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Now, it’s worth noting that some helmets really are better than others. These days, many helmets come equipped with technology that makes them even more effective at reducing your risk of concussion. (When shopping, you may see terms like MIPS (multi-directional impact protection system), rotational impact protection system, or WaveCel foam—all of these are designed to protect your head in the event of a crash.)
But many helmets do not boast these new features. So try to invest in the best helmet you can find. (And if you need help figuring out what that is, the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab is a great resource.) “Buy the ‘most’ helmet you can afford,” Jonathan Perez, bike technician and Territory Manager for Playing Bikes, says. “It's your head, [and] you don't have a spare—take care of it.”
Ahead, we’ve rounded up the best bike helmets worth considering for your next ride—and you don’t have to break the bank to score a great one.
Best Overall: Lazer Sphere MIPS Helmet
Sleek, comfortable, and protective, the Lazer Sphere MIPS Helmet is seriously well-rounded. The low-profile helmet is designed to feel incredibly lightweight. And it comes lined with 18 breathable vents that’ll keep your head from getting overheated on your rides. Like many high-quality helmets, the Lazer Sphere comes equipped with MIPS—or multi-directional impact protection system technology. This feature is designed to protect your head, cutting down on the damage you’ll experience if you ever end up in an accident. This—plus the helmet’s breathability and comfort—makes the Lazer Sphere MIPS one of the most well-rounded options around.
Best Budget: Specialized Align II MIPS Helmet
The Specialized Align II MIPS Helmet is proof that you can find a protective helmet that doesn’t break the bank. The sleek helmet is available at a ridiculously affordable price point. And since it comes equipped with MIPS, you can rest assured knowing it’s built to protect. The helmet is available in three different sizes, and it boasts an adjustable dial that makes it incredibly easy to customize your fit. The helmet is also available in seven striking colors, so you can pick a helmet that’s as vibrant—or as low-key—as you want it to be.
Best Splurge: Lazer G1 MIPS Bike Helmet
Searching for a helmet worth investing in? Look no further—Lazer’s G1 MIPS Bike Helmet is one of the best options around. The helmet comes equipped with MIPS, so it promises to be incredibly protective. But the G1 proves all that protection doesn’t have to translate into bulk. The helmet is both sleek and lightweight. And it’s lined with 22 vents that’ll keep your head cool and comfortable as you bike. Plus, the helmet is available in four sleek colors and three different sizes—so it shouldn’t be hard to find an option that suits you just right.
Best for Beginners: Lazer TONIC MIPS Helmet
If you’re just getting into biking, you probably don’t want to spend a ton on a helmet. But you want to rest assured knowing you’ve done everything you can to protect your head. Lazer’s Tonic MIPS Helmet strikes this balance masterfully. The helmet is sleek, lightweight, and comfortable. And since it comes equipped with MIPS, it’s one of the most protective options around. Choose whether you want your helmet in a crisp white or a bold black. And take full advantage of the helmet’s 28 built-in vents the next time you go cycling on a seriously hot day.
Best Intermediate: POC Octal X Spin Helmet
Looking to kick your cycling up a notch? POC’s Octal X Spin Helmet is ready to help you do it. The helmet comes equipped with POC’s rotational impact protection system. (That may sound complicated, but it really just means the helmet is designed to protect you if you ever end up in a crash.) And since the helmet is designed with durability in mind, it promises to hold up to the wear and tear of your most intense outdoor adventures. Take the helmet on a speed ride through the city, on a rugged outdoor trail, or anywhere else you feel like exploring—it promises to be up to the task.
Best High-Tech: Specialized S-Works Prevail II Vent with ANGi
It may seem a little strange to call a bike helmet “high-tech,” but the Specialized S-Works Prevail II Vent Helmet genuinely is.The helmet comes equipped with extra-light MIPS, which promises to protect your noggin without weighing you down. And the helmet is lined with super-long vents that promise to keep you cool and comfortable as you ride. Of course, the special features don’t stop there. The S-Works Prevail II boasts ANGi technology that’s capable of detecting when you’ve been in a crash. In the event of an accident, this ANGi sensor will send a message to preselected loved ones to let them know what’s going on.
Best Style: Bontrager Specter WaveCel Helmet
Wearing a neon helmet is a bold move. But Bontrager’s Specter WaveCel Helmet is so sleek you’ll be tempted to do it. The helmet boasts a low-profile silhouette, and it’s designed to keep you comfortable on every route you tackle. Whereas other helmets are lined with vents that threaten to expose your sweaty, matted hair, the Specter is lined with vents that are filled with Bontrager’s WaveCel foam. This foam promises to keep you protected in the event of a crash. And since it’s color-coordinated with the helmet’s shell, it leaves the helmet looking even sleeker than some of the more classic options on offer.
