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Best cycling helmets 2024 — choose a bike lid that's right for your riding

Find out everything you need to know about the best cycling helmets - comfort, ventilation, straps, fitting, protection systems like Mips - and browse a selection of our recent favourites

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By providing a shock-absorbing layer of crushable material around your head, a cycling helmet is intended to reduce the damage if you are unfortunate enough to come off your bike and hit your head. Cycling helmets have come a long way in weight, fit and ventilation since the heavy brain buckets and leather hairnets of yesteryear, and we've racked up tens of thousands of miles in a huge range of lids to bring you a list of the best cycling helmets you can buy.

A cycling helmet holds a layer of shock-absorbing material against your head, often in the form of expanded polystyrene (EPS), which means in theory, the force transmitted to your head if you crash is reduced. Strategically placed vents facilitate airflow to prevent overheating, while internal channels allow air to circulate and produce comedy helmet hair. 

To increase the chances of your helmet being effective, it's important that it has a snug fit. Most modern helmets offer convenient dial adjusters at the back and chin straps to make this easier. Most helmets also come in sizes, usually expressed in centimetres or sizes small, medium, large and so on. Not everyone will be familiar with the circumference of their head and sizing can vary between brands, so we'd always recommend trying before you buy. 

In general, the more you pay, the lighter a helmet is. Manufacturers use built-in reinforcing skeletons and lightweight components to reduce helmet weight, inevitably increasing the cost. The best aero helmets will also have aerodynamics considered, and may have even spent time in a wind tunnel to optimise your bonce for cheating the wind. Again, research and development that goes into making a lid more aerodynamic will most likely add to its price tag. 

Many of the latest helmets also incorporate Mips (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) technology, which has arguably set a new standard for head protection. It's a rotational management system designed to help reduce rotational energies otherwise transferred to the head during an impact or crash. There are a few brands with their own systems that are supposed to perform similar jobs, such as Kask's WG11. 

All of the helmets featured here scored 4 out of 5 stars or more overall from our reviewers. Our reviews evaluate how a helmet performs in terms of comfort, weight, ventilation, ease of adjustment, price, and all-round wearability. We don't test effectiveness in a crash because we don’t have the resources to conduct independent lab tests and analyses. In our view, what a helmet is like to wear regularly in different riding and weather conditions is valid and useful information to any potential buyer.

With being a road cycling website as you may have guessed, this guide recommends various types of helmet that you would consider wearing on the road (and perhaps off it), whether that's for commuting, training, road racing or general riding for fun. If you're into racing and want a helmet with some aero benefits, check out our guide to the best aero helmets for road riding.

The best cycling helmets: our top picks

Specialized Align II helmet

Specialized Align II helmet

Best budget cycling helmet
Buy now for £30 from Tredz
Great value
Easy to adjust
Slightly heavy

The Specialized Align II is a low-cost helmet that doesn't scrimp on features. It's one of the cheapest Mips helmets you can buy and according to Specialized, the Align II also earned a 5-Star Virginia Tech Helmet Rating from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Despite its intended use for more relaxed riding, such as commuting, its streamlined and sporty appearance means it can be used for a wide variety of riding. Hollis tested the Align II and said that the fit was really good and that you wouldn't know it only cost £45. 

The Align II is available in three sizes and six different colours to keep everyone happy.

Liv relay mips helmet

Liv Relay MIPS Helmet

Best womens cycling helmet
Buy now for £39.99 from Cycle Solutions
Clean design
Well made
Good value

The Liv Relay Mips helmet is undoubtedly a good buy for the money for both road riders and commuters as it goes well with technical and casual clothing. It fits well and features an easy-to-use dial that lets you micro-adjust the 360-degree, full-surround basket. The basket depth is fixed, but it has a raised profile at the rear to accommodate a ponytail.

As the name suggests, it incorporates Mips technology and a deeper-than-average rear profile, for additional protection at the back of the head.

It's available in three colours and two sizes and there is also a docking point for a (Liv-specific) light, though you'll need to buy it separately if you want one.

Endura Hummvee Helmet

Endura Hummvee Helmet

Best budget urban cycling helmet
Buy now for £23 from Wiggle
Well made
Could be cooler
Lack of strap adjustment might be an issue for some

The Endura Hummvee is a fantastic urban and off-road helmet that's cheap, comfy and offers good all-round protection.

