Many people set out to google the ultimate, one-and-only, best bike helmet. But truth be told, there is no such thing as a “best bike helmet.” The best helmet for you depends on a number of factors, the most important of which is how you ride your bike. And the more you know, the easier it will be for you to find the best bike helmet for your needs.
In your quest for the best bike helmet, there are a few things you should ask yourself. The first is what kind of cycling you do: if you’re commuting to work, you will probably prefer a different helmet than if you’re competing in triathlons. And even in disciplines like MTB, there are different helmets for different uses. If you like mountain biking on gravel and light trails, a well-ventilated road-biking helmet will be a good choice. But if you ride rough terrain, you’re better off with a designated MTB helmet with a visor. So the first thing you need to do is to decide what kind of cyclist you are.
The next thing you will have to do is shop around for a helmet that really fits. A good fit is crucial for head protection. The helmet should fit snugly and not move once you’ve tightened the straps. It should be tight, but not squeeze or chafe in any way. A bike helmet with a bad fit offers less protection and is also more likely to be left unused at home. You should find one that feels comfortable to wear and that has straps and adjustments that fit.
If you’re a road cyclist who cycles for exercise and well-being, you will probably prefer a light, well-ventilated helmet that keeps you cool during long distances. But if you race, an aero helmet would probably be a better choice. An aero helmet is a smoother road helmet with a trade-off between aerodynamics and ventilation. Maybe you’re a keen triathlete? Then aerodynamics are of superior importance and a TT helmet that reduces turbulence and air resistance is a natural choice.
Mountain biking is often technically and physically demanding and full of surprises. A good MTB helmet is designed to protect all sides of the head and extends further down in the back. Many MTB helmets also have a visor to protect the eyes from sweeping branches and mud splashes.
Do you mostly cycle XC on less rugged terrain, like dirt roads and trails? Then you’ll probably do just as well with a light road-biking helmet with good ventilation that keeps your head cool.
Downhill helmets are robust, full-face helmets that protect both the head and face. They resemble motocross helmets and are designed for higher speeds when the effect of a crash is greater. A full-coverage helmet will be warmer, of course, so look for a well-ventilated option with good airflow. If you ride enduro, there are helmets with chin bars that also protect the chin and cheeks. These are lighter and better ventilated than downhill helmets – nice when riding uphill.
Wearing a helmet when cruising through traffic is a must, but the best bike helmet for commuting is a matter of taste. Most helmets work well for your daily commute, but a well-ventilated helmet may be nice – especially in summer.
When you start looking for the best bike helmet for your needs, you will soon learn that the market has many helmets from which to choose. Some are equipped with the Mips® safety system, which is designed to help redirect rotational motion away from the head in the event of an accident. But what is rotational motion? Let us explain.
If you fall while cycling, your head will most likely hit the ground at an angle. At the moment of impact, a rotational motion occurs, which can make the head rotate more or less, depending on the object or surface of impact. The energy from the impact can be directed further into the head, where it can cause injury to the brain. Rotational motion is thus the result of oblique impacts to the head.
When looking for the best bike helmet for you, feel free to look for various safety features and other details that are specific to your particular type of cycling. But first, make sure the helmet is certified according to the applicable standards in the country where you live, such as the EU directive on general product safety and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).