Best road bike helmets for every kind of rider

How do you maximise safety and comfort? Balance aero and weight? Work out how to find the best road bike helmet with our helpful buyer's guide

Included in this guide:

Rhianna Paris sprinting in helmet
Best road bike helmets Rhianna Paris/ image credit Dan Gould
(Image credit: Dan Gould)

Designed to protect riders from head injuries, brands are constantly competing to create the best road bike helmets. Factors like comfort, aerodynamics, and breathability are all part of you considerations when it comes to making a decision with what to buy. 

But how do you find the best road bike helmet for you?

Our guide will help you understand all the important aspects of buying the most suitable road bike helmet for you. 

Lower down the page we have included all you need to know when making your purchase, including how to ensure you are getting the perfect road bike helmet in terms of fit, form, and comfort.

But before all the how too details, here's our top pick best road bike helmets broken down in to all the different helmet categories. 

If at anytime you want to quick navigate to the helmet categories or buyer guide information, you can use the handy quick links above to take you directly to each section. 

Once you have found your ideal bike helmet, it's worth popping over to our best January bike sales page to see if you can get a decent discount on the price. This is the perfect time for money saving offers as we enter a new year and many retailers are keen to move the previous year's colour way versions, so as long as you're not fussed on the latest designs, you could get a great offer. 

Our top pick of the best road bike helmets

For all cyclists, aerodynamics Vs weight and breathability will need to be balanced according to your priorities.

We've hand picked our favourite helmets and highlighted what makes it stand out from the crowd to help you work out what feature is most important for you. If that's still to hard to filter through, we've also included the stand out helmet, that we found faultless, so if you're unsure what to buy, buy that. 

It's worth bearing in mind that we've listed the weights of the helmet that was reviewed, so just do a quick double check of the listed helmet size as it may vary between them making the weights not always a comparable factor. 

The ultimate road bike helmet

If you buy one road bike helmet, buy this. Here at Cycling Weekly we get to test lots of different helmets across lots of different categories, but if we had to pick just one, this would be our absolute favourite road bike helmet.

A red Giro Aether MIPS helmet is featured here on a blue background

Giro Aether MIPS helmet

(Image credit: Dan Gould)

Best road bike helmet for all round riding.

Specifications
Safety features: MIPS
Sizes: S/M/L
Colours: 13
Weight: 269g (small)
Reasons to buy
+Very light weight+Super breathable+Really good looking+Lots of air channels give it a cooling effect
Reasons to avoid
-There is no reason not to buy!

An absolute favourite road bike helmet for us is the Giro Aether MIPS. On test we called it a game-changer of a road bike helmet due to its unrivalled all-around performance. 

On test we found it to be exceptional in it's  ventilation ability and at the cutting edge for safety features. While there are slightly lighter helmets, such as the Kask Protone Helmet, it was still an impressively low weight at just 269g (for a size small) .

The Aether features MIPS Spherical technology, which sits between the two shells to make the added safety feature more comfortable. The lid itself is made up of six different pieces, attached in the middle, and there's the 'Aura' arch which extends across the top of the helmet for added reinforcement.

Its design not only provides exceptional safety in terms of onboard MIPS, but does so in an really sleek looking package, with lots of colours to choose from. 

We found this to be the best road bike helmet giving it five out of five stars and a Cycling Weekly Editor's Choice Award. The only reason why you wouldn't want to buy it is if your head fundamentally didn't fit any of the size options. 

The best road bike helmets for every kind of rider

There are several different categories for road bike helmets, here's our top picks for each type of road cycling discipline. If you would like to jump directly to a specific type of helmet, use our handy quick links at the top of the page. 

Best Aero helmets

Aero helmets will be wind tunnel tested, and will often provide a watt-saving figure as to how much energy can be retained thanks to the improved aerodynamics of the helmet. If you are wondering if you even need an aero lid, our page on Can an aero road helmet make you faster? is well worth a visit. 

Our favourite aerodynamic lids you can buy right now.

POC Ventral Spin helmet is pictured here in bright orange.

POC Ventral Spin helmet

(Image credit: POC)

Best aero road bike helmet for watt saving without compromise

Specifications
Safety features: SPIN
Sizes: S/M/L
Colours: 12
Weight: 251g (medium)
Reasons to buy
+Tested aerodynamic qualities +Lightweight for an aero helmet +Breathable when compared to other aero helmet options.+Excellent sunglasses-retaining feature+Comfortable and secure fit 
Reasons to avoid
-No reason not to buy this helmet! 

