Whether you realise it or not, choosing the best road bike helmet to buy can be a tough decision these days.
We want it to be good looking, lightweight, aero, low profile, plenty of ventilation and comes with MIPS for top protection.
Further Reading : 7 Things to Consider When Buying A Cycling Helmet
I've them covered below for you. You'll definitely find one that suits you.
Best Value for Money Road Bike Helmets
1. Giro Cinder MIPS
A great budget version of the flagship Giro Synthe.
The Giro Cinder brings a safety-oriented package for racers, delivering a great budget version of the Synthe that doesn't feel like a compromise.
Despite these impressive safety features, the Giro Cinder doesn't tack on much extra weight and comes in at a light 310 grams. The buttery smooth Roc Loc 5 retention system keeps the helmet locked on your head without you even knowing it's there.
Giro's decision to use in-mold polycarbonate for its shell affords the fortunate additions of 26 massive Wind Tunnel vents with internal channels that route air over your head and out the exhaust in the back of the helmet.
Lastly, the Giro Cinder is ponytail compatible, an often overlooked feature that I'm happy to see integrated into this fantastic CPSC certified helmet.
2. Bell Stratus MIPS
Incredible safety at a great price point.
The Bell Stratus MIPS offers riders incredible safety at a great price point.
Bellʼs Float Fit system keeps the helmet comfortable and in the right place.
The Bell Stratus is specʼd with a very cool 18 vents and weighs a light 275 grams.
Safety wise, the MIPS integration and CPSC compliance make the Bell Stratus MIPS helmet a great choice for road use.
3. Scott Arx Plus MIPS
A helmet that is gentle on the wallet.
Scott has come through with a budget-friendly and superbly safe helmet that doesn't skimp on good looks or great wearability.
The Scott Arx Plus MIPS has the distinction of being Scott's first ever MIPS-equipped helmet. The MIPS Brain Protection System integration means that you can count on the Arx Plus to be there for you if you go down, and that in itself makes this helmet a real winner.
At 270 grams, the Arx Plus MIPS passes the weight test with flying colors. Using in-mold polycarbonate construction, the Arx Plus MIPS keeps weight down but impact absorption high, all while offering generous venting that doesn't cut corners on safety.
Scott's famous MRAS retention system wraps the helmet firmly on the head without any sensations of pressure whatsoever, keeping you as comfortable on kilometer 160 as you were on kilometer 10.
4. Kask Mojito
A bike helmet that stood the test of time.
The Kask Mojito is more of a pure road helmet than the more aerodynamic Protone.
It has been around for a long time, since 2012 when Bradley Wiggins wore it enroute to winning the Tour de France. 6 years on, the Mojito continues to be a popular choice among road cyclists.
At 226 grams, the Mojito is very light with 26 vents to keep your head feeling well ventilated. Getting your fit dialed in via Kask's proprietary Up-N-Down retention system is a easy.
5. Oakley Aro3 MIPS
A fantastic, budget friendly aero helmet.
Perhaps youʼve seen Mark Cavendish in the unique Oakley Aro3. It certainly stands apart from other helmet offerings.
The Oakley Aro3 is a fantastic aero helmet that features massive vents to keep you from overheating even on the sunniest summer days. In laboratory tests, the Aro3 has been shown to effectively ventilate the riderʼs head even at slow speeds.
Featuring a MIPS liner CPSC compliance, the Aro3 is also great for buyers looking for a high standard of safety as well as looks.
Best Performance Road Bike Helmets
One of the best looking flagship helmets.
The ever-popular Giro Synthe is a great choice for riders looking for a sleek, low-profile helmet that avoids the bulbous look of other offerings.
The Giro Synthe is another great example of a helmet that combines aerodynamics, ventilation, and low-weight into a winning package that is a favorite of pro riders around the world.
Coming in at 250 grams, the Giro Synthe uses a Roc-Lite retention system that gives you a highly customizable fit so that the helmet sits exactly as youʼd like.
The low-profile ensures that when youʼre tucked low in the drops wind will carry straight over your helmet or into one of the 26 vents to cool you off.
The Giro Synthe also offers the best range of safety features available with a MIPS version also available at a slightly higher price point.
2. Lazer Z1 MIPS
Light, aero and well ventilated.
The Lazer Z1 MIPS is the Tesla of cycling helmets.
Its efficiency is unmatched when you consider its high performance in varied conditions and built-in MIPS protecting your most valuable asset, your head.
Weighing in at a lightweight 225 grams, the Lazer Z1 MIPS has 31 vents to keep the cool wind blowing over your sweat-soaked brow.
Lazerʼs Rollsys system was the first to bring a fully adjustable fit to cycling helmets, and Z1 incarnation as the Advanced Rollsys doesnʼt disappoint.
The Lazer Z1 MIPS offers the pinnacle in cycling helmet safety and should be strongly considered by those looking to keep themselves protected.
3. Kask Protone
A very popular helmet among those who want to look good.
The Kask Protone is, quite simply, a perfect helmet.
Previously, consumers were told to pick two between weight, aerodynamics, and ventilation. With the Protone, you have all three.
