Do you search for a lightweight helmet or one that is stylish but perhaps a bit on the heavy side? Can a mountain bike helmet do the trick? And what is MIPS anyways—and do you need it? The amount of choices available can make the search seem overwhelming.
That’s why we studied 9 of the best road bike helmets on the market and found that the Agilis Bicycle Helmet by Giro is the best in terms of performance, safety, and affordability.
Best Overall Road Bike Helmet
Giro is one of the top helmet manufacturers in the cycling world, known for its attractive price point and long-lasting quality. The Giro Agilist is no exception to the brand’s legacy, with a two-piece hardshell and in-mold lower shell that’s perfect for road biking.
The helmet is built with an integrated Multi-Directional Impact Protection System or MIPS, which keeps the head stable, a removable visor, and 22 vents to keep your head cool. With the universal fit and Roc-Loc fit system that adjusts with the turn of a dial, it’s perfect for all types of cyclists.
- Secure fit
- Many colour options
- Not suitable for children
Best Small budget Road Bike Helmet
If safety is first on your wishlist, Smith Optics Signal MIPS helmet is perfect for you. From adults to older kids, the adjustable settings for the fit ensure the right feel when you’re out on the road. Even better is the integrated MIPS safety technology, maximising brain protection in the event of a collision.
The air flows freely across your head, and an understated, underrated bonus is the built-in eyewear port. It’s great value, lightweight, protective and doesn’t skimp on the little extras that make a difference.
- MIPS safety technology
- AirEvac ventilation
- Eyewear port
- Limited colourways
Best Aero Road Bike Helmet
Though Oakley is the top dog in the cycling glasses department, they also make stand-out helmets. Aerodynamic and lightweight, the ARO3 provides maximum protection with a ‘barely there’ feel. For bikers who feel overheated during summer months, the X-Static brow padding keeps you cool and inhibits bacterial growth. The helmet is easily adjustable with the Boa 360 fit system to ensure maximum comfort.
Weighing just 295 grams, the ARO3 is lightweight and dynamic for long rides. An incorporated MIPS layer moves around freely in the helmet, which feels lighter than the embedded MIPS layers on other helmets. Oakley has also included a handy eyewear dock system in the helmet.
- MIPS safety
- Sunglasses integration
- Forehead moisture-wicking system
- Not much space for hair
Most Stylish Road Bike Helmet
If you are searching for a helmet to look stylish in, POC’s Ventral Lite helmet has you covered. While stylish, it doesn’t compromise on protection. A lightweight and well-ventilated helmet with SPIN (Shearing Pad INside) technology protects you from injury with its silicone padded coating. The EPS density optimized liner helps absorb the impact force of a crash. For a secure fit, the Omne Air Spin offers a strap adjustment system.
- SPIN Technology
- Affordable price point
- Thin, sleek profile
- Looks bulky
- No sun protection
- Limited color choices
Most Comfortable Road Bike Helmet
The Bell Trace MIPS helmet is made for both mountain and road biking. Made out of a polycarbonate micro-shell, this sturdy helmet comes with many standard features including MIPS protection, ventilation, and an easy adjustment system. the Bell Trace stands out from the competition with its removable visor and Ergo Fit technology.
- In-Mold technology
- Made for performance, enjoyed by casual riders
- Removable visor
- Adjustable bracket catches hair
- Sits high on head
- Heavier helmet
Best MIPS Road Bike Helmet
If you’re looking for a road bike helmet with added safety features, the Smith Optics Network Helmet doesn’t disappoint. The Network is comfortable and ultra-light, without ever compromising on protection. This performance helmet is ideal for a simple ride through town or for a race. It features MIPS technology, which reduces the rotational forces in the brain during impact, thus offering better protection.
- Enhanced safety features
- SNAP buckle
- Attractive design
- Fitting issues
Best Road Bike Helmet for Kids
Keep the little ones safe as they tag along with the sturdy Spunto Scott Helmet helmet. It has all the reliable features of a high-end helmet at a fraction of the price. Children are known to be picky, which is why the helmet is built with the easily adjustable JRAS fit system and cushioning for added comfort.
- Safety is prioritized
- Easy adjustable fit
- No MIPS system
Best Road Bike Helmet for Winter Cycling
The newest edition of Bern’s Heist Dual Shell MIPS helmet comes with all of the features we know and love from the brand—along with some practical add-ons. This helmet was made with active winter lovers in mind. The Zipmold+ and PVC lower shell is combined with a tough ABS top shell for comfort and durability.