It offers some useful features such as a visor for mountain biking and bug netting behind the front-facing vents, which stops creepy crawlies getting too close. 

At 261g, this is impressively light for the money and it is also very stable on the head, with the straps and twist-wheel adjustment doing their jobs well.

Kask Sintesi helmet

Kask Sintesi helmet

Best cycling helmet under £100
Buy now for £71 from Sigma Sports
Very stable
Decent airflow
Light for the money
Loads of colour choices

Many helmets in the sub-£100 category often compromise weight for affordability. However, the Kask Sintesi helmet stands out as an excellent choice as it combines a lightweight design with comfort at an affordable price. It also looks good and is suitable for all styles of riding, from urban commuting and road cycling to gravel. 

The Sintesi has passed Kask's WG11 Rotational Impact test which is their alternative to Mips and if you're not familiar with them, our Kask WG11 vs Mips feature looks at how the two technologies compare.

This helmet comes in two sizes, medium (52-58cm) and large (50-62cm) and the shape is neither narrow nor round. Lara said, "I found it exceptionally comfortable, with the internal cradle cupping my occipital bone beautifully. This led to the helmet not only feeling comfortable but also supremely confidence-inspiring in terms of stability". 

Smith Dispatch Helmet

Smith Dispatch Helmet

Best cycling helmet for commuting
Buy now for £119 from Trade Inn
Good looking
Enhanced protection
Rear LED
Magnetic buckle

While Smith's Dispatch Helmet is one of the most expensive commuter-style helmets we've seen, reviewer Hollis deems it one of the best helmets for commuting, brimming with top tech. It's relatively low weight, has decent ventilation and a handy LED rear light. 

It comes in at 357g for a medium which isn't that light up against a road helmet, but it's very decent for a commuter-specific lid, especially when you factor in the extra safety features that inevitably add weight. The Dispatch Helmet features both Mips and Koroyd, and Kyroyd is a breathable layer of welded tubes that are designed to "crumple instantly and consistently on impact, absorbing maximum force in a controlled manner, minimizing energy transferred to your head". 

Abus Hud-Y

Abus Hud-Y

Best commuter cycling helmet with bonus safety features
Buy now for £98.99 from Fawkes Cycles
USB-rechargeable LED
Comfortable & easy to adjust
Seven colour choices
Quite expensive
No extra safety tech
Slightly narrow fit won't suit all

The Abus Hud-Y Helmet is well-styled for urban use and comes with commuter-friendly features including a bright USB-rechargeable rear LED that attaches to the helmet with a sturdy magnet. Packing a claimed 9 lumens on max, it is pretty bright and makes for a genuinely useful extra safety element on urban roads.

The LED lasts for around 2.5 hours on its brightest setting and the helmet also features plenty of reflective accents for a reassuringly visible design.

Reviewer Lara said: "Overall, considering the combination of the secure fit, sturdy construction, and extra visibility of the LED rear light and reflectives, I found the Hud-Y very reassuring to wear and a genuinely competent urban-focused cycling helmet". 

Met Mobilite MIPS Helmet

Met Mobilite MIPS Helmet

Best urban cycling helmet under £100
Buy now for £54.5 from Tredz
Bright rear light
Good range of adjustment
Over-vented for cold weather, and no ear covers
Rear light isn't rechargeable

The Met Mobilite MIPS helmet is aimed towards e-bikes and urban riding featuring a bright built-in rear light, very comfortable padding, and plenty of venting that makes for a cool lid. The rear light isn't rechargeable but is bright enough to be effective. 

Rather than a standard clip, the buckle is a magnetic design, and reviewer Matt said, "I've not used one of these before, but I found it surprisingly easy to get used to."

The helmet comes in three sizes, S/M, M/L and L/XL and is available in three colours. 

Rudy Project Egos helmet

Rudy Project Egos helmet

Best cycling helmet under £200
Buy now for £148.99 from Trade Inn
Sits low above your head
Good airflow
Bug net included
No ratchet when undoing the retention system

The Rudy Project Egos helmet was worn by Team Bahrain Victorious riders this year and Stu found it to be a comfortable, well-vented helmet that shows lots of attention to detail, without being stupidly expensive. 

Rather than a typical buckle for securing the helmet, Rudy has gone for the magnetic FidLock system to do the strap up which snaps shut and is quick and easy to open with gloved hands. The under-ear straps are also cleverly designed - rather than having the side and rear straps joining in a V-section, curved Ergo Dividers carry the straps around and below your ears.

The helmet doesn't feature Mips or similar technology, but Rudy says it does its own in-house rotational impact test and the Egos passes the European CE/EN 1078 and the US CPSC 12.03 standards.

Bell XR Spherical road helmet

Bell XR Spherical Road Helmet

Best cycling helmet with Spherical technology
Buy now for £188.99 from Cycle Store
Spherical Technology is subtle
Good ventilation
Comfortable for long rides
Heavier than similarly priced helmets

The Bell XR Spherical Road Helmet combines supreme comfort, excellent ventilation, a secure fit, and versatility for both road and off-road use. It also seamlessly integrates the innovative 'Spherical' Mips technology for enhanced safety.

Spherical Technology is a version of Mips that employs a unique design: a larger outer helmet shell covering a smaller inner shell connected by concealed rubber bands. This setup allows the inner helmet to move freely in all directions, effectively reducing rotational impact and enhancing protection against concussions in the event of a crash.

Ventilation is also good, which is impressive given that you are basically wearing two helmets. This again comes from the Spherical system's custom build and its ability to channel air freely through its 16 vents.

Met Manta Mips Aero Road helmet

Met Manta Mips Aero Road helmet

Best aero cycling helmet
Buy now for £149.99 from Tredz
Aero gains (claimed)
Mips tech
Decent ventilation
Quite light
Helmet brow quite visible

The Met Manta Mips helmet impresses with a good blend of aero performance and ventilation, weight and comfort while integrating Mips protection nicely. It costs a fair amount of money, but in exchange you get a very accomplished helmet well-attuned to fast riding and racing.

Tester Leon writes: “Out on the road I've found the new Manta Mips to be fast (well, fast-feeling) compared to my usual airy and lightweight climber's helmet – a Kask Valegro at the moment – and surprisingly airy too. The front six channels in combination with the seventh top vent provide just enough ventilation to regulate the temperature around your head on a warm British summer's day. It's only overwhelmed by a particularly humid warmth or when temperatures on the road start edging towards the high 20s". 

A click-wheel cranial fit system ensures a secure fit and Met has also fitted its 'Fidlock' clasp under the chin. Benefits include a magnetic clasp that snaps together strong and it reduces the risk of skin pinching too.

Trek Velocis Mips Road Bike Helmet

Trek Velocis Mips Road Bike Helmet

Best cycling helmet for its good looks
Buy now for £179 from Balfe's Bikes
Great ventilation
Good looking – like a Ferrari
Mips Air system is very subtle and comfortable
Straps are unnecessarily long

The Trek Velocis Mips helmet is impressively light with good ventilation and a very comfortable Mips system. It also boasts an attractive design that tester George likened to a Ferrari 458. 

Getting a good fit is very simple thanks to a 360-degree Boa system, which tightens and loosens with a dial on the back of the harness and a Boa lace running around the entire circumference of the head. The Boa dial allows for micro-adjustment quickly, too, with a small amount of movement between each click.

George says, "helmet fit is always slightly subjective, but having used a lot of high-end helmets over the years I would say this is the most comfortable, both in terms of ventilation and fit. All in, I think this helmet is a fantastic package. It is light, comfortable, and has excellent ventilation to boot". 

Poc Ventral Air Mips

Poc Ventral Air Mips

Best helmet combining aerodynamics and ventilation
Buy now for £164.99 from Tredz
Well ventilated
Wide range of colour choices
Very comfortable fit

The Poc Ventral Air Mips can be seen on the heads of EF Education Easy Post in the pro peloton and while it's designed to be aerodynamic, it incorporates much better ventilation than a straight aero road lid making it a great choice for cycling in warm weather. 

The fit is optimised through the cradle and dial system at the rear and at 260g the Ventral Air Mips is slightly lighter than some of its rivals. 

Tester Ben concluded that "the Poc Ventral Air Mips is a bit on the pricey side, but it's an excellent helmet, ideal for warm days when its great airflow keeps you cool. It's comfortable, quick and easy to adjust, and worked well with different pairs of sunglasses. It looks great, too". 

Kask Protone Icon Helmet

Kask Protone Icon helmet

Best do-it-all cycling helmet
Buy now for £179 from Sigma Sports
Superb ventilation
Extremely comfortable
Impressive build quality
Octofit+ adjuster feels less robust than some

The Kask Protone Icon has been worn to victories in XC mountain bike, gravel races and some of the biggest stages in the world thanks to its excellent ventilation, low weight and claimed aero benefits. 

