The bike craze is still going strong. While new motorcycles are still hard to come by, helmets of all shapes and sizes are still widely available. Having a plethora of options, on the other hand, does not assist in deciding which helmet to purchase, especially when there are hundreds of different types to choose from. We looked into the recommendations of a number of experts to find the best cycling helmets.
Before choosing cycling helmets for adults
1. Suitable type of biking
Perhaps not surprisingly, many of our experts say the first thing to consider when shopping for a helmet is the type of biking you do. Obviously, there are basically three categories:
- Road biking helmets (“generally lighter weight, with better ventilation and more aerodynamic design”).
- Mountain biking helmets (“typically with a front visor for protection and more coverage in the back”).
- Commuter biking helmets (“designed for a little bit of everything”).
2. Which types of helmets do you like?
Aside from finding a helmet that fits your riding style, experts remind us that the best helmet is the one you’ll wear, so choosing one that looks good is also important.
When it comes to helmet shopping, many of the experts we spoke with mentioned one more detail: whether or not they have MIPS technology, or an interior lining designed to protect against brain damage if you fall. MIPS is not, in fact, one of the basic safety standards that all helmets sold in the United States are required to meet, which is why you won’t find it in every helmet. Many cycling helmets are built with MIPS technology due to the overwhelming preference of experts (or versions of it). But if you see one you like and don’t want to shell out for the extra protection, chances are the brand will have a (slightly cheaper) non-MIPS alternative.
Cycling helmets for adults, which should you choose?
The top 15 helmet picks from the experts are listed below, organized by the type of biking they’re best suited for.
Best helmets for commuter biking
1. Thousand Chapter MIPS Cycling Helmet
Christina Torres, the creator of City Girl Rides, has long been “obsessed with Thousand bike helmets for their classic aesthetic, usefulness, and sustainability principles.” Many of the experts we spoke with mentioned the brand, which straddles the line between form and function. “While the design is clean and simple, the helmets have innovative features like vegan-friendly straps, a creative pop lock to help you leave your helmet with your bike, and a simple-to-use, pinch-free magnetic clasp,” says Lauren Jones, marketing and product development manager at Brilliant Bicycle Co.
2. Giro Caden MIPS Urban Cycling Helmet
The president of Brooklyn Bicycle Co., Ryan Zagata, describes this less-expensive helmet as “stylish yet incredibly functional,” adding that it has “an abundance of ventilation to keep your head cool while riding.” It also has a removable visor to shield your eyes from the sun. According to Zagata, the combination of these characteristics makes this “a top-notch city helmet.” Giro helmets were mentioned several times in our reporting; Laurence Wattrus, the head of technology at cycling manufacturer Hammerhead, says he’s “historically used” the brand because he likes the aesthetics and safety features of its helmets.
3. Giro Cormick MIPS Cycling Helmet
If you’re riding near cars, it’s a good idea to make yourself extremely visible. According to Joseph Nocella, owner of 718 Cyclery in Brooklyn, he rides with Giro’s Cormick helmet, which comes in “high-visibility yellow so as many people as possible can see me.” According to Nocella, it’s a “nice hybrid of the roadie style and the bowling ball/skater style,” and it “looks nice and sleek but has ventilation.”
4. Bontrager Solstice MIPS Helmet
Sawyer recommends this similarly bright (and reasonably priced) helmet, claiming that he “sells a lot of” it to commuters “because it’s really lightweight and a good ride-around-town kind of helmet.” It’s manufactured by Bontrager, a name that came up several times during our investigation.
5. POC Omne Air Spin Bike Helmet
POC (the manufacturer of other products mentioned by cyclists) was one of the first to offer MIPS technology, and it has since developed its own comparable proprietary technology called Spin. “Instead of a plastic liner that moves independently of the helmet, Spin is silicone injected into the foam pads inside the helmet that slip side to side,” Adventure Cyclist magazine editor-in-chief Alex Strickland explains. He calls it a “super-comfortable, well-ventilated helmet” with a “lower profile fit, so you don’t feel like a bobblehead.” It is available in a variety of other highly visible colors in addition to the yellow shown.
6. Specialized Echelon II MIPS Cycling Helmet
This Specialized helmet, according to Charlie McCorkell of New York City’s Bicycle Habitat, combines the comfort of a commuter helmet with the ventilation needed for more intense biking. Its numerous air vents keep your head cool whether you’re biking to work, riding on the road, or traversing more difficult terrain. It also has a “static yoke below the ear so the straps don’t tangle when you hang it on your handlebar when not riding,” he adds, and “it never needs adjustment after the first fitting.” That yoke is also useful because, unlike most helmets, it does not need to be readjusted — the yoke holds the strap in place.
7. Lumos Smart Bike Helmet
Your bike should already be equipped with lights. (It’s illegal to ride at night in New York City without a white headlight and a red taillight; this USB-rechargeable set is an excellent option for anyone in need.) A light-up helmet, on the other hand, makes you much more visible to drivers on the road if you regularly commute before or after sunrise or sunset. According to Peter Reynolds, co-founder of the Discerning Cyclist blog, Lumos’ light-up helmets are especially popular among commuters, in part because the lights can be programmed to change color when you brake or need to indicate using a corresponding app.
Best helmets for road biking
1. Bontrager Starvos WaveCel Helmet
Instead of MIPS, this road bike helmet features a brand new impact reduction technology called WaveCel.
The WaveCel was previously only found in high-end Bontrager helmets but has now been “reduced to this $100 price point”. Despite the extra layer of protection, this helmet is still “super comfortable”. The helmet also received a five-star rating from Virginia Tech, which conducts independent impact testing that is said to be more thorough than the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s testing.
2. Giro Register MIPS Bike Helmet
Kelley and Watson both recommend the Register as an affordable, lightweight road helmet. They also have MIPS if you want to maximize speed. They praised its excellent airflow and ventilation. It has a small visor, making it ideal for off-road cycling.
3. Bontrager Starvos MIPS Road Bike Helmet
Watson likes this Bontrager road helmet because of its high-end appearance, as well as the fact that it’s light, ventilated, and features a BOA Fit System, which is chosen by top cycling brands and manufacturers because it helps wearers to obtain an even more accurate fit.
4. Giro Cinder MIPS Adult Road Cycling Helmet
According to Kelley, the Giro Cinder represents “the latest and greatest helmet design” for serious road riding. One reason for this is that it is extremely light.
5. Lazer Blade+ MIPS Helmet
This well-ventilated, lightweight helmet, according to Strickland, has a shape that gives you a little extra room around your forehead. Long-haired riders should be aware that it is also described as “ponytail-friendly.”
Best helmets for mountain biking
1. Giro Montaro MIPS Helmet
When it comes to the best mountain bike helmets, we’ve heard a lot about the Giro (again). Experts name some styles that are worth your money. Albert Cabbad of Brooklyn’s R&A Cycles recommends the Montaro, saying it’s “a great price point” for the type of “concussion prevention” it provides.
2. Giro Fixture MIPS Bike Helmet
Even better than the Montaro’s low price is the Giro Fixture, which Watson recommends. It has many of the same features as the helmet mentioned above but is slightly less expensive.
3. Bontrager Quantum MIPS Bike Helmet
Consider the Bontrager Quantum, another mountain-biking option from a well-known company. It’s also something Watson encourages. Not only does he laud the helmet’s ventilation, but it also comes with Bontrager’s Crash Replacement Guarantee, which ensures that if your helmet is damaged in an accident within the first year of ownership, you will receive a free replacement.
In a nutshell, cycling helmets are protective headgear meant to keep you safe in the case of a fall or crash. Equip yourself with one and get extra protection in every ride.