You don't have to spend a fortune to get a cycling helmet that's light, comfortable and well-ventilated. Our selection of budget lids includes big names such as Specialized and Lazer, so you don't even have to forgo brand credibility.
For this selection we've stuck to bike helmets we've reviewed in the last few years that can be had for £50 or less. Since all helmets sold in the UK have to conform to European standards, we take it as a given that they provide that minimum level of impact absorption and look for comfort, ventilation and ease of adjustment.
If you want to know about co-moulded shells and ventilation, have a read of Cycling helmets — everything you need to know.
Got a bit more to spend? Take a look at all our bike helmet reviews.
If you've found an inexpensive helmet that you love, let us know in the comments.
The Abus Macator is a decent entry-level helmet that isn't limited to road riding. It offers good venting and has a couple of neat additions that we'd like to see on more expensive helmets, and the weight isn't too bad either.
Entry-level helmets can be a bit on the heavy side, but the Macator is just 278g for a size medium, without the peak added. We're only talking 60 or 70g lighter, but it is noticeable when you stick it on your head, adding to the overall comfort of the Abus.
The shape gives a good fit all the way around and it's easily adjustable at the rear both in height and circumference. A little thumbwheel on the back of the cradle means you can adjust it easily on the fly too.
The Endura Hummvee is a great value mountain biking, commuting and leisure helmet that is comfortable, relatively light and benefits from some useful features. It can get a bit warm and the fit might not be perfect for everyone, but if it suits you, it's an absolute bargain.
Construction features a moulded polycarbonate shell covering an expanded polystyrene core, with a chunky twist-wheel micro-adjustment system to get a nice stable fit. Because it's aimed partly at mountain bikers, the Hummvee comes with a visor, too.
The Humvee feels impressively plush from the off and is very stable on the head, with the straps and twist-wheel adjustment doing their jobs well.
The Giant Rev Comp is a very good entry-level helmet offering a comfortable fit, decent ventilation and plenty of adjustment for a very reasonable price.
Some people just want a basic helmet that does the job while meeting the relevant safety standards – a simple click and go type of lid – and that is exactly what the Rev Comp is. There are no gimmicks or space age technology, just a polycarbonate cover bonded to an EPS (expanded polystyrene) shell.
Its design, though, has been pretty thorough when it comes to the vent position, often one of the failing points of many helmets below the 60 quid mark. You get 16 of them dotted all around, and I was surprised with how well they work – especially when you think that most pro-level helmets use well over 20.
We haven't tested it, but Wiggle customers are universally happy with their dhb C1.0 helmets, the least expensive of the three-lid line-up from Wiggle's house brand. There's a dial adjuster to tweak the fit, a peak for that gnarly dude look (and to keep the rain off your glasses) and Coolmax pads.
If you've a little more money to spend, the dhb R2.0 Road Helmet (£50) features racier styling.
The Aspire is the closest thing in Specialized's current range to the Women's Sierra helmet we tested a couple of years ago, so we're going to stick our necks out and recommend it.
Like the Sierra, the Aspire has a dial adjuster to tweak the fit, and ponytail-friendly HairPort SL II fit system. A pair of reflective strips on the back help with visibility.
Decathlon's B'Twin 500 helmet has been rebadged as a mountain bike helmet, but we see no reason why you can't use it on the road too. There are some minor compromises, but at £18 it's an absolute bargain.
Like most lids these days, it complies with EN1078 and follows the in-mould construction (where shell and EPS liner are formed together simultaneously). Build quality is extremely high, superior to many we've tested commanding nearer £100.
A comfortable basic cycling helmet that looks and feels good, the Cyclone has 19 large vents for cooling, plenty of reflective patches for visibility and a peak for rain and sun protection.
Very well-liked, the Align follows the styling, and has many of the features, of Specialized's top-of-the-line S-Works Prevail helmet, but costs a fraction of that spendy lid's price. It includes MIPS — Multi-directional Impact Protection System — which is claimed to improve protection from certain types of impact.
The Align II with MIPS for £40 is also worth a look, but doesn't appear to have as many vents so may not be as well-ventilated.
If you asked us how much we'd be prepared to pay for a comfortable, well-ventilated bike helmet, with a good dial retention system and modern construction techniques, that weighs about 250g, we'd probably say that was about sixty quid's worth of hat, or more. So the fact that the Oxford Raven's RRP is just £39.99 makes it a bargain, if the performance lives up to the spec on paper. It does.
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