The exceptional comfort is attributed to the 21 vents, which efficiently channel cooling airflow, irrespective of your effort level or ride duration. Shaun says, "The Icon is the airiest and most comfortable helmet I've ever used, in 35 years of cycling. At 223g it's also possibly the lightest – I barely noticed it."

The Kask Protone Icon is available in three sizes, covering a wide range of head circumferences from 50 to 62 cm, and comes in a choice of no fewer than 10 colours, including matte and gloss effects.

Kask Wasabi helmet

Kask Wasabi helmet

Best winter cycling helmet
Buy now for £210 from Tredz
Tuneable climate control
Styling won't appeal to all

The Kask Wasabi is a quirky model reckoned to be the helmet for all seasons and to some extent, all riders – road and gravel being two key audiences. Unlike a traditional helmet, the Wasabi employs panels that are configured for optimal aerodynamic efficiency and they can be opened or closed depending on how much airflow you want. 

The standard of finish is excellent, and the specification is reassuringly high. Tester Shaun says: "Overall, I've been impressed with the Kask Wasabi's blend of comfort and performance, and its easy-to-operate venting panels are really useful. It could even be argued you are getting two helmets in one – which might help justify the price". 

Giro Aries Spherical Helmet

Giro Aries Spherical Helmet

Best money-no-object cycling helmet
Buy now for £235 from Sigma Sports
Very light
Great for warm weather and heavy sweaters
Shape might not suit everyone

The Giro Aries Spherical is the company's latest pro-level helmet, featuring its Spherical Technology system, a unique ball-and-socket design that adds more safety on top of Mips.

The Aries is also one of the lightest helmets on the market coming in at 265g (size small) on the scales of the truth, and the abundant vents make it ideal for warm weather. Tester Suvi said, "Even on the hottest of days, the vents kept my head (despite also having long hair) significantly cooler and less sweaty than any other helmet I've tried". 

Met Trenta 3K Carbon Mips

Met Trenta 3K Carbon Mips

Another great high-end helmet
Buy now for £189.99 from Tredz
Mips rotational protection

The Trenta 3K Carbon is Met's top-of-the-range helmet and it's this particular model that was worn by Team UAE Emirates and Tadej Pogacar at this year's Tour de France. This highlights perfectly the aim of the helmet as it was worn on all but the time trial stages, balancing aerodynamics for the flat stages and ventilation on the hilly stages during the French heatwave.

With an RRP of £290, the Met Trenta 3K Carbon Mips helmet isn't cheap but it's an excellent lid that's light, cool and comfortable.

It also features Mips technology which can make helmets a little bit heavier, but at 223g the Trenta 3K is just 3g more than the non-Mips version.

How to choose from the best cycling helmets

How do cycling helmets work?

A cycling helmet comprises a thick layer that provides shock absorption, with soft cushioning for comfort where it rests on the head. The main shock-absorbing layer is almost always made from polystyrene foam, though there have been attempts to use polyurethane foam and treated cardboard.

A thin plastic shell covers the foam to protect it from everyday nicks and scrapes. This shell is usually 'co-moulded' or 'in-moulded', that is, the outer shell is placed in the mould and then the polystyrene layer is formed into it.

A few helmets still have thicker hard plastic shells, which provide some shock absorption in addition to the polystyrene layer, but add weight.

The shock-absorbing layer and shell are held on the head with straps, usually made from some sort of synthetic fabric webbing and closed with a buckle. There's almost always an additional cradle at the back of the head to stabilise the helmet by grabbing the occipital protuberance near the base of your skull.

Since polystyrene foam is an insulator, the best cycling helmets have plenty of ventilation to stop the rider's head from overheating. Early helmets simply had holes in the shell. Modern designs use channels inside the shell that allow air to flow over the rider's head.

For a helmet to stay in place and be comfortable, it must be adjusted to fit the wearer's head. All the best cycling helmets have some sort of mechanism to adjust the fit on the occipital cradle at the rear of the helmet.

Some helmets have internal reinforcing skeletons to hold them together in an impact. This allows for larger vents and air channels, and usually a lighter helmet, but the complication of including extra components in the moulding makes such helmets more expensive.

