Best Mountain Bike Helmets for Safe Rides

Last updated: February 03, 2020
Best Overall
Very Comfortable with Versatile Fit
Read Review
Best Budget
Reasonably Priced, Cool Design, Lightweight
Read Review
Best Full Face
Lightweight, Affordable, and Durable
Read Review
Best with Camera Mount
Versatile, Comfortable and Protective
Read Review
Best for Kids
Durable, Secure and Colorful
Read Review
Your guide

Being out and about in nature is a major endorphin-boost, and if you’re a mountain biker, you probably know there’s no better way to get the most out of it and take it all in. Of course, with the many different types of mountain biking around, whether it’s the climb, the exhilarating downhill, or just ripping singletrack, there’s a large emphasis on safety and the need for a proper helmet.

A mountain bike helmet is as much a part of the mountain biking process as a mountain bike is, and it’s almost impossible to go biking without one (at least if you value your noggin). Don’t forget to get some mountain bike gloves as well to increase your security.

Just as there is an exciting variety of different trails and terrains, there’s also many different types of helmets depending on your biking preferences and actions. Whether you prefer a lightweight and ventilated fit, can overlook heaviness for greater protection, or would even like to capture your journey on camera, there’s lots of options.

We want to make sure you choose the helmet that works best for you and your needs to get you the highest reward but least risk while being on the trail, so we’ve gathered up our top five picks based on overall performance, budget, full face protection, suitability for children, and other useful features.

How to Choose a Mountain Bike Helmet

If the helmet fits, wear it. That’s not how the saying usually goes, but if you love mountain biking, you probably know that what gives it the thrill, is exactly what emphasizes that need for safety equipment.

While nerve-wrecking and challenging, but all-the-more fun, exercise for the senses means you need to protect your head, it does hold that info in afterall, so protecting it from trauma and injury comes first. Looking for and finding a mountain bike helmet that best fits your needs is an essential primary step to your mountain biking adventures.

biker setting up bike helmet

Of course the question becomes: how would to begin your research on the many different kinds of mountain bike helmets? We’ve rounded up a few questions so you know what to consider when choosing the helmet for you.

How do I choose the right helmet for me?

Different riding habits require different qualities of helmets. Falling under two main categories, mountain bike helmets ideal for riding on the road or flatter off road trails tend to be half shell, and full face protection might not be that necessary.

They are also lighter and are better ventilated since you might prefer comfort over high level of impact protection. Full face, on the other hand, make for better protection on higher-risk roads, such as downhill.

How does a helmet work and what kind of protection does it provide?

A helmet protects you from potentially fatal brain, head, and neck injuries. It manages that by its styrofoam padding, which crushes to control crash force, reducing peak impact to the brain.

What is MIPS and why is it important?

MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System. It’s a layer of light plastic that sits between you and your helmet, providing relative movement of your head and helmet in the event of forceful impact, and reduces the chances of rotational brain injury.

1. Best Overall - Giro Chronicle

Specifications:

  • Weight: ~385 g (Medium)
  • Number of vents: 14
  • MIPS: Yes
  • Category: All-mountain
  • Visor: Adjustable

Key Features:

  • Plush Coolmax Padding handles sweat well and provides extreme comfort
  • Can be adjusted one-handedly
  • Roc Loc 5 fit system makes for a glove-like fit – you won’t even feel it’s there
  • Fully wrapped with EPS liner that absorbs forces in case of crash, reducing head and brain injury

Giro Chronicle MIPS MTB Bike Review

When it comes to choosing a mountain bike helmet that best fits you and your head, it’s important to consider the need for investment that aligns with the significance of your safety on the road.

Although a mid-range helmet, the Giro Chronicle MIPS offers a lot more than what its price might lead you to believe. Thankfully, it doesn’t come close to compromising either comfort or safety, which are a couple of the reasons we’ve picked this pretty awesome helmet.

Giro’s decades of experience amount to a good name in the market, so it’s no surprise that a brand that makes some of the best helmets out there have mastered the too-good-to-be-true combination of comfort, safety, and cost-effectiveness.

The helmet’s deep cavity makes it feel solid and planted; with different sizes to choose from, you’ll find one of the Chronicle’s best features is its versatile fit. Its glove-like quality has it hold itself in place so that it’s hard to fall off even without the chain strap, making it one of the best fitting mountain bike helmets.

The Chronicle’s Plush Coolmax Padding is a plus: not only does it make the helmet extremely comfortable and cosy, but it’s also antimicrobial and remarkably absorbent.

