The 14 Best Road Bike Helmets for All Types of Roadies [2021]

The Best Road Bike Helmets

CyclistsHub is supported by its readers. If you buy products using our links, we may receive a commission (learn more).

Based on my 10+ hours of research, I selected the best road bike helmets that are worth your attention. I evaluated features like safety, weight, price, ventilation, popularity, aerodynamics, and much more.

This selection of the best road bike helmets includes helmets for beginners, advanced, and also aero-focused riders.

Below, you will also learn more about choosing a road bike helmet, what MIPS is, and what helmets do pro-road cyclists wear.

Let’s dive in!


What Are the Best Road Bike Helmets?

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B07BQZV84P&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US
Base Camp Helmet

Read More

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B01LYMYTRV&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US
Kask Protone

Also available at competitivecyclist.com

Read More

he168b03 team red~black
Specialized Evade II

Also available at competitivecyclist.com

Read More

Skip to the comparison table…

Most of us are limited by a certain budget. That’s why I sorted the road helmets into the following categories:

$$$ – premium helmets (price above $150)
$$ – mid-range helmets (price around $100)
$ – budget helmets (up to $50)

All helmets in this selection are CPSC certified. Learn more…


The Best Premium Road Bike Helmets

The price of the following premium helmets varies between $150 to $300. They will satisfy even the most demanding road cyclist. If you want the best from the best and have money to spend, this is a category for you.

Giro Aether Spherical

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B07GXNQK5F&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.58 lb (263 g)
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • A large variety of colors available
  • Well ventilated
  • Comfortable

Sizes Available

  • S 20-21.75 inches (51-55 cm)
  • M 21.75-23.25 inches (55-59 cm)
  • L 23.25-24.75 inches (59-63 cm)

Aether Spherical is alongside Synthe, the most advanced road bike helmet by Giro. Their MIPS spherical technology is integrated between the layers of EPS foam. This means that comfort and ventilation are not reduced.

The spherical technology redirects impact forces and thus providing you with a high level of protection. Yet, the helmet is still pretty lightweight, 0.58 lb (263 g).

The ventilation is also very good thanks to 21 large air vents. So you don’t have to worry about overheating in the summer. Air vents also allow you to put glasses in your helmet, for example, when riding a climb.

Overall, its design is unique and very nicely done. The following world tour teams used (or are still using) this helmet:

2020 season

  • NTT Pro Cycling
  • Israel Start-Up Nation
  • Team Total Direct Energie
  • Groupama-FDJ

2021 season

  • Groupama-FDJ
  • Team BikeExchange

This is proof it is one of the best road bike helmets for racing.

Also available at jensonusa.com, competitivecyclist.com, and wiggle.co.uk


Interested in marginal gains? Check out the best aero road bike helmets.


Specialized S-Works Evade with ANGi

he168b03 team red~black
Source: jensonusa.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.67 lb (303 g) [size L]
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • ANGi sensor
  • Aero design
  • Well ventilated
  • Magnetic buckle

Sizes Available

  • S 20-22 inches (51-56 cm)
  • M 21.75-23.25 inches (55-59 cm)
  • L 23.25-24.75 inches (59-63 cm)

Specialized designed this helmet with 3 things in mind – low weight, ventilation, and aerodynamics. They claim it is the fastest road cycling helmet on the market. It can save 50 seconds on 40 km, which is 6 seconds more than the previous generation. Unfortunately, further details about this testing are not available, so we can’t double-check this claim.

If you are a hobby cyclist, you probably won’t notice the difference. But in time trials or other races, seconds can decide whether you win or not.

Evade II is equipped with an ANGi sensor. Once you connect it to Specialized Ride iOS or Android app and detect a crash, your smartphone will automatically send a message to your loved ones – safety first! You can also pair it with the Strava app to track your activities via GPS.

Another cool feature of this helmet is the magnetic buckle making the fastening super easy with one hand.

The following world tour pro cycling teams use this helmet in the 2021 season.

