Best cheap and budget friendly cycling helmets reviewed 2020

Our pick of budget friendly road cycling helmets priced at £100 or less that don't look cheap

The best budget road bike helmets share a lot of the tech seen in pricier lids, as brands apply their expertise to provide similar features in more affordable products.

>>> Cheap cycling clothing: a buyer’s guide 

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Here at Cycling Weekly, we test a lot of helmets for road cycling, plenty of which are priced over £200, so we can spot a well made helmet with good features that won’t break the bank. Here’s our pick of the best budget road bike helmets that we’ve tested and which sport price tags under £100.

Looking for something else? Check out our guide to the best road bike helmets across all price points, which has more detailed buying advice too.

With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay. 

Best budget road bike helmets: our picks

Bell Formula

best budget cycling helmets cheap

With 19 vents, the Bell Formula has the shape and comfortable fit of Bell’s pricier lids, along with the secure retention system and a fit that surrounds the head well. Weight-wise the Formula helmet is mid-range for a lower priced helmet and MIPS is available as a £15 option too.

Read our full review of the Bell Formula helmet

Buy now: Bell Formula helmet from Amazon from £49.82

Abus Viantor

Best budget cycling helmet cheapReview score 9/10

Sleek looks and quality finish mark the Viantor out among lower priced helmet options. The outer shell wraps around the bottom edge of the polystyrene core too, making the Viantor less prone to gouging and wear and tear.

There’s an internal roll cage, which increases the strength of the helmet, without adding mass and letting Abus provide plenty of ventilation for a comfortable hot weather ride.

Read our full review of the Abus Viantor helmet

Buy now: Abus Viantor helmet from Tredz for £63.99

Specialized Echelon II MIPS

best budget cycling helmet cheapReview score 9/10

With a whopping 31 vents and inner air channels, there’s lots of cooling in the Echelon II, paired with a MIPS liner for added crash protection. Comfort is good for a range of head shapes and there’s good adjustability.

You can also fit Specialized’s optional extra ANGi crash detection system to the Echelon II, which uses your smartphone to track your ride and alert your designated contacts in the event of an accident.

Read our full review of the Specialized Echelon II MIPS helmet

Buy now: Specialized Echelon II MIPS helmet from Cyclestore for £69.75

Lazer Blade

best budget cycling helmet cheapReview score 9/10

Lazer’s high end helmets grace the heads of a cluster of pro teams, including Sunweb, Jumbo-Visma and Alpecin-Fenix. The high end ventilation and light weight permeate down to the Blade, with 22 vents and Lazer’s Rollsys retention system, with the adjuster built into the top of the helmet, rather than the rear of the cradle.

Read our full review of the Lazer Blade helmet

Buy now: Lazer Blade+ helmet from Halfords for £53.23

Livall BH60SE

best budget bike helmets cheapReview score 9/10

Offering something different from the majority of bike helmets, the Livall BH60SE has an array of built-in LED lights, Bluetooth speakers and a windproof microphone. Gimmick? We don’t think so.

With 24 vents, it’s cool, aero and lightweight. The downside is that the Livall is one size fits all, so if you’re at either extreme of the size range fit might be an issue.

Read our full review of the Livall BH60SE helmet

Buy now: Livall BH60SE helmet from Halfords for £99.00

HJC Atara

best budget cycling helmet cheapReview score 8/10

HJC moved into cycle helmets from a well-established base in motorcycle protection, so it carries its expertise in design and aerodynamics into its bike lids, worn by the WorldTour Lotto-Soudal team.

The Atara offers that pro-level expertise, with sleek looks and aerodynamics in a sub-£100 helmet. It’s very light at just over 200g for a small size, although look out for fit if your head is on the small end of the 51cm to 63 cm size range, covered by the S, M and L helmet options.

Read our full review of the HJC Atara helmet

Buy now: HJC Atara helmet from ProBikeKit for £90.00

Smith Optics Signal MIPS

Best budget bike helmets cheap

Impressively, Smith puts MIPS into its budget helmet, adding a popular safety feature found on many premium helmets. Other high end features include the same Vaporfit retention system as on Smith’s pricier lids, although the straps are a bit coarser and the looks are quite chunky.