Weighing in at a mere 215 grams, the Protone manages to be light while delivering features some would only expect from a much heavier, clunkier helmet.
Kask wind-tested the Protone with Team Sky riders and has been Tour de France winner Chris Froomeʼs helmet of choice since its introduction. You can still see them wearing the Protone at this year's Tour de France.
Because of its versatility, the Protone can be spotted on riders doing anything from flat time-trials to above category climbs deep in the Alps.
Ventilation in the Protone comes from a generous helping of vents all around the helmet, drawing air in and above the head before being sucked out of the exhaust vents.
4. Bell Zephyr MIPS
Low profile and minimalistic looking bike helmet.
With decades of experience building safe helmets for the masses, Bell has integrated all of those into their flagship helmet, the Zephyr MIPS.
Bell's Zephyr MIPS takes a low-profile approach to helmet design making it a study in minimalist good-looks. By staying close to the head, the Zephyr gives riders a sleek appearance that one might even call pro.
At 280 grams, the Bell Zephyr isn't the lightest helmet on this list, but it's certainly the most feature rich. Bell stopped at nothing to create a balanced helmet with equally strong performance aerodynamics, ventilation, and safety characteristics.
Their Float Fit Race retention system cradles your head in such a way that you'll quickly forget it's there, even if you're suffering up the last climb of the day. Speaking of climbing, you'll be happy to know that their ventilation system works wonders even at low speeds.
Bell's Progressive Layering Technology is the real treat in their safety system. Using layers of different densities, Bell has created a shell that manages the forces directed toward your head in a crash, building a new paradigm for safety in the process.
5. POC Octal MIPS
A helmet that divides opinions. Either you love it, or you don't.
At first, the POC Octal divided cycling communities worldwide with its unconventional design and loud fluo colorways. However, popular opinion fell decidedly in favor of POC's flagship helmet featuring head-saving MIPS.
The Octal has a reputation of being the safest road bike helmet today.
Even without MIPS, the Octal performs strongly in the safety category. With the addition of MIPS, however, it's in a class of its own.
Coming in at a feathery 255 grams, the Octal fits serious performance into a lightweight package.
With several years of a partnership with Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling under their belt, POC has worked closely with the team's riders to craft a high-performance helmet for the most discerning riders who still demand the utmost in safety.
Using a unibody shell construction, the Octal is noticeably aero while staying cool to boot. The massive vents spread across the front keep you cool on even the hottest of days, without sacrificing aerodynamics.
Other subtle features include an integrated sunglasses holder and adjustment straps that are blended with the helmet's liner for comfort.
7 Things to Consider When Buying A Good Road Bike Helmet
1. Safety Standards for Bike Helmets
The work that goes into making a bike helmet safe for use on the road is unknown to most consumers.
It's a lot of work involved.
It all begins with bike helmet safety standards that are mandated on a country by country basis. Some countries have no standards while others, like Australia, the United States, and the European Union have rigorous standards.
Helmet manufacturers who distribute their helmets in several countries must comply with different types of safety standards.
The beneficial effect of this for cyclists worldwide is that to comply on a global level, helmet manufacturers must use extremely rigorous standards as a starting point.
Helmet safety standards tell manufacturers the exact amount of stress and impact a helmet must be able to undergo.
Key measurements in the test deal with the amount of impact a helmet is able to absorb, how well it disperses impact, and how well it stays attached to the userʼshead under duress.
United States and European Union Helmet Standards
For both of these standards, helmets are lab-tested with anvils dropped from up to 2 meters high.
Different areas of the helmet are then stress tested and head-coverage is considered.
When you buy a helmet from an online merchant, odds are youʼre buying a CPSC/CE standard helmet.
The CSPC and CE standards have become the closest thing bike helmet manufacturers have to an international standard.
Australian Helmet Standards
Perhaps no other country has a standard quite as tough as Australiaʼs AS/NZS 2063:2008 standard.
In fact, the Australian helmet standard is so strict that manufacturers must produce an Australian only version that is heavier.
Road cyclists in Australia looking to buy a helmet from an online retailer will need to make sure that the version they are buying is AS/NZS 1698:2006 compliant, otherwise, in the eyes of the Australian law, you might as well ride without a helmet at all.
I'm not joking.
2. MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System)
Perhaps youʼve seen helmets begin to pop up on the market with a yellow MIPS tag.
Normally, youʼll see one helmet, for instance the Giro Synthe, and priced slightly higher will be a Giro Synthe MIPS.
MIPS vs non-MIPS
The difference is that MIPS, short for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, is designed to protect your head from rotational force impacts.
Initially developed at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, MIPS helmets are made of two layers which slip against each other during an impact.
By rotating slightly, the layers which make up MIPS helmets reduce the forces which normally contribute to concussion and other forms of brain injury.
The types of impacts that MIPS protects you against are not common, but they do happen. And, in the off-chance that you do have one of these uncommon impacts, youʼll be happy to have a MIPS equipped helmet on your head.
3. Good Fit and Comfort
Remember the golden rule: Comfort equals efficiency, and efficiency equals speed.
