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Commuting Helmets

15. Giro Silo Helmet

Giro SiloMade from environmentally friendly plant biomass and bamboo fiber webbing, the Silo can be ethically disposed of in comparison to other helmets made from polystyrene. Great protection and styling make this the perfect choice to protect your head and the environment.

Giro Silo

Giro Silo Helmet

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16. Bell Annex MIPS

Bell Annex MIPSWell thought out and functional helmet to keep you comfortable and safe in the city. 15 vents keep your head cool and can be shut if riding in cooler weather to help keep you warm. The small visor at the front will keep sun and rain out of your eyes. Easy to fit and adjust, this is a great choice for the dedicated commuter.

Bell Annex MIPS

Bell Annex MIPS

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Kids Helmets

17. Lazer P’Nut MIPS Helmet

Lazer P’NutGreat protection and ventilation. Lazer have applied their century old know how to this kids helmet and made it fun with changeable outer shells.

Lazer P’Nut

Lazer P’Nut MIPS Helmet

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18. Abus Scraper Kids Helmet

Abus ScraperCool styling like the older kids at the skatepark, combined with bright colors to ensure visibility, the Scraper will keep your little ones safe and protected. The lack of ventilation makes it unsuitable for long rides, but the padding can be washed to stop it getting too smelly.

Abus Scraper

Abus Scraper Kids Helmet

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19. ABUS MountX Children’s Helmet

Abus MountXMountain bike styling for little singletrack rippers. The MountX looks just like a smaller adults helmet and has an integrated LED light at the back. Good looks and extra safety are positives.

Abus MountX

ABUS MountX Children’s Helmet

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20. CRE8 Full Face Bike Helmet

CRE8 Full FaceIf your kid does not want to wear the Abus, claiming it doesn’t look cool, you can’t go wrong with the CRE8. Offering huge amounts of protection for when your kids take their riding to the next extreme. Lack of ventilation makes it unsuitable for long rides however.

CRE8 Full Face

CRE8 Full Face Bike Helmet

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What is MIPS?

Multidirectional Impact Protection Support, or MIPS for short, is a Swedish technology developed in the 90’s but has only recently found its way into bicycle helmets.

MIPS is a layer attached to the foam that helps protect the head from rotational forces that are commonly experienced in bike crashes. The MIPS layer can move separately from the outer layer, ensuring as much of the impact gets absorbed by the helmet rather than reaching your head.

A MIPS liner will bump up the price of a helmet and is worth the investment if you can afford it. However, the most important factor deciding whether a helmet will protect you is whether it fits properly. Do not be afraid to choose a helmet without MIPS if it fits better than one with it.

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About the Author Matthew R. Duncan

I am proud to be the go-to guy among my circle for bike advice. I take it personally when someone I know buys a new bike without consulting me first!

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