It can hold up to 10 times its weight in moisture and dries fairly quickly, meaning sweat won’t be a problem because your helmet will handle it well.

As important as comfort is, it’s not the only thing you need to protect your head on the road and the Chronicle has a sturdy, shock-absorbing outer shell.

Another key safety feature is that the interior is fully wrapped with an EPS liner that adds an extra layer of protection which absorbs forces under impact, protecting your head and neck in the case of a crash.

Additionally, its MIPS liner can protect pretty much every angle of your head against rotational forces, meaning it won’t pull on your head in the event of a crash, significantly reducing the potential for brain injury and trauma.

Although the helmet’s visor mount is adjustable to 3 different positions, it could still hang low and interfere with your peripheral vision.

That being said, with the variety of sizes available you’ll find that it’s easy to pick the proper fit. So the visor shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you take some time with getting the fitting right. Overall, at a very affordable price, Giro’s Chronicle combines all the great things a helmet should be.

If the comfort and safety its padding and lining offer can make you overlook the fact that it might tend to overheat, then this choice will definitely emphasize the convenience of mountain biking helmets as an integral part of your biking journey.

Pros
  • Reasonably priced – in the inexpensive range
  • Good value for price
  • Packs a MIPS liner
  • Durable
  • Offers a versatile fit
  • Comfortable
Cons
  • Interior leads to heat-buildup
  • Missing edge protector
  • Visor mount is low, could interfere with peripheral vision

2. Best Budget - Giro Fixture

Specifications:

  • Weight: ~303 g
  • Number of vents: 18
  • MIPS: Yes
  • Category: Trail
  • Visor: Fixed

Key Features:

  • MIPS technology to avoid head-related injury upon impact
  • In-mold polycarbonate shell and EPS liner
  • Quick-dry padding
  • Full Hardbody shell
  • Roc Loc micro-adjustable dial

Giro Fixture MIPS Bike Helmet Review

If you’re looking for a stylish and protective helmet to accompany you through your trail ventures that doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket, look no further than the Giro Fixture MIPS Bike Helmet.

In the Fixture, Giro fixated on value rather than gimmicks, which makes this helmet tough to beat for its price. It offers a lot of the impressive Giro qualities while maintaining its simplicity, keeping it affordable for those of you who want to enjoy the rougher terrains on a budget.

This trail helmet is lightweight and easy to carry, and while that’s a relatively up-scale feature, it adds more to the Fixture’s good quality while keeping it at a low price. It has 18 vents which are large and well-placed, maintaining adequate ventilation and allowing for good airflow.

While it’s true that a better ventilation system could have been made possible with more vents, this remains the best-ventilated helmet for the price.

Moreover, no safety is compromised with the addition of the essential MIPS technology, which allows relative movement of the head and helmet together, providing added protection against certain impacts. Giro’s Fixture also employs an in-mold polycarbonate shell with an EPS liner, which can absorb shock and forces both externally and internally.

Unlike some high-end MTB helmets, the Fixture comes in one size that fits all. Its Roc Loc Sport fit dial might be a cost-cutting element and is relatively difficult to use, but once adjusted, it ensures an optimal fit.

Unfortunately, this helmet’s visor is non-adjustable, but on the plus side, it can be easily detached if you choose to go without it.

Finally, with its sleek design and its variety of color options, more than just the price make the Giro Fixture MIPS Bike Helmet an attractive call, and this is definitely our favourite pick if you want more bang for your buck.

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Good quality for its price
  • Lightweight, easy to carry
  • Sleek design – attractive and aesthetic
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Visor can easily be removed and reattached
Cons
  • Although removable, the visor is fixed at only one position
  • Fit system is hard to adjust relative to other helmets

3. Best Full Face - Bell Sanction

Specifications:

  • Weight: ~850 g (Medium)
  • Number of vents: 15
  • MIPS: No
  • Category: Downhill
  • Visor: Adjustable

Key Features:

  • Hand laminated fiberglass shell construction
  • Ideal for BMX, Super Downhill, Moto-inspired design lines and all mountain riding
  • Adjustable visor

Bell Sanction Adult Full Face Bike Helmet Review

Although a very good choice for a full face helmet in general, the Bell Sanction Adult Full Face Bike Helmet makes for a good first full face helmet for those looking to start entering the world of mountain biking.

For a deal this affordable, especially for a full face helmet, it is impressive the Bell Sanction is this lightweight and easy to carry. Its agility takes nothing away from its sturdiness however, as Bell constructed this helmet to be as robust as possible.

