Rugged Reviews: Our Picks For The Very Best Mountain Bike Helmets Ever Made – YASSS, Evar! (2019 Edition)

Whether you enjoy twisty singletrack or love nothing more than bombing your favorite downhill course, there is no more important mountain biking accessory than a helmet. Besides making you look cool, your helmet offers you valuable protection and safety.

Helmets fend off the bumps and knocks of overhanging tree branches, but more importantly, they help to keep your head intact if you should crash.

Choosing the best mountain bike helmet can be tough. There are literally hundreds of choices on the market. To help you find the right helmet for your riding style and your needs, we’ve put together our 2019 guide to the very best mountain bike helmets in 2019, including some of our favorites.

We’ve also included just about everything you need to know about mountain bike helmets – factors like safety ratings, construction, helmet types, and so much more.

Let’s get started!

Editors’ Picks for the Best Mountain Bike Helmets Across Riding Styles

XC: POC Octal X Spin designed from the ground up to provide safety, comfort, and incredible ventilation, this XC-specific helmet is one of our favorites. The Octal X is also popular among cyclocross racers.

It is equipped with POC’s proprietary SPIN technology to reduce forces transmitted to the rider’s head in a crash. Other features include an aramid web to improve strength, sunglasses garage, and a suspension adjustment system for the perfect fit.

Enduro: Giro Switchblade MIPS — convertible for all-mountain, Enduro racing, or even downhill, this helmet is like getting two helmets in one! A removable face guard/chin bar makes it all possible. This model comes in a ton of colors and features 20 vents, the Roc Loc Air DH fit system, and an in-mold polycarbonate shell.

Oh yeah, it has MIPS for superior head protection. Basically, it’s everything you ever needed from a helmet ready to take on whatever the trails can dish out.

Downhill: Troy Lee Designs Stage — built to offer incredible protection on even the gnarliest downhill race courses and extreme conditions, the Stage is our pick for the ultimate downhill helmet. A reinforced polylite shell is filled with dual-density EPS/EPP foam for impact protection.

MIPS technology adds impressive safety for sharp-angle impacts. In fact, it meets or exceeds FIVE international safety standards. The Stage is packed with high-end features like magnetic buckles, breakaway visor hardware, and X-static interior pads to control stink.

Best Cross-Country Mountain Bike Helmet

POC Tectal — offering lightweight protection and fantastic ventilation, this helmet is ideal for aggressive trail riding. POC helmets cover more of the back of the head than typical XC-oriented lids, and this is one of the reasons we love this model so much.

The outer polycarbonate shell and EPS foam are supported by an interior grid of space-age fibers for added strength. The visor adjusts for perfect coverage and helps to scoop air into the interior of the helmet. It even comes with a Recco reflector for serious backcountry adventures.

Other Best XC Choices:

Giro Hex — available in a range of colors, this highly-ventilated helmet is a great choice that won’t break the bank. A color-matched visor, 21 vents, and Giro’s Roc Loc 5 fit system provides a lot of bang for the buck.

Fox Racing Flux Rush — multi-density EPS foam forms the cushioning inner liner and offers incredible protection against head injuries. An internal cage adds even more strength to the liner. Fox’s secure dial suspension system is easy to adjust and retains the helmet even under extreme conditions.

Kali Protectives Alchemy — with 21 vents and a rugged polycarbonate shell, the Alchemy balances incredible protection with cooling ventilation. The Micro-Fit suspension provides two height adjustments and a secure connection to the rider’s head.

Rather than MIPS, Kali developed its exclusive rotational liner system with Armourgel, providing equal or better protection in crashes than MIPS-equipped lids.

Best Enduro-Style Mountain Bike Helmet

Oakley DRT5 — splitting the difference between an XC and an Enduro helmet, the DRT5 features great ventilation and a BOA-dial fit system for comfort. The outer shell is made of a lightweight polycarbonate and is generously ventilated — perfect for blistering heat. This helmet is available in a range of colors to suit your style.

Other Best Enduro-Style Choices:

Leatt DBX 3.0 Enduro V19.1 — some riders prefer a full-face Enduro helmet, and Leatt delivers with great protection and wild style. This helmet features a ventilated face/chin guard, a large sun visor, and a ventilated polycarbonate shell. Its exclusive 360 Turbine Technology provides the rotational liner safety, similar to MIPS.

