For novice cyclists, it’s tempting to save a few bucks on bike gear where you can. Buying an inexpensive helmet seems like a great way to save $100 or more. After all, a helmet is a helmet, right? As experienced riders know, the helmet is one place where you should spend the extra dough on a quality model. After all, if you find yourself “ass over tea kettle,” as they say, it could be your head and brain that bear the brunt of that impact. Here are our picks for the best bike helmets you can buy right now.
Smith Optics — one of the world’s best snowboarding brands — manufactures some of the best bike helmets, too. Based on the roughly $75 price tag, the Smith Signal MIPS Bike Helmet is on the upper end of “entry-level.” But, it delivers all the essentials novice and intermediate cyclists need, including ease of use, a comfortable fit, and reliable head protection courtesy of MIPS.
For nighttime riders, visibility is critical. It’s not enough to wear high-contrast, reflective gear, you need an active lighting system to boot. The Hyban 2.0 bike helmet from Abus features multiple reflectors and a battery-operated LED light integrated into the rear of the hard shell. Plus, the EPS foam and injected molded outer shell guarantees plenty of protection for most cycling adventures. An adjustable ring provides a universal fit, and the helmet is even ponytail compatible for those with long (lockdown-inspired) hair.
Simple, reliable, and affordable — that’s the name of the game for Giro’s Register Recreational Cycling Helmet. It’s designed to be accessible for those interested in most types of recreational (read; not hardcore) cycling. The integrated Roc Loc Sport System guarantees a comfortable, universal fit with the simple turn of a dial. This is one of the best entry-level MIPS-equipped bike helmets on the market.
This brutish brother of the Giro Register is purpose-built for more adventurous off-road cycling. It features 18 vents, a rugged, in-mold construction, and the same universal fit system as its tamer sibling. The addition of the MIPS system here also makes the Fixture one of the best value dirt bike helmets available.
Thousand’s sleek form-follows-function aesthetic and innovative tech make the company’s first bike helmet perfect for commuters. The design includes features rarely found on more expensive competitors’ models. Think vegan-friendly straps, an easy-to-use magnetic clasp, and a patent-pending PopLock system designed to fit a U-Lock or chain lock so that you can secure your helmet to your bike. We love the available colorways, too, including bold options like Rose Gold and Polished Titanium.
Every product in Bern’s catalog strikes a good balance between design, tech, and affordability. The Hudson is a solid midrange bike helmet with various features that appeal to novices and expert cyclists alike. The built-in MIPS system provides industry-leading head protection, while the lightweight, breathable design ensures all-day comfort. Plus, a water-resistant rear LED light offers 10 hours of visibility and is easily rechargeable with a standard micro USB cable.
This midrange model in Giro’s lineup sets itself apart in one key way: It’s the only entry on this list to include earflaps. While not entirely necessary, they provide additional protection if you find yourself “off seat.” Like many of the company’s other helmets, the Tyrant boasts the MIPS Brain Protection System, along with excellent ventilation, progressive layering construction, and spherical technology.
Most bike helmets are hardly compact. They’re relatively solid blocks of foam and plastic that just take up space when you’re not using them. Fend rethinks the traditional bike helmet design with its simply named Foldable Bike Helmet. It’s durable and meets U.S. and international safety standards, plus the lightweight, adjustable design fits most head shapes and sizes. But, its best feature — the one that sets it apart from every other bike helmet on this list — is that it’s the only one that collapses down to 50% of its size. So, it stuffs easily into a backpack or day bag.
Like everything these days, even bike helmets have gone “smart.” The race-inspired Propero III from Specialized is among the most affordable smart helmets on the market at less than $150. This helmet’s biggest selling point is the built-in ANGi crash sensor that syncs with a free app to alert your contacts if you’ve been in a crash. The long list of additional features includes a multi-density EPS construction, a Tri-Fix web splitter for better comfort and ease of adjustment, and a lifetime subscription to the Specialized Ride app.
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