  • Bora–Hansgrohe
  • Deceuninck – Quick-Step Cycling team

Also available at competitivecyclist.com


Bell Z20

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B07VWRW9SQ&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.65 lb (296 g)
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • A large variety of colors available
  • Well ventilated
  • Comfortable

Sizes Available

  • S 19.69-22.05 inches (50-56 cm)
  • M 20.47-22.83 inches (52-58 cm)
  • L 22.83-24.41 inches (58-62 cm)

Z20 is a sleek, modern-looking helmet that comes in original color finishes. Some of them are even reflective so that you will be visible at night. The helmet is also equipped with the MIPS system to provide maximum protection.

Thanks to its design and 18 large air vents, it is one of the best road bike helmets for hot weather.

The Z20 implements a so-called sweat guide that pulls moisture away from the brow pad and your eyewear. Yet, some owners report this feature is not very useful.

Bell Z20 road bike helmet is used by one of the best US Pro Continental cycling teams Rally UHC Cycling Team.

Also available at jensonusa.com, competitivecyclist.com, and wiggle.co.uk


Kask Protone

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B01LYMYTRV&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.47 lb (215 g)
  • Extra safety feature: n/a (learn more)
  • A large variety of colors available
  • Well ventilated
  • Very comfortable
  • Semi-Aero design

Sizes Available

  • S 19.69-22.05 inches (50-56 cm)
  • M 20.47-22.83 inches (52-58 cm)
  • L 23.23-24.41 inches (59-62 cm)

Italian brand Kask is known for producing high-quality helmets. They sponsor Team INEOS Grenadiers (former Team Sky), one of the most successful world tour teams in terms of grand tour wins.

The development of Kask helmets often took place in cooperation with this world tour team. Protone is Kask’s flagship. It is light and well-ventilated. In fact, it is one of the best road bike helmets for hot weather.

Protone is also aero optimized. Did you know that this helmet was tested in Jaguar’s wind tunnel?

Thanks to 3D Dry padding, it is also extremely comfortable. When I was looking for a new helmet a few years ago, a helmet from Kask fitted my head the best.

Kask Protone is available in more than 15 colors and color combinations.

Also available at jensonusa.com, competitivecyclist.com, and wiggle.co.uk


POC Omne Air Spin

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B07K919BLC&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.67 lb (305 g)
  • Extra safety feature: SPIN (learn more)
  • Very comfortable
  • Well ventilated

Sizes Available

  • S 19.69-22.05 inches (50-56 cm)
  • M 21.26-23.23 inches (54-59 cm)
  • L 22.07-24.02 inches (56-61 cm)

POC helmets are typical for their original design. There are 2 groups of people. The first group loves it, and the second hates it. I fell into the second group, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a first-class helmet suitable for the most demanding road cyclists.

I included the Omne Air model in the selection, although the highest-end POC model is the Ventral Air Spin. Omne Air is much cheaper, but it keeps the best of Ventral Spin.

Did you know that POC road bike helmets don’t have MIPS? POC uses its own SPIN technology. This system is more integrated compared to MIPS.

The helmet is very comfortable, thanks to the patent-pending silicone gel-like membrane inside. And, the large air vents provide sufficient airflow to cool you even during the hot summer months.

This helmet’s disadvantage is the higher weight compared to previous helmets and a smaller choice of colors. EF Pro Cycling uses POC helmets (they use the Ventral Spin & Ventral Air Spin models).

Omne Air Spin S size is one of the best road bike helmets for small heads.

Also available at rei.com, competitivecyclist.com, and wiggle.co.uk


Abus Gamechanger

a584942
Source: performancebike.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.6 lb (270 g)
  • Extra safety feature: n/a (learn more)
  • Aero design
  • Very comfortable
  • A large variety of colors available

Sizes Available

  • S 20-21.6 inches (51-55 cm)
  • M 20.5-22.8 inches (52-58 cm)
  • L 22.8-24.5 inches (58-62 cm)

The Abus GameChanger aero helmet is ideal for highly demanding riders who count every second. It can create the difference between victory and loss. This makes it one of the best road bike helmets for racing.

