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 key opportunities for competition.
But how do you find the best road bike helmet for you?
Our guide aims to help you understand all the important aspects of buying the most suitable road bike helmet for you. We’ve picked a few of our favourite road bike helmets in several different categories, many of which we’ve personally reviewed. Where there isn’t a review, we have found the best options from great brands that we know and trust.
We’ve also included a buyers guide to help you know what to look for when purchasing the most important cycling safety feature and ensure you are getting the perfect road bike helmet in terms of fit, form, and comfort.
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 in our guide 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.
Best helmet for road biking
For all cyclists, aerodynamics Vs weight and breathability will need to be balanced according to your priorities.
Higher-end 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. This will often mean some ventilation sacrifice, but that can translate well for autumn and winter riding.
Lightweight helmets will often mean breathability, something that will have more appeal in summer.
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite best road bike helmets below. If you’re after a specific style of helmet, click the links below to jump straight to that section. If you’re after more in-depth information about specific considerations when buying a cycling helmet, that’s in the final section.
- Best aero cycling helmets
- Best lightweight cycling helmets
- Best time trial cycling helmets
- Best commuter cycling helmets
- What are the key features you should look for in a bike helmet?
Our pick of the best road bike helmets
With each product is a ‘See more’ 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.
Weights listed are as reviewed – so may vary between sizes.
Best road bike helmets: Aero
Lazer Century MIPS road helmet
- RRP: $179/ £140 Weight: 342g (Size large)
- Review score: 8/10
- Pros: Clever added features, MIPS liner
- Cons: Rear light functionality, weight
The Lazer Century MIP helmet is the ideal road bike helmet for multitasking. It can swap between a both aero and vented camps, making it a two in one option, thanks to a removable magnetic panel at the front.
Although we don’t have an exact wattage saving when the panel is in place, it’s removal is said to increase airflow by 11 percent.
The built in rear light, with continuous or flashing modes is USB rechargeable, but a little fiddly to use and function do to the switch and charge port locations.
With MIPS on board, the Lazer Century MIP helmet provides peace as well as additional safety for your (and loved ones) minds, although there is a non-MIPS version available if you’d prefer.
Read more: Lazer Century MIPS road helmet review
See more UK: Lazer Century MIPS helmet at CycleStore for £149.99
Kask Utopia road bike helmet
- RRP: $299/ £219 Weight: 266g
- Review score: 9/10
- Pros: Cooling system is excellent; Lightweight and low bulk; aerodynamic design; wide range of fit adjustment
- Cons: no MIPS
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. It’s not the lightest helmet out there, but at 266 grams it disappears on your head once you’ve strapped in on.
Read more: Kask Utopia road helmet review
See more UK: Kask Utopia helmet at Wiggle from £170.00
Bell z20 Aero MIPS helmet
- RRP: $219/ £209.99 Weight: 252g (small)
- Review score: 8/10
- Pros: Comfortable, breathable, MIPS
- Cons: Glasses port, coarse straps
Bell make the Z20 in a few guises – the standard Z20, Z20 Ghost and the Aero model. As you’d expect, this one is meant to cut through the air with minimal drag making it one of the first choice road bike helmet for anyone wanting to shave a few seconds off their sprint.
On test we found it a comfortable helmet with a well integrated MIPS layer. There’s plenty of breathability, and the brow pad sweat catching system is a good idea. The only let downs were the material on the straps and the slightly temperamental glasses port.
Read more: Bell z20 Aero MIPS helmet review
See more UK: Bell z20 Aero MIPS helmet at Tredz for £189.99
Giro Aether MIPS helmet
- RRP: $300 /£259.99 Weight: 269g
- Review score: 10/10
- Pros: low weight, breathable, includes MIPS
- Cons: none
An absolute favourite road bike helmet for us is the Giro Aether MIPS. On test we called it a game-changer due to its unrivalled all-around performance; it’s exceptional ventilation ability, cutting edge safety features and all at an impressively low weight.
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 it also provides great ventilation and all in a sleek looking package.
Read more: Giro Aether road helmet review
See more US: Giro Aether MIPS helmet at Amazon US for $299.95
See more UK: Giro Aether MIPS helmet at Wiggle for £269.99
Smith Ignite helmet
- RRP $250/ £219 Weight 277g
- Review score: 9/10
- Pros: Comfort, Safety features, aesthetics.
- Cons: Matt finish gets grubby quickly
Comfortable, undoubtedly slippery through the air and packed to the rafters with the safety features of Koroyd and MIPS. It has Smith’s VaporFit retention system which can be adjusted vertically and horizontally to allow for a snuggly fit for all head shapes.
Smith’s Ignite should certainly be a first choice helmet for those riders looking for an aero advantage without the drawbacks.
Read more: Smith Ignite review
See more UK: Smith Ignite helmet at Tredz from £187.00
- RRP: $299/ £219 Weight: 300g, without visor
- Review score: 8/10
- Pros: Fit, airflow, visor optics, safety
- Cons: looks
Giro created the Vanquish to find the perfect balance between a road specific and a wind-cheating TT aero lid making it the first pick road bike helmet for riders looking for a do all option. The front of the shell features what the brand calls TransforAir which uses a small step to trick air into behaving as if the helmet had a full teardrop. If you’re lining up for a TT or triathlon (gasp), an optional magnetic visor improves its wind-cheating prowess.
With decent-sized front vents and deep internal channels plenty of air is sucked through the helmet to prevent a sweaty head, Giro has opted to use the Roc Loc retention system you know and love.
Read more: Giro Vanquish review
See more US: Giro Vanquish at Competitive Cyclist for $239.96
See more UK: Giro Vanquish at Wiggle from £183.99
Best road bike helmets: Lightweight
Giro Helios Spherical
- RRP: $250/ £22.99 Weight: 260g (medium)
- Review score: 10/10
- Pros: MIPS, lightweight, comfortable, aerodynamics, aesthetics
- Cons: No eyewear dock
The Giro Helios Spherical is a superb lid that does it all and, like the more expensive Giro Aether, integrates the latest safety tech without compromising comfort or weight.
There are loads of colours to choose from in the low-volume lid, in this MIPS-powered helmet, which integrates the sliding layer to present one of the best road bike helmets we’ve ever ridden.
It’s technically aimed at the gravel and adventure riders, but more than happy on a tarmac-faring cyclists making it one of our favourite road bike helmets.
Read more: Giro Helios Spherical helmet review
See more US: Giro Helios Spherical helmet at REI for $250
See more UK: Giro Helios Spherical helmet at Wiggle from £229
Oakley ARO3 helmet
- RRP: $180/ £149 Weight: 254g (small)
- Review score: 8/10
- Pros: Comfortable, breathable, aesthetics
- Cons: Retention system, lack of hair space
Despite it’s aero looks, the Oakley ARO3 helmet is in fact designed to be a lightweight helmet with plenty of ventilation.
At 254g in a size small, this helmet is reasonable, but not as light as competitors, but probably the lightest entry level option.
On test we found it a comfortable helmet that offers plenty of breathability for hot days in the saddle. The Boa dial retention system wasn’t a winner for us, but it did its job as required and we’d recommend this helmet for those seeking a cool head under the hot summer’s sun.
Read more: Oakley ARO3 helmet review
HJC Atara helmet
- RRP: $115/£90 Weight: 204g (small)
- Review score: 8/10
- Pros: great value, lightweight, breathable
- Cons: sizing, no MIPS or similar additional safety technology
At just 204g and around the $100/ £100 mark, the Atara is impressively lightweight and low price making it an excellent road bike helmet at an entry level. There are a host of features you’d expect in a much higher end model making it great value for money.
This helmet from HJC features eight vents plus a rear exhaust system, and we found the front vents to be really useful for holding a pair of cycling glasses.
We’d suggest trying before you buy as the recommendations on the size chart did not seem to match the fit – in our case, the small was too big.
Read more: HJC Atara helmet review
See more US: HJC Atara helmet at BikeInn for $88.99
See more UK: HJC Atara helmet at Wiggle for £75.00
Lazer G1 Genesis helmet
- RRP: $219.99/ £170 Weight: 205g (medium) 247g with aeroshell
- Review score: 9/10
- Pros: light, comfortable, secure
- Cons: MIPS heavier/more expensive, requires aeroshell extra for benefits
A featherlight and comfortable lid which felt secure when on and boasts a simple, stylish look. To fine-tune the fit to your individual head shape the rear retention cradle has a large amount of vertical adjustment.
You do need to “shell” out for the additional aero layer, but it’s not a big outlay at an additional £19.99 / $22.99 and the helmet still remains lightweight compared to aero specific options.
Read more: Lazer Genesis helmet review
See more US: Lazer G1 Genesis at ProBikeKit for $249.99
See more UK: Lazer G1 Genesis at CycleStore for £170.99
MET Trenta helmet
- RRP: £265 Weight: 223g
- Review score: 9/10
- Pros: Comfortable, cooling, aero, light attachment
- Cons: not much
The MET Trenta is a good looking lid which manages to expertly combine breathability and aerodynamics with lots of vents as well as watt saving promises.
At 223g it very light, despite being marketed in the aero category, making it on of the best road bike helmets for all round use. Made of carbon means that any self-respecting roadie will automatically love it.
Unfortunately for our USA fam, the helmet isn’t available over there at the moment. Fingers crossed it will be again soon.
Read more: Met Trenta helmet review
See more UK: Met Trenta helmet at Wiggle from £121.00
Specialized Evade II helmet
- RRP: $275/ £200 Weight: 235g
- Review score: 9/10
- Pros: aero but still breathable
- Cons: straps not adjustable, MIPS now available
Specialized’s 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 catagory.
See more UK: Specialized Evade II at Tredz for £250
Best road bike helmets: Time trial
Met Codatronca helmet
- RRP: $345 /£270 Weight: 365g
- Review score: 9/10
- Pros: comfortable, adjustable, versatile
- Cons: visor shape
The Codatronca has a short tail 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.
The only downside is that Met helmets aren’t currently available in or allowed to ship to the US.
Read more: Met Codatronca time trial helmet review
See more UK: Met Codatronca helmet at Wiggle for £270.00
Giro Aerohead MIPS helmet
- RRP: $295/ £229.99 Weight: 480g
- Review score: 9/10
- Pros: very aero, great quality, comfortable
- Cons: rear triangle needs covering
The wind-cheating silhouette of Giