Best Adult Bicycle Helmets

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

36 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
435 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best adult bicycle helmets

Last Updated September 2020

No matter what type of bike you have, you should be wearing a helmet while riding it, and this isn’t just your parents talking. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, if you’re in an accident, wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce the odds of sustaining a head injury by 50%. A helmet can literally save your life in a crash. Want another reason to wear one? Depending on where you ride, you might even be legally required to wear a helmet.

When setting out to buy an adult bicycle helmet, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the wide variety available. Do you need a helmet for mountain biking or road use? What color or style should you buy? Is ventilation important? How do you know if a helmet will fit either your head or your budget?

This guide addresses all these considerations and more so you can find the right bicycle helmet for your needs. We also offer up some of our favorite bicycle helmets for adults and highlight exactly what we like about them.

If you want to share biking videos online, look for a helmet that includes a built-in mount that works with a camera or light.

Key considerations

Helmet types

The type of helmet you need depends largely on how you plan to use it. While you can use any helmet for any type of biking, some helmets offer special design elements or features that benefit different types of riders.

Recreation: Bicycle helmets for casual riders are basic in terms of protection and are usually some of the least expensive helmets you’ll find.

Road: If you do most of your biking on the road — commuting, for example — you want a helmet designed for that type of riding. Road bicycle helmets tend to be lighter in weight, more aerodynamic, and more ventilated than recreational helmets.

Mountain: If you enjoy off-road biking, mountain biking helmets offer superior ventilation and usually incorporate some special features, such as extended coverage in the rear of the helmet to better protect the head in a backward spill.

Construction

A bicycle helmet is designed to keep you safe in the event of a crash. The two primary components that do this are the plastic shell and the inner foam.

Plastic shell: The hard outer shell of the helmet offers both impact protection and puncture resistance. This shell should be durable and able to slide when it impacts the ground to better protect your head and neck.

Inner foam: The cushioning inside bicycle helmets is usually expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, the same type of foam used to protect packages for shipment. At the moment of impact, the foam crushes to help dissipate the force of the crash. In addition to protecting you, the foam should also be comfortable.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some bicycle helmets are designed so a hat can be worn under them.

DID YOU KNOW?

The more vents a bicycle helmet has, the lighter it tends to be.

Features

Ventilation

A well-ventilated helmet helps keep you cool while you ride. This is particularly important for mountain bikers or others who go on more strenuous rides. Bicycle helmets have vents to improve airflow. More vents mean better airflow for a cooler head.

Components

Moisture-wicking pads: While not standard on all adult bicycle helmets, some helmets augment the cooling properties of the vents with some form of moisture-wicking brow pad to help keep sweat out of your eyes.

Visor: Some adult bicycle helmets have a visor to shield your eyes from the sun. Some visors are built into the helmet, while others can be removed. Mountain biking helmets, in particular, often have a built-in visor.

Reflectors: Some bicycle helmets go the extra mile when it comes to safety and include reflective material on either the straps or the helmet itself. This helps make you more visible to motorists and others when riding your bike.

Adjustability

There are two basic ways helmets can be adjusted to better fit your head: dials or knobs and straps.

Dials or knobs: These are used to adjust the fit in some helmets. If your helmet has a dial or knob, you should use it first to adjust the fit. First, turn the dial so the strap is loose, place the helmet on your head, and turn the dial until the helmet fits snugly.

Straps: You’ll find straps on all bicycle helmets. They’re what hold the helmet on your head. Fasten the straps after you adjust the fit of the helmet using the adjustable dial or knob, if there is one. Straps that are fastened correctly secure the helmet snugly to your head and form a comfortable V shape just under each ear. Straps should be comfortable and not chafe or dig into your skin. Some straps have padding at the chin for added comfort. A quick-release latch enables you to remove the helmet easily.

Color and style

While many adult bicycle helmets look similar, they come in a wide range of colors and patterns for those who want to match their helmet to their bike.

EXPERT TIP

If you’re a mountain biker, choose a helmet with a wraparound chin bar for added protection.


Staff  | BestReviews

Adult bicycle helmet prices

While you can find adult bicycle helmets for under $20, most cost between $20 and $70, and some high-end helmets can exceed $300.

Inexpensive: You can find one-size-fits-all helmets with a simple shell and inner liner for $20 or less. These helmets tend to use a basic strap system for fit and are an adequate option for casual bikers.

Mid-range: In the $20 to $30 range, the helmets are more stylish and offer better protection for your head. These helmets also tend to be more comfortable and fit better. Dials or knobs for adjustability are more common in this range. These helmets are designed largely for recreational users.

Expensive: Pay more and you’ll find helmets geared toward specific biking needs, such as mounting biking. Serious bikers will pay closer to $60 to $70, and these helmets have a  better fit, improved ventilation, lighter weight, and a more aerodynamic design. You also start to find helmets that utilize MIPS and other systems to combat rotational force injuries in this price bracket.

Tips

  • Measure your head to get the best fit. If you don’t have a flexible measuring tape, wrap a piece of string around the circumference of your head, and then measure the length of the string with a yardstick or metal tape measure.
  • Test the fit of your helmet. After attaching the chin strap, the final test of the fit is to open your mouth wide. You should feel the helmet press against the top of your head. If not, tighten the chin strap a bit more and try again.
  • Try on any helmet you’re considering. If you can, try a helmet on before you buy. Designs vary among brands. The only way you can really know if a helmet fits and is comfortable is to try it on.
  • Opt for a MIPS helmet if you ride a lot. To minimize rotational forces that can lead to concussion and other head trauma, some helmet brands now use technology such as the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) to protect against this. While these helmets are more expensive, some bicyclists find the cost to be well worth it.
  • Store your helmet properly. Don’t store your bicycle helmet in a location with excessive heat. The heat can cause bubbles to form in the helmet, potentially damaging it to the point where it won’t protect your head in a crash.
  • Look for certification. Be sure that any helmet you buy has met the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standard. There should be a sticker on the helmet to verify that this standard has been met.
If you’re between two helmet sizes, select the smaller size for a better fit.

FAQ

Q. How can I be sure that a helmet will fit me?
A.
A properly fitting helmet is essential in terms of both comfort and safety. A helmet should fit snugly but not be too tight. While you can fine-tune the fit using adjustable straps and dials, your first step is to find a helmet that fits your head properly.

To do that, you need to measure the circumference of your head. Using a flexible measuring tape, measure around your head about one inch above your eyebrows. Compare that measurement to the helmet’s sizing chart (unless it’s a one-size-fits-all helmet). Brands differ slightly in their size designations, so be sure that you use the sizing chart for the helmet you’re considering. Here are some example sizes and measurements:

Small/medium: 20.8 to 22.4 inches

Medium/large: 22.4 to 24 inches

Large/extra-large: 24 to 25.6 inches
 

Q. What’s the best way to clean a bicycle helmet?
A.
Pollution and sweat can build up on a helmet over time, and cleaning the helmet periodically can help prolong its useful life. The key here is to avoid harsh cleansers or solvents. A cloth and warm, soapy water are often all you need to return your helmet to like-new condition. Some helmets include pads that can be removed for easier cleaning.
 

Q. How long will a helmet last?
A.
If you’re in a crash, it’s time for a new helmet. EPS foam, which is used in most helmets, does not spring back into shape after being crushed. Even if you’re never in an accident, your helmet can only take so much UV light, pollution, and weather exposure before it becomes compromised and is no longer safe. If you use your helmet regularly, plan to replace it every five years or so.

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The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

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