There are additional safety features in the helmet like EAR (Energy Absorbing Ribs) to disperse impacts, aluminum shields, Boa 360 dial tightening system. The winter lining and the possibility to add on audio make this simply the best helmet for any cold season ride.
- Durable in winter conditions
- ABS shell and Zipmold foam
- Low profile design
With its precision fit and breathable ventilation, the Ultra Mips from Lumos is a favourite among cyclists. Featuring the MIPS protection system, this helmet sports customizable lights and a rechargeable battery with a 10-hour runtime. Other useful features include a controller for turn signals and customization options. It also comes with a phone app to check your battery, track your activity and sync with fitness apps like Strava and Apple Health. There's no denying that the Lumos Ultra Mips is a top-of-the-line helmet for tech-savvy, safety-conscious cyclists.
For a helmet with top-notch Giro quality and an attractive price point, look no further than the Cinder MIPS Helmet. It comes with standard features for comfort like the Roc Loc fit system and in-mold construction, which conforms to your head shape. The Cinder has everything you need in a road bike helmet at an affordable price for the whole family.
Smith’s helmets are known for being lightweight, comfortable, and breathable. The Smith Optics Persist is built with the VaporFit system to ensure an airtight feel, and the AirEvac channels promote airflow and reduce fogging.
For road bikers looking for extra features such as glasses storage and an adjustable visor, the Engage has you covered. It’s stylish while also being top-notch in safety with the MIPS system.
How To Choose The Right Road Bike Helmet
How should a bike helmet fit?
When you try on a helmet, make sure it’s level on your head and low on your forehead—the correct amount of space is two fingers above your eyebrow.
Another tip? When you’re done adjusting the straps and the turn dial, open your mouth wide as if you’re yawning. You should feel the helmet pull down on your head—if it doesn’t, tighten the chin strap. Finally, make sure that the helmet isn’t blocking your vision or rocking on your head.
Helmets with larger vents allow for more airflow and some helmets also have ‘exhaust’ holes in the back of the helmet. Vents and exhaust channels work to push cool air over the head and force out hot air so you stay cool when cycling long distances.
MIPS (Multi-directional impact protection)
MIPS, or Multidirectional Impact Protection System, has recently become a buzzword in the biking community. The main purpose of the technology is to reduce the ‘rotational forces’ or brain damage resulting from a crash. MIPS uses two layers that rotate independently from one another, with the outer layer rotating when you crash.
Some complaints about MIPS are that it makes the helmet feel wobbly, which makes sense given the technology. However, it’s been proven to reduce impact damage after a fall, so some minor discomfort is worth it.
SPIN (Shearing Pad INside)
POC’s SPIN pads are the most recent development in bike helmet technology. Unlike the MIPS’ rotational layer, SPIN uses far more comfortable, newly-developed silicone-gel pads inside the helmet. This technology has proven to be just as effective as MIPS.
The pads function similarly to the outer layer in MIPS helmets by absorbing the shock from an impact. The main difference is that this safety system doesn’t affect ventilation or comfort, which creates the ‘barely there’ feel.
Though retention systems vary significantly, they all essentially function the same. An adjustable webbing system across the back of the helmet is pulled together by a ratchet dial or thumbwheel.
For example, the Boa Fit System consists of a micro-adjustable dial designed to optimize fit with a single-hand adjustment. Different brands have their retention systems, such as Occigrip from Sweet Protection, which looks similar to the Boa turn dial. The most important feature to look for in a ratchet system is that it can be easily adjusted with one hand.
When should you replace your bike helmet?
It depends on what kind of shape the helmet is in. If you’ve been in a crash then the foam will need to be replaced. Also, age plays a big factor—after 3 years, foam begins to break away from the mold and protection deteriorates.
Do road bike helmets expire?
No. Road bike helmets don’t expire, but most manufacturers recommend replacing a helmet every 3 to 5 years. Some helmets are more durable than others and therefore last longer.
Why are some road bike helmets so expensive?
Comfort, aerodynamic vents, and built-in technology dramatically increase the price of bike helmets.
Can you use a mountain bike helmet for road biking?
Yes, if you would like to. A mountain bike helmet is less aerodynamic, but offers better protection for road biking. There will be compromises, however, in visibility (less in mountain bike helmets), weight, and other factors.
In 2022, most road bike helmets come standard with MIPS technology, ventilation, an easy adjustment strap system, and comfortable padding. Choose a helmet that fits your needs and your budget. You will find your dream helmet in no time, and can work on the rest of your urban cycling gear and outfit!