The 11 Best Bike Helmets to Buy in 2018

Stay safe on the road with these top bike helmets

The latest generation of bike helmets are engineered to protect your head better than ever, thanks to well-manufactured materials and innovative designs. One of the most exciting developments in bike helmets is the widespread application of Multi-Directional Impact Protection Systems, or MIPS. The system mimics your skull’s natural protection for the brain, cerebrospinal fluid: a low friction layer of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam between the helmet and the head imitates the fluid by rotating and reducing the rotational forces at an angled impact. So what helmet is right for your riding? We took the safest brain buckets on two wheels for a spin to find the best helmet for you.

Los Angeles-based Critical Cycles has flooded city streets with affordable urban bikes, and they do for the helmet what they did for the fixie: make it cheap, dependable and stylish. An ABS shell and EPS foam interior meet all safety guidelines for city riding, and 11 vents keep you cool on the move. Like their Fixed Gear and Single Speed bikes, the helmets come in multiple colors, so it's easy to find a lid that matches your rig.

Just getting started on the road? The Giro Savant MIPS helmet packs big MIPS safety, svelte race style and a comfy fit in an affordable, lightweight helmet. Similar to big sister Ember, Giro’s collaboration with MIPS adds proprietary in-mold construction that fuses the helmet’s polycarbonate outer shell directly to the EPS foam liner to maximize protection without adding bulk or weight. The Savant’s 25 vents are designed to channel air over the head for maximum cooling and its Roc Loc 5 system dials in a customize fit.

After the success of Smith’s Forefront mountain bike helmet, the company went back to the drawing board for the all-new road helmet. Like its older brother, the Smith Overtake promises protection in a light package, and it adds in fantastic aerodynamics. Though it weights just 250 grams, the Overtake packs in Smith’s proprietary Aerocore in-mold construction featuring Koroyd and a MIPS Liner reinforced by a carbon fiber skeleton. There are 21 vents optimized for aerodynamic performance and cooling; as in the Forefront, Koroyd covers most your head, but because it’s honeycomb structure is hollow in expels air throughout the helmet.

This sleek new helmet by Bell is the Swiss Army knife of bike commuter helmets. It’s built on an in-mold polycarbonate shell with an integrated MIPS liner to protect you in case of a spill. The brand’s Active Aero System uses adjustable vents to control airflow for warm and cold weather rides. A new Float Fit system provides a snug fit with few adjustments. Additional tools include integrated reflectivity, integrated light mount and a wither-resistant soft-brim visor. The Annex also comes with a free year of ICEdot emergency notification, which is a web app that provides emergency responders medical information via a coded sticker on your helmet.

Make sure your lil’ tyke has a helmet that fits properly whether trying balance bikes, pedaling with training wheels or riding co-pilot in a properly installed child seat. Giro Scamp MIPS brings all the tech of adult helmets to sizes that fit little heads from 17.75 inches (extra small) to 20.5 inches (toddler). Giro’s in-mold construction and MIPS liners are scaled down for small heads, as is the Roc Loc Jr fit system. Crucial kid-friendly design touches include a pinch-guard buckle, ponytail compatibility and eight vents to keep cool.

The Giro Ember MIPS merges advanced safety tech with classic road racing style in a lightweight helmet. Giro’s collaboration with MIPS progresses protection with a proprietary in-mold construction That fuses the helmet’s polycarbonate outer shell directly to the EPS foam liner. On top of that, Ember adds Giro’s Thermoformed SL Roll Cage. Plenty of Air-FX padding combo’d with Roc Loc 5 fit system promise a proper fit (even with a ponytail). In addition, there are 25 vents channeling air over the head and out the back of the helmet so you stay cool.

Lauded on the ski slopes for their advanced goggles and high-tech helmets, Smith rocked the single track scene with the 2014 launch of the Forefront. Where the majority of the top bike helmets on the market use EPS foam liners to protect your noodle, Smith pioneered an Aerocore construction utilizing an innovative synthetic called Koroyd. The core material consists of thousands of co-polymer extruded tubes that are thermally welded like a honeycomb for superior energy absorption. Koroyd doesn’t just provide low-volume protection, it’s also extremely light since most of the volume is air, and the Forefront weighs a featherlight 300 grams. Even with Koroyd covering your entire head, Forefront remains one of the best ventilated helmets on the mountain since those tiny tubes can constantly expel air, and the X-Static lining wicks moisture to keep you cool.

Many of North America’s top ski resorts convert their slopes to lift-accessed downhill flow trails during the summer and early fall. But don’t show up at the mountain without a downhill certified helmet. Some of the best racers in the world rely on Fox Rampage Pro Carbon MIPS for the maximum head and face protection available with a MIPS system and EPS Impact Foam under a carbon-fiber wrapping. A Dri-Lex interior liner wicks away sweat while a 17-vent cooling system channels air over the face and head. The Rampage Pro Carbon MIPS allows for plenty of peripheral vision, and they’ll pair with most goggles, another must for downhill thrills. All this protection is packed in a shockingly light package; this full-face helmet in size medium weighs just 1,305 grams.

Swedish helmet company POC got their start designing ski race helmets and body armor, and their new line of bike helmets brings their advanced engineering and synthetics to the racing world. Their Cerebral is a compact aerodynamic helmet designed to maximize computational fluid dynamics on your dome. The stubby shape actually cuts slices through the air no matter the upper body’s position, so you don’t have to stay in a tuck the entire ride. The EPS liner has optimized density to protect in a crash, and the rear is made of soft molded EVA covered in an advanced synthetic fabric for reduced drag. The Zeiss visor attaches to the helmet with a simple magnetic system; the visor tint enhances the contrast of the road surface. The entire systems weighs 380 grams.

If you’re looking to lower your carbon footprint, committing to pedal power is an excellent start. Take the next step and make your gear green too with Giro’s revolutionary new Silo helmet. Today most helmets on the market – including those ranked here – use petroleum-based materials in the foam that protects your dome. Giro’s pioneering use of Expanded Polylactic Acid transforms corn and other plant materials into a bio foam that performs as well as convention foams at impact. Even the straps are bio-fabric – in fact, everything on this lid is either recyclable or biodegradable.

Enduro backcountry races require the strength and stamina to pedal up mountains and ravines and the bike back down. The Bell Super 2R MIPS has your cranium covered for all the ups and downs. When you’re powering up hill you can remove the helmet’s chin guard for improved ventilation. When it’s time to drop in, click it back on for face protection. MIPS tech mixes with Bell’s Fusion In-Mold Polycarbonate shell to protect your head while 23 vents draw air through intake ports to keep it cool. Bell’s TAG fit system adjusts circumferentially and vertically for a customized lockdown on your lid.


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