Thousand Chapter MIPS Cycling Helmet
Smith Optics Express MIPS Helmet
Giro Aether Spherical MIPS Helmet

Best Bike Helmets for Road and Mountain Biking

Our picks for the best MIPS helmets to keep your head protected in an accident
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Stephen Slaybaugh

Whether you simply use your bike to get from point A to point B or you’re a competitive cyclist, you should always be wearing a helmet—no matter the distance of your ride. According to the US Department of Transportation, 62 percent of people killed in bicycle accidents in 2019 were not wearing helmets. In fact, they not only protect your head but also offer added visibility when you’re on the road.

While any helmet is better than none (as long as it fits properly—you don’t want to be wearing a helmet that’s so big it slides over your eyes and impedes your vision!), but it’s also true that not all helmets are created equally. As such, we’ve devised the list below to help you find one that’s right for your needs and budget. All bicycle helmets sold in the US are required to be CPSC-certified, so if for some reason you find one that isn’t, steer clear. Before you shop, though, here are some other things to think about.

5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Bike Helmet

  1. Purpose: The kind of cycling you do will help determine what kind of helmet you should get. Road cyclists and mountain bikers need different types of helmets than recreational riders, and commuters may have other concerns as well.
  2. Weight: While protection is important, you don’t want your bike helmet to dampen your enjoyment or slow you down with added weight.
  3. MIPS: Standing for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, a MIPS helmet is designed to protect against the rotational motion that can occur during an accident and cause brain damage. While some of the brands we’ve included also offer helmets in less expensive non-MIPS models, we think it’s worth the added expense, so we’ve included only MIPS helmets. 
  4. Ventilation: If you’re riding your bike to work or a social function, chances are that you’d prefer not to show up dripping in sweat, and if you are biking for exercise or conquering a trail, you also want to avoid overheating. Bike helmets have varying ventilation systems to keep your head cool, so be sure to examine the number of vents and how they channel air.
  5. Warranties: Check to see what warranties your helmet’s manufacturer offers. Many companies offer replacements if you are in an accident and any damage occurs to your helmet’s structure.

While the type of riding you do will determine the type of bicycle helmet you get, our choice for the best budget helmet, the Bontrager Solstice, should work for most riders. However, if your needs are more specific, we highly recommend going with one of our other picks.


For more bike and gear recommendations, check out these picks from our editors:

Our Top Picks

See All Top Picks See All
Top Pick
Top Pick
Thousand Chapter MIPS Cycling Helmet
Most Stylish Bike Helmet

Thousand Chapter MIPS Cycling Helmet

Manufacturer :

  Thousand

Where to Buy

Pros

  • Includes magnetic light
  • Free accident replacement
  • 110% carbon emission offset

Cons

  • Short battery life for light

Product Snapshot

A favorite for multiple reasons (including the brand’s sustainability practices and lifetime accident replacement policy), the Thousand Chapter MIPS Cycling Helmet is also the best-looking on this list. Its low profile and retro look make it much more stylish than the bulbous forms most helmets take. We particularly like the navy model, which comes with a tortoiseshell visor.

It’s important to note that Thousand doesn’t sacrifice safety or comfort for good looks. This helmet has an integrated MIPS layer and comes with a 30-lumen magnetic taillight. Meanwhile, eight strategically placed vents will keep your noggin cool. And when you get to where you’re going, it has a hidden channel with an opening that allows you to thread your U-lock through it to lock the helmet to your bike.

Specs

Sizes
Small
Medium
Large
Weight
360g (S)
370g (M)
410g (L)
Vents
8

Where to Buy

Best Value
Best Value
Smith Optics Express MIPS Helmet
Best Commuter Bike Helmet

Smith Optics Express MIPS Helmet

Manufacturer :

  Smith

Where to Buy

Pros

  • Competitively priced
  • Includes removable light

Cons

  • Could use more padding

Product Snapshot

For those who use their bikes regularly to get to and from work or as a form of recreation, this helmet from Smith Optics is a great option and one of our favorites. Available in four attractive matte tones—yellow, black, cloud grey, and pool (greenish blue)—and with a sleek design, this helmet looks good while providing plenty of safety features. It is CPSC- and EN 1078-certified and features MIPS technology to protect against rotational forces. It has a removable light that fits into the rear central vent, as well as reflective straps for nighttime visibility. A removable visor and 13 air vents will keep you comfortable on sunny days.

The Smith Optics Express MIPS Helmet is attractive and affordable, making it a great choice for just about any rider. It also has a lifetime warranty against factory defects, and if you are in a crash, Smith will give you 30 percent off a replacement.

