The 10 Best Road Bike Helmets Under $100 (Improve Your Safety on a Budget!)

Best Road Cycling Helmets Under $100: Three male road cyclists riding road bikes in a nature and wearing affordable road bike helmets.

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These are the best road bike helmets for under $100 worth your attention.

I’ve been doing road cycling for several years already, and these are the helmets I would buy when starting out.

I evaluated their reviews, weight, ventilation, design, popularity, and other features.

One helmet stands out from the rest. It’s the Giro Agilis (also available at rei.com). It gained popularity worldwide thanks to its timeless design, effective ventilation, comfort, and MIPS.

Below, you will also learn how to choose a road bike helmet, more about safety features, and much more.

Let’s dive in!

What Are the Best Road Bike Helmets for Under $100?

The best road bike helmets for under $100 are those that meet safety standards required by law, are lightweight, well-ventilated, and fit your head shape.

Road bike helmets under $100 differ from more expensive ones by higher weight and worse ventilation or aerodynamics. Their safety is comparable.

Blue/black Basecamp road bike helmet on a blue background.
Basecamp road bike helmet

Read More

Fluorescent green Giro Agilis road bike helmet shot from profile, front, and the rear side
Giro Agilis

Also available at rei.com and competitivecyclist.com

Read More

Red Specialized Align II MIPS helmet shot from profile, rear, and front side.
Specialized Align II

Also available at jensonusa.com and performancebike.com

Read More

All helmets on this list meet the required safety standards like CPSC certification. They mainly differ in the other features (size, design, weight).

Skip to the comparison table…

Giro Agilis (Best Road Bike Helmet Under $100 Overall)

Fluorescent green Giro Agilis road bike helmet shot from profile, front, and the rear side
Giro Agilis | Product picture source: giro.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.66 lb (300 g)
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • Good ventilation
  • Comfortable
  • Suitable for people with a large head
  • Low-profile design

Sizes Available

  • S 20-21.8 in (51-55 cm)
  • M 21.8-23.3 in (55-59 cm)
  • L 23.3-24.8 in (59-63 cm)

Giro is one of the most popular manufacturers of bicycle helmets. So it is no coincidence I have included several of their models in this roundup.

Agilis is a cheaper variant of the high-end Giro Aether Spherical. Agilis differs mainly in its design and weight.

It includes MIPS for your increased safety. I also like that it’s available in multiple colors, so you can match it with your bike or kit.

It is designed to be low-profile, so it won’t look like a mushroom, even if you have a big head.

Many people also agree that it’s more comfortable than other helmets in this price range.

Agilis’ main downside is that its buckle is pretty small, and the padding tends to wear out pretty quickly.

Also available at rei.com and competitivecyclist.com

Base Camp Road Bike Helmet

Blue/black Basecamp road bike helmet on a blue background.
Blue/black Basecamp road bike helmet | Product picture source: basecamp

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.68 lb (310 g)
  • Extra safety feature: n/a (learn more)
  • Detachable visor/goggle with UV400 filter
  • LED light with 3 modes
  • Highly affordable

Sizes Available

  • 22.4-24.4 in (57-62 cm), which roughly corresponds to a normal size L

The Base Camp bike helmet caught my eye, especially thanks to its detachable visor. It almost looks like a pro aero bike helmet.

You don’t have to wear cycling sunglasses thanks to the visor because completely replaces them.

It features a UV400 filter that will protect your eyes against harmful UV rays. Naturally, you can detach it if you don’t like it or want to enjoy the view.

I selected it as the ‘best combo’ because it also has LED light for increasing your visibility at night.

This is a great benefit if you commute to work in the early morning or return from a trip late when the sun goes down.

Its biggest disadvantage is that it’s available in only a large size, making it unsuitable for people with small heads.

Specialized Align II (The Safest Road Bike Helmet Under $100)

Red Specialized Align II MIPS helmet shot from profile, rear, and front side.
Specialized Align II | Product picture source: specialized.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.81 lb (369 g)
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • VT Safety rating: 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the safest bicycle helmets on the market
  • Reflective strips for increased visibility 
  • Well-ventilated
  • Relatively heavy
  • ANGi sensor ready

Sizes Available

  • S/M 20.5-22.0 in (52-56 cm)
  • M/L 22.0-23.5 in (56-60 cm)
  • XL 23.3-24.5 in (59-62 cm)

According to Virginia Tech lab, Specialized Align II is one of the safest road bike helmets under $100 on the market. Surprisingly, it ended up better than some premium helmets.

Specialized is one of the industry leaders, so you can be confident in this helmet’s quality.

What I don’t like, though, is its weight. This helmet is on the heavier side of the spectrum, so it can cause neck pain unless you get used to it.

On the other hand, it’s available in plenty of nice colors, looks modern (and sleeker than Align I), and has reflective strips.

You will also appreciate its ventilation in hot weather, so you won’t sweat as much.

Add the comfortable fit, and you have a helmet that is hard to beat.

Also available at jensonusa.com and performancebike.com

Bell Formula

Grey Bell Formula MIPS road bike helmet shot from profile, front, and the rear side
Bell Formula MIPS | Product pictures source: bellhelmets.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.63 lb (285 g)
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • VT Safety rating: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Good price/value ratio
  • Comfortable

Sizes Available

  • S 20.5- 22.1 in (52-56 cm)
  • M 21.7-23.2 in (55-59 cm)
  • L 22.8-24.4 in (58-62 cm)

Bell is known as one of the helmets industry leaders. Their Formula provides a very good price/value ratio.

It’s lightweight, so you won’t almost feel it on your head, and it reduces the chance of neck pain. The weight is surprisingly low, considering the helmet has MIPS.

Thanks to the 19 air vents and optimized design, it’s well-ventilated, so your head won’t overheat in hot weather.

The main downside is that the sweat guide that should pull moisture away from the eyewear does not work very well.

Also available at competitivecyclist.com and jensonusa.com

Giro Isode

Black Giro Isode road bike helmet shot from profile, front, and the rear side
Giro Isode | Product picture source: giro.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.57 lb (260 g)
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • Excellent price/value ratio
  • Good ventilation

Sizes Available

  • S 20.1-21.8 in (51-55 cm)
  • M 21.8-23.3 in (55-59 cm)
  • L 23.3-24.8 in (59-63 cm)

If you are looking for a cheap road bike helmet with MIPS, Isode is one to consider. It belongs among the most popular Giro helmets ever produced.

It has good ventilation and quick-drying padding that provides you with enough comfort.

Isode is very lightweight, considering the fact it has MIPS. It’s about 100g lighter than the Specialized Align II.

You will appreciate the low weight during long rides because it won’t tire your neck muscles.

Its main downside is that the side straps are not adjustable. You can adjust the chin strap and the rear dial only.

Also available at competitivecyclist.com

NHH Road Bike Helmet

Pink NHH road bike helmet shot from profile, and the rear side.
NHH road bike helmet | Product picture source: NHH

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.51 lb (230 g)
  • Extra safety feature: n/a (learn more)
  • Lightweight
  • Highly affordable
  • Protective sleeve included

Sizes Available

  • 22.1-24.0 in (56-61 cm)

This NHH helmet is a perfect choice if you are looking for a light road bike helmet. It’s even lighter than some high-end helmets.

It has 22 air vents providing good ventilation in hot weather. You will also appreciate its availability in many colors, including those suitable for women.

It comes with a protective sleeve that will protect it against scratches during transport. It’s pretty handy if you travel a lot.

Of course, the chin strap and rear dial are adjustable. Unfortunately, it’s only available in one size, limiting the number of people it’s suitable to.

Smith Optics Signal

Aqua blue Smith Optics Signal bike helmet shot from profile
Smith Optics Signal | Product picture source: smithoptics.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.66 lb (300 g)
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • VT Safety rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Comfortable
  • Available in plenty of sizes

Sizes Available

  • XS 18.9-20.5 (48-52 cm)
  • S 20.1-21.7 in (51-55 cm)
  • M 21.7-23.2 in (55-59 cm)
  • L 23.2-24.4 in (59-62 cm)
  • XL 24.0-25.6 in (61-65 cm)

One of the biggest highlights of the Smith Optics Signal helmet is its availability in plenty of sizes.

