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It’s summer, and odds are you’re already planning out how to enjoy the great outdoors. Maybe you’ve already gotten started on your list of activities with options like running, camping or, you know, a quality outdoor workout. But if you’re looking for another sport to add to your warm-weather agenda, there’s nothing quite like an invigorating ride on the bicycle for some fresh air and scenery. But before you can hop on the saddle and go all-out with your mile-long rides, there’s no doubt you’ll need a helmet to keep you safe along the way. Because really, safety—especially for your head—is a no-brainer.
Finding the best bike helmet for you (and the specific type of cycling you plan to do) is a feat that’s often easier said than done. Not only do you have to factor in the level of protection, but also how it fits on your head and weight, particularly if you have a need for speed. And if you’re cycling after dark, added reflectivity or lights are a must. Of course, you can’t forget about style, either.
These days, most helmets come with MIPS, otherwise known as multi-directional protection systems. MIPS gives the helmet an added low-friction layer that’ll let it slide on impact to reduce any trauma that could lead to serious head injuries. That said, not all helmets come with MIPS—especially when you’re looking at options in the budget-friendly price range. Don’t worry, you’ll still get protection in the form of EPS (expandable polystyrene) foam liners or another alternative to MIPS.
When all is said and done, your helmet will only give so much protection when it doesn’t fit. So, as you’re looking at options for your summer rides, make sure to get one in the right size for your head. Most styles come in small, medium or large and can adjust to a more custom fit. But just in case you don’t know what size you are, wrap a tape measure around the largest part of your head (typically this is one inch above your eyebrows). To check the fit, the helmet should fit snug against your head with side straps over your ears and a little space between your chin and the buckle.
Whether you’re working to reach a new PR or want to speed up your everyday commute, there’s no doubt that the weight of your helmet will impact the overall experience of your ride. Those of you planning longer routes will definitely want a lightweight option for their rides. Another way to lighten the load is to go for styles with plenty of air vents, which will also keep you cool throughout your entire trip.
Ahead, see the best bike helmets to suit all of your cycling needs.
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Best Road Bike Helmet Under $100
Giro Register MIPS Adult Recreational Cycling Helmet
No matter what type of cycling you’re doing, having a lightweight helmet with good airflow is just as important as its safety. If you’re just getting started road biking, we suggest this option from Giro (which has 22 vents to keep you cool without compromising speed) as an entry-level choice. Plus, it has reflective accents, which will make sure you’re seen whenever you ride.
Best Budget Bike Helmet
Schwinn Thrasher Bike Helmet
Looking for an ultra-sleek option without dipping too far into your budget? Look no further—Schwinn’s under-$30 Thrasher helmet is a lightweight style with an adjustable dial knob to help you get the perfect fit. There are also plenty of vents (20, to be exact) that’ll keep you cool on the hottest summer days.
Best Commuter Bike Helmet
Bontrager Solstice MIPS Helmet
For everyday commutes, the right helmet is lightweight and easy to wear. Bontrager’s Solstice helmet checks both of those boxes and has a Fidlock magnetic buckle that makes snapping in and out quick and easy. And it’s lightweight—so it won’t feel like you’re giving your neck a major workout before you clock in.
Best Bike Helmet with Lights
Lumos Kickstart Smart Helmet
If you prefer to take your routine rides at night, opt for this high-tech smart helmet from Lumos, which uses EPS foam lining for added protection. The Kickstart Smart Helmet will connect to a wireless remote or an Apple Watch and comes with LED lights all around to heighten your visibility. And get this, those lights include turn signals and automatic brake lights that will last up to 10 hours. In other words, it’s as if you’re one with the cars sharing the road.
Best Helmet for the Style-Savvy Commuter
Thousand Chapter Adult Bike Helmet
Those who want to add a touch of style to their daily commutes will love sporting the Thousand Chapter helmet—which incorporates MIPS technology into its added layer of protection to prevent major head injuries. Thanks to its rechargeable magnetic taillight, you can smoothly ride from day to night in style. And if you want to leave your helmet while you run your errands, you can find a hidden channel on the side to secure it to your bike with a U-lock or chain.
Best Mountain Bike Helmet
Giro Fixture MIPS Bike Helmet
Perhaps you plan to take your cycling game up a notch and give mountain biking a try. In which case, be sure to grab this affordable option from Giro. The style, which has plush padding and uses MIPS, is sure to keep you cool with its 18 vents and removable visor.
Best Road Bike Helmet
Smith Signal MIPS Bike Helmet
Have a noggin that’s on the larger side? This lightweight road bike helmet has become a favorite among those who have larger heads due to the way it fits and its adjustability. And since it weighs 110z, it’s perfect for everyday rides and commutes, too.
Best Full-Faced Helmet
Troy Lee Designs Stage MIPS Helmet
Simply put, mountain biking is no joke. And when rough (and occasionally unexpected) terrains ahead, it’s vital to have a helmet that’ll give you the most coverage you can get. Still, full-faced helmets can be, well, a lot. Luckily, this lightweight helmet—which has a ton of ventilation and room for your sunglasses or goggles—will make strapping into safety a no-brainer.
Best Bike Helmet for Rough Terrain
Smith Venture MIPS Bike Helmet
When it comes to finding the best bike helmets, safety is key. If you’re planning to venture out on tougher rides, the Smith Venture has MIPS and extended coverage at the back to give you and your brain added protection. And for brighter days, there’s an attached visor to shade your eyes from the sun.
Best Recreational Bike Helmet
Nutcase Street Helmet
Look, nobody said safety can’t look good. If you’re planning to cruise around on your two-wheeler this summer (and in style, no less), the Nutcase Street Helmet is for you. Available in a number of colors and patterns, this helmet boasts MIPS and a dial fit system to adjust to your size. If you want an even more custom fit, it comes with additional sets of foam pads, too.
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