Specs

Sizes
Small
Medium
Large
Weight
388g (L)
Vents
13

Where to Buy

Splurge
Splurge
Giro Aether Spherical MIPS Helmet
Best Road Bike Helmet

Giro Aether Spherical MIPS Helmet

Manufacturer :

  Giro

Where to Buy

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Three-way fit system
  • Innovative MIPS protection

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Unspecified crash replacement discount

Product Snapshot

Ubiquitous across lists of the best bike helmets on the market, the Giro Aether Spherical MIPS Helmet combines innovative safety features with top-notch ventilation. Its proprietary MIPS configuration is integrated between the shell and outer layer for greater protection and increased comfort. It features a shatterproof arch that runs across the top of the helmet, and it has deep channels and 11 large vents so that air runs across the top of your head to keep you cool. The fit system allows you to make adjustments in three directions for a customize, comfortable fit. There are even ports for your sunglasses.

Of course, all this tech and customization doesn’t come cheap, but if you are a serious road cyclist regularly riding at top speed, there’s no better helmet for you.

Specs

Sizes
Small
Medium
Large
Weight
280g (M)
Vents
11

Where to Buy

Splurge
Worth A Look
Bell Super Air MIPS Helmet
Best Mountain Biking Helmet

Bell Super Air MIPS Helmet

Manufacturer :

  BELL

Where to Buy

Pros

  • Spherical Technology
  • Adjustable visor accommodates goggles or sunglasses

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Unspecified crash replacement discount

Product Snapshot

Of course, just as road cyclists need added protection, so, too, do mountain bikers—in fact, they need even more. A mountain bike helmet should extend farther down the back of your head toward your neck and cover more of your temples on the side of your head to protect those critical areas against trail hazards. 

The Bell Super Air MIPS Helmet features Bell’s proprietary Spherical Technology. Its ball-and-socket design works similarly to that of the Giro Aether, with the outer liner being able to rotate independently of the inner liner during a crash. It has 18 vents to keep you comfortable. The Bell Super Air can also be purchased with a removable chin guard for added protection.

Specs

Sizes
Small
Medium
Large
Weight
410g (M)
Vents
18

Where to Buy

Best Value
A Good Deal
Bontrager Solstice MIPS Helmet
Best Budget Bike Helmet

Bontrager Solstice MIPS Helmet

Manufacturer :

  Bontrager

Where to Buy

Pros

  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Small canister

Product Snapshot

If you’re a casual bike rider and don’t want to break the bank buying a helmet, Trek’s Bontrager line offers affordable options with plenty of protection. Among them, the Solstice helmet is highly regarded. It features MIPS protection in a polycarbonate shell, and its Headmaster fit system can be manipulated with one hand, in case you need to make adjustments while riding. It offers plenty of ventilation and a removable visor to keep you comfortable.

Perhaps best of all are the warranties that come with the Bontrager Solstice. For one, it has an unconditional 30-day guarantee that allows you to return the helmet if you’re unhappy with it for any reason. If you are involved in a crash within the first year after purchase, Trek will replace your helmet for free.

Specs

Sizes
Small/Medium
Medium/Large
Weight
335g (S/M)
375g (M/L)
Vents
17

Where to Buy

Compare

Most Stylish Bike Helmet
Best Commuter Bike Helmet
Best Road Bike Helmet
Best Mountain Biking Helmet
Best Budget Bike Helmet
Pros
Pros
Pros
Pros
Pros
Pros
  • Includes magnetic light
  • Free accident replacement
  • 110% carbon emission offset
  • Competitively priced
  • Includes removable light
  • Lightweight
  • Three-way fit system
  • Innovative MIPS protection
  • Spherical Technology
  • Adjustable visor accommodates goggles or sunglasses
  • Inexpensive
Cons
Cons
Cons
Cons
Cons
Cons
  • Short battery life for light
  • Could use more padding
  • Expensive
  • Unspecified crash replacement discount
  • Expensive
  • Unspecified crash replacement discount
  • Small canister
Sizes
Sizes
Sizes
Sizes
Sizes
Sizes
Small
Medium
Large
Small
Medium
Large
Small
Medium
Large
Small
Medium
Large
Small/Medium
Medium/Large
Weight
Weight
Weight
Weight
Weight
Weight
360g (S)
370g (M)
410g (L)
388g (L)
280g (M)
410g (M)
335g (S/M)
375g (M/L)
Vents
Vents
Vents
Vents
Vents
Vents
8
13
11
18
17

FAQ

How should my helmet fit?

Use the manufacturer’s guide to pick the correct size, and then use its fit system to make adjustments. You should be able to see well in all directions, and the straps should form a V just beneath each ear. No more than two fingers should fit between the chin strap and your chin.