There are so many bike helmets on the market that it can get overwhelming to choose one. From online retailers to specialty bike shops and practically everywhere in between, it feels like you can find a helmet just about anywhere.
Not all bike helmets are created equally, though. Some are cheap and flimsy and could break when you need them most. Others look flashy but may not provide the durability required when riding your bicycle.
If you’re curious about some of the most recommended helmets out there today, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll share a few of our favorite recommendations. We’ll also provide tips on helmet fit and safe use.
Our Favorite Helmets:
For Commuting/Road Use — Giro Helmets
When it comes to helmets for commuting or road use, Giro helmets are a top bet. We like the Atmos II helmet as well as the Savant MIPS, but our favorite from this brand has to be the Foray. This five-star helmet includes a five-fit Roc Loc system. Designed to be streamlined and simple, the polycarbonate shell has an EPS liner. You’ll also be sure to stay cool no matter how much you sweat. The Foray not only has Coolmax padding in the interior, but it boasts 21 vents throughout.
For Casual or Urban Use — Nutcase Helmets
Michael Morrow, the founder of Nutcase, borrowed the hues of the Oregon Beavers in his original commuting urban helmet. We’re particularly fond of the Metroride, and so too are Amazon users, as this is a highly-rated urban use helmet.
Let’s begin with the rainbow of hues that are yours to choose from.
- Veloz Matte (black with yellow, orange, and blue patterned stripes)
- Technicolor Matte (white with red, blue, brown, white, green, and orange stripes of varying thicknesses)
- Sapphire Matte (a rich, strong navy blue with lighter blue detailing)
- Graphite Matte (slate gray with red detailing)
- Garnet Matte (maroon with lighter pink detailing)
- Black Tie Matte (pure black)
- Sharkskin Matte (slate gray with neon green detailing)
- Professor Matte (colorful plaid throughout)
- The Original (lighter gray with black stripes and detailing)
- Shibori Stripe Matte (white with a blue denim-like pattern)
- Geo Net Matte (white with gold and blue geometric shapes on the side)
The Metroride has reflective straps and a snap-in visor for riding in sunny or otherwise bright conditions. Its in-mold shell is designed to weigh less so you don’t start sweating during your rides. If you do warm up, the moisture-wicking pads will cool you down.
You also get a magnetic closure with this Nutcase helmet, which is padded so it doesn’t rub on and chafe your chin. With a dial fit system and various foam pads, you can customize your helmet fit to your head shape.
For an Inexpensive but Safe Option — Bell Helmets’ Adrenaline
If you’re looking for a reliable bike helmet brand with options that are less than $100, we have to recommend Bell Helmets. Their helmets are a favorite among bike riders for their lasting construction and great price points.
One of the standouts from Bell is the Adrenaline. This isn’t a colorful or prettily-designed helmet like you’d find from Nutcase, but it’s incredibly affordable. You can get it for less than $50 from most retailers.
You get only two color choices: matte white steel or matte black carbon. The Adrenaline is designed for 56-centimeter to 60-centimeter heads. It has a Pinch Guard buckle so you can protect the sensitive skin around your chin. You also get a visor so you can ride in rain or sun with no problems. The included hi-impact reflectors will also help with your visibility. When it comes to staying cool, there are six vents in the back of the helmet and 10 at the top.
Why Choosing a Good Bike Helmet Is So Important
While some of the helmets we covered are nice to look at, a good bicycle helmet is about so much more than looks. It also has to be safe and completely functional. If it isn’t and you were to get into a bike accident, you could sustain serious injuries if not potentially die. A good helmet is the difference between life and death. Having one that fits securely and is made of durable materials can save your life if you crash or someone hits you.
What to Look for in a Bike Helmet
As you begin browsing for your perfect bike helmet, make sure it meets the following criteria:
- Durability: What is your helmet made of? It should have an in-mold shell, preferably one that’s polycarbonate or another tough material. After all, you don’t want to spend money on a helmet and then have it fall apart within a few months. You also want to be sure the helmet is made tough if you’re in an accident.
- Fit: A helmet that’s too loose is not right for you. If you adjust all the straps and it still has a fit that’s loose, you’ll have to keep looking. The same goes for a helmet that’s too tight. We’ll talk more about fit shortly.
- Breathability: With padding or vent holes (ideally both) as well as other cooling technology, your head should be able to breathe. Otherwise, you could get overheated. That’s no fun when riding.
- Soft Chin Strap: Few things are worse than an uncomfortable bike helmet strap digging into your chin. It distracts you and makes you want to cut down on your riding time. A strap that’s too loose might not give you the proper support you need during a ride either. The strap is supposed to sit firmly on your chin but not be too tight.
- Price: Don’t skimp on price. Sure, there are some bike helmet companies like Bell that make surprisingly affordable helmets, but this isn’t the norm. We must reiterate that a bike helmet can save your life. If yours is cheaply made, that might not be the case.
- Looks: You want to be happy with how the bike helmet looks if you’re going to be using it all the time. Whether you prefer simple designs like Giro helmets or colorful, patterned ones like Nutcase, you have your pick.
- Weight: If you’re weighed down by a thick helmet, you might have head or neck strain after an hour or two of riding. You could also get headaches. The helmet should have some heft, but not too much.
- Comfort: Weight and fit are two of the biggest elements of comfort. You’re not supposed to get a headache when wearing a bike helmet, as mentioned. If you do, your helmet isn’t comfortable enough. Interior padding makes a helmet a joy to wear. Make sure yours has it.
How Do You Know Your Helmet Fits?
Want to be sure your bike helmet is as safe as possible? This is a smart call. After all, you can never be too careful.
A safe helmet is one that fits your head well. As we mentioned in the above section, if your helmet is shifting on your head, then it’s too loose. This is dangerous. One that’s too tight can make for some uncomfortable rides. You thus might feel inclined to eschew your helmet altogether, which is again dangerous.
Here are some pointers on getting the fit of your helmet just right:
- The back straps must be tight enough that you cannot lift the back tip of the helmet. If you can and the helmet moves down your head, then you’ll have to adjust the straps in the back until the tip cannot move anymore.
- Speaking of the back strap, it’s supposed to criss-cross with the front strap. Both should create a V shape. This V will be underneath your ear.
- Want to know if you’ve adjusted your chin strap the right way? By opening the mouth a little, about halfway, you will now feel the helmet firmly on your head. If you don’t, readjust the strap.
- If you often wear ponytails when you ride, then have your hair in a ponytail when you try on helmets. Otherwise, the fit will not be quite right.
- Once the helmet is secure, try moving it a little. You want to go from the back to the front and one side to another. If your temple skin isn’t wrinkled from doing it, then the helmet is too loose.
- The top of the helmet is supposed to fit close to your head. From your eyebrows, the edge of the helmet must sit within an inch. There shouldn’t be any room for this part of the helmet to move if your straps are done tightly enough.
A good bicycle helmet isn’t all about its looks. Instead, functionality is much more important. After all, if you get in an accident on your bike, a well-built helmet can save your life. With the helmet recommendations we made as well as the tips we provided for fit, you should be able to find a helmet that meets your budget and your safety requirements.