What this helmet sets aside is a large variety of color options so you can easily match them with your kit. I am a huge fan of the “steel blue.” If you own a pair of Shimano S-Phyre RC9 cycling shoes, they will match perfectly together.

If you ask where you can put your sunglasses, you can take advantage of the air vents at the back of the helmet. Yes, it takes some practice to find the right spot, but they will hold securely.

When we compare the weight of this model, it is even lighter than the S-Works Evade which is a big plus.

The main downside of this helmet is the ventilation. It is ventilated pretty well if you ride fast, but if you climb or ride slowly when it is hot outside (86°F+ / 30°C+) outside, your head will overheat.

Anyway, this does not change the fact that the Movistar Team world tour team is an official partner of Abus helmets and their riders wear them from the 2017 season.

Also available at wiggle.co.uk


The Best Mid-Range Road Bike Helmets

This category consists of helmets that cost around $100. These helmets are perfect if you are an experienced road cyclist but you don’t need the latest and greatest. A helmet from this category will satisfy the needs of the majority of riders.

Giro Agilis

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0813P8QW7&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.66 lb (300 g)
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • Good ventilation

Sizes Available

  • S 20-21.75 inches (51-55 cm)
  • M 21.75-23.25 inches (55-59 cm)
  • L 23.25-24.75 inches (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 overview.

Agilis is a very affordable helmet. It is a cheaper variant of the Giro Aether Spherical helmet recommended above. Agilis differs mainly in its design.

It is available in different colors, and its construction is also slightly modified. Compared to 21 air vents (Aether Spherical), it has 32. Although they are smaller, the helmet provides good ventilation that you will especially appreciate in summer.

Also available at rei.com, competitivecyclist.com, and wiggle.co.uk


Bell Formula

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B07VPX7W5J&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.63 lb (285 g)
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • Good price/value ratio
  • Comfortable

Sizes Available

  • S 20.47- 22.05 inches (52-56 cm)
  • M 21.65-23.23 inches (55-59 cm)
  • L 22.83-24.41 inches (58-62 cm)

The Bell Formula road bike helmet provides a very good price/value ratio. Bell is known as one of the leaders in the helmet market. Their typical design is recognizable on this helmet too.

The Formula is pretty light considering it has MIPS, yet it does not cost a fortune. It is well-ventilated thanks to 19 air vents, so your head won’t sweat as much.

You can take advantage of the air vents if you need to put your glasses there. The comfort is also provided thanks to the inner padding.

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

Choose from 10+ colors including black, grey, white, and other color combinations.

Also available at jensonusa.com, competitivecyclist.com, and wiggle.co.uk


Bontrager Specter WaveCel

8889d89c 0c41 4157 9bb5
Source: Rei.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.75 lb (341 g) [M]
  • Extra safety feature: WaveCell (learn more)
  • Fidlock buckle
  • Crash replacement guarantee (1 year within the first year of ownership)

Sizes Available

  • S 20-22.44 inches (51-57 cm)
  • M 21.26-23.63 inches (54-60 cm)
  • L 22.83-24.8 inches (58-63 cm)

The Bontrager Specter WaveCel helmet is a helmet made by unique 3D printing technology. According to Bontrager, this technology is 5 times more effective when protecting your head from injuries than standard foam technology. Virginia Tech rated the helmet with 5*.

Thanks to the BOA rear dial, you can easily adjust the fit, and the Fidlock magnetic buckle makes fastening the helmet quick, secure, and hassle-free.

The large air vents ensure good ventilation even during hot summer days.

The reflective elements on the back will increase your visibility at night to further increase your safety in low light conditions.

Bontrager also offers a crash replacement guarantee. You get a free replacement if you involve in a crash within the first year of ownership. I hope you won’t have to use it and you stay safe.

