It’s as true today as it was when your Mum first lectured you about it: when it comes to cycling, safety comes first. Donning your ultra-flattering high-vis and setting your lights to the least irritating setting before you head off is a given, but bike helmets are the real king of road safety, and whether you cycle to work or race on the weekends, having the right one could save your life.
It’s not required by law for you to wear a cycle helmet on the road, but the risk of injury can be reduced by up to 70% in doing so — so why take the risk? Plus, there are some pretty snazzy ones out there these days. Keep reading for our round-up of the best helmets, and our guide to finding the right one for your needs.
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How to buy the best cycling helmet for you
First, the basics: most road helmets are designed with an integrated multi-directional impact system (or MIPS), which is used to reduce the force of a collision with different layers that distribute the force and minimise the risk of injury as much as possible.
If you’re a frequent road cyclist, you’ll also want a helmet that’s aerodynamic for speed and agility, so choose one with wide vents. Road helmets have also become increasingly “smarter” with features such as Bluetooth connectivity and LED lights for safe cycling at night.
The best helmets for racing or mountain biking tend to come in a different shape that provides more head coverage, and some include a visor to protect your eyes, too. Most cycle helmets are suitable for men and women, but make sure you take your measurements. A too-big or too-tight helmet defeats its purpose.
After that, it’s simply down to style. Most helmets come in a range of bright colours which help with visibility as well as looking good. We’ve compiled a list of the top 7 helmets to suit a range of cyclists needs, including a variety of colours and patterns to cater to personal style.
Our pick of the best cycle helmets to buy today
While the Giro Synthe is decidedly high-end at £224.99, we think it more than earns its price tag. Its wind-tunnel ventilation technology circulates air over the top of your head, keeping you cool in hot weather or on tough hills. It’s also super lightweight, so much so that users say it feels cheap, but along with a Roc-Loc Air Fit system and sweat-absorbing X-static pads, it’s all part of its comfortable and secure design. This helmet is also one of the better-looking on the market, with a variety of colours to choose from and an eyewear docking system to keep your sunglasses safe.
If you’re after a helmet to optimise your performance and speed, the Specialized S-Works Prevail Helmet is a winning choice. With its ultra-light construction and 4th Dimension Cooling System that evaporates sweat, this is by far the best cycling helmet for racing. Its light, soft webbing doesn’t stretch with water or sweat and the Tri-Fix straps make it easy to adjust. At the middling price of £160, this is a helmet that will serve you well, while complying with a number of cycling safety standards such as CPSC.
If you spend frequent time in the saddle then the Bell Zephyr MIPS helmet is ideal, offering considerable comfort and safety. It has height- and width-adjustable cradles, allowing you to find the perfect fit, and stay-fresh X-Static absorption padding. At just over £200, it’s undeniably pricey, but as a frequent cyclist, you won’t want to leave the house without it. Bell also offer a crash replacement scheme to replace your helmet at a much lower cost should you have an accident when wearing it.
A great gift for the freewheeling lady in your life (or for yourself), the Airnet combines functionality with aesthetics for a thin, stylish, and attractively priced helmet. It claims to be “ponytail ready”, with a HairPort fit system that allows you to adjust the helmet’s height to fit around your hairstyle — ideal for preserving a perfectly coiffed ‘do en-route to the office or dinner. As well as featuring all the relevant safety gear, this helmet is said to be a good fit for those with a slimmer head shape, and is so light you barely notice you’ve got it on.
The Kask Mojito Bike Helmet is one of the best cycling helmets for aerodynamics. Its 26 ventilation holes channel air to keep you cool and optimise your performance, and the sleek design — which comes in a good range of colours — suits most head shapes. The interior gel liner, meanwhile, makes it supremely comfy. Some claim it isn’t true to size. Our tip? Opt for a slightly bigger size and find the perfect fit using the adjustable straps. For just under £120, this is the ideal helmet if you race regularly, and a more budget-friendly option for those with their eye on the Giro Synthe.
At only £59.99, this funky helmet is great for weekend bike rides with your mates. The Lazer Blade Helmet is no-frills, but does everything it’s meant to for a pretty pocket-friendly price: namely, protect your head from any potential injuries sustained while showing off. With 22 vents (impressive for the price) it will give you great ventilation and circulation, and while some say the sizing is a little off, this should be easily rectified with the adjustable straps. If you’re after a solid, good-value helmet for occasional use, this is a good bet.
Don’t like cycling with your sunglasses on? Look no further than the Bontager Velocis. It comes with an integrated visor that is easy interchangeable to keep the sun out of your eyes, and its adjustable straps are easy to navigate in order to find your perfect snug fit. Like Bell, Bontrager offer a crash replacement service, where you’ll receive a free replacement in the event of an accident. At £159.99, we think this helmet is the perfect investment for recreational cyclists, and a slightly cheaper alternative to the Bell Zephyr for commuters.