The hand-laminated fiberglass shell along with its low-profile design makes that easier since it keeps the weight to a minimum while maintaining a solid structure. Combine that with the comfort of a compressible foam padding, and this makes for a helmet that will do the job of protecting you without even feeling like it’s on your head.

The Bell Sanction’s sturdy design combines its capability to endure vigorous impacts with durability, making the helmet all the more longer lasting.

Additionally, because of the design of the padding, the longer you use it, the more accurately it will tend to fit – adding to the helmet’s long-lasting quality. If a helmet is going to protect you this long, it also has to be comfortable for the entire time.

You might think 15 vents on a full face might not be that much but surprisingly, the Bell Sanction optimizes an excellent ventilation system, keeping your head cool. The adjustable visor is also a practical feature when it comes to cycling in hotter climates.

It might not be a surprise to you that It’s always better to try a helmet on before making the purchase, especially this one because unfortunately this helmet tends to be more tighter fitting, so it’s recommended going for one of its larger sizes.

All in all, the Bell Sanction is a definite bang for the buck when buying a full face helmet that offers optimum protection at no cost of style, comfort, or even a small fortune.

Pros
  • Very lightweight for a full face helmet
  • Extremely affordable for a full face helmet
  • Good, aerodynamic ventilation system
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Straps are easy to adjust and buckle is modifiable
  • Sturdy and well-constructed
  • Attractive design that comes in a variety of colors
Cons
  • Although available in four different sizes, it still might seem small and ill-fitted for most
  • Might run too hot

4. Best with Camera Mount - Bell Super

Specifications:

  • Weight: ~784 g (with chin bar and camera mount)
  • Number of vents: 23 helmet, 4 brow ports, 6 chin-bar vents
  • MIPS: Yes
  • Category: All-mountain
  • Visor: Adjustable

Key Features:

  • Integrated breakaway camera mount
  • Float Fit retention that improves comfort and adds for a more versatile fit
  • Wraparound Protection
  • Fusion In-Mold Polycarbonate shell and EPS liner
  • X-Static Padding

Bell Super 3R MIPS Adult MTB Bike Helmet Review

If you’re a mountain biker that loves the thrill of major changes and downhills but would also go for the occasional climb and mellow terrain, you’ll know it’s both inconvenient and strenuous to drag along two different helmets for each type of trail.

A good idea would be to buy a helmet that works with both, and most importantly protects you through all that, To that end, we find the Bell Super 3R MIPS Adult MTB Bike Helmet a good fit.

Many qualities make the Bell Super 3R the comfortable, safe, and versatile choice that it is. The removable chin bar makes the helmet great for everyday use, meaning you get to enjoy extra protection and the option of a full face helmet if you choose to keep it on, or go without for more comfort and ventilation.

Chin bar latched or not, this helmet’s ventilation system is one of the best, coming in at a whopping 23 vents, and it even offers overbrow ventilation with 4 ports and 6 chin-bar vents.

The comfort and safety its wraparound protection system offers also goes well with how cool the vents will keep you. The Bell Super 3R fully wraps around your head and safely locks down in place, ensuring maximum head coverage and security.

It also envelops the neck, enhancing its stability on your head and making it hard for the helmet to tilt backwards if you crash.

Its in-mold carbonate shell makes it a sturdy build for ultra-protection, and for even more of your peace of mind, the helmet enjoys an EPS liner and uses MIPS technology.

Because a better fit, means a safer the helmet when it comes to mountain bike helmets, the comfortable Bell Super 3R’s Float Fit retention system allows you the option to customize the helmet’s fit both horizontally and vertically.

With possible height adjustment at the back of the helmet, you can also customize how thick the cheek pads on the chin bar are, ensuring maximum comfort and fit. Making it even comfier, the Bell Super 3R’s X-Static padding also easily wicks away sweat and moisture.

Much of what makes this helmet safe and protective provides it with comfort, versatility, and convenience, and because you can never get enough options of adjustment with a mountain bike helmet, the visor on this one is adjustable and works well with goggles.

Most importantly, it offers a breakaway GoPro camera universal mount that you’ll find comes in handy when wanting POV action or using night lights.