Specter is available in multiple colors suitable for men and women.


Giro Syntax

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B07GXPFGB5&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.68 lb (308 g)
  • Extra safety feature: MIPS (learn more)
  • Good ventilation

Sizes Available

  • S 20-21.75 inches (51-55 cm)
  • M 21.75-23.25 inches (55-59 cm)
  • L 23.25-24.75 inches (59-63 cm)
  • XL 24-25.55 inches (61-65 cm)

The Giro Syntax is a compromise between the Giro Aether and Giro Agilis helmets. These 3 helmets are very similar to each other. The main differences are weight, different colors, and a slightly different dial fit.

Of course, Syntax is equipped with MIPS, which increases the protection of your head. Feel free to read more about it in the extra safety features.

Unlike Aether and Agilis, the Syntax is also available in XL size. This means that it is a perfect choice for riders with a big head.

Also available at jensonusa.com, competitivecyclist.com, and wiggle.co.uk


The Best Budget Road Bike Helmets

The price of the following helmets does not go much above $50. These helmets are perfect for beginner road cyclist or for casual riders that don’t focus on performance but rather on the enjoyment from the ride.

Base Camp Road Bike Helmet

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B07BQZV84P&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US

Main Features

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

Sizes Available

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

The Base Camp bike helmet caught my eye, especially thanks to its detachable goggle. It almost looks like a pro aero bike helmet, but it falls into the best budget category thanks to its low price.

Thanks to the goggle, you don’t have to wear cycling sunglasses, because it will protect your eyes. And, if you will ride slowly, you can flip the goggles up and enjoy the view.

This helmet also features a LED light with 3 modes that will increase your visibility at night. This is great if you commute to work in the early morning or return from a trip late when the sun goes down.

It offers a lot for its price. And thanks to the large variety of available colors, it will be easy for you to match it with your kit. It’s one of the best road bike helmets for beginners.


Kingbike Road Bike Helmet

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B06W9PGFR7&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.49 lb (220 g)
  • Extra safety feature: n/a (learn more)
  • Included taillight, helmet bag, and visor
  • Good price/value ratio

Sizes Available

  • M/L 22.05-23.62 inches (56-60 cm)
  • L/XL 23.23-24.8 inches (59-63 cm)

The Kingbike helmet is a helmet like no other in this selection. The package includes tail light, a helmet bag, and a visor. The tail light is useful in the evening to increase your visibility and thus your safety. It can light in 3 modes (always on, slow flash, fast flash).

The helmet bag is useful for transportation. Put the helmet inside to protect it against scratches. If you ride a road bike, you probably won’t need a visor. On the other hand, in a while, you can turn this helmet into a mountain helmet.

What surprised me is the weight of this helmet. It weighs 0.49 lb (220 g) only. It is very light so that you won’t experience neck pain.

The main downside of this helmet is lower build quality. The helmet passed the CPSC certification, but the materials used are cheaper than the other helmets in this selection.

You can choose from 15 colors, including black, red, pink, green, grey, red/black, green-black, and many more.


Giro Isode

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B07HQ628K9&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US

Main Features

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

Sizes Available

  • S 20-21.75 inches (51-55 cm)
  • M 21.75-23.25 inches (55-59 cm)
  • L 23.25-24.75 inches (59-63 cm)

If you look for a cheap helmet that is equipped with MIPS, this one is for you. Giro is known for using MIPS, and this helmet is no exception.

Furthermore, Isode has good ventilation and quick-drying padding that provides you with enough comfort. Speaking of comfort, the helmet is very lightweight, considering the fact it has MIPS.

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

This helmet is perfect for beginners that insist on having a helmet with MIPS but have a very limited budget.

