Choosing the best bike helmets depends on your needs and budget, so picking through the market can be tricky. There is a vast range of factors to consider – at the very least, all bike helmets must conform to the same minimum safety standards.
However, the choice of optimal bike helmet for you ultimately depends on your individual needs. Be it enhanced safety in mind, or comfort, size, and ventilation. Sometimes even, at the top end of the budget scale, low weight and aerodynamics too.
Giro Syntax MIPS Cycling Helmet – overall best bike helmet
POC Tectal Race Spin – best for mountain biking
LAZER Z1 – ultimate ventilation
Thousand Anti-Theft – best for city commuting
Kask Protone – premium helmet if money is not an object
Bontrager Starvos MIPS Road Bike Helmet – top pick for road cycling
Schwinn Thrasher – budget helmet
Giro Fixture MIPS – best for women
Bell Falcon – great for large heads
Giro Scamp – optimal choice for kids
Nutcase Baby Nutty – best for toddlers and babies (infants)
The Syntax is an excellent all-rounder from Giro, one of the leading bike helmet brands in the business. Founded in 1985, Giro have been at the forefront of the peloton since the days before helmets were even mandatory in the pro peloton.
The Syntax is an all-round offering, which thanks to its superb value is among the market leaders. You can pay a lot, lot more for the safety features and ventilation offered by the Syntax.
On the safety front, almost all of Giro’s bike helmets now come with MIPS – Multi-directional Impact Protection System – as standard, and the Syntax is no different. MIPS is the brainchild of a Swedish neurosurgeon, designed to protect your head from rotational motion injuries in the event of a crash.
Throw in 25 large vents for effective cooling, some moderate aerodynamic considerations and a low weight of 9.2oz and you can not go far wrong.
POC are another of the leading bike helmet brands in the business, and the Tectal Race – their top-performing mountain bike helmet – comes equipped with their own rotational impact protection system, SPIN. As with MIPS technology, the patent-pending SPIN – Shearing Pad INside, is designed to restrict rotational motion injuries.
In fact, the Tectal Race comes top of the class for protection in many regards – the trail-dedicated lid offers deep coverage to protect the temples and back of your head, without carrying needless extra bulk.
Furthermore, a unibody shell design serves to enhance the robustness and the helmet’s integrity. Again, without adding too much weight.
It is well-ventilated too, while added touches include a reflector, goggle clip, and adjustable visor to make it the top choice for hitting the trails.
Lightweight, comfortable and extremely well-ventilated – there is little not to like about the Lazer Z1 helmet. Popular in the pro peloton, Lazer was born in the Flandrian region of Belgium in 1919.
Their helmets, therefore, are the product of more than a century in the business, based out of one of cycling’s most iconic heartlands. It is no surprise then, that in the Z1 they have produced one of the best helmets on the market if you are looking for first-class ventilation.
The cooling system is the most impressive, so let’s start there – 31 well-sized vents ensure things nice and breezy up top, even on the hottest days. When it first launched in 2015, the Z1 was also Lazer’s lightest lid. Comfort is looked after by Lazer’s popular, easy-to-use Advanced Rollsys fit system. Finally, if you are looking for versatility, the Z1 is compatible with Lazer’s Aeroshell.
The Thousand Anti-Theft Guarantee helmet does exactly what it says on the tin. For the urban commuter, aerodynamics and advanced cooling systems are probably the least of your worries when it comes to bike helmets. All you need is a comfortable, protective lid that can be securely stowed away with your bike. And Thousand have come up with the perfect solution.
How can a helmet carry an anti-theft guarantee? Simple – pop out the Thousand logo, thread your bike lock through and secure your bike and helmet together. In fact, Thousand will replace your helmet if it is stolen while attached to your bike.
Alongside the anti-theft features, the helmet is good for the environment too – featuring vegan leather straps – and Thousand offset 110 percent of the carbon emissions produced in making it. It is stylish too, with a moto trim, and a semi-gloss finish in a range of eye-catching colorways.
If money is not an object, the Kask Protone is a feature-packed, premium bike helmet offering a perfect blend of aerodynamics, comfort, fit and ventilation. If you need further proof of its quality, it also has the stamp of approval in the professional peloton where Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) have turned to the Italian brand’s all-rounder during their multiple Tour de France triumphs.
The link-up with Team Sky means the Protone – designed in collaboration with the team – is the product of rigorous testing in the Jaguar wind-tunnel. Kask’s aero-performance claims are far more than just hyperbole.
It is not just about aerodynamics, either – the Protone is a true all-rounder, with large front vents providing excellent ventilation and heat dissipation, as well as 3D Dry padding for extra comfort. It weighs in at just 8.1oz and Kask’s Octofit adjustment system ensures an excellent fit too.
You do not need to pay top dollar for the best road cycling helmets, however, and the Bontrager Starvos – another complete with MIPS technology – proves that point. The Starvos is a tech-packed road-dedicated lid, but those smart features do not cost a fortune. This helmet offers plenty of bang for your buck.
Founded in 1980 in California, Keith Bontrager’s eponymous brand has grown into a long-standing partnership with Trek, serving as the hugely popular bike brand’s accessories arm. The Starvos was launched as their entry-level MIPS helmet, but the slip-pane rotational motion impact protection is not the only bit of tech packed in.
A Boa closure system – more commonly found on premium road bike shoes – ensures a micro-adjustable fit, which can be done one-handed, on the fly. Recessed internal channels provide enhanced airflow, and a FlatLock closure system keeps things tidy and convenient with the straps too.
When it comes to bike helmets, you get what you pay for – but the Schwinn Thrasher proves you do not need to break the bank to get a decent quality, budget lid which still serves up comfort, ventilation and an easily adjustable fit.
Available in adult, youth or child sizes, and in 20 different colors, the Thrasher is a fuss-free, entry-level bike helmet. Low price does not mean low safety, either. Remember, all helmets must conform to minimum safety standards. If you are less fussed about top-of-the-class ventilation, feather-weight construction and the latest in impact protection, there is no reason to break the bank.
And the Thrasher is not without its useful features either, like the dial-fit strap for full adjustability, 20 ventilation holes to offer decent cooling and moisture-wicking internal pads for the hotter, sweatier days in the saddle.
While there is no anatomical difference between the shape of men’s and women’s heads – just a slight difference in average diameter – the Giro Fixture is part of the brand’s Women’s Series, which priorities universal fit. As with the vast majority of Giro helmets, MIPS protection is standard, but the trail-dedicated lid otherwise shuns too much fuss to ensure it comes in at a budget price.
Penny-pinching measures include a non-adjustable visor, a reduction in the amount of interior padding, and fewer vents than you might find on Giro’s higher-end mountain-bike helmets. Nevertheless, the Roc-Loc Sport fit offers 57 different possible size adjustments to cover a wide range of head sizes and there are five attractive color options on offer including the eye-catching Matte Frost.
On the other end of the size scale, the Bell Falcon is designed for riders who need a larger bike helmet. Aside from the larger size, there is no difference between the XL Falcon and Bell’s other first-class helmets, however. Featuring MIPS technology for added safety, the Falcon also boasts Bell’s float fit – a minimalist, rubber-dialed fit system and quick-adjust fasteners.
Smart tech includes the Sweat Guide pad – Bell’s moisture-wicking solution to keeping sweat away from your eyes/eyewear. At the same time, the brand’s construction process includes bonding the outer shell to the foam liner for a sturdier end product. For its size, it is lightweight too and boasts plenty of deep air channels for ventilation.
When it comes to children’s helmets, the Giro Scamp offers top protection and plenty of features for younger riders. Top-of-the-range protection is not just available for adults, which is handy considering it is kids more likely to get into bumps and scrapes when on their bike.
The Giro Scamp is equipped with MIPS technology, alongside a host of other features more readily associated with the California helmet specialists higher-end lids.
Such features, alongside the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, include a Roc Loc Jr fit system for maximum adjustment, extending the life of the helmet as kids grow. Crafted from a lightweight, in-mold shell, the Scamp is based on the Montaro adults’ trail helmet and comes in a range of kid-friendly designs. The Blue/Green Creature Camo is a great choice for boys. And very few girls could resist the Pink Flower Land color.
For the smallest riders on their balance bikes or, more likely, bike passengers, the Nutcase Baby Nutty is the top choice for toddlers. It has been tested and safety-certified for ages one and older, and uses a host of clever features aimed at providing a secure, but comfortable, fit for infants.
First of all, the lightweight shell is 9.2oz to avoid too much weight and has 11 vents – including bee screens on the front vents to keep things cool but protected. EPS foam ensures there is sufficient protection too.
A sturdy elastic provides an easy, adjustable fit without the need for dials and an additional pad set enhances the fit where necessary. The buckle is magnetic, with a soft buckle pad to avoid pinches.