We could write a book on the importance of using proper safety gear like a bike helmet. It only takes one accident to change your life forever, and safety gear may be the only thing between you and a concussion or brain damage. However, helmet manufacturers don't make it easy to choose a god helmet, and the market gets saturated with them at the moment.
Sure, you could pick up any bike helmet, and you might be ok if you have a bad spill while riding, or you might not be ok. You probably already know you need a helmet and many places require you to wear one while riding. We suggest doing a little research and choosing the right helmet for you or your family. Most helmets are affordable, and they do save lives.
We want to make sure you find the right helmet without spending a lot of time shopping. We scoured the internet and looked at hundreds of user reviews and first-hand accounts of bike helmets saving lives to find the best helmets available today. Some helmets cost less than a baseball cap with your favorite team’s logo on it while others get expensive. We didn’t consider their price during our review.
While the cost of the helmet is important, especially if you’re on a tight budget, it shouldn’t get to be the main reason you buy onet. High-quality materials and design were the first things we considered to make sure the product would last a long time and protect you to the best of its ability. Next, we considered all the user reviews and comments we could locate for each helmet.
User reviews probably played the most significant role in our decision to include a helmet in this list and buyer’s guide. The best helmet on the planet might still fit weird or irritate your ears. There’s no way to know if it will unless you buy it to find out. However, other users can give us that information and improve our selection process.
Check the sections below the list of helmets for more information on safety, fitting, and a buyer’s guide. We’ll include more information below on choosing the right helmet and how to choose the right type of helmet. For instance, do you need a:
We’ll help you decide after we give you a selection of what we consider the best helmets available on the market. The list includes a variety of selections from each of the categories we mentioned above, so finding the right one for you will be easy. Some of the types have sub-categories, but we'll explain the details as we go and help you make an informed decision.
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Our Picks for the Best Bike Helmets
Admittedly, some of the helmets on this list come with a novelty feature or two, and that’s ok. We included a few youth and kids helmets that offer protection while making the bike riding fun. Typically, kids don't want to wear a helmet, but if you give them one with some flare added to it, they may give you less resistance.
Schwinn Thrasher Microshell Bicycle Helmet
Schwinn is one of the first names in bicycling. They offer well-made products at reasonable prices. You can order this helmet on Amazon in one of six colors for $18.96 depending on your color choice. It comes in youth sizes at roughly the same price based on which of the seven colors you choose. Some of the color choices increase the cost by a few dollars.
It includes Schwinn’s 360-degree retention system which really just means it comes with a chin strap and a secondary retention system. It comes with a removable visor and adjusting the retention system is easy. You can change it by turning a knob on the back of the helmet, so it's adjustable while riding for those times when sweat decides to make your helmet loosen its grip.
People that use and own this helmet claim it works great for adults and kids. The 21 air holes in the open shell helmet help keep you cool while still protecting you from impacts at moderate speeds. However, the helmet offers almost no puncture protection due to the 21 air holes. If you need a budget-friendly helmet for weekend rides, this may be a good choice for you.
Basecamp Specialized Bike Helmet
You can order this helmet on Amazon for $26.58. It’s designed for men and women but doesn’t offer a hair port for people with long hair which can end up making the helmet unsafe and hard to keep secure. The helmet gets marketed as a road and mountain hybrid but it's a road helmet, and you shouldn't rely on it to protect you while mountain biking.
It has 22 vents in the shell to help air flow through it and keep you cool, but this features also reduce its puncture protection. Since trees and small rocks might be a danger in the woods or on a mountain, we recommend using this as a road or commuter helmet. If you ride mountain trails that get regular maintenance and don’t include steep grades, it may work as a leisure mountain biking helmet.
People that own this helmet claim it fits well and the adjustable retention systems make fitting the helmet to most heads easy. That said, you still need to measure your head and make sure you get the size right since the retention systems should only be used for minor adjustments and not relied on for fitting the helmet to your head.
Raskullz Child Unicorn Helmets
You can order this helmet for your kids on Amazon for $18.43 to $31.79 depending on your color choices. It comes in 4 colorful options from a yellow and pink unicorn to a purple unicorn. It's for kids under eight years of age. It’s a fun helmet that most kids will enjoy wearing which makes your job easier.
For kids, this is a god helmet choice because it can make the transition from weekend rides at the park to skateboarding, or other riding sports that require a helmet. The 3D snout, ears, and unicorn horn add to the fun. The retention system is simple and easy to adjust without creating a grumpy child in the process. Making it fun is usually the only way to get kids involved on long bike rides.
People that own this helmet say their kids love it and it adds a fun factor to long bike rides that may bore some younger kids. However, the ears and horn might break off easily since their designed to come off during an impact to prevent them from getting hung in obstacles. While this is an excellent safety feature, it may end up as a heartbreaking feature if they break off while playing with the helmet.
Thalia Women's Bike Helmet
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You can order this helmet on Amazon for $16.99. It’s available in six color choices for a few dollars more depending on the color you pick. It is a road helmet that bills itself as a women’s helmet, but it would work ok for men as well. It does offer a port under the rear of the helmet for people with long hair or ponytails.
It offers a self-adjusting retention system which means you adjust it to fit your head and leave it alone. There is no adjustment for the inner straps. All the modifications are made in the back of the helmet and affect the inner retention strap and the chin strap. It comes with 16 holes designed to allow extra airflow to keep your head cooler on long rides.
People that own this helmet say it’s a great budget-friendly helmet, but they wish the adjustments offered more options. It’s lightweight with a built-in visor, but the visor is not removable which some owners don’t like. That said, the visor issue and the lack of adjustments available are personal preferences and not a design flaw.
JBM Adult Cycling Bike Helmet
You can order this helmet on Amazon for $15.98 in 18 colors. The price fluctuates a few dollars based on the color choices you make when ordering it. Its design is centered around aerodynamics and keeping you cool on long bike trips on pavement. We don’t recommend this helmet for anything other than road use or rides along well-maintained park roads.
It offers plenty of airflow to keep you cool on long rides or hot days. The PVC and foam construction provides excellent impact protection while absorbing a lot of shocks. The inner retention system along with the chin strap offers multiple adjustments or a single adjustment depending on your needs. It's also very budget friendly so that you could get a spare helmet.
Owners of this helmet claim it fits well and works as advertised. It doesn't offer much relief for people with long hair, and users report the slight hair port in the back is not adequate. Some people complained that the strap adjustments might loosen over time and require more attention to long bike rides to keep the helmet secure. The chin strip fits a little far back as well, so keep that in mind.
Giro Register Bike Helmet
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You can order this helmet in seven colors on Amazon for $49.95. It comes with a MIPS liner which is a newer type of retention system aimed at making the inner retention system easier to adjust and fit your head. It's a road helmet, and we recommend it for long bike rides since it offers extra airflow, and it’s lightweight. It’s one of the most comfortable helmets on the list.
The 22 air vents offer some cooling on long rides or hot days, but they’re designed with aerodynamics in mind as well. It comes with a visor that detachable, but it doesn’t offer much shade or protection. The MIPS inner retention system is not new but somewhat uncommon. MIPS helps reduce brain damage from angled impacts where your head is usually more vulnerable with other helmets.
People that use this helmet claim it’s one of the easiest they’ve used in respect to adjustments and weight. Some users say the MIPS liner is hard to get used to and may make the helmet seem loose when it’s actually fitted perfectly. MIPS lets your helmet move on impact, so we can see where it may seem loose or hard to adjust. If you follow the instructions, you won't have any problems with it.
Demon Podium Full Face Mountain Bike Helmet
You can order this helmet in six colors for $79.99 to $95.74 depending on your size and color choices. It’s a full-face mountain biking helmet, but you could also use it at a BMX park unless they require a facemask as well. It offers protection for your entire head from even the hardest impacts while providing plenty of airflow to keep you cool.
It's not long hair friendly, but its design accommodates goggles and sunglasses. It's a little heavy at just over two pounds when compared to other mountain bike helmets, but it offers an excellent fit and won’t rotate on your head. Some mountain bike helmets fit poorly and tend to wiggle or try to turn when you look to the side or take a hard landing.
Owners say this is one of their favorite mountain helmets because it tends to fit well. The fit got more praise in the customer reviews than any other feature. The only complaint we found is the helmet liner doesn’t offer a way to close off the vents in colder climates. However, most bike helmets either have vents, or they don't have vents, and very few have adjustable airflow features.
Bell Super 3R MIPS MTB Bike Helmet
You can order this helmet on Amazon for $164.95 to $252.99. It's not cheap, and the price gets based on the size and color combination you choose. Its price is well-earned since it comes with nearly every feature you can imagine in a mountain biking helmet. The price tag on this helmet makes it one you’d only choose if you do a lot of mountain biking. It comes in 15 colors as well.