This makes it suitable for people with different head sizes – from small to large ones.

It has an average weight (but compared to Align II is lightweight), and people agree that it’s comfortable.

Signal is one of those helmets that look modern, have great ventilation, and provide you with a high level of protection.

One tip: If you are between sizes, go for the smaller size.

Specialized Echelon II

Steel blue Specialized Echelon II MIPS road bike helmet shot from profile, front, and rear side.
Specialized Echelon II | Product picture source: specialized.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.75 lb (338 g)
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • VT Safety rating: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Comfortable
  • Reflective strips for increased visibility
  • ANGi sensor ready
  • Relatively heavy

Sizes Available

  • S 20-22.0 in (51-56 cm)
  • M 22.8-23.3 in (55-59 cm)
  • L 23.3-24.8 in (59-63 cm)

Echelon II shares many features with the Align II, including a high safety rating, compatibility with ANGi sensors (not included), and reflective strips.

I like the Echelon design more because it looks more like premium road bike helmets.

Thanks to the better vertical adjustability of the retention system, it’s comfortable and fits many head shapes.

Its main disadvantage is limited color availability and still relatively high weight.

Also available at jensonusa.com and performancebike.com

Bell Avenue

Green/black Bell Avenue MIPS helmet shot from profile, front, and rear side.
Bell Avenue | Product picture source: bellhelmets.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.69 lb (315 g)
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • Comfortable
  • Sleek design

Sizes Available

Universal Adult 20.3-24 in (54-61 cm)
Universal Women’s 19.6-22.5 in (50-57 cm)
Universal XL 22.9-24.9 in (58-63 cm)

Bell Avenue almost looks like the Bell Formula. Avenue is a little sleeker and more affordable but heavier.

It also has MIPS to reduce the rotational forces during impact and provide you with better protection.

You will appreciate its availability in multiple colors, so it’s easy to match it with the rest of your cycling kit.

Thanks to multiple sizes, including those large ones, it’s suitable for people with large heads.

Many people agree that its main benefit is comfort and fit.

Rockbros Road Bike Helmet

Green Rockbros road bike helmet shot from profile, front, and the rear side
Rockbros road bike helmet | Product picture source: rockbros

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.56 lb (254 g)
  • Extra safety feature: n/a (learn more)
  • Well ventilated
  • Magnetic buckle

Sizes Available

  • 22-23.6 inches (56-60 cm)

This Rockbros road bike helmet is cool-looking and well-ventilated thanks to the large air vents.

I recommend it for people living in hot areas or those who like riding long climbs.

It has a magnetic buckle that is easier to use than standard buckles. That’s definitely a nice touch.

Considering its price, you will probably notice it feels cheap. However, it meets all necessary safety standards.

Honorable Mentions

The following helmets are also worth checking out if you have not chosen from those above.

  • Bontrager Specter WaveCel meets the ‘for under $100’ budget requirement when discounted. It has WaveCel technology reducing linear and rotational forces.
  • Giant Rev COMP MIPS is the safest road bike helmet for under $100 in the VT rating. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to buy due to poor market availability.
  • Lazer Tonic MIPS provides 5-star safety. However, its design is outdated.

Road Bike HelmetsWeightSafety FeatureVT Safety RatingBuy
Giro Agilis0.66 lb
300 g
MIPSn/aCheck Price
(competitivecyclist.com)
Base Camp Road Bike Helmet0.56 lb
255 g
Non/aCheck Price
Specialized Align II0.81 lb
369 g
MIPS5*Check Price
Check Price (jensonusa.com)
Bell Formula0.63 lb
285 g
MIPS5*Check Price
(competitivecyclist.com)
Giro Isode0.57 lb
260 g
MIPSn/aCheck Price
Check Price (competitivecyclist.com)
NHH Road Bike Helmet0.51 lb
230 g
Non/aCheck Price
Smith Optics Signal0.66 lb
300 g
MIPS4*Check Price
Specialized Echelon II0.75 lb
338 g
MIPS5*Check Price
Check Price (jensonusa.com)
Bell Avenue0.69 lb
315 g
MIPSn/aCheck Price
Rock Bros Road Bike Helmet0.56 lb
254 g
Non/aCheck Price
List of the best road bike helmets with the info about their weight, extra safety features, Virginia Tech safety rating, and price range.
The weight of all helmets is for the M size unless stated otherwise.
VT safety rating source: Virginia Tech

