Whether you realise it or not, choosing the best road bike helmet to buy can be a tough decision these days.
As cyclists, we want our helmet to be good looking, lightweight, aero, low profile, provides plenty of ventilation and comes with the most advanced safety features for maximum head protection.
Further Reading : Road Bike Helmet Buyers Guide
Whether you’re looking for value for money road bike helmets, or you just want the best one available, I’ve all of them covered for you.
You’ll definitely find one that suits you below.
Here are 15 of the best road bike helmets to consider buying.
1. Giro Cinder MIPS
Our Favourite Pick Among All
The Giro Cinder is my top pick as it packs many safety features in a budget friendly helmet.
It’s a great alternative to its premium sibling, the Giro Synthe.
Despite these impressive safety features, the Giro Cinder doesn’t put on much extra weight and comes in at 290 grams for a size Medium. 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 allows for the addition of 26 massive Wind Tunnel vents with internal channels that route air over your head and out through the exhaust at the back of the helmet.
Lastly, the Giro Cinder is ponytail compatible (great for female cyclists), an often overlooked feature that I’m happy to see integrated into this fantastic CPSC certified helmet.
2. POC Ventral Air
Plenty of Breathability for the Hottest Days
The POC Ventral Air takes characteristics from its popular Octal and Ventral designs to give it enhanced ventilation and aerodynamics.
The helmet is designed with channels that allow air to pass through as quickly and efficiently as possible at high or low speeds. The result is optimal cooling for your noggin in a lightweight helmet.
As with all of POC’s helmets, the Ventral Air incorporates the company’s SPIN (Shearing Pad INside) crash technology into its design. The helmet will rotate in the event of a crash, minimizing direct impact.
The POC Ventral Air is also outfitted with silicone pads for additional safety and comfort.
3. Kask Protone
One of the Coolest Bike Helmet Around
The Kask Protone is, quite simply, a perfect helmet.
Previously, cyclists were told to pick two between weight, aerodynamics, and ventilation. With the Protone, you have all three.
In fact, it’s also one of the coolest bike helmets around today.
Weighing in at a mere 215 grams for Medium, 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 the 2019 Tour de France.
Because of its versatility, the Kask Protone can be spotted on riders doing anything from flat time-trials to above category climbs deep in the Alps.
4. Bell Stratus MIPS
Incredible Safety Features at A Great Price Point
The Bell Stratus MIPS offers cyclists with incredible safety at a great price point.
It sits one range below the premium Bell Zephyr which is known for its minimalist looks.
Utilising Bellʼs Float Fit system, the helmet retention system helps keep it snug yet comfortable on your head. It weighs in at only 275 grams for a size Medium. You won’t even feel it’s there!
Safety wise, the MIPS technology integration and CPSC compliance make the Bell Stratus MIPS helmet a great choice for road cyclists at all levels. If you’re riding in the summer, the Bell Stratus is one that you’d want to have with its 18 vents!
5. Kask Mojito X
A Very Popular Choice Among Cyclists for Years
The Kask Mojito has been around for a long time, since 2012 when Bradley Wiggins wore it enroute to winning the Tour de France.
It used to be Kask’s top of the line road helmet but has since been bumped down to mid-tier. 8 years on, the Kask Mojito continues to be a popular choice among road cyclists. It recently went through a minor update to improve helmet fitting and comfort, and it’s now called the Mojito X.
At 226 grams, the Mojito is very light with 26 vents to keep your head cool and feeling well ventilated for the hottest summer days.
If you’re a big fan of Kask and the premium Kask Protone is out of your budget, give the Mojito X a serious consideration.
6. Bontrager Starvos MIPS
An Entry Level Helmet with MIPS Safety Technology
Bontrager’s Starvos MIPS, a great entry-level helmet, might be the right pick for you.
As the name indicates, the Starvos incorporates MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) into its design. Helmets with MIPS are designed to rotate with angled impacts, deflecting forces away from the head.
In addition to having safety features, it’s also a cool helmet. The Starvos features broad channels for airflow and thick moisture-wicking pads for comfort.
A dial at the rear of the helmet allows for quick tightening with just one hand, while dividers help keep straps from getting twisted and misaligned.
The Bontrager Starvos MIPS comes in three color options: black, red, and white.
7. Giro Aether MIPS
Giro's Top of the Line Performance Bike Helmet
The folks at Giro have always been known as innovators when it comes to making lightweight and good looking bike helmets.
This helmet is no different. The Giro Aether the best protection you’ll find in a cycling helmet while not compromising the weight, ventilation and aerodynamics that competitive racers demand.
The Aether features MIPS technology, which uses a plastic liner to allow the helmet to slide around the head to redirect impact forces during a crash. Giro adapts this technology by putting two layers of foam on the outside of the helmet in order to create the MIPS effect.
This replaces the plastic liner that inhibits air flow and limits ventilation. The Giro Aether features 11 large vents, meaning this helmet is not only safe, but also very cool.
8. Bell Z20 MIPS
A Low Profile Helmet for Those Seeking Aerodynamic Gains
With decades of experience building safe helmets for the masses, Bell has integrated all of those into their flagship helmet, the Z20.
The Bell Z20 takes a low-profile approach to helmet design. It has a good looking, minimalist looks. By staying close to the head, the Z20 gives cyclists a sleek appearance that one might even call pro.
At 280 grams for size Medium, the Bell Z20 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.
9. Abus Airbreaker
One of the Latest and Coolest Helmet Money Can Buy
The aptly named Airbreaker is one of the coolest helmets you can buy. And we mean that in both senses of the word.
The Airbreaker uses an in-mold design, which means that the outer shell and helmet inner are permanently connected. This allows the helmet to have huge vents without compromising its safety aspects.
The Abus Airbreaker is also shaped to maximize airflow through the helmet and over your head with what Abus calls its Forced Air Cooling system. The result is a super cool helmet that also looks pretty cool.
And if that’s not cool enough, you can pour water over the grid at the top of the helmet to further cool you down.
10. Kask Valegro
The Lightest Road Bike Helmet Around
The Kask Valegro, which you might have first seen on the heads of Team Sky riders back in 2017, weighs in at an impressive 180 grams.
Lightweight doesn’t have to mean unsafe, and that’s certainly the case with Kask’s Valegro helmet. The helmet features a whopping 37 vents for maximum ventilation and quick dry pads that wick away moisture.
Of course, the lightweight qualities of this helmet wouldn’t mean much if it wasn’t safe. This helmet boasts MIT technology and offers enhanced protection with a polycarbonate layer that covers both the top of the helmet as well as the base ring.
The Kask Valegro also features Kask’s Octo Fit system, which allows you to quickly adjust the helmet to fit snugly to any head shape.
11. MET Trenta 3K Carbon
Where Aero Meets Lightweight
The MET Trenta 3k Carbon one of the lightest helmets you can buy at 215g.
It’s nice to know your helmet is there to protect your noggin while at the same time not being constantly reminded that you’re wearing it because of its weight. That’s the effect that the MET Trenta 3K Carbon helmet has. You’ll barely know it’s there.
MET uses polystyrene that is less dense to lighten the load, then imbeds woven carbon into the shell to maintain strength.
In addition to being lightweight, MET also claims that the Trenta 3K Carbon is as aerodynamic as an aero helmet when in the drops and 7% faster than any road helmet when on top of the handlebars.
12. Lazer G1 MIPS
An Aero yet Very Breathable Helmet for Fast Rides
One look at the Lazer G1 and you’ll understand why we’ve rated this helmet as best ventilation.
Lazer has been designing and manufacturing helmets for all manner of biking since its launch in 1919. The G1 is one of its high-end designs.
The vents on this helmet are huge and numerous with 22 openings. This helmet is well ventilated, to say the least. The Lazer G1 MIPS is also one of the lighter helmets you’ll find, weighing in at just 230g for a small.
Ventilation and weight savings isn’t the only focus here. The Lazer G1 uses MIPS for protection against rotational impacts. It also features Lazer’s Advanced Rollsys fit system, which allows for horizontal and vertical adjustment.
13. S-Works Evade with ANGi
The Helmet of Triple Word Champion, Peter Sagan
If Specialized is putting S-Works, its premium product line, on this helmet’s label, you know it must be one heck of a helmet.
And one heck of a helmet it is.
Specialized said the S-Works Evade is quite simply the fastest road helmet it has ever tested. In fact, the company said it is almost as aerodynamic as its S-Works TT helmet. This is a testament to the company’s intensive airflow testing and technology. But aerodynamics isn’t the only thing the S-Works Evade features.
As the company says, aerodynamics wouldn’t mean a whole lot if your head was roasting in it. As such, the helmet is designed to be one of the coolest on the market as well.
It also features Specialized’s ANGi system, which uses a sensor on the helmet to detect crashes, automatically notifies emergency contacts and send them to your GPS coordinates.
14. Bontrager XXX WaveCel
A Unparalleled Pedigree of Winning on the Roughest Roads
Trek, which owns Bontrager, is changing that with helmet safety with its groundbreaking Wavecel technology.
When it comes to high-end pro-level helmets, you hear a whole heck of a lot about weight savings, ventilation, and aerodynamics, but you don’t hear a whole heck of a lot about what a helmet is really for, protecting your noggin.
The Bontrager XXX uses a collapsible cell structure called Wavecel inside the helmet that Trek says provides unparalleled protection in the event of a crash. That’s not to say that the Wavecel eschews performance for safety.
The Bontrager XXX is one of the most aerodynamic and cool helmets you can wear, which is why Wavecel is the helmet of both the men’s and women’s Trek-Segafredo pro teams.
15. Lazer Bullet 2.0
An Aero Helmet from the Future
If you’re looking for extreme aerodynamics from your helmet, then you’ll love the futuristic Bullet 2.0 from Lazer.
This may be the first helmet that is adjustable for aerodynamics and ventilation. The Bullet 2.0 is outfitted with Lazer’s Airslide system. Burning up on a climb?
Adjust the Airslide system to create airflow through front vents and rears exhausts. Need maximum aerodynamics on a flat or downhill? Close the vents for a fully closed cap.
And there’s more. Need help getting into the perfect aerodynamic position?
This helmet is compatible with an Inclination Sensor, which monitors your head position on the bike. It even has your eyewear covered. The Lazer Bullet includes its own magnetic aerodynamic lens that fits onto the front of the helmet.
Bike Helmets Buyers' Guide
The helmet is arguable your most important piece of bike accessories when it comes to safety. If there’s anything that you shouldn’t cut corner, it’s the helmet.
There are various things to look out for when buying bike helmets. Things such as the type of helmet, the right sizing, fit and comfort, and safety standards are important things you should consider.
Here are 7 things you should consider before buying. Hopefully they’ll allow you to make a better informed buying decision.
1. Types of Bike Helmets
You’d probably have noticed that there are different types of bike helmets out there. While all helmets are designed to minimise the impact on your head during a fall, they’re designed for different types of riding discipline.
Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with wear any helmet of your choice, regardless of the discipline, unless you’re worried that you might look like a hubbard.
Here are common types of bike helmets.
Road Bike Helmets
These are commonly worn by all road cyclists.
Their design is focused on providing plenty of comfort and ventilation through large air vents on hot days or when you’re doing a big effort.
Time Trial Helmets
Commonly also known as TT helmets, they’re designed specifically to be used during Time Trials and triathlons. You can often see the pros wear them during the TT stages in the Grand Tours or people doing the Ironman.
Some TT helmets such as the Giro Aerohead might look weird to the non-cyclist. That’s because the design is focused around providing maximum aerodynamics gain rather than ventilation.
In some TT helmets, ventilation is almost non-existent.
Commuter helmets such as the POC Omne sit on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Some refer them as urban or city helmets because that’s where the riding happens in most cases.
Because commuting is usually an easy to moderate effort, commuter helmets are very basic, have moderate ventilation and comes with different styles to suit a more casual clothing instead of lycra.
Read More : The 10 Best Bike Helmets for Commuters
Mountain Bike Helmets
The first thing you’ll notice about mountain bike helmets is the front visor.
Unlike road cycling, lighting conditions in the trails can be tricky and many mountain bikers prefer not to wear any cycling sunglasses. The removable visor helps keep the sun light away from the eyes.
Mountain bike crashes can happen in all directions unlike road cycling where most crashes are in front of the cyclist due to momentum.
Hence, mountain bike helmets are beefier especially the back and sides.
Read More : The 11 Best Mountain Bike Helmets
BMX / Downhill Helmets
BMX and downhill cycling is known for being extreme, fast and furious. They’re very similar to motorbikes helmet, but lighter.
They usually provide a full face protection, including the chin area for the riders as a fall can be unpredictable.
These helmets are similar to a commuter helmet but they come in smaller sizes to fit securely onto a kid’s head. Depending on the kid’s age, you might want to consider a toddler’s helmet (aged 1 to 4) or a kids helmet (aged 5 to 8).
They come in all sorts of colors, design and favorite cartoon characters to appeal to the kids.
2. Safety Standards for Bike Helmets
The work that goes into making a bike helmet safe for use on the road is unknown to most cyclist.
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. Helmet safety standards tell manufacturers the exact amount of stress and impact a helmet must be able to undergo.
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.
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 your head under duress.
United States and European Union Helmet Standards
The United States and European Union operate under very similar standards with the CPSC and CE respectively.
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.
3. 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.
4. 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 shape. Check on the manufacturer’s sizing guide before your purchase.
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 shape.
Be very selective about the fit and comfort of your helmet since you will, after all, be spending plenty of time wearing it.
5. Bike Helmet Sizing
To ensure a proper fit and ultimately your safety, it’s crucial that you get a helmet with the right size.
How do you measure for your helmet size?
Use a measuring tape and wrap it around your head’s circumference. Locate the measuring tape just above your ears and in the middle of your forehead. You might want to get someone to help you to hold the measuring tape.
Once you’ve got your head’s circumference, it’s time to check the sizing guide.
Bike helmets usually come in 3 sizes – Small, Medium and Large. Some brands have X-large, but that’s a rarity.
With these 3 bike helmet sizes, you’ll most likely find one that suits you if you’re an adult. As a general sizing guide, here are the measurements for each helmet size.
- Small : 20 – 21.75″ (51 – 55cm)
- Medium : 21.75″ – 23.25″ (55 – 59cm)
- Large : 23.25″ – 24.75″ (59 – 63cm)
Note that these are just a general guide. Always check the manufacturer’s sizing guide to get the correct measurements as each manufacturer will differ slightly.
Brands like MET has also implemented a 360° adjustibility fit system in their Trenta 3K Carbon helmet, where you can adjust the fit both horizontally and vertically.
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.
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, 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 such as POC Ventral Air 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.
7. 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. A good example of a lightweight helmet is the Kask Valegro.
Even if you canʼt perceive the helmet’s weight 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 like the Mojito X and Protone tend to be heavier than other helmets made by companies like POC and Abus, 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 low 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 road 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 S-Works Evade 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 helmet such as the Lazer Bullet 2.0 or S-Works Evade will be right up your alley.
When Should You 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 you 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 3 to 4 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.