Choosing a 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.
How We Pick Bike Helmets
If you look around, you will quickly realize that there are hundreds of options out there for a bicycle helmet. In order to filter out and shortlist the ones that are truly good, we turned to online cycling forums, asking around in bunch rides and scouring Instagram and Facebook influencer feeds to get first-hand experience.
We also complement this by going through the user reviews on large online retailers such as Amazon, Competitive Cyclist and Amazon.
So in pick our favorite helmets, we paid attention to five objective criteria below :
- Price. Helmet pricing varies across the board. There are some that has top-notch safety features such as MIPS but don’t cost you a limb. On the other hand, there are also nice-looking, lightweight ones that will cost you more. Cheap doesn’t always mean it’s not safe.
- Safety technologies such as MIPS and SPIN are very common in helmets across all price points these days. They provide additional protection especially if you fall in an awkward position.
- Safety standards. Make sure the helmets are certified. Each region (eg: United States, Europe, or Australia) has a different set of certification criteria. You’ll see stickers such as CPSC, CE, or AU/NZS depending on where you’re located.
- Fit and comfort. The shape of your skull dictates which helmets will work best for you. Generally, a particular brand will have a very similar skull fit across most of its models. If you’re switching brands, it’s better to try them out at the stores first.
- Breathability. We made sure that all the helmets we pick are highly breathable. The more vents (or the bigger) there are, the more breathable a helmet is.
You can read more in our bike helmet buying guide here.
A Quick Glance : Our Favorite Helmets for Road Cycling
Value for Money Picks
Giro Cinder MIPS
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 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.
- Pros : Budget-friendly and comes with MIPS.
- Cons : Larger sizes can be heavy compared to their peers.
Bell Stratus MIPS
The Bell Stratus MIPS offers cyclists incredible safety at a great price point.
It sits one range below the premium Bell Zephyr which is known for its minimalist looks. Utilizing the 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!
- Pros : Very breathable for hot summer days.
- Cons : Gloss surface is prone to fading when exposed to sun overtime.
Kask Mojito X
The Kask Mojito has been around for a long time, since 2012 when Bradley Wiggins wore it en route 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.
- Pros : 26 air vents to keep your head cool and high-quality leather straps.
- Cons : One of handful of models that don’t come with MIPS.
Bontrager Starvos MIPS
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.
Pros : Semi-aero design balances between aerodynamics and ventilation.
Cons : Very heavy.
Good Looking Helmets
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.
- Pros : Elegant and timeless design.
- Cons : Expect to pay a premium especially for the white color model.
Read More : Kask Protone Review
Lazer G1 MIPS
One look at the Lazer G1, and you’ll understand why we’ve rated this helmet as the 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 aren’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.
- Pros : Very breathable with 22 air vents.
- Cons : Limited color choices.
S-Works Evade with ANGi
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.
- Pros : ANGi Crash sensor system notifies your emergency contact during crashes and sends them to your GPS coordinates.
- Cons : Expect to pay a premium price.
Lazer Bullet 2.0
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.
- Pros : Futuristic design with many color choices.
- Cons : Magnetic lens is sold separately.
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.
- Pros : Super lightweight and breathable.
- Cons : Fitting can be tricky for some.
POC Ventral Air
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.
- Pros : Sleek looking design and many color options to choose from
- Cons : Straps are flimsy.
Giro Aether MIPS
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 airflow and limits ventilation. The Giro Aether features 11 large vents, meaning this helmet is not only safe but also very cool.
- Pros : Perfect balance between safety, ventilation, and good looks.
- Cons : Expect to pay a premium pricing.
Bell Z20 MIPS
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 a 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.
- Pros : Low profile and aero design.
- Cons : Heavier than similarly priced models.