Also available at jensonusa.com, competitivecyclist.com, and wiggle.co.uk


NHH Road Bike Helmet

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B08P5JDDPC&Format= SL500 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US

Main Features

  • Weight: 0.51 lb (230 g)
  • Extra safety feature: n/a (learn more)
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable

Sizes Available

  • 22-24 inches (56-61 cm)

This NHH helmet is a perfect choice if you care a lot about weight. It is even lighter compared to some of the pro helmets mentioned above. Yet, several times cheaper. This makes it one of the best road bike helmets for the money.

NHH 22 air vents to keep your head cool even in hot weather. It is available in 4 colors (black, blue, grey, white), and a protective sleeve is included. So, it protects the helmet against scratches during transport.

Of course, the chin strap and rear dial are adjustable so the helmet fits perfectly.


VT safety rating source: Virginia Tech


My Verdict

It was a very difficult task to choose the best road bike helmets. I have a favorite helmet from every price category.

$$$ – The best premium helmet and also the best overall is the Kask Protone. It is very light (0.47 lb / 215 g m size) yet aerodynamic. The ventilation is excellent, so your head won’t overheat in the summer months. The fit is also good, and as a bonus, it is available in plenty of colors. Kask Protone is a helmet ridden by pros from INEOS Grenadiers, so you can be sure this is a good choice.

$$ – From the mid-range category, I like the Bontrager Specter WaveCel. This helmet looks premium, offers good ventilation and great comfort thanks to soft inner padding. It has reflective elements that increase visibility at night, and it is covered by a crash replacement guarantee.

$ – The hardest decision was in the budget category. I was very surprised by the features of the best budget road helmets. My favorite is the Base Camp helmet. It is very affordable, lightweight, it has detachable sunglasses, and it looks modern. Yes, it is available in multiple colors, so it is easy to match with your kit. And last but not least, it has a LED light to increase your visibility at night.


Why You Should Wear a Helmet?

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

Would you guess by how much overall head injuries will be reduced when using a helmet? My tip was 50%. And I was not far from the truth. According to the study, the number of injuries is reduced by an average of 60%.

However, what is striking is that many people do not wear a helmet on a bicycle. For example, according to a 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 61% of bicyclists killed in the USA in 2018 were not wearing helmets? Helmet use was unknown for 24%. Source

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

Bicyclist deaths by helmet use in the USA 2010 2019
Number of bicyclist deaths by helmet use in the USA (2010-2019) | 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 helmets

Federal vs. State Law in the USA

There is no federal law in the USA that requires wearing a bicycle helmet. There are 3 main groups of the US states in terms of wearing a helmet:

  • There are statewide laws that require wearing helmets in 21 US-states.
  • There is no state law, but local law exists in 16 US-states,
  • and there are only 13 states have no state or local helmet laws. Source

So, what are the bike helmets laws in the USA? Check the following map.

United States Bike helmets laws
Map of bike helmet laws in the USA (click to enlarge) | Data source: helmets.org

DISCLAIMER: Updated on the 26th of October, 2020.


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
Bike helmet parts | Product picture credit: Rockbros

Size, Fit & Adjustability

Before you order your new road bike helmet, make sure it is the correct size. If you buy a big helmet, it will be loose, and it won’t protect your head. A small helmet may not fit your head at all.

How to choose the right size of the bike helmet?

Every bike helmet manufacturer has slightly different sizing. This means that Bell’s S size helmet may have different dimensions than the S size helmet by POC. So make sure you double-check it.

The size of the helmet is determined by the circumference of the head in inches or cm. Use a soft tailor tape measure to measure it.

Once you know your head circumference’s size, 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?

First of all, you have to feel it. If there is something wrong, the helmet probably does not fit you how it should.

If you feel that the helmet fits, make sure you also double-check 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.

These are the official recommendations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The 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.

bicycle helmet fit
The helmet of this racer fits properly

Weight

The road bike helmet’s weight is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a new helmet. The weight of road bike helmets varies between 0.44-0.66 lb (200-300 g).

I remember when I bought my first helmet. It weighed almost 0.66 lb (300 g), and I thought it is light! I was not very used to longer rides 3+ hrs ride, so I experienced neck pain.

