Knocking your noggin is never fun, but the best bike helmets can make the difference between a slightly bruised bonce and something much, much worse.
Looking for a shell to protect your precious cranium? From smart commuter cans to streamlined aero lids, these shields should keep you safe in the saddle, whether you’re pedalling through the city or tail-sliding out of the supermarket car park.
Sure, they won’t do much for your ego if you do fly over the handlebars – but at least you’ll still be alive to be laughed at by everyone at the bus stop.
Pick ‘n’ MIPS
Want extra protection? The best bike helmets feature a Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS). This is designed to reduce the damage to your brain caused by rotational forces in a crash, using layers that move slightly upon impact.
How a helmet grips your head is key to comfort and safety. There are several types of retention system, so spend time finding one that suits you. If it’s strapped on tight and still moves around, you’ll need to switch.
A lid with plenty of ventilation usually suits summer cyclists, while less breeze is better if winter’s when you ride. Airflow is also key for aero, so choose wisely if you’re tackling a time trial.
Pursuing that Strava record is pressure enough, without a heavy helmet on your head. The best bike helmets today are lighter than ever, but LEDs and smart features can add all-important grams – so weigh up what matters.
The best bike helmets for road cycling
The clever crumpler: Lazer Vento KinetiCore
A bubble-wrap hat might protect your bonce a bit, but one big bump and the whole thing will burst. Want lightweight headgear that doesn’t pop when you drop? Lazer’s latest aero lid incorporates KinetiCore crumple zones. Like the panels on a car, these cone-like foam elements are designed to crush in a crash, absorbing direct and rotational energy which would otherwise rattle your cerebrum. And because the protection is integral, less plastic and foam is required in the construction. Fitted with a scroll of the belt at the back, it means the sculpted shell sits easier and breezier during sprints.
The cellular shell: Bontrager Circuit WaveCel Road
Spend too much on cycling gear and you could be referred to a cycologist. Splash out on this innovative lid and, while your saddle habit will still be an issue, at least your brain will be safe from bumps. A collapsible cell-like structure delivers superior protection from awkward impacts, without affecting aerodynamics or air flow to your noggin. Plus integrated Blendr magnets make it easy to mount lights or an action cam.
The beckon beacon: Specialized S-Works Evade II
It might be nice to pedal free from the peloton, but come a cropper on your own and it could be hours be someone finds you. Don’t go AWOL on the road: this aero shell supports an ANGi crash sensor. Paired with your phone via the Specialized Ride app, it can notify selected contacts in the event of a fall. Lightweight and well-ventilated, it’s also one of Specialized’s speediest lids – so you could set a Strava PB if you manage to stay in the saddle.
The slighter pilot: Giro Vanquish
Your carbon steed might look more velodrome than danger zone, but don this aero headwear and you’ll feel like Maverick every time you clip in. Besides keeping your peepers safe from projectiles, the wraparound panel streamlines airflow to help you become one with the wind. Incorporating an aero cliff, the helmet itself apes the low-drag profile of a teardrop racing lid, yet allows for greater head movement. So you can spot inbound bogeys in your dogfight for the finish line.
The wireless backup: POC Ventral Air NFC
Winning the leader’s jersey is certainly a reason to celebrate. Too many recovery pints, though, and you’ll likely forget the colour of your lycra – let alone what tour you’re on. Mercifully, an NFC chip in this ventilated shell carries all of your key medical info. Handy if you pass out from end-of-stage over-hydration.
The best hybrid bike helmets for work and play
The custom can: Hexr
As mum’s always maintained, your noggin is unique. That’s why Hexr scans your skull to create a 30,000-point digital model, before 3D-printing a helmet that’s bespoke to your bonce. Not only does that mean a flawless fit that you’ll barely feel, but its honeycomb shell – crafted from renewable materials – also provides next-level energy absorption in an accident.
The wonder armour: Hedkayse One
Not a bulletproof scrum cap, this rugged wrapper will see you through repeated two-wheeled tackles. Unlike standard foam, its Enkayse padding takes bumps without deforming, so it can cushion your nut from further collisions. X-shaped straps adjust to suit all sizes of skull, while its ballistic nylon outer layer is like the fullback of fabric: properly tough yet flexible enough to fold down for easy storage. Which you can’t say of Leigh Halfpenny.
The all-terrain intercom: Sena M1 Evo
Group rides might be great for peloton gossip, but talking is tricky when you’re taking on a trail. Keen to keep in touch with your crew? Using a mesh network, this two-way topper connects to other Sena Evo helmets within a half-mile radius. Built-in mics minimise background noise for clearer comms, while speakers in the rim broadcast the replies of fellow riders. Heading back to urbanity? Rear LEDs increase visibility, while smartphone pairing means you can peddle while you pedal.
The strip show: Abus Hyban 2.0 LED Signal
Turtles might rely on total carapace coverage, but a helmet without holes will leave your head a sweaty mess. This robust can combines the protective effects of ABS with the breezy benefits of excellent ventilation. Five inlets and eight outlets allow cooling airflow, while bug mesh stops insects from inspecting your scalp. This edition also features integrated front and rear LED light strips, which you can’t say of most testudines.
The double cover: MET Allroad
Commute via the forest trail and no amount of clips will keep your trousers clean. This adaptable all-rounder won’t stop your suit from getting splattered, but its detachable visor guard will shield your peepers from spray. A red LED at the rear ensures you’re seen on the street, while four positions of vertical adjustment keep things comfortable across all terrains.
The best bike helmets for city cycling
The light rider: Lumos Matrix
It takes more than a waving arm to safely signal on unlit roads. Add lumens to your cycling ensemble with this illuminated lid from Lumos. A light bar on the lip leads the way, while a dot-matrix display at the back tells traffic when you’re turning or stopping. Mount the wireless remote on your bars for quick control – or simply tap your Apple Watch.
The classic casque: Thousand Chapter
Style won’t make you safer, but there’s no harm in a lid looking good. This heritage helmet cuts a dash with a matte finish and classy visor. And if that’s not enough to turn heads, the magnetic taillight is good for 30 lumens. Mips tech shields you from concussions, while a secret portal behind the logo allows you loop your lock through – lest someone tries to sabotage your cycling ensemble.
The inner-city indicator: Livall EVO21
Hand gestures are a proven solution for signalling. But unless your gloves are luminous, limb alerts can go unnoticed at night. This high-vis helmet channels Tron vibes to heighten visibility: a white light strip shows the way ahead, while the red rear wraparound also works as an indicator. Controlled by a handlebar button, the back blinker can notify traffic of your turning intentions. Designed to run in the rain, the shell itself won’t stop drips from hitting your fur, but it will keep you safe and seen in the spray.
The braking buddy: Scott La Mokka
Braking smarts aren’t reserved for four-wheeled vehicles. OK, so this skullcap won’t apply the anchors automatically when something (or someone) strays into the cycle lane. That would more than likely leave you sprawled at the foot of whatever (or whoever) instigated the sudden stoppage. But its integrated sensor can sense deceleration and activate a wide-angle warning light accordingly, so you won’t be rear-ended by a less perceptive cyclist behind you.
The robocap: Coros Safesound Urban
It’s not technically illegal to text while you pedal but, like riding with no handlebars, it could easily put you in a hedge. Speak safely from the saddle with this connected helmet. Paired with your blower via Bluetooth, buttons on the wireless remote make taking calls and skipping tunes a cinch. The integrated earphones are open, too, so you’ll never be surprised by the popo.