The POC Ventral SPIN helmet could probably sit in a few of the best road bike helmet categories due to it's crossover credentials. 

On test we absolutely loved the Ventral Spin, finding it the best road bike helmet for aerodynamic features without  sacrifice breathability. 

It's large airports mean that it also doesn't take the usual guise of a aero helmet, which tend to have a more solid appearance. POC say the unique design uses unique optimised CFD (computational fluid dynamic) testing which enhances aerodynamics performance by reducing drag and minimalizing air turbulence.

The aero lid uses POC's own SPIN (Shearing Pad INside) safety feature, which combines silicone bladders and pads for helping to dissipate rotation impact, which are the most likely impacts to suffer in a bike crash. 

While seemingly superficial, anyone who has ridden with an aero lid will know the challenge of trying to stow sunglasses. The fully wrapped EPS POC Ventral SPIN however includes sunglass grippers. They're meant to be best compatible with POC own brand sunnies, but we teamed the helmet with a whole host of brands and found them to hold tight to every single pair.

Price wise, it's probably most in competition with the Giro Aether MIPS, but you do get full on aero features with the POC. 

Specialized Evade helmet is shown front side on on an orange background

(Image credit: Future)

Best lightweight aero road bike helmet

Specifications
Safety features: MIPS
Sizes: S/M/L
Colours: 5
Weight: 235g (small)
Reasons to buy
+Aero qualities+Very comfortable fit +Highly breathable +Integrated Specialized ANGi crash sensor+MIPS on board
Reasons to avoid
-Straps aren't very adjustable

The Specialized Evade aero helmet has always had a stand-out aesthetic, but the newest iterations claim to be six seconds faster over 40km thanks to revised aerodynamics. It's also more breathable and lighter by 12-20 grams when compared to previous versions - the small model comes in at only 235g which could easily earn it a place in the best lightweight helmet category as we as aero.

There's a Gutter Action Brow Pad, to mop up sweat, and a handy HairPort for those with long locks.

The helmet now comes with Specialized's ANGi crash sensor mounted on the back of the Mindset retention system and MIPS making it one the best road bike helmets for safety features too. 

It's a good rival for the Giro Aether MIPS helmet, just slightly more expensive, and the straps weren't absolutely perfect for our tester, but other than that it's a really comfortable lid that will have a lot of appeal.  

Kask Utopia road bike helmet pictured front side on with a green background

(Image credit: Future)

Best aero road bike helmet for cooling system

Specifications
Safety features: MIPS
Sizes: S/M/L
Colours: 8
Weight: 266g (Medium)
Reasons to buy
+Cooling system is excellent+Lightweight option+Low profile design+Aerodynamic properties +High level of adjustability
Reasons to avoid
-Firm and minimal padding can make it an uncomfortable fit for some-Pricey option when compared to other helmets

We found the Kask Utopia helmet to be one of the best road bike helmets on offer, and rated it so much that we gave it an Editor's Choice award. 

As see on Team Ineos, the Italian outfits latest aero lid is slippery in the wind tunnel yet won't leave you a sweaty mess making it the perfect road bike helmet for hard workers prone to perspiration.

Despite its closed off silhouette, the deep channelling and vents under the brow keep your noggin cool and your sunglasses free of sunscreen infused sweat. The down side to this effective channelling system is it's lack of padding, which does take a little while to get used to. 

There is millimetre size adjustment capability, giving it an excellent snug, but comfortable fit. 

At 266 grams, it's a fairly lightweight option for an aero lid, a mere 50g heavier than the Kask Protone, the brand's lightweight offering,  and it really does disappears on your head once you've strapped in on.

Smith Ignite helmet is pictured front side on in black with green inserts on an orange background

(Image credit: Dan Gould)

Best aero road bike helmet enhanced safety features

Specifications
Safety features: Koryd & MIPS
Sizes: S/M/L
Colours: 5
Weight: 277g (Medium)
Reasons to buy
+Great safety features+Comfortable fit+Aesthetics stand out+Great aerodynamic properties
Reasons to avoid
-Tricky to keep clean

Comfortable, undoubtedly slippery through the air and packed to the rafters with the safety features of Koroyd and MIPS, makes the Smith Ignite helmet one of the most advanced road bike helmets on the market.

It has Smith's VaporFit retention system which can be adjusted vertically and horizontally to allow for a snuggly fit for all head shapes, another rare feature especially in aero focused options.