Best for Cold Weather: Specialized Centro Winter LED
It can be tough to find a helmet designed for cold-weather use. But Specialized’s Centro Winter LED Helmet is trying to make it a little easier. At first glance, the helmet looks pretty standard. It boasts a lightweight yet durable shell, and it’s lined with vents to keep your head cool when it’s warm out. But what sets the helmet apart is its insulated, cold-weather liner. This liner is designed to keep your head cozy on even the coldest of days. And since the helmet comes equipped with a built-in LED light, you don’t have to stress about winter weather messing up your visibility.
Best for Hot Weather: BELL Z20 MIPS Adult Road Bike Helmet
Wearing a helmet in the hot, shining sun is a surefire way to work up a sweat. Thankfully, Bell’s Z20 MIPS Bike Helmet promises to make those humid rides a little more bearable. The MIPS-equipped helmet is lined with 18 large vents that promise to keep the air flowing as you tackle your favorite routes. And for good measure, the helmet’s interior is padded with a quick-drying, anti-odor liner. So even when you do start sweating, it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.
Best for Commuters: Scott ARX Plus Helmet
Commuters need a helmet that’s lightweight, protective, and sleek—and Scott’s ARX Plus Helmet promises to be exactly that. The classic road helmet is designed to be lightweight and comfortable, and it’s lined with vents that promise to keep your head cool. But since the helmet comes equipped with MIPS, it promises to be more protective than your average lightweight road bike helmet. What’s nice? The helmet is available in three different sizes and four different colors. So it should be pretty easy to find a version of it that’s worth wearing every day.
Best Ponytail-Friendly: BELL Formula MIPS Adult Road Bike Helmet
Ponytails and bike helmets are rarely a match made in heaven. Too often, the helmet fits so snugly on your head that there’s nowhere for your ponytail to go. Thankfully, Bell’s Formula MIPS Bike Helmet is here to put an end to that pesky problem once and for all. Like many helmets, Bell’s Formula MIPS is lined with vents that promise to keep your head cool as you ride. But it also boasts a large, strategically placed vent in the back of the helmet—giving you a perfect place to store your ponytail as you ride. This feature is incredibly thoughtful. And the fact that it’s available on a MIPS-equipped helmet makes the whole thing even sweeter.
A helmet is a must on any bike ride. And since the point of a helmet is to protect your noggin, it’s worth it to invest in the best, most protective helmet you can find. Lazer’s G1 MIPS Bike Helmet is one of the most solid options around—if you don’t mind a splurge. And if you’d prefer a budget-friendlier option, both Lazer’s Sphere MIPS Helmet and Specialized’s Align II MIPS Helmet promise to be great, as well.
What to Look for in a Bike Helmet
You’re wearing a helmet to protect your head. So why not spring for the most protective helmet you can find? Look for a helmet that comes equipped with MIPS (multi-directional impact protection system)—or some similar technology, like a rotational impact protection system or WaveCel foam. All of these are designed to cut down on your concussion risk in the event of a crash.
“The most important feature of the helmet is that it fits properly,” Tiffany Berenberg, Studio Manager at Life Time, says. If your helmet doesn’t fit right, it may not be as effective in an accident. So look for a helmet that comes in your size—and favor options with adjustable fit systems, which should make it even easier to get a snug, secure fit.
At the end of the day, a helmet is worthless if you’re not willing to wear it. So search for an option that looks nice and feels comfortable. There are enough super-protective helmets out there that you should be able to find at least one helmet that you’ll actually want to wear.
How do you pick the right size bike helmet?
Figuring out whether a helmet will fit you can be tough when you’re shopping online. Thankfully, many brands offer size charts you can use to determine which size you should get. If you want to get really precise, you can measure the circumference of your head and compare it to the helmet circumference in the size chart.
Remember, you want a helmet that’s snug—but not too tight. And if you score an option with an adjustable fit system, you can always customize your fit once the helmet is on your head.
Do bike helmets expire?
Helmets don’t necessarily expire, but they can become less effective over time. This is because the protective foam lining the helmet can degrade with age.
If your helmet is several years old, consider replacing it. If your helmet hasn’t been used in a while, consider replacing it (especially if it’s been sitting somewhere hot). And if you’ve been in an accident with your helmet on, replace it ASAP. The protective foam in the helmet crushes on impact (that’s how it protects you), so your helmet will be much less effective after it’s been in a crash.
How do you clean a bike helmet?
You can clean your bike helmet using mild soap and warm water. Clean out the interior of the helmet, and wipe down the exterior of the helmet. Then, let it air dry before wearing it again. Remember, heat can cause your foam to degrade, so don’t leave your helmet sitting in the sun—and definitely don’t blow-dry it.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Lindsey Lanquist has years of experience in the health and fitness space. And as an avid shopper, she knows what a bummer a bad product can be. That’s why she makes sure to recommend products that are reliable, comfortable, and widely beloved by those who’ve tried them.