For a product that appears to be so simple, deciding which helmet to spend your money on can quickly and become overwhelming endeavor. To clear up the confusion, here is an essential guide to mountain bike helmets, along with some of our personal favorites.
See at-a-glance reviews of five of our top-rated helmets below, or scroll deeper for more helpful buying info and full reviews of these and other high-ranking options.
MIPS and Other Safety Systems
We can’t talk about impact absorbing systems without mentioning safety standards. While other voluntary testing standards are floating around, the mandatory standard is the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) label, required for all helmets sold in the U.S.A.
How We Picked These Helmets
三九电影网Every helmet on this list has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience riding in these helmets—and even crashing in some of them—to determine the best options. Our team of experienced testers spent many hours wearing these helmets on the trail, and at the bike park. We evaluated them on performance, value, fit, comfort, ventilation, adjustability, and aesthetics to come up with the models that best serve every kind of mountain biker.
Best For:三九电影网 Breaking from the ordinary
三九电影网MET’s Roam might be a more obscure choice than the popular options from Giro, Troy Lee, or POC. But this is a great trail helmet that’s competitive with the best in the category. This well-made helmet has a well-integrated MIPS liner, and slightly extended coverage at the temples and down the back of the head. The weight (398g, medium, my scale) is a touch heavy, but competitive. It’s quite comfortable too: the pads are plush and don’t itch bare skin, the chin strap is supple, and the dial-fit system (horizontally and vertically adjustable) wraps the head without pressure points. High speed ventilation and low speed breathability are both very good. The visor looks huge, but it doesn’t project into the field of vision much—a potential downside for riding when the sun is low. The Roam is very goggle friendly, with integrated-guides and room to dock the goggles under the visor. If you prefer glasses, the forward vents offer a place to stash them. With comfort, performance, and quality, the Roam is one of our favorite helmets.
Fox Dropframe Pro
Best For: Riders desiring for the most protective open face helmet
The Fox Dropframe Pro may be an open face helmet, but it offers nearly full-face coverage. Coverage starts at the eyebrows and ends about an inch below the edge of the occipital bone. There’s also generous coverage around the temples, and the helmet’s portholes protect riders’ ears—without obstructing hearing— and part of the jaw. The Dropframe Pro also has a MIPS liner, and dual-density foam liner. There’s a lot of helmet here which shows up on the scale. This helmet weighs 524 grams (large, our scale) where a typical trail helmet is usually around 340 to 380 grams. This is a warmer helmet: There’s no internal channeling, and there’s lots of padding touching the riders head, and air flow is just okay (however, the openings around the ears provide more cooling than helmets that cover the ears), so it is a touch stuffy. It’s a little heavy and a little warm, but it is comfortable, and the extra protection is welcome. So far it is the best-scoring bicycle helmet in Virginia Tech’s impact testing.
Best For:三九电影网 Riders desiring a sleek mountain helmet for less than a Benjamin
Giro’s Radix is one sweet helmet for less than one-hundred bucks. It cuts a funky profile with its rounded shaped broken up by angular vents. Despite all its vents (there are 25), I couldn’t find a set suited to stashing sunglasses on the fly. Inside the Radix is a MIPS liner that’s so smoothly integrated it’s practically invisible to the eye. The polycarbonate shell wraps around the edge of the helmet, protecting the foam from unintended bumps and drops. Giro’s trusty and comfortable RocLoc dial fit system is here, with height-adjustable occipital grippers. The visor’s angle is adjustable, though it’s a touch short for effective coverage if the sun is anywhere but directly overhead. The pads are comfortable, and it moves air well at mountain bike speeds. It’s also quite light: at 320 grams (medium, my scale) it’s lighter than many trail helmets, and it’s sleek and low profile so it doesn’t make you look like a mushroom.
POC Tectal Race Spin NFC
Best For: Trail riders with hidden medical conditions
POC’s Tectal—named because it’s a mashup of the brand’s Octal road and Trabec mountain bike helmets—launched about five years ago. Despite its, age the Tectal still cuts a modern profile and this comfortable, well ventilated trail helmet is one of our favorites. The latest addition to the Tectal line uses POC’s SPIN pads to mitigate rotational impacts, and features an embedded NFC (Near Field Communication) chip that stores a medical profile and emergency contacts. In the event the rider can’t communicate, the chip can be read with a , providing valuable information to responders and medical personnel. The NFC chip adds almost no weight (a size M/L weighs 372g on our scale), but does bump the price of an already expensive helmet up by $30 to $250.
Lazer Gekko MIPS
Best For:三九电影网 Little shredders who have outgrown cute graphics
The Gekko is a modern and attractive mountain bike helmet. So it’s a surprise to learn it’s a kids helmet. There’s no treacly unicorn or dragon graphics here, but there is MIPS, a dedicated spot for a rechargeable light (sold separately), and a visor. It’s a one-size-fits most—50 to 56cm head circumference; Lazer’s thinking here is the Gekko will fit longer as the riders grow. The fit system automatically adjusts so the helmet is properly secured (in theory) from the moment the lil’ ripper connects the chin strap.
Best For: 三九电影网Value driven riders who want a premium helmet
Sixty bucks gets you this great looking Bell Nomad trail helmet with MIPS. About the only clue to it’s budget price is its one-size-fits-most sizing. Otherwise it has a higher-end look with in-mold construction (the polycarbonate shell is fused to the foam), a dial-adjustable fit system, a modern profile, and extended coverage at the temples and down the back of the head. Bell even managed to eliminate one of the telltale signs of a less expensive helmet: visible strap anchors. At around 350 grams, it’s weight is competitive with much higher end helmets.
Bontrager Blaze WaveCel Mountain
Best for: Reducing the chances of a concussion
三九电影网The Blaze incorporates a new impact-absorbing technology called Wavecel that Bontrager claims reduces the chance of a concussion. The layered polyester resin grid can flex, crumple, and glide in an impact, combining the benefits of EPS foam and a MIPS liner in one material. WaveCel is not a multi-impact system. Like a standard foam bicycle helmet, you need to replace it after any impact, or if any of the material is deformed, crushed, or cracked. WaveCel does add weight, around 53 grams according to Bontrager, compared to a standard foam helmet—a small price to pay for the added protection. During testing, WaveCel performed better than EPS foam helmets and EPS helmets with a MIPS liner.
Mavic XA Pro
Best for: Screening out bugs and branches
The XA Pro is one of the most unique-looking helmets we’ve had through the office. There’s no MIPS in this helmet or any other rotational force mitigation system, but it does use EPS 4D foam claimed to offer 30 percent better shock absorption than standard EPS. The stubby visor is of little use for anything other than style, but the screens over the front vents do keep out bugs and branches. Hot air escapes well through the large vents, though there’s not much sensation of air rushing through the helmet and over the top of the rider’s head when speeds pick up—perhaps because there’s no internal channeling. The fit is slightly round, and the combination of fabric and foam padding provide decent comfort.
Troy Lee Designs A2 MIPS
Best for: Matching to your favorite outfit
Building off the popularity of the A1, the A2 MIPS adds the protective qualities of the MIPS liner and increases ventilation by a massive 25 percent over the A1. Made for trail days that don’t require the added protection of a full-face helmet, the A2 still provides extended coverage for the back of your head and temples. It also features a visor, a removable and washable liner to guard against stinky pads, and a three-position retention system to dial in the perfect fit. And since style counts, Troy Lee Designs offers the A2 in 21 different color schemes.
Full Face Helmets
Bell Super 3R MIPS
Best for:三九电影网 Trail riders who occasionally session the bike park
Built for rides with major terrain changes, the Bell Super 3R MIPS features a removable chin bar that lets you easily switch between half-lid mountain bike helmet and a full-face helmet. The helmet itself is super comfy—in full-face mode, big, soft pads cushion your face without squishing your cheeks like some other similar helmets. And as a half-lid, it feels snug and fairly well-ventilated. Plus, the MIPS system offers extra peace of mind in the event of a crash. The biggest drawback is that carrying the chin bar around isn’t the most convenient—it would be great if it came with a way to securely attach it to a pack. But all in all, it’s a great helmet no matter which mode you wear it in.
Troy Lee Designs Stage Stealth MIPS
Best for: Ventilation
The 2019 Stage Stealth by Troy Lee Designs is the featherweight full-face helmet you won’t need to take off as soon as the descending is over. Ours weighed 702 grams, although the exact weight will change as you swap out interchangeable liners and cheek pads of varying thickness. The foam liner attaches to the helmet via Velcro patches on the MIPS lining; behind it, there’s EPS and E.P.P. foam for high- and low-speed-crash protection. Numerous air intakes and exhaust ports promote airflow, keeping your head cool on climbs, and the magnetic buckle is easy to manipulate with thick gloves on. Enduro enthusiasts and trailhead Darth Vader impressionists: We’ve found your helmet.
Best for: Budget-conscious park riders
三九电影网The Status is a midrange, full-face helmet that’s suitable for downhill, all-mountain, and BMX riding, borrowing a lot of the technology from 100 Percent’s high-end helmets and coming in at a fraction of the price. There is no MIPS liner, but the fiberglass and EPS construction make it light and strong enough to pass ASTM downhill and BMX testing standards, which are more stringent than the baseline CPSC test. Multiple vents, removable and washable padding, a padded chin bar, and an adjustable visor are bonus features on this high-quality yet budget-friendly helmet.