Smith's Ignite should certainly be a first choice helmet for those riders looking for an aero advantage without the drawbacks, although the matt finish tends to look a little grubby quite quickly - so no chucking in the kit bag post ride if you want to keep it looking ship shape for as long as possible. 

Best lightweight helmets

Lightweight helmets will save obviously save weight, and often mean breathability, something that will have more appeal in summer.

Kask Protone Helmet is pictured here in gloss red

Kask Protone Helmet

(Image credit: Richard Windsor )

Best road bike helmet for a super Lightweight ride

Specifications
Safety features: WG11 Passed
Sizes: S/M/L
Colours: 11
Weight: 220g (medium)
Reasons to buy
+Super lightweight helmet+Breathable to help reduce head heat build up+Good aerodynamic properties considering it's design 
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best ventilation on the hottest of rides

Weighing just an incredibly 220g/ 7.7oz for a size medium, the Kask Protone helmet offers, according to the brand, one of the lowest drag and fastest heat dissipation options on the market.  

We found the Protone to be one of the most comfortable helmets we'd ever tested,  and indeed one of the lightest, beating the Giro Synthe by 20g (0.7oz).  

The semi aero lid did suffer a little with breathability however, and while the ventilation was very good, it wasn't quite good enough on the hottest of riding days. That said, on the sweatiest of days in the saddle, we found that the Protone's water irrigation design is top notch, manging to avoid channelling sweat down on to sunglasses. 

The Protone features a reinforced internal plastic sub-structure, which has been certified in passing the WG11 standard, a European testing standard on rotational impact, which is considered to have one of the most robust testing protocol standards.

Giro Helios Spherical helmet is pictured front side on

(Image credit: Giro)

Best lightweight road bike all-rounder helmet

Specifications
Safety features: MIPS
Sizes: S - L
Colours: 5
Weight: 260g (medium)
Reasons to buy
+MIPS featured for a high safety standard+lightweight and comfortable when riding on smooth or rough terrain+Aerodynamic properties akin to much more expensive helmets+A great looking option 
Reasons to avoid
-No eyewear doc for stowing sunglasses

We absolutely loved the GIRO Helios Spherical MIPS helmet finding it to be the best do all helmet out there. 

Bridging the gap between road and off road adventures the Helios is also featured under the brand's women's helmet categories as it's wide size a colour options, along with exceptionally comfortable fit will have a broad appeal

The lightweight helmet uses the same Spherical MIPS protection as the Giro Aether, and this more affordable offering challenges it's more expensive sibling in many other ways, notably the weight, saving around 10grams on a like for like size. 

This weight saving is down to it having less technical ventilation structure, although we personally found it a barely noticeable difference having ridden both helmets, with the two equally as comfortable. 

The only thing it does lack, is an eyewear doc feature, with our tester struggling to find suitable holes to pop sunglasses arms through. 

Lazer G1 Genesis helmet is pictured side on with the left to right on an orange background

(Image credit: Dan Gould)

Lightweight but with option for aero cover

Specifications
Safety features: MIPS (higher spec version)
Sizes: S/M/L
Colours: 6
Weight: 205g (Medium) 247g (+aeroshell)
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight option+Comfortable fit+Secure feel when on
Reasons to avoid
-Requires aftermarket aeroshell to gain aero advantages. 

The featherlight and comfortable Lazer G1 Genesis helmet felt secure when on and boasts a simple, stylish look. To fit to your individual head shape the rear barrel retention cradle has a large amount of vertical adjustment, but as with the Lazer Blade+ MIPS Helmet, this doesn't provide much in the way of horizontal adjustment, so not as fine tuneable as any of the Giro helmet offerings. 

That said, it's still a comfortable road bike helmet and one that is very lightweight, in-fact at 205g for a sized medium on our test scales, one of the lightest helmet we've seen, and around 55g lighter than the Giro Helios Spherical MIPS Helmet. 

You do need to "shell" out for the additional after market aero layer, it's not a big outlay, and if you want to harness the helmets go faster properties, it's a minimal weight penalty, and would make it a really lightweight to aero specific road bike helmet too.

Lazer Blade+ MIPS Helmet is in the image

(Image credit: Lazer)

Best low-cost lightweight helmet

Specifications
Safety features: MIPS
Sizes: S/M/L
Colours: 6
Weight: TBC
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight option +Comfortable fit+Ventilated when riding
Reasons to avoid
-Retention system isn't as refined at other dial systems 

We highly rated the Lazer Blade helmet when we saw the non-MIPS version, so this new safety feature update is music to our ears.