Troy Lee Designs Half Shell A1 Drone — packed with features, this helmet offers great protection and even better looks. The shell is in-molded with the EPS foam liner, which covers more of the rider’s head. The suspension/retention system is adjustable to fit perfectly, even with different sunglasses or goggles. Finally, pressurized vents evacuate hot air from inside the helmet, offering unrivaled cooling.

Giro Fixture — featuring MIPS for added safety, this Giro helmet provides great head coverage while looking stylish on or off the trail. A long visor helps to scoop cooling air into the multiple vents and shields the rider’s eyes from the sun. The Roc Loc Sport rear dial helps tailor the fit for all-day comfort, no matter where the trail takes you.

Best Downhill Mountain Bike Helmet

Troy Lee Designs D3 Carbon Jet — for absolutely no compromises whatsoever, this TLD downhillers’ helmet is made from a carbon composite weave for lightweight protection. Even the face guard is carbon composite. Titanium hardware lightens things up even more.

Best of all, this model includes MIPS technology for added safety on odd-angle impacts. The helmet includes two adjustable visors, and boasts an innovative venting system to channel cool air around the rider’s head.

The price tag may be a bit steep, but for the ultimate in downhill riding safety and style, the D3 Carbon Jet is hard to beat.

Other Best Downhill Helmet Choices:

Bell Super 3R — from one of the most recognized names in bike helmets comes the Super 3R, built for aggressive trail conditions. It is equipped with MIPS. The removable chin bar offers versatility; use it when extreme conditions are expected, or take it off for all-mountain and Enduro-style riding.

The adjustable visor and air scoops channel air into the interior of the helmet. X-static interior head and face pads control nasties, keeping your helmet from stinking after a long day on the trail. It even has a breakaway action camera mount!

Fox Racing Proframe — with so many colors to choose from, it’s easy to match your helmet to your personal style. But good looks isn’t the only feature that helps this helmet stand out: it is one of the lightest DH helmets available.

Big intake and exhaust ports help keep you cool, and the magnetic Fidlock buckle can be worked even with gloves on. The antimicrobial liner helps keep your helmet fresh and stink-free.

Demon United Podium — need a DH helmet but don’t have unlimited funds? The Podium is just the ticket. It features great protection and ventilation, especially for a full-face model. The removable liner is washable to help keep your lid from stinking the place up. An adjustable visor and suspension dial in the perfect fit for any wearer. This helmet comes with goggles in your choice of three colors.

Best Budget-Friendly Mountain Bike Helmet

Not everyone is willing or able to shell out hundreds of dollars on a new bike helmet. Luckily, there are quite a few models on the market that are easy on the wallet, yet don’t skimp on features. Our favorite budget-friendly lid is the:

Team Obsidian Airflow — for right around $60, you get a lot of helmet. It features in-mold construction with reinforcements on the inside of the helmet, a removable visor, and a dial fit system for comfort and ease of adjustment. 22 vents provide incredible cooling for the helmet’s interior. EPS foam provides the impact protection you need to keep you safe out on the trails.

Other Budget-Friendly Choices:

Anatomy of a Mountain Bike Helmet

Bicycle helmets are designed from the ground up to provide impact protection for your head in crashes. Mountain bike helmets may include protection for your face (in full-face models for dirt jumping and downhilling), and they also tend to cover more of your head than a road-oriented bike helmet. Every mountain bike helmet is made up of three major parts:

The shell – made from plastics like ABS, polycarbonate, or carbon fiber, the shell is the first layer of head protection and keeps the rest of the helmet’s components together.

The liner – this part is the core of protection, providing deceleration and cushioning for your head (and the brain inside it). Helmet liners are typically made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam or similar foams.

The suspension – consisting of straps, buckles, sliders, and bands, this collection of bits helps secure the helmet to the rider’s head. Mountain bike suspension systems usually offer a pretty good range of adjustment to dial in the fit.

Most helmet manufacturers also include accessories like removable visors, interior pads, and other features to give you the best comfort and utility.

Downhill, Enduro, and XC – Oh My!

If you’re a mountain biker, you probably know that there are a ton of different disciplines within our sport. This can include downhilling, cross-country racing, Enduro events, dirt jumping, pump track racing, and even bikepacking or backcountry adventuring. So, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that there can be different mountain bike helmets for different off-road uses.

Back in the day, a bike helmet was, well, just a bike helmet. If you rode on-road or off, chances are you used roughly the same helmet, and they were all pretty basic. Today, mountain bike helmets cover more of your noggin.

Enduro-style helmets provide more coverage for the back and lower part of your head. Downhill helmets typically have full face guards, and so do some Enduro-style helmets. Some might even have convertible systems with a removable face guard for when you need that extra protection.

Helmets for riding XC might look a lot like a road helmet, but even they tend to be better at covering more of your head. There is no one perfect solution to finding the ideal helmet for your riding style – but a great tip is to ask your riding pals what they prefer.

Choosing the Right Mountain Bike Helmet Size

When shopping for the best mountain bike helmets on the market, you may find that not all helmets fit alike. A helmet from your favorite brand in your size – for example, a large — might be very different from the large-size models from other brands.

Read the helmet product descriptions for details on the size to fit your head before you drop your hard-earned coin on a purchase. Here are some tips to help you find the right size for your needs:

  • Most bike helmet makers have a fit guide based on measurements around your head. Helmet sizes usually fit within a range.
  • Helmets come with adjustable suspension systems like sliders and dials to get that perfect fit. Don’t forget to try them out when you’re trying on a new helmet.
  • Don’t try to get a poor-fitting helmet to work better by putting in a ton of removable pads, which usually come with most helmets. These pads are for adding comfort, not for making the helmet fit.
  • Riders with big heads might have to shop around…your massive pumpkin may not fit most helmets on the market, but a few makers offer XL and XXL sizes.

Safety Certifications for Mountain Bike Helmets

Every mountain bike helmet is required to pass minimum safety standards. In the United States, every helmet sold since 1999 must be certified by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), and there will be a sticker showing this certification.

There are several other U.S. and international safety standards, including:

Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell) Certification – an independent testing organization, Snell used to be considered the top of the heap when it came to helmet safety. Helmets meeting their B-90A standards are common; Snell B-95 certification is more stringent.

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Certification – ASTM certification requires several drop and penetration tests under the ASTM F1447 standard. For downhill mountain biking helmets, a more rigorous ASTM F1952 standard is applied, ensuring greater protection for your head.

European Committee for Standardization (CEN) Certification – established in 1997, the EN-1078 standard governs certification for all bike helmets sold throughout Europe. Helmets sold in the U.S. may also be certified under this standard.

What the Heck is MIPS?

A mountain bike helmet’s job is to protect your head in a crash. Helmets do a pretty good job of this, but not all crashes are the same. Helmet safety tests involve dropping calibrated weights from pre-determined heights to measure impact protection.

These tests don’t take into account any crash situations where the helmet might strike the ground at a sharp angle however. Enter MIPS, an acronym you may have run across when shopping for the best mountain bike helmets on the market.

Developed in Sweden, MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) is a technology that allows the helmet’s outer shell and inner foam liner to rotate against one another. In theory, this provides enhanced protection to the rider’s head, especially in slower-speed crashes or impacts occurring at sharp angles, which may result in the helmet being torqued around.

MIPS lets the foam liner move around, cushioning the rider’s head and protecting it from many more impact types than traditional helmets.

Helmets with MIPS are usually identified by a bright yellow interior connecting the liner to the inner surfaces of the outer shell. Helmets with this technology used to be fairly rare, but MIPS has taken the industry by storm, and now it can be found in helmets across price points.

Numerous manufacturers have developed their own MIPS-like systems, too, with the goal of adding another level of protection for riders wearing helmets equipped with these technologies.

Care and Feeding of Your New Mountain Bike Helmet

Let’s get something clear right from the start: you don’t actually feed your helmet; it’s just an expression. You DO have to care for it, though – when you buy the best mountain bike helmets on the market, you’re shelling out considerable funds, so it makes sense to give your investment the care it deserves.

Here are some tips for caring for that shiny new helmet of yours…think of them as DOs and DON’Ts:

  • DO wash your helmet after a particularly dirty, dusty, or muddy ride. A gentle spray with the garden hose will get off most of the gunk and help wash away any sweat or goo inside the helmet.
  • DON’T use harsh cleaners on your helmet. If your helmet is really grimy, a bit of dish soap and a soft brush or sponge is all you need to get the grime off. Avoid any cleaners that are abrasive or have solvents in them, and also avoid scrubber pads that can damage the shell of the helmet.
  • DO remove the inner pads from time to time and wash them. C’mon, dude, those things start to stink after a while! The pads are usually held in place with hook-and-loop material. Pop them out, give them a rinse in the sink, or put them inside a mesh bag and run them through the washing machine.
  • DON’T try to modify your helmet in any way, including the inner liner, the suspension, or the shell. Drilling holes in your helmet for an action camera mount is a bad idea; use adhesive tape pads instead.
  • DO give your helmet a good look-over from time to time, preferably after every ride. Look for any cracks or dents in the outer shell and interior foam. Don’t worry about scratches unless they are deep or gouged out. Check the suspension straps for fraying, too.
  • DON’T leave your helmet in a hot car. High heat for long periods of time can damage the shell and protective liner foam.
  • DO store your helmet in a cool, dry place. Some helmets even come with a storage back to keep it from getting banged up or scratched.

When Should I Replace My Helmet?

Mountain bike helmets see a ton of abuse during their lifetimes. Your helmet may get bounced around on the way to the trailhead, or it may come into contact with tree branches or the ground in crashes.

The fact of the matter is this: bike helmets don’t last forever, and they do need to be replaced to make sure you’re getting the best protection.

How do you know when it’s time to replace your mountain bike helmet? Here are some signs that it’s time to set aside funds to buy a new one:

  • Large dents, cracks, or deep gouges in the outer shell
  • Torn or frayed straps
  • Broken sliders or buckles
  • Cracks in the inner foam, or missing chunks of foam from the interior
  • A history of crashes

It’s this last sign that you should really be concerned about. Helmet foams are designed to absorb and redirect impact forces, and most helmet foams only have the cushioning to handle one or two hard impacts.

Even if the foam doesn’t look different after a crash, its internal structure has changed, compressing some of the “squish” that keeps your brain safe. In simple terms, your helmet might no longer be able to protect you in the next crash you experience.

Each manufacturer has its own guidelines on helmet replacement. Some helmet makers even provide riders with generous crash-replacement policies. Hang onto the little information book that comes with your helmet for all the details you’ll need.

Hit Those Trails!

We hope you have found our guide to the very best mountain bike helmets in 2019 useful and informative. Our goal is to make you a smarter shopper, giving you the details you need to choose the best mountain bike helmet for your own riding preferences, style, and need for safety.

Armed with this Buyer’s Guide, there’s only one thing left to do: put your helmet on and hit those trails, wherever they may take you!

Safety First: Our EPIC Buyer Guide to the Best Bike Helmets (2019 Edition)

Whether you are new to cycling or are a seasoned two-wheeled warrior, one of the very first safety items that should come to mind is a helmet. Bicycle helmets can be a polarizing topic, with arguments for and against their use – some passionate cycling advocates say that a helmet is a must every time you ride, while others aren’t as convinced of their need.

No matter your own feelings on helmets, you know that finding the right one for your particular cycling interests, style, and safety can be pretty daunting. There are literally hundreds of choices at every price point imaginable. Here’s our comprehensive guide to the best bike helmets in 2019, sprinkled through with tips and details to make your shopping experience as easy as possible.

The Humble Bicycle Helmet

At their best, bicycle helmets have one role: to protect your head from impacts resulting from crashes. Bicycle helmets are designed to provide coverage to the delicate structures of your head, cushioning any blows the rider might face on- or off-road. The typical bicycle helmet consists of three major components:

The shell – made of injection-molded plastics, polymers, or even carbon fiber, the shell keeps the helmet together and provides the first layer of impact protection.

The inner liner – this is where the majority of impact absorption and deceleration happens. Helmet liners are usually made of some type of expanded foam, such as EPS (expanded polystyrene) or EPP (expanded polypropylene). In most helmets, the inner liner deforms during a crash, cushioning the rider’s head from impacts.

The suspension system – this is the collection of brow bands, straps, and buckles that suspend the helmet on the rider’s head. Each brand has their own unique attributes, such as dial-fit suspension or adjustable straps to customize the helmet’s fit.

Manufacturers may add additional components, such as sun visors, sunglasses retainers, and padding “fit kits” to further add comfort and utility for the rider.

Bike Helmet Safety: The Basics

In the United States, bicycle helmets must meet certain minimum safety requirements. Helmets are tested in different ways to determine whether they can withstand impacts and whether they will stay in place during collisions. There are three nationally-recognized standards in use:

Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) Certification – this certification must accompany all helmets sold in the U.S. and has been so since 1999.

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Certification – the presence of an ASTM sticker on a helmet indicates that the helmet has passed several rigorous safety tests, in particular the ASTM F1447 standard.

Snell Memorial Foundation (“Snell”) Certification – an independent testing organization with their own safety standards, Snell certification was considered the gold standard throughout the 1970s and 80s. Today, a Snell sticker on a bicycle helmet indicates that it has passed B-90A standards, meeting roughly the same safety standards as the ASTM certification, although the Foundation also has a more stringent B-95 standard that many advocates say is superior to the other certifications.

Bicycle helmets are designed to protect your most valuable attribute: the gray matter between your ears. It’s wise to choose a helmet that passes at least one of these certification standards.

A Word About Bicycle Helmet Sizing

In your quest to find the perfect bicycle helmet, you may have discovered that each company has its own sizing. A medium-sized helmet from Brand X may not fit the same as a similarly-sized model from Brand Y. Every helmet manufacturer uses its own forms and construction methods, meaning that you really need to check the dimensions carefully before purchasing. Here are some tips to selecting the right size for you, regardless of brand:

  • Every bicycle helmet publishes a fit guide; typically, sizing is based on a measurement of the circumference of your head. Check the guide for specifics on sizing of different models.
  • Bicycle helmets offer some form of size adjustment, like ratcheting straps or dials to tailor the fit to your unique head size. Take advantage of these adjustments for the perfect fit.
  • Many bicycle helmets come with various internal pads in several thicknesses. Do NOT rely on these to correct a poorly-fitting helmet. The pads are only to make wearing it more comfortable, not to make it fit better.
  • Got a big noggin? Be prepared to try on different sizes and models across brands. There are a few models out there that should contain your big head!

Aero vs. Ventilated: What’s the Difference?

For years, helmet manufacturers have devised ways to improve airflow into and through the helmet. In fact, this became an arms race of sorts, with each helmet maker adding more and more vents, scoops, and slots to force air around the rider’s head. Ventilated helmets are great, especially on hot days when the temperatures are high enough to virtually bake your brain.

All that changed about a decade ago, when professional bike racers sought ways to reduce drag in high-intensity sprints. Helmet manufacturers turned to aero considerations, reducing venting and increasing smooth, slippery areas for air to go around the rider’s head. Although these helmets still offer some type of interior ventilation, it is minimal at best.

Best Ventilated Bicycle Helmets

  • Sena R1 Smart – in addition to the massive cooling vents in the shell of this helmet, the R1 Smart comes with unique features, including Bluetooth connectivity, built-in speakers, and a mic so you can communicate with your riding partners. How cool is that?
  • Rudy Project Strym – splitting the difference between ventilation and aerodynamics, this helmet is ideal for training rides, races, and everything in between. It meets exacting safety standards and a easily-adjusted suspension system for comfort.
  • Kask Rapido – a unique fit system adjusts in three directions at once, offering unrivaled retention. The bonded shell and core provide great protection, and the multiple vents help keep you cool when you’re putting out the watts.
  • Bell Drifter – less expensive than other ventilated models, this stylish road helmet from Bell comes in a myriad of color options and adds MIPS for even more protection in crashes. A removable sun visor finishes this budget-friendly model off.
  • Bell Gage – incredible ventilation is made possible by the 26 massive vents in the shell of this helmet. The helmet comes in several colors, all featuring an adjustable fit system and removable anti-bacterial interior padding.
  • Giro Foray – tons of color options and a huge number of cooling vents characterize this popular road helmet. The Giro Roc Loc 5 retention and fit system ensures that it fits your head perfectly and stays in place when the chips are down.
  • Giro Synthe – a perfect blend of aerodynamic slipperiness and cooling ventilation earned this helmet an editor’s choice award by a leading cycling magazine. The Roc Loc fit system and MIPS add an incredible amount of protection for the rider’s head.

Best Aero Bicycle Helmets

  • Louis Garneau Vitesse – designed to slip through the wind, this sleek helmet is ideal for the go-fast crowd. It comes in two colors, and meets multiple international standards for safety.
  • Giro Vanquish Aero – even though the outer shell has numerous ventilation ports, clever design features add aero benefits. It comes with a really cool magnetic eye shield by Zeiss. The helmet is also equipped with MIPS for added safety.
  • Giro Aerohead – when only the best will do, fast riders turn to the Aerohead to cheat the wind. Available in several colors, the helmet comes with an aerodynamic face shield/lens held in place with magnets.
  • Rock Bros Aero – ready for aerodynamic advantages, but don’t have the budget for a fancy helmet? Rock Bros has your back. This helmet comes in multiple colors with an adjustable and comfortable suspension system, all under $50.00.
  • Rudy Project Spectrum – available in five colors, this helmet helps you slip through the wind, all while keeping you cool on the hottest days. An adaptive suspension and RSR10 retention system improves the fit.
  • Rudy Project Boost 01 – looking like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie, this helmet was designed with one goal in mind: to go fast. It still manages to offer impressive ventilation on hot rides. An optical flip-up face shield adds to the aero effect. The Boost 01 is incredibly popular with triathletes.
  • Kask CPSC Infinity – tested in the wind tunnel, this helmet strikes the perfect balance between aerodynamics and heat management. Kask reinforces the internal structure to add even more safety for riders.

What is MIPS?

If you’ve been shopping for the best bike helmets, you may have run across the word “MIPS”. This new technology has turned the helmet industry on its head, adding new levels of protection. So what the heck does MIPS mean?

Developed in Sweden, MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. Helmets with MIPS technology are made with two layers of foam that rotate against each other. This provides a different level of protection to riders, especially in slower-speed crashes or oblique (at a sharp angle) impacts. By allowing the helmet to rotate during a crash, it reduces the amount of force jostling your brain, and in theory makes the helmet a bit safer.

The jury’s still out whether MIPS is a “must-have” feature, but more and more helmet makers are adding it to their models. At their best, MIPS-equipped helmets may provide extra protection for you brain, making the slightly added expense worth the cost.

Best MIPS-Equipped Bicycle Helmets

  • Giro Register – integrated with MIPS, this stylish helmet offers a bunch of great features and colors, and won’t break the bank.
  • Giro Isode – from one of the best-known bike helmet makers comes the Isode, a unisex helmet with MIPS. It comes in a range of colors and features 19 cooling vents.
  • Giro Syntax – highly-rated, this MIPS-equipped helmet offers a handful of color options and Giro’s exclusive RocLoc 5 Fit System.
  • Bell Stratus – from the helmet industry leaders at Bell comes the Stratus, with a bonded shell/liner, a floating suspension system, and MIPS right from the factory. It comes in a wide range of colors and sizes to suit any rider.
  • Bell Draft – this relatively budget-friendly road helmet is equipped with MIPS and comes in a range of colors. 25 vents help keep you cool on the hottest days.
  • Lazer Z1 – sporting a whopping 31 vents for cooling, this MIPS-equipped helmet is on the high end in terms of price, but it gets great ratings from road riders around the world.
  • Lazer Blade+ MIPS – just like the name says, this helmet features MIPS in addition to internal reinforcements, giving the helmet greater durability. The suspension system is highly adjustable for comfort.

Best Budget-Friendly Bicycle Helmets

As you shop around for the bicycle helmet of your dreams, you may have been surprised by some of the prices. In fact, you may be experiencing “sticker shock” – with several helmets from popular brands going for upwards of $200.

It doesn’t have to be that way. There are numerous budget-friendly helmet choices on the market. Sure, you might not get all of the latest features or the hottest brands, but these less-expensive helmets still provide all the protection you need when riding. Here are some of our favorite helmets for under $50:

  • Basecamp Specialized – for around $30, you get multiple color choices, high safety standards, and some unique features like built-in LED taillight, bug net, and visor.
  • Victgoal Dual-Fit – this highly-ventilated and highly-rated helmet comes in around $30, yet it offers a ton of great features, including a magnetic removable “goggle” and a built-in LED taillight.
  • Critical Cycles CM-1 Classic – a ton of colors brings you in, and the inexpensive cost seals the deal. This skate-style helmet is a great choice for riders on a tight budget, but who want style, comfort, and safety.
  • Schwinn Thrasher – from one of the most recognized names in the bike industry, this helmet may only cost about $20, but it has the features and style of helmets in much pricier categories. The Thrasher comes in a range of colors to suit any look.
  • Moon Unibody – CPSC certified and featuring 25 vents for cooling, this helmet ticks all the boxes without breaking the bank.
  • GoMax Aero — available in several colors, this helmet offers a built-in LED taillight, a removable visor, and an in-mold shell/liner for safety.
  • Kingbike Ultralight — a removable sun visor, a built-in light, and great color choices characterize this very affordable bike helmet.

Best Commuter Bicycle Helmets

A lot of bike commuters prefer helmets that don’t look so racy. For shorter trips to and from work, all those vents and bright colors of race-oriented helmets aren’t really desired. As a response, several bike helmet manufacturers have added commuter-friendly options to their lineups. These helmets generally have more subdued colors and less of a go-fast appearance, which fits pretty well with the whole urban vibe that commuters dig.

Another popular choice among urban riders and bike commuters is the “skate-style” helmet. Here, the choices run the gamut from very plain to garish and even cute color and style choices. Skate-style helmets have one major drawback – they don’t ventilate terribly well, having only a few vent holes in the top and front. Some riders may feel these helmets are too hot in summer conditions. In any case, here are some of our favorite commuter-oriented bike helmet models:

  • Thousand Heritage – with a subdued shape and special features, this safety-rated bike helmet is perfect for commuters. A hidden internal lock lets you lock your helmet to your bike when you’re away. Best of all, this model comes in colors from mild to wild.
  • Nutcase Metroride — long a personal favorite as well as popular among urban riders, this helmet features great ventilation for a skate-style helmet and comes in a bunch of stylish colorways.
  • Nutcase Solid Street — another great skater-style helmet, and it comes in colors to match your mood, your bike, or anything you desire.
  • Triple Eight Gotham — certified for safety in cycling and skating, this helmet may be pretty basic, but it comes in a ton of great colors and has an innovative internal foam system.
  • Bern Watts — for discerning commuters and urban riders, the Watts helmet ticks all the boxes and does it in style. Best of all, it comes in great colors without being too flashy.
  • Bern Unlimited Berkeley — billed as a summer helmet, this model offers better ventilation than typical skate-style lids. It comes in great colors and passes rigorous safety standards.
  • Bell Segment — from one of the most recognizable helmet makers, the Segment offers true urban style and comfort to spare.

Taking Care of Your New Bicycle Helmet

Say you’ve shelled out a couple hundo on a new helmet. How do you go about taking care of your investment? It’s not as hard as you might imagine. Here are some tips:

  • First, when you’re done riding for the day, some riders like to rinse the helmet out with fresh water to flush out all the sweat and salt. A few riders (myself included) have even been known to walk right into the post-ride shower with their helmets on.
  • Remove the inner pads if you can – most are attached with hook-and-loop material. These pads can be washed in the sink or can even go into the washing machine if you put them in a small mesh bag. Washing them periodically keeps them fresh. Don’t forget to put the pads back in before your next ride!
  • Wipe any mud or grime off the outer shell of the helmet with a damp rag. Try not to use any harsh cleaners; water is the best option here.
  • Check the shell, inner foam, and suspension for any cracks, dents, or fraying periodically. Surface scratches on the shell are no big deal, but any large gouges or cracks mean you should probably set aside some funds to replace your helmet.
  • Store your helmet in a cool, dry place, and don’t let it bang around when you’re not riding. Frequent drops or bangs can eventually reduce the foam’s ability to protect you.
  • DO NOT leave your helmet in a hot car for extended periods of time. Excessive heat can damage the protective foam, leaving you with a helmet that may not protect your brain when you hit the deck.

When Should I Replace My Helmet?

Bicycle helmets offer great peace of mind as you ride, protecting your head from potential injuries. Bicycle helmets don’t last forever, though, and you’ll probably have to replace your helmet every few years to be safe.

Signs your helmet needs replacing include:

  • Obvious large dents or cracks (even small cracks) in the outer shell.
  • Frayed or loose straps.
  • Broken buckles or adjustment sliders.
  • Cracks in the interior foam or missing chunks of foam.

Less obvious but perhaps the most important factor that goes into replacing your helmet is this: if you’ve been in a crash and have hit your helmet on the pavement, it’s a great idea to replace the helmet immediately. Here’s why: helmet foams are designed to absorb impact, effectively cushioning your head and brain. The foam compresses during a crash event, and even though it may not look compressed, its ability to absorb another impact is greatly reduced. Why take a chance when your safety is at stake?

It’s a good idea to get specific helmet replacement details from your helmet’s manufacturer. Some helmet makers even offer a crash-replacement policy, getting you a new helmet at a reduced cost. Save the booklet that comes with your helmet for all the juicy details!

Get Out and RIDE!

We hope you have found our 2019 Bicycle Helmet Buyer’s Guide useful and informative. Our goal is to make you a smarter shopper, giving you the details you need to choose the best bicycle helmet for your riding style and safety needs. Armed with this Buyer’s Guide, there’s only one thing left to do: put your helmet on and go for a ride!