Read our full review of the Smith Optics Signal MIPS helmet

Buy now: Smith Optics Signal MIPS helmet from Tredz for £64.99

Abus Macator

Best budget bike helmets cheapReview score 8/10

Another option from the German brand, Abus’s entry level Macator comes with a removable visor and a head-hugging shape. Its fit and retention system are good, as is its venting, although it’s on the heavy side at 278g for a small helmet. The three sizes and six colours on offer mean that there are plenty of options to choose from though.

Read our full review of the Abus Macator helmet

Buy now: Abus Macator helmet from Halfords for £44.99

MET Vinci MIPS

Best budget road bike helmets cheapReview score 8/10

Just hitting our £100 upper price limit, the MET Vinci MIPS helmet takes design cues from the high-end Trenta. With 16 vents air circulation is good, helped by the internal channelling.

For extra road presence, you can buy a rear light that fits into the dial adjuster and the helmet comes with MIPS for extra crash protection. Look out for sizing: you may need to size up to get a good fit.

Read our full review of the MET Vinci MIPs helmet

Buy now: MET Vinci MIPs helmet from Tredz for £100.00

Giro Foray MIPS

Best budget road bike helmets cheap

The Foray is helmet specialist Giro’s lowest price helmet, with the MIPS version adding extra protection above the cheaper non-MIPS Foray helmet.

Look and fit are like helmets further up Giro’s range while the 21 vents are above average for a budget topper, but the shell is a bit larger than some.

Read our full review of the Giro Foray MIPS helmet

Buy now: Giro Foray MIPS helmet from Wiggle for £79.99

Best budget road bike helmets: what to look for

Here’s a quick guide for key features that mark out the best budget road bike helmets. There’s more detail on helmet features in our guide to the best road bike helmets, so take a look there too.

Fit

Fit is the most tricky part of any helmet. Everyone’s head is a different shape, so fitting it into an object with fixed dimensions is always going to be tricky.

There’s some adjustment in all helmets for head circumference and height, while padding and hair help to cushion any tight spots. But no helmet will fit everyone perfectly, so try before you buy is the best advice to ensure comfort.

Vents

Air circulation is important for riding comfort, particularly on a hot day. More vents tend to be better for cooling, although internal channelling helps to push air over the head too. The modern trend to aero helmets works the other way though, as airflow over the helmet is usually better with a smoother profile.

>>> Can an aero road helmet make you faster?

So it’s worth considering how important aerodynamics and fast riding are for you. If you’re just after the best airflow, more vents are better, whereas if you want to go faster, you might want to look for a more enclosed design. The pros often swap between more and less vented helmets for mountain and flat stages.

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MIPS

Standing for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, MIPS was developed in Sweden. It provides a smooth inner layer that’s loosely connected to the helmet’s shell and slides between the helmet and the head in the event of a crash. 

Helmets with MIPS consistently come towards the top of independent helmet impact tests, but the technology adds to the price of your helmet and ups weight by around 10 to 15 grams relative to an equivalent non-MIPS helmet. Read more about MIPS helmets here.

Adjustability

A helmet will come with adjustment to tighten it around the circumference of your head for a secure fit. That’s usually achieved via a dial adjuster at the rear of the helmet’s inner cradle, although there are other systems.

>>> Need to buy a helmet for your child? Check out our guide of the best

You can also adjust the cradle up and down by sliding it in and out of the rear of the helmet. Some systems work better than others and we’ve usually noted any exceptions in the reviews of each helmet. 

Straps too are adjustable for fit under the chin. Many helmets allow you to alter the position of where the two side straps meet under your ears too, although some don’t. 

Weight

Helmet weight varies greatly, with some helmets much weightier than others. That’s not usually so noticeable once you’re riding, but you might find a lighter helmet more comfortable. 

It’s something that is of concern to a pro, but probably not so important to leisure riders. MIPS will add a few grams to helmet weight too and cheaper helmets in general tend to be heavier than their more expensive peers.

Crash replacement

Many helmet makers offer a crash replacement programme, which lets you buy a new helmet at a reduced price if you’re involved in an accident. Terms vary by manufacturer, but it’s a bonus service worth looking for.