Always try on a helmet before buying to ensure that it's actually comfortable for your head.
Buying a helmet is always personal; what works for one may not work for another since our heads come in all shapes and sizes.
Helmet Retention System and Padding
A big consideration in the comfort department is the helmetʼs retention and padding system. Some helmets use Coolmax padding whereas others use proprietary pads.
The difference could be huge for you as some may feel that Coolmax is scratchy whereas others find it silky.
Retention systems are the same.
Depending on how and where a particular retention system cradles your head, you may feel it's more or less secure.
Try Before You Buy
When trying on a helmet, adjust and tighten the retention system as you would while on the bike.
Now, without over exerting yourself, move your head around with a bit of force to see how the helmet sticks to your head.
If it bobs around or thereʼs play regardless of how well strapped on it is, it likely isnʼt right for your particular head.
Be very selective about the fit and comfort of your helmet since you will, after all, be spending plenty of time in it.
4. Good Ventilation
Ventilation is a highly underrated category when seeking out a new helmet.
Donʼt be one of the many who takes ventilation lightly because, as you may find out on a Category 1 climb in the middle of summer, it isnʼt to be overlooked.
Previously, helmets seemed to pay little attention to how well helmets ventilated. Aerodynamics have typically been more important to athletes and manufacturers alike.
Designing a helmet that is both aero and well-ventilated is a tough ask. Add safety standards into the mix, and you have a seemingly impossible combination.
But, as technology and materials have progressed and consumer habits have changed, so too has the amount of ventilation on most helmets.
Nowadays, it isnʼt uncommon to see helmets that appear to have more empty space than coverage. The POC Octal comes to mind, as does the Specialized Prevail.
Consider Where You Usually Ride
Take the type of riding you are likely to do into consideration before deciding on how much ventilation youʼll require.
If you live in a cold area with a short, mild summer, itʼd be best to go with an aerodynamic helmet without excessive ventilation. When the cold months come on, youʼll regret the extra air flow.
If you live in a hotter climate or do lots of climbing, then be sure to choose a very well ventilated helmet to keep yourself as cool as possible.
The difference between a few additional vents and not having them can be as different as night and day when the mercury rises.
5. Helmet Weight
Weight plays a huge role in road bike helmet selection. The lighter a helmet is, the more comfortable it will be over long periods of time.
Even if you canʼt perceive the weight of the helmet on your head, wearing a heavy one can have consequences for your neck and shoulders as you unknowingly tense the muscles in those areas to prop up the weight.
For this reason, finding a helmet with a good weight-to-coverage ratio is essential.
Weight Trade Off
As helmets go these days, they are much lighter than ever before. You will, however, trade-off certain safety features if you try to go as light as possible.
MIPS helmets, as discussed in the previous section, add a weight penalty to helmets but contribute greatly to your overall safety.
The same can be said for the retention systems used to keep the helmet firmly in place on your head.
Kask is well known for their elaborate retention systems that do a fantastic job of cradling the head inside the helmet without allowing the helmet to rock or have unnecessary play.
This is also why Kask helmets tend to be heavier than other helmets made by companies like Specialized, who integrate much lighter weight retention systems in their helmets.
The way you decide is ultimately up to your preferences regarding the degree of safety and coverage youʼre after, but as a rule, going for the most comprehensive safety features should take precedence over weight.
These days, it's almost impossible to find a helmet that doesnʼt have at least some aerodynamic characteristics built in.
The aero helmet craze that has swept cycling the last several years doesnʼt show any sign of letting up, with nearly all of the best selling helmets being the same worn by sprinters and even time trialists in pro races.
So, the question isnʼt whether or not you want an aerodynamic helmet.
The question is: How aerodynamic do you want your helmet to be?
Very aerodynamic helmets such as the Bontrager Ballista place a premium on cutting through the air with the least amount of drag and very little else.
Flat Roads vs Hills
The more aerodynamic a helmet is, the less ventilation it will have. If you tend to do lots of climbing, riding in the hills, and arenʼt so concerned with saving every possible watt on flat roads, then an aerodynamic helmet isnʼt for you.
If, however, you compete in time trials, love dropping your friends on flat group rides, or find yourself coming against lots of headwind and are looking to save energy, then an aerodynamic choice will be right up your alley.
7. When to Replace Your Road Bike Helmet
Replacing a bike helmet is something that not many of us consider but is critical to maintaining your safety when riding.
After a Crash
If youʼve crashed in your helmet or otherwise impacted it, you must replace it.
Even if there are no visible marks, dents, cracks, or signs that it has been damaged in any way, the integrity of the helmet may be compromised.
Donʼt gamble here. Just replace the helmet.
If your current helmet is old (over 5 years), then upgrades to technology have become available in the intervening years that put your helmet in the obsolete category.
As time goes on, technology becomes increasingly better, and keeping your helmet up to date can save your brain.
Check the stickers on the inside of your helmet to see which standards they comply with. Search the standards online to make sure they are current. If not, consider replacing your helmet right away.
Some companies such as MET tell their customers that, if taken care of properly and not crashed, helmets should last up to 8 years before needing to be replaced.