Do I need a helmet for cycling?

Can of worms = well and truly opened! 

If you're completely new to cycling and cycling safety equipment, you might be wondering what we're on about -  but many of you may be aware that this question is a surprisingly contentious one. 

You may have heard stories of cycling helmets purportedly saving the lives of riders who have been unfortunate enough to have a bad crash, or be involved in a collision. A notable recent case was the one of British television presenter Dan Walker, who credited his helmet with saving his life following a nasty collision. 

> Why is Dan Walker’s claim that a bike helmet saved his life so controversial?

The reality is that it's more complicated than that. Studies on the effectiveness of cycling helmets have produced mixed results in the past, and a senior brand development manager at helmet brand Giro noted in 2020 that its helmets are not "designed specifically to reduce chances or severity of injury when impacts involve a car." In 2014, Chris Boardman noted that cycling helmets are "not even in top 10 of things that keep cycling safe", arguing that advocating for mandatory cycling helmets - as is the case in Australia and New Zealand - detracts from other measures that could be taken to improve cycling safety. as a publication has no official policy on the wearing of cycle helmets, and it's not a legal requirement to wear one where we're based in the UK. The law says it's up to you whether you wear a helmet or not when cycling, and that's good enough for us.  

What impact absorption standards do cycling helmets meet?

In the UK and the European Union, helmets must meet the EN 1078 standard, which calls for a deceleration of no more that 250g to be transmitted to the head in an impact at 5.42-5.52 m/s (a little over 12 mph). The standard involves impacts on a flat surface and a kerbstone.

In the US a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard applies. The two are roughly equivalent in terms of impact absorption.

What is Mips?

Mips stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, and it's a feature we're seeing more and more on the best cycling helmets. A Mips helmet offers additional protection against rotational forces in a crash, allowing two layers of the helmet to move independently. The idea is that the outer layer moves when you hit your head, absorbing the rotational forces of the impact. Mips was developed by the Karolinska Hospital and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, so it's not proprietary to any one helmet maker. Helmet makers offering Mips helmets include Giro, Scott, Smith, Bern, Bontrager, Giant, and Bell.

Other helmet manufacturers such as Kask have their own systems that do a similar job too. 

Mips vs Kask WG11: which helmet technology is best?

How do I find a good helmet fit?

When looking for a new helmet, start by measuring your head circumference and check it against the brand's size chart to find the right size. Helmets are designed to fit just above your eyebrows which is the largest portion of your head. Wrap a flexible tape measure about one inch above your eyebrows to find your head circumference. 

In general, if a helmet fits well it should sit level on your head just about your eyebrows and cover your forehead. The chin strap should be tight enough to only fit two fingers between your chin and the strap and you shouldn't be able to pull it up over your chin. The strap dividers should also sit just below your ear lobes. 

What other features of helmets should you consider?

1. Weight

Riders prefer lighter helmets for obvious reasons. In practice, anything under about 300g is light enough that its weight won't be annoying, but the best road cycling helmets are often a lot lighter than that.

2. Price

The cheapest helmets cost around a tenner, but decently ventilated ones start from around £30. Helmets for general use go up to around £250 while aerodynamic time trial helmets cost from £50 to over £400.

3. Peaks and visors

Helmets intended for mountain biking often have a peak or visor, which provides a degree of shade for the rider's eyes. The styling comes from motocross, but peaks are useful on the road too. They provide shade in summer and keep the rain off your glasses in winter . 

4. Aerodynamics

Dedicated time trial specialists use helmets shaped to cut through the air, with smooth shells and long tails. Their shape has earned these helmets the nickname 'sperm hats', and similar crude names! They're effective if the tail is near the rider's back, but some find the effort of maintaining the right position fatiguing. Helmets with shorter, rounded tails provide most of the benefits without causing aerodynamic problems if you look down. 

A recent trend is for helmets with minimal ventilation and smooth outer shells to reduce air resistance for general road racing. This does mean these aero-focussed helmets don't provide as much cooling, but that's not always a bad thing. We've heard of cyclists using aero helmets for winter commuting simply to keep their heads a bit warmer!

What sort of helmets can you get for kids?

Helmets for toddlers carried in child seats often have little or no ventilation so they help keep junior's head warm.

For older kids, helmet design is very similar to lids for adults, with the exception that they have buckles that release if the helmet gets caught on something so the straps don't throttle the child.

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…