My Verdict

Here are my three favorite helmets from this article:

  1. The best road bike helmet under $100 overall is the Giro Agilis (also available at rei.com). It’s well-ventilated, comfortable, has MIPS and a timeless design.
  2. The combo road bike helmet under $100 is the Basecamp helmet. It comes with a visor, so you don’t need to buy sunglasses. It also has LED light for increasing your visibility in night. Although it probably won’t fit all riders, it’s a tempting choice for the money.
  3. The Specialized Align II is the safest road bike helmet under $100 (also available at jensonusa.com). It received one of the best ratings from Virginia Tech from all road bike helmets. Unfortunately, it’s on the heavier side of the spectrum.

How to Choose a Road Bike Helmet?

Before you purchase a new road bike helmet, make sure you take into consideration the following…

Bike helmet parts (shell, vents, buckle, etc.) explained in detail
Bike helmet parts | Product picture credit: Rockbros

Size, Fit & Adjustability

Before you order your new road bike helmet, make sure you buy the right size.

How to choose the right size of bike helmet?

Every bike helmet manufacturer has slightly different sizing. It’s determined by the circumference of the head in inches or cm. Use a soft tailor tape measure to measure yours.

Once you know your head circumference, it is pretty easy to choose the correct helmet size. If you can, don’t hesitate to try it in person.

How do I know the helmet fits?

It has to feel ‘just right.’ If there are some pressure points, it’s probably not a good helmet for your head shape.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also recommends the following:

  • Two finger-width should be between your eyebrow and the helmet.
  • The side straps should form a “V” shape under and slightly in front of your ears.
  • The buckle should be centered under your chin, and it should be tight enough so you don’t snug 1 or 2 fingers underneath it.

Modern bike helmets have adjustable side straps, chin strap, and dial fit. You can adjust them all so the helmet won’t be too loose or too tight.

How to wear a bike helmet: Petr Minarik wearing a bike helmet view from the front left, front, and rear
How to wear a bike helmet?

Weight

The road bike helmet’s weight is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a new helmet.

Helmets under $100 may be lighter than high-end road bike helmets. This is because they may not have additional safety features like MIPS that increase the overall weight of the helmet.

The following table shows the weights of the selected road bike helmets under $100.

This chart shows the weights of the best road bike helmets under $100.
Weight of Road Bike Helmets Under $100

The lighter helmet, the better for your comfort. You probably won’t experience neck pain caused by a heavy helmet. I recommend buying a helmet below 0.66 lb (300 g).

Design & Aerodynamics

These days, the design is the main feature that differentiates helmets from each other – colors, shape, aerodynamics…

Almost every brand has its own signature. After a while, you will be able to recognize helmets by Bell, Giro, Specialized, POC, and other manufacturers.

After all, that’s why the selection above includes more helmets so you can choose the one you like the most.

Road cyclists are usually ‘marginal gains’ hunters. This means they take care of things like weight, aerodynamics, etc.

INTERESTING FACT: Pro riders choose different helmets for mountain and flat stages/races. They wear standard road helmets in the mountains and aero helmets on flats.

If you are not as demanding as pros, feel free to go for a helmet that you like, not for the one that is 15 seconds faster on 25 miles (40 km) when ridden at around 30 miles/h (50 km/h).

Ventilation

Ventilation is an important feature, especially during the hot summer months. You don’t want your head to overheat during a three-hour ride.

Fortunately for us, road cyclists, road helmets are very well-ventilated. As a result, the head sweats less and dries faster thanks to the airflow.

The main difference between standard and aero road helmets results from the previous section.