Then, I’ve upgraded to Kask Mojito in team Sky colors. This helmet weight was 0.55 lb (251 g). It was a huge difference! I regretted that I did not buy a lighter helmet much sooner.

The lighter helmet, the better for your comfort and your neck muscles. Aim for getting a helmet that is below 0.66 lb (300 g).

Certifications

Every bike helmet sold in the USA should 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, 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.

You can also find results and ratings of helmets safety at Virginia Tech.

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.

img 2900b
Kask Valegro – highly ventilated helmet | Source: kask.com
9 12 protone sim 3D 22
Kask Protone – semi-aero helmet | Source: kask.com
img 2897b
Kask Utopia – aero helmet | Source: kask.com

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 flow of air.

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• Summer months
• Casual road cyclists and pros
Aero• More aero• Less ventilated
• A little bit heavier
• Pros, racers, eventually time trialists and triathletes
Time trial• Most aero• Worse ventilated
• Heavy
• Time trialists and triathletes

Pros and cons of standard and aero road bike helmets

Extra Safety Features: MIPS, SPIN, WaveCell

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

The following three extra safety features are the most widespread:

  • MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System)
  • SPIN (Shearing Pads Inside)
  • WaveCell

These and other technologies like Kali, Leatt, 6D, 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 the inside mechanism for reducing an impact. This means you may experience a higher strain level in your brain compared to the helmets with MIPS, SPIN, or WaveCell. Higher strain levels may lead to brain injury.

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. Take a look at the following picture of the strain level for illustration. This means MIPS helmets are one of the best road bike helmets for your safety.

MIPS strain level 1
Comparison of strain level when using MIPS and standard helmet | Source: mipsprotection.com

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 for about 0.88-1.59oz. (25-45g). MIPS also does not reduce linear forces.

SPIN

SPIN (developed by POC) is similar to MIPS. There are some differences though. Unlike MIPS, SPIN uses SPIN pads that reduce rotational and linear forces. The following animation illustrates it well.

SPIN technology explained

WaveCell

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

WaveCell technology explained

How does WaveCell work?

Trek explains the WaveCell technology in 3 steps:

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

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

You can learn more about bike helmets in my in-depth guide on How to choose a bike helmet.


Bike Helmets FAQ


BONUS: Road Bike Helmets Used by World Tour Teams in 2021

As a bonus, I did an overview of helmets that the World Tour teams wore on the Tour de France and in the rest of the 2021 season:

TeamStandard HelmetAero Helmet
AG2R Citroën TeamHJC IBEX 2.0HJC Furion 2.0
Bahrain – VictoriousRudy Project SpectrumRudy Project Spectrum
Intermaché-Wanty GobertForce LynxForce Orca
Cofidis, Solutions CréditsEkoi AR14EKOI AR14
EKOI AR15
Groupama – FDJGiro AetherGiro Vanquish
INEOS GrenadiersKask Valegro
Kask Protone
Kask Utopia
Israel Start-Up NationHJC IBEX 2.0HJC Furion 2.0
Movistar TeamAbus AirbreakerAbus Gamechanger
Team DSMSCOTT CentricSCOTT Cadence
UAE-Team EmiratesMET TrentaMET Manta
EF Pro CyclingPOC Ventral Air SpinPOC Ventral SPIN
Astana Premier TechLimar Air ProLimar Air Speed
BORA – hansgroheS-Works Prevail IIS-Works Evade II
Deceuninck – Quick StepS-Works Prevail IIS-Works Evade II
Lotto SoudalHJC IBEX 2.0HJC Furion
Team BikeExchangeGiro AetherGiro Vanquish
Team Qhubeka ASSOSEKOI AR14EKOI AR14
Team Jumbo-VismaLazer GenesisLazer Bullet 2.0
Trek – SegafredoBontrager VelocisBontrager XXX WaveCel
An overview of the World Tour teams and their road cycling helmets for the 2021 season

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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top