Pros
  • Versatile – the removable chin bar is easy to take off without the need for tools and the visor is adjustable
  • Very well ventilated
  • Comfortable
  • Wraparound system offers excellent coverage and protection
  • Includes a removable GoPro mount that works with POV cameras and night lights
  • Uses MIPS technology
Cons
  • Relatively heavy
  • Difficulty removing the chin bar while wearing gloves

5. Best for Kids - Giro Scamp

Specifications:

  • Weight: ~251 g
  • Number of vents: 8
  • MIPS: No
  • Category: Child
  • Visor: Fixed

Key Features:

  • In-mold polycarbonate shell
  • Roc Loc Jr fit system for a secure fit
  • Dial-Adjust fit system for a versatile fit
  • Pony-tail friendly, fixed integrated visor

Giro Scamp Youth Bike Helmet Review

If you have a love for mountain biking, it’s most likely you’d love to pass it down to your child, that is if they haven’t already picked it up. Besides, children love the outdoors, and cycling is considerable exercise for the senses especially if it begins at such a young age.

To have them get the most of the experience and to make sure they’re going to fully enjoy it, their safety is one of the most important things to look out. Luckily, Giro makes kids’ helmets that incorporate a lot of qualities which make them safe, protective, and comfortable, as they similarly do their adult helmets.

Giro have made sure to pack their youth helmets with maximum safety elements. The Scamp’s in-mold polycarbonate shell makes it all the most strong and durable, absorbing shocks and forces that result from incidents and ensuring minimum head injury.

Likewise, its EPS foam lining also absorbs forces on impact. The helmet includes an integrated visor to protect your child from aggressive sunlight as they try out their favourite cycling tricks.

The hardest part many parents find about finding a good helmet for their child is finding the right fit. If it isn’t a good fit, you’ll lose the war of convincing your kid to wear them.

Luckily, as helmet manufacturers become more experienced, they shift further away from the lack of kid-specific design, and Giro has done a good job of combining many of its good qualities in an impressive kid friendly design.

Its Roc Loc Jr fit system is designed to have the helmet comfortably snug your child’s head, and its dial-adjust makes for a durable, long-lasting helmet that ensures a secure fit and grows with your child.

Unfortunately, as safe as this helmet is, it does not enjoy Giro’s protective MIPS technology, but there is a Scamp Youth MIPS alternative. Overall, you’ll love this helmet for its safety and protective features, and your child will love it for its comfort, fit, colors and look, and will love you for it too.

Pros
  • Durable – in-mold polycarbonate shell makes for a sturdy design and is shock-absorbing
  • Comes in many different colors attractive to children
  • Easy to fit
  • Long-lasting – dial-adjust fit system ensures the fit grows with the child
  • Secure, comfortable fit ensured by the Roc Loc system
  • Multi-use in recreational cycling and child bike seats made easier with narrow back profile
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Few vents – could use more for improved ventilation
  • Lacks MIPS protective technology

Mountain Bike Helmets: Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Make Sure the Helmet Is a Good Fit?

For the best protection, a helmet should feel like it sits low on your head. The side pads and straps should be adjusted so that your helmet touches all the way around the brim with the sides meeting just below the ear, and the chin strap wrapping snugly and not too tightly.

A helmet that is a good fit for you will have you forget you are wearing it most of the time, so if you’re able to move the helmet more than an inch backwards or upwards using your hand (a good test to check for the right adjustments), you should probably tighten the straps.

Not everyone gets the chance to do that, but trying on the helmet before buying it is the best way to go.

When Should I Replace My Helmet?

Generally, a helmet is best replaced every 5 years or when it no longer fits you. You should also replace your helmet right after any accident where you hit your head.

Any damage done to the foam part of the helmet will not be seen, so even if you think your helmet’s still okay to use, you must know that the styrofoam is one-time use only and loses its protective qualities upon impact.

Is It Okay to Buy a Secondhand Helmet?

Usually, it isn’t the best idea to buy a used helmet. As with the previous answer, damage done to the helmet’s foam after accidents isn’t visible, so you won’t be able to tell whether or not the used helmet is still viable for protection.

Investing in a new helmet better ensures your protection and safety, and it doesn’t have to be that expensive anymore with many efficient and affordable options on the market, some of which we’ve mentioned above.

What Am I Compromising When Buying a Cheap Helmet?

As with the difference between MIPS and the less expensive non-MIPS helmets, the former further ensures your protection, so investing a little extra might come in handy.

Sometimes both cheap and expensive helmets surprisingly perform very similarly and share many features.

It’s always important to know what you fully need out of a helmet and to have it be an ideal fit for you, so if a helmet will not offer that much protection or is not a right, comfortable fit for you, it might be worth it to go with the more expensive helmet.

Best Mountain Bike Helmets for Safe Rides: Top 5 Picks for 2020 — Bike Hacks