Type of road bike helmetProsConsRecommended for
Standard• Well ventilated
• Light
• Less aerodynamic• Warmer months
• Casual road cyclists and pros
Aero• More aero• Less ventilated
• A little bit heavier
• Colder months
• Pros, racers, eventually time trialists and triathletes
Time trial• Most aero• Worse ventilated
• Heavy
• Time trialists and triathletes
Pros and cons of standard, aero, and TT road bike helmets and their recommended use

Certifications

Every bike helmet sold in the USA must have the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) certification. Yet, you can find helmets that don’t meet the requirements for this certification.

The purpose of the certifications is to verify that the helmet meets certain safety and protection requirements. For example, in Europe, there is the so-called EN 1079 standard, and in Australia and New Zealand AS/NZS 2063, etc.

All road bike helmets in this selection are CPSC-certified.

To pass the certification, the helmets go through a series of testing. Watch the following video to see a few examples of these tests.

I also recommend checking out Virginia Tech, which evaluates helmets’ safety.

Extra Safety Features: MIPS, WaveCel, etc.

The last important thing to look for is whether the helmet has an extra safety feature or not.

The following two extra safety features are the most widespread:

  1. MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System)
  2. WaveCel

These and other technologies, like Kali, Leatt, 6D, KinetiCore, SPIN, etc., reduce the rotational and/or linear forces during an impact.

What is the difference between standard and helmets with extra safety features?
The main difference is that the standard helmets don’t have an inside mechanism for reducing impact. This means you may experience a higher strain level in your brain during an impact compared to the helmets with MIPS or WaveCel. Higher strain levels may lead to brain injury.

1. MIPS

MIPS is a system that was developed and researched for more than 20 years. Helmets with MIPS reduce the forces that arise during an impact and are then transmitted to the brain.

Reducing the rotational forces means the risk of brain injuries is minimized. This means MIPS helmets are one of the best road bike helmets for under $100 for your safety.

MIPS allows the head to move 10-15 mm inside the helmet. This reduces harmful rotational motion that would otherwise be transferred to your brain and cause injuries.

The movement is possible thanks to the inside construction. Watch the following video to learn more.

How does MIPS work?

What is the MIPS downside?
The main downside of bike helmets with MIPS is the weight. These helmets are heavier by about 0.88-1.59oz. (25-45g). MIPS also does not reduce linear forces.

2. WaveCel

WaveCel is a cellular structure inside of a helmet that reduces impacts and rotational forces. It is used by Bontrager helmets.

WaveCel technology explained

How does WaveCel work?

Trek explains the WaveCel technology in 3 steps:

  1. Flex – reduces the initial frictional forces.
  2. Crumple – reduces the impact forces.
  3. Glide – the WaveCel redirects the energy away from your head.

What is the WaveCel downside?
Similar to MIPS, WaveCel also adds around 1.76oz. (50g) to the helmet’s weight. Furthermore, WaveCel technology is used on Bontrager’s helmets only. They are also more expensive than MIPS or SPIN helmets.

Read the WaveCel vs. MIPS comparison to learn more about their differences.


Why Should You Wear a Helmet?

I think it is important to remember why wearing a helmet on a bike is important.

According to this study, the number of injuries is reduced by an average of 60% when wearing a bicycle helmet.

Unfortunately, according to this 2012 study, only 29% of adults and 42% of children wore a helmet when riding a bike.

Personally, I try to follow the ‘leading by example’ rule. So I wear a helmet whenever I sit on a bike. It doesn’t matter if I ride 60 miles trip or to a local grocery store.

Did you know that 57% of bicyclists killed in the USA in 2020 were not wearing helmets? Helmet use was unknown for 25%. (Source)

Let’s take a look at the previous statement in a chart. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

The number of dead bicyclist had a growing trend in all categories (no helmet use, helmet use, unknown) in the USA between 2010 and 2020.
Number of bicyclist deaths by helmet use in the USA (2010-2020) | Data source: iihs.org

I also interpolated the data with trend curves. The trend is growing for all categories. Yet, the ‘helmet use’ category grows the slowest. In 2015-2018, it even declined.

What is the conclusion here? A bike helmet is important, and it can save your life. And as the following video states, “helmet has always been a good idea.”

Danish commercial promoting wearing helmets

Bike Helmets FAQ


This post is regularly updated to provide you with the most up-to-date product tips. If you find a product that is not up to date, please, contact me.

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