While it does push the price up a little, this is still a really great price for head protection with what is considered the gold standard of safety features.

Good enough looks wise to compete with helmets much higher up the food chain, as well a providing great ventilation means that this is a great road bike helmet for anyone wanting an more affordable all rounder. Testing it back to back with the more expensive Kask  Mojito helmet, we found very little to choose between them. 

The only thing that we do struggle with on the Lazer helmets in general is it's top barrel adjustment system that sits on top of the lid. It's effective enough, but we've found it doesn't quite offer the same accuracy as the Roc-Loc system found on Giro helmet offerings. 

Best time trial helmets

Time trial cycling helmets are similar to aero helmets in that they will be wind tunnel tested and have significant watt-saving data. Typically they will have a longer ‘tail’ than an aero helmet, and will focus solely on function.

Bear in mind that these are all about out and out speed from A to B so might not be suitable/ UCI or other governing body legal for anything other than time trailing events.

Giro Aerohead Ultimate MIPS is pictured here in the colour black


(Image credit: Cycle Studio)

Best road bike helmet for speed without limitations

Specifications
Safety features: MIPS
Sizes: S/M/L
Colours: 6
Weight: 510g (Medium)
Reasons to buy
+Aerodynamic properties +Field of view is larger than expected+Comfortable fit when riding+Lighter than other options on market
Reasons to avoid
-Breathability isn't a strong point-Price tag is very high for a bike helmet

The wind-cheating silhouette of the Giro Ultimate Aerohead will maximise your performance with its excellent aerodynamic design which also boosts plenty of ventilation with its four Wind Tunnel vents, although don't by any means expect it to be highly breathable. 

On test we actually used the even more aerodynamic Aerohead Ultimate, but with the same fit it is an almost like for like comparison, and are confident when saying this version is still one of the best road bike helmets in the time trial category.

It's rare to find a Time Trial/ Track helmet that not only which offers MIPS but also an impressive field of view, thanks to the wrap around eye shield made by ZEISS Optics. The shield is kept secure with a magnetic anchor attachment and it can also be stored in a flipped up position.

The weight, while looking rather hefty compared to standard helmets on the market, which is actually pretty reasonable for it's category. If it's really an issue, than the Ultimate version we tested is 30g lighter than this standard version. 

It's not cheap however, although when to discover that the version we tested is double the price it almost seems reasonable! Either way -  you've really got to want to get that PB on a bike. 

Met Codatronca helmet is pictured with it's visor on a white background

Best Time Trial Helmet for versatility on longer and rolling courses

Specifications
Safety features: CE; AS/NZS
Sizes: S/M/L
Colours: 2
Weight: 265g (small)
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable fit for a TT helmet+Great adjustability+Versatile for sporting courses
Reasons to avoid
-Visor doesn't provide the best vision. 

With it's short tail, the MET Codatronca has a which makes it a more versatile time trial helmet for most riders. Riders will still get significant aero gains but without having to worry that you are always in a perfect optimum "turtle" position - this is particularly relevant when faced with sporting courses.

We found it was a very comfortable lid, which provided a close fit with Met's 'Safe-T Orbital' fit system with retention dial. It also had sufficient ventilation thanks to its three small vents on the front and further two 'exhaust' holes at the rear - included to channel air out the back. It has a clever magnetic visor system, but bear in mind the visor is quite long and therefore may take some time to get used to.

It's got a rather large price tag, but it's well in keeping with the likes of the Giro Aerohead MIPS helmet, so seems about right. 

The only downside is that Met helmets aren't currently available in or allowed to ship to the US.

Best commuter helmets

Commuter helmets are all about the practicalities of riding a bike for transport. Coming in a huge range of styles, with a huge range of functions – it’s just a matter of picking one that meets your needs.

Looking cool on your daily commute does not have to be at the sacrifice of safety by not wearing a helmet at all. By all means, if you’re already a rider. just wear you existing lid, but if you’re new and looking for top tips for commuting by bike to work,and on the look out for something specific, we’ve found the best road bike helmets to match with the best commuter bikesthat also combine looks with safety features.