It’s not ideal for colder climates which is our only complaint, other than the price tag. That said, since it is made from the best materials and includes the MIPS inner lining, we think the price is justified. Its design accommodates a camera and goggles. Despite its looks, it comes with aerodynamics in mind and safety including break-away screws and anti-shatter features.
Owners of this helmet love it because it offers nearly every feature you may want in a mountain bike helmet, and it fits well. It's lightweight and accommodates many things other helmets don’t like cameras. Many helmets require additional modifications for cameras and goggles. Some models need replacing the liner just to make it work with goggles.
SLS3 Time Trial Aero Helmet
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You can get this helmet in white, black, or red from Amazon for $75.99. Make sure you measure your head because this helmet only fits heads with a circumference of 54 to 58 centimeters. The ultra-soft lining makes this one of the most comfortable triathlon helmets on the market. It doesn’t skimp on the other features you’d expect in a helmet for triathlons or time trials.
The four front and four rear vents let air flow through to help keep you cool while maintaining the integrity of the helmet’s aerodynamics. The visor attaches magnetically after you put the helmet on and offers moderate UV protection for your eyes. It's a tight fit, and you can't put the helmet on or take it off with the visor attached. This may cause issues for people with heads larger than 58 centimeters.
People that own this helmet praise its light weight and easy adjustments. We did find a few complaints about the visor vibrating at high speeds, but we can't imagine going that fast. The only other complaints we located involved the helmets fit, but it was apparent the people the helmet didn’t fit well hadn’t bothered to measure their head before ordering the headgear.
Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet
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You can order this helmet in 9 colors on Amazon for $174.95 to $549.95 based on your choice of color and size. If you’re serious about competing in triathlons or speed trials, this helmet aided riders in shaving six to eight seconds off their times according to the manufacturer. That’s a significant improvement in times.
The helmet incorporates four wind tunnel emulating vents that maximize airflow through the helmet to keep you cool while keeping its aerodynamics intact. The visor attaches magnetically and wraps around both sides of the helmet which significantly improves your peripheral vision while you’re in race mode. You can’t put the helmet on or take it off with the visor in place.
Owners of this helmet claim it helped them attain better speed trial times and praise its comfort. They also claim it helps keep them cooler than some other helmets they’ve tried since it collects air over the brow instead of on the top or sides of the helmet. Some customers complained that the helmet sizes varied slightly based on your color choices.
Critical Cycles Classic Commuter Bike Helmet
You can order this helmet in seven colors on Amazon for $19.90 and $24.99 based on which colors and sizes you pick. It's a simple commuter style helmet that's affordable but offers a lot of protection. It’s vented but not to the point that it prevents the helmet from stopping puncturing type damage. Its retention system is basic but adequate.
This is an ideal helmet for people that commute to work on a bike through any kind of traffic. Whether you wear a suit to work or shorts, this helmet fits in and is lightweight. Its vents help keep you cool, so you don't show up to work sweaty. It's one of the best commuter helmets we found during our research.
People that own this helmet say it’s plain but works and fits well. One owner claims she was in a crash where a car struck her while she was riding her bike, and even though she heard the helmet hit the pavement, yet she barely felt the impact on her head. That’s the value of helmets like this one or any high-quality commuter helmet.
Safety and Legal Best Practices
About 500,000 bike riders get injured in the United States each year and around 800 of those injured die. Almost 70 percent of the deaths are the result of a head or neck injury while nearly 40 percent of all bicycle-related injuries involve the head or neck. Merely wearing a helmet may reduce your chances of sustaining a head injury by 80 percent. We call those excellent odds.
Most states require you to wear protective gear while riding a bike. The equipment necessary rarely goes beyond a helmet with the occasional city requiring knee and elbow pads for riders under 18 years of age. Check your state and local laws to make sure you comply with any laws or ordinances. The folks at your local bike shop aren’t lawyers, but they’re a great place to start asking about the rules.
Beyond requiring you to wear protective gear, most states have some rules in place to govern the type of equipment you use. More specifically, helmets that meet legal requirements for safety markings, design, and construction must be worn while riding a bike. Bike helmets come in many designs, but that doesn't mean they automatically meet legal requirements.
Knowing your local and state laws is part of the buying experience. For instance, if you’re ordering a a product online, you should be aware that some areas have requirements that say the helmet can’t have external ridges that stick out more than 5 or so millimeters. In some states, you may be required to wear an enclosed model with no holes in it.
This reinforces our suggestion about learning about and knowing what your local and state laws are where bike helmets are concerned. If you ride in other areas or states, you need to understand their rules as well. You may end up buying a few helmets just to make sure you follow the laws that govern the area you plan to ride in or commute through each day.
Once you understand the laws, you need to know a little about how a bike helmet works. The liner inside the bike helmet and the strap that secures it to your head only matter for your comfort. The strap holds the helmet in place, but that's all it does to protect you. Comfort is vital, and you should try to find a helmet with a quality liner and strap that’s comfortable.
The most important part of the bike helmet is the protective outer shell. Many bike helmets get made from a rigid material that compresses and absorbs the shock of an impact like polystyrene foam. The foam is usually inside a more rigid material to help prevent punctures and keep the foam from degrading and exposing your head during an impact.
Hopefully, you may never get to find out how well your bike helmet works, but if you do, you’ll instantly regret buying a cheap helmet just to stay within your local and state laws. Most of the helmets on our list cost less than $100 with many falling into the $20 to $50 price range, so it’s reasonably inexpensive to protect your head with a high-quality helmet and stay within any legal boundaries.
Getting a Bike Helmet that Fits Correctly
Finding a helmet that fits properly is often a roll of the dice unless you shop locally. No two heads end up shaped the same way, so bike helmet manufacturers can’t make a helmet for every type of head. Most simply offer a small, medium, and large size while others go a step beyond this and define sizes for their small, medium, and large helmets.
Like pants and shirts, keep in mind that sizes vary based on what brand of helmet you choose. To be safe, use a flexible tape measure and find out just how big your head is and apply that knowledge to you helmet shopping. Wrap the tape measure around the largest part of your head, usually about half an inch above your brow line, and note the measurement. Write down centimeters instead of inches.
The shape of the helmet is usually specific to the brand and often secretly based on one or all the designer’s heads. Admittedly, we’d do the same thing since our heads are present and easy to use for modeling. However, this method of design creates a problem for bike riders since everyone’s head is different. Visit a local bike shop and try on a few brands to find your fit before you order a helmet.
The strap or retention system almost end up being a personal preference. Make sure you get an adjustable strap that feels comfortable enough that you could easily ignore it or tolerate it for a few hours of riding time. The helmet must not slide around or feel floppy on your head at any time. That said, you need to be able to fit two fingers under the strap beneath your chin.
Some brands come with elaborate retention systems that often end up being too complicated to use easily. You don't want a bike helmet that requires two people to put on or needs constant adjusting like some of the semi-automatic systems. We suggest sticking with a basic strap that's comfortable and keeps the helmet in place. The secondary retention system inside the helmet is more forgiving.
All helmets don’t have a secondary retention system inside the helmet. This extra layer of help securing your helmet is nice but more of a personal choice than a necessity. You’re better off getting a helmet with a shell that fits your head instead of relying on a secondary retention system to keep it in place on top of your head. Still, this choice comes down to your comfort and personal preferences.
The remaining helmet fitting preferences are mostly personal and based on you and your hair. More specifically, if you have long hair, you may want to consider a helmet with a port in the back for your hair. Some helmets come with an added design feature that’s strictly there to accommodate long hair without sacrificing safety. If you have long hair, this is a feature you’ll definitely want in your helmet.
Sunglasses help protect your eyes from more than the Sun while your riding. They can keep debris from flying into your eyes and may offer some protection to your eyes in a collision if they stay on your head. The same idea applies to eyeglasses as well. However, the only way to make sure your helmet works with your eyewear is by wearing them both at the same time.
The final thing to consider is pressure points inside the helmet. The strap under your chin, the secondary retention system, and the helmet itself may end up creating pressure points against your head and face. If possible, try on the helmet in a store or wear it for a while the day it arrives to make sure you can live with any minor discomforts. Sadly, it's hard to find a helmet with no annoying spots at all.
Your Bike Helmet Buyer’s Guide
We briefly touched on the number of head and neck injuries sustained while biking each year that result in emergency room visits or death. We also mentioned that a helmet might significantly reduce your chances of getting injured. However, not all helmets get created equal, and many helmets don't meet the required safety guidelines. Somehow, these helmets make it into the market.
The helmets included in our list all carry the necessary certifications required to meet any legal standards set by most states concerning bike helmets. If you don't choose a helmet from this list, look for safety-related stickers or read the paperwork that comes with the helmet. Information on how the helmets get tested and which safety standards they meet are in the paperwork or on the helmet.
However, if you fail to find a sticker or information that says the helmet meets specific safety requirements, don't take any chances and get another helmet. Look for a sticker inside the helmet that says Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC). Helmets made after 1999 must have these stickers in them to be considered safe.
Any of the road helmets on the list above would probably make good commuter helmets. However, we believe the [amazon link=”B01A6OU0WM” title=”Critical Cycles Classic Commuter Bike Helmet”] is the best option for commuters because it’s designed to protect your head from impacts often suffered by bike riders that get hit by cars. It’s also affordable which is a bonus perk.
If you plan to race or otherwise need great aerodynamics, either of the triathlon or time trials helmets on our list will do the job. However, if you’re not a serious racer and your budget is not high, the [amazon link=”B078X2QPWB” title=”SLS3 Time Trial Aero Helmet”] is an affordable option. For anyone serious about racing and speed, the [amazon link=”B075RTS3F8″ title=”Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet”] is probably a better choice based on speed tests.
For mountain bikers, the [amazon link=”B079YMT36F” title=”Demon Podium Full Face Mountain Bike Helmet”] is the most affordable option, and it offers exceptional protection. If you want to reach deeper into your bank account and get the best helmet for mountain biking, we suggest spending the money for the [amazon link=”B01KXZ1WXK” title=”Bell Super 3R MIPS MTB Bike Helmet”]. You’ll get the same protection from both helmets, but the Bell is more durable.
Where road helmets are concerned, you could honestly choose any from the list the fits your head and budget. Most of them fall into the same price range and offer the same protection level. However, the final decision is yours and should get based on the fit and how the helmet straps work. Find one that’s easy for you to use. Visit a local pro shop or bike shop and get fitted for different brands.
What Type of Bike Helmet do I Need?
All helmets protect your head from impacts, but some helmets get designed with specific types of biking in mind. Some offer more protection and sacrifice style to defend your head during off-road or other more dangerous forms of bike riding. Others may be designed to speed you up by offering a more aerodynamic outer shell to reduce wind resistance. Choose your helmet style based on your needs.
Let’s get kid’s helmets out of the way first since they are little more than smaller versions of the adult helmets. Each of the helmet types below come in sizes suited for kids, but not all kids are suited for the helmets. Make sure you get them a helmet that fits correctly even if it means buying a new helmet every four months. If they need to grow into the helmet, it’s not safe for them to wear.
BMX is a popular sport, and most competitors wear a helmet with a full face to protect their entire head and face. However, a BMX helmet with full face protection is only required at sanctioned sporting events and parks. A true BMX helmet is still just a shell that drops a little lower around your head than typical bike helmets. Many skateboarders wear BMX helmets to guard against regular impacts with concrete.
Commuter style helmets are generally about the same style as a BMX helmet except the manufacturer tries to work in some aerodynamics to help you conserve energy while commuting. They get designed with traffic and concrete collisions in mind. Hopefully, you may never need your helmet during your commute, but we recommend using the correct style for added safety.
Mountain biking requires a whole new style of helmet to ensure your head gets protected. We recommend getting a mountain biking helmet with full or partial face protection, but models exist that only protect the top and uppermost sides of your head. These helmets get designed to absorb hard impacts and high speeds while offering less wind resistance than other off-road helmets.
Road style helmets usually end up being the smallest helmets across all brands. They’re light and ride higher on your head than most helmets. These helmets, contrary to advertising collateral, offer the least amount of protection but they help keep you cool on long rides and don’t add to your wind resistance. That said, this style is only useful for long, leisurely trips at slow speeds.
Triathlon helmets are the masters of aerodynamics. Most of them come with built-in ear and eye protection while remaining lightweight. Unfortunately, these helmets often get designed with speed in mind first and safety second. You'll need to maintain a specific head position and posture to take advantage of the aerodynamics, and these helmets get hot in warmer climates.
Hybrid helmets don’t exist. If the helmet claims it’s a hybrid, it’s usually just a modified version with a feature added from another helmet style. For instance, it is easy to market a commuter helmet as a road helmet or the opposite if the buyer doesn’t know the difference. Do your homework and make sure you choose the right helmet based on how and where you ride your bike.
Some Final Notes
If you choose the right helmet and use it correctly, it may end up saving your life one day. We hope you never have to find out how well your helmet works, but we want you to have the correct helmet on your head if your luck changes. Make sure it fits your head well and suits your riding style and ignore the price tag until you’ve conquered finding a helmet that fits correctly.