Livall BH60SE Smart Helmet seen in the image with the rear lights on display


(Image credit: Livall)

Best road bike commuter helmet crammed with functionality

Specifications
Safety features: CE and EN1078
Sizes: One
Colours: One
Weight: 278g
Reasons to buy
+Reasonably light weight+Integrated SoS system +Built in lights, including breaking and indicating+Handsfree and windproof headphones and microphone+Connectivity with apps and phone+Good ventilation for riding in warm weather
Reasons to avoid
-One size option only-Phone battery/ signal demand requirement to use most functions

The Livall BH60SE Smart Helmet is mind-blowingly impressive.

From the interactive integrated lights to the automatic ICE calling system, it's actually so good that it's hard to place in just one category.

It somehow managing to cram everything from the SOS message system to playing your ultimate riding playlist, to super visibility in to one reasonably lightweight, good looking helmet for an impressive price.

On looks alone it could rival some of best road bike helmets, not a million miles away from the design of some of the Giro or Lazer offerings.  Ideally it would have a MIPS crash protection and more sizes available. The only other to note is the impact on your phone battery, so not great for long distance riding.

With the build in lights, and handle bar remote controller, it takes your average commuter helmet to another level, although it will appeal to riders wanting a more sporting look. 

Bern Watts 2.0 MIPS is pictured here with it's straps and peak

(Image credit: Bern)

Bern Watts 2.0 MIPS helmet

Best road bike helmet for safety features with style

Specifications
Safety features: MIPS
Colours : Wide range
Sizes: S-L
Weight: 510g (claimed)
Additional features : Custom integrated light option
Reasons to buy
+MIPS safety system on board+Multiple colours to choose from+Custom clip-in integrated light system (sold separately) 
Reasons to avoid
-Well over double the weight of a standard road bike helmet

With a baseball hat inspired hard visor to protect you from whatever weather your commute throws at you, this helmet from Bern help you look stylish in the city. The brand, known for it's snow sports head protection protection uses its premium moisture control liner with the aim to keep you sweat free for when you arrive at your destination.

We've tested the kids Bern Nino 2.0 youth helmet and really liked it, in fact it's still the favourite helmet for the youngest rider in our Tech Team (who did get the job by default when she was born)!

The all-new Watts 2.0 focuses on added comfort and protection, with MIPS now on boards, but keep Bern’s iconic low-profile and brim-style design. Bern say it boasts 11 vents with enhanced airflow throughout the helmet, and features the brand's compass fit system so you can ‘dial-in’ on your perfect fit.

The down side is that it's very very heavy - over double that of a standard road bike helmet and while there is an integrated light system, you have to purchase this separately. 

Overade Plixi Fit helmet can be folded. This image shows the helmet in full to the left and folded in the palm of a person on the right.

Overade Plixi Fit helmet

Best commuting road bike helmet for packing away.

Specifications
Saftey features : EPS
Colours : Black only
Sizes : One
Weight: 440g (claimed)
Additional features : Foldable
Reasons to buy
+Folds up for easy popping in to a bag when not using+Multiple ventilation channels for keeping cool on the bike+Complies with US and EU helmet safety standards
Reasons to avoid
-Only one size option-Black only colourway-heavy when compared to non-folding bike helmets

The volume of this helmet from Overade is divided by three when it is folded, which brings the size down to 21 x 11 x 16 cm - and so it's much easier to pack away once you arrive at your destination.

With 14 vents and adjustable straps for chin protection the Plixi helmet is not just practical, it will also provide a comfortable fit with enough airflow across your head so you don't overheat and turn into a sweaty mess. 

It's not a bad style for riding in the city, and it's good to see that this commuting road bike helmet complies with US CPSC and the European EN1078 safety standards for helmets.

The down sides are that there's limited adjustment, a one size fits all and the weight is almost double that of a standard non-folding helmet. 

Giro Cormick MIPS Urban Cycling Helmet is shown here is black with the removable fabric visor. Top right is the MIPS logo

Giro Cormick MIPS Urban Cycling Helmet

Best commuting road bike helmet for safety conscious.

Specifications
Safety feature: MIPS
Colours : Three
Sizes : One
Weight: TBC
Additional features: Ventilation, Reflectivity, Roc Loc adjustment
Reasons to buy
+Features the Giro Roc Loc dial retention system+MIPS safety system on board+High Viz colour way option
Reasons to avoid
-Only one size option

With a high degree of ventilation, this is a commuter helmet perfect for those with hot heads, while an integrated peak helps to deflect spray away from your eyes – should the weather take a turn for the worse.

Adjusting the fit is as simple as turning the well respected a Roc Loc dial, allowing you to make on the fly adjustments. Coming with MIPS built in, the Cormick boosts its safety credentials by reducing the rotational forces imparted to the head in the event of a crash making it one of the best road bike helmets for commuting in.

With three colours to choose from, including a high viz yellow, it's a great option for lots of safety conscious commuters, as long as the one size fits you.  

Endura PissPot Urban Helmet is shown in matt black

Endura PissPot Urban Helmet

Best commuting road bike helmet with street cred

Specifications
Safety feature: In mould EPS
Colours: Two
Sizes: S/M, L/XL
Weight : TBC
Additional features: Crash replacement policy, One-hand adjustment fit
Reasons to buy
+Street cred design+Ventilation channels to help reduce heat build up+Single hand fit adjustment 
Reasons to avoid
-Only two sizes -Limited to just two colours

Designed in collaboration with stunt cyclists Danny MacAskill and Kriss Kyle, this smart looking road bike helmet also boasts high performance with its street cred.

The brand say it's lightweight so as to cause less of a distraction once on and riding, and the single-hand adjustment system functions in micro increments for a perfect fit.

There are multiple ventilation channels, and if you do work up a sweat, it's good to know that the padding is fast wicking, antibacterial, as well as being removable for washing.

Two sizes and a couple of colours make finding the perfect one a significantly easier task.

Best women's road bike helmets

With no distinguishable differences between male and female heads, most helmet manufacturers offer a unisex helmet shapes. Where there is a women’s specific option, such as the Giro Helios above, this is mostly down to colour ways to match the brand’s kit/ bikes or just offer alternatives, mostly in the form of more elaborate decals.

This is a limited category, with most brands opting for a unsex fit, but as and when we come across brands and models that we would recommend, we'll add them to this best road bike helmet buyers guide.  

Liv Relay MIPS helmet is pictured

(Image credit: LIV)

Liv Relay MIPS helmet

Best women's specific helmet with MIPS

Specifications
Safety feature: MIPS
Colours : Three
Sizes : S/M - M/L
Weight: 305g (S/M claimed)
Additional features : Tail light docking system (sold separately)
Reasons to buy
+MIPS safety system for an impressive price tag+Compatible with the GIANT Alumbra taillight +One hand fit adjustability +Ponytail compatible 
Reasons to avoid
-About 50g heavier than average road bike helmets

Coming from a women's specific brand, the Liv Relay MIPS is one of the rear helmets designed specifically for women.

The multiple vented helmet, isn't the lightest lid on the market, but sure is one of the cheapest options with MIPS as standard. The brand has teamed MIPS with it's own in house CINCH Pro™ system which it says is a single handed  6-position height adjustment feature for comfortable pressure distribution.

Liv say that the Relay is a great allrounder, with the multiple vents proving perfect for keeping you cool on the climbs or pushing hard on the flats. 

The ponytail and GIANT Alumbra taillight compatible helmet isn't the lightest, but considering it's features and it's price tag, it's a great price. 

Full review of the Liv Relay MIPS coming soon. 

Best road bike helmet buying guide

What is the safest road bike helmet?

The primary function of a cycling helmet is to protect your head - and all helmets sold by reputable retailers will meet the standards set out by the safety authority in the country of sale.

If you choose to spend more, the helmet won't necessarily be safer but instead may be lighter, and more breathable. The retention system often becomes more comfortable and adjustable on a more expensive helmet.

A safety system called MIPS, Multi-directional Impact Protection System,  will often be referred too when discussing the level of protection. It's considered the industry gold standard of helmet protection and you can read all about it below.

If you're looking specifically to save some money then you might want to check out our guide on the Best cheap and budget friendly bike helmets to get the best without breaking the bank.

If you have a budding bike rider in your life then our guide to the Best kids bike helmets will give you all the important information for how to help you keep their heads safe when riding.

How do I know if a helmet is safe?

Always check that the helmet you are buying is tested to the standard relevant to where you live: CPSC for the US, EN 1078 sticker for the UK, and Europe. This means that the helmet has passed a number of tests that look at helmet's construction, field of vision, impact absorption, retention system, chin strap and buckle. In order to ride in races, gran fondos and triathlons it is often a requirement to have a helmet that adheres to the relevant local standard.

The best road bike helmets are worn by professional riders above is an image of Tom Dumoulin and team mate at at the 2020 Tour de France

Tom Dumoulin at the 2020 Tour de France (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images,)

What is MIPS and do I need it?

In recent years, we've seen more and more bike helmet brands adopt MIPS. MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System; MIPS is actually a brand in itself, and helmet providers using it build the layer into their own helmets. Some brands like Bontrager have their own similar systems.

The MIPS liner is designed to reduce rotational forces on the brain that can occur in the event of a crash, creates a slip plane to mimic the brain's own protection system to minimize force transmission to the brain.

Helmets with MIPS layers often cost a little more - but there is some evidence to suggest the layer is effective in reducing injury in certain types of crashes

How should a road bike helmet fit?

If a helmet doesn't fit properly then it will not do the job it is designed for. Helmets are often available in different sizes relating to the circumference of your head, and while you could measure your head with a tape measure and buy online, we strongly advise going to a bike shop and trying a helmet on before you buy it. 

You are going to be wearing the helmet a lot, potentially for over five hours at a time, so it's imperative that it is comfortable. It is also advisable to try on a variety of makes and models to see which is most comfortable and the best road bike helmet for you, as they are often different shapes internally. You may find pressure points on a helmet even if it's technically the right size for you.

Some helmets are women's specific and even feature a special gap to allow for a ponytail, such as Specialized's Hair Port system. However, most helmets are unisex and will fit both men and women.

This image shows a road bike helmet from the rear being worn by someone with long hair taking advantage of the ponytail port. They are facing a white wall

The best road bike helmets come with practical design features such as a ponytail port

Can I adjust the size of a road bike helmet?

Yes. A retention system is used to adjust the fit of the helmet to your specific head size. These are commonly adjusted by a dial or some kind of ratchet system. The best road bike helmets can be operated with a single hand, which is useful for making slight adjustments on the move.

It should be possible to loosen the retention system on a helmet to allow for a thermal skull cap or cycling cap to be worn underneath. This is done for added warmth, and the bill of a cycling cap can be useful for deflecting rain from the eyes. Because of this, caps are a common sight in the spring classics, such as Paris-Roubaix. If when you try on a helmet the retention system is on its limit, it is probably the wrong size for you.

best cycling helmets use a dial retention system like this one in the image. It is showing the back of a helmet with the head retention and adjustable dial in the middle

Even in an aero helmet, the rear cradle should allow lots of adjustability
(Image credit: Picasa)

Should a road bike helmet feature padding?

Yes. Padding makes a helmet more comfortable but also helps to wick sweat away from your head. An ideal road bike helmet design will feature padding that can be removed for washing and replacement. The style and thickness of padding varies between helmets, so again, it's worth trying a few models on to see which work the best for you.

The best cycling helmets come with removable padding so they can be washed. This image shows the inside of a helmet with blue padding

The best cycling helmets come with removable padding so they can be washed. 

Should a road bike helmet be vented?

Vents are holes in the shell of the helmet. They have two functions – to reduce the weight of the helmet, and also to add ventilation. Helmets with fewer or no vents are usually considerably warmer, though the latest crop of aero lids has shown the value of well designed internal channelling. This might not be obvious when you try one on in a shop, but once you start working up a sweat climbing a big hill when hot weather cycling ,it becomes invaluable

The best road bike helmets, like the one in the image will have plenty of ventilation as shown on this side ways shot Giro helmet

Helmet designs need to balance airflow and aerodynamics
(Image credit: Elliot Layda)

Is a lighter road bike helmet better?

As is common with cycling kit, as weight decreases price tends to increase. The best road bike helmets will be lightest in their given category, making them the most comfortable option because they don't place less strain on your neck.

 If you're a competing cyclist the other advantage of a lighter helmet is increasing your power to weight ratio, 50g might not make much difference to most of us mortals, but to a top professional looking for any marginal gain, it becomes significant.

Hannah Bussey
Hannah Bussey

Hannah Bussey is Cycling Weekly’s longest serving Tech writer, having started with the Magazine back in 2011.

She's specialises on the technical side of all things cycling, including Pro Peloton Team kit having covered multiple seasons of the Spring Classics, and Grand Tours for both print and websites. Prior to joining Cycling Weekly, Hannah was a successful road and track racer, competing in UCI races across the world, and has raced in most of Europe, China, Pakistan and New Zealand. For fun, she's ridden LEJoG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, win 24 hour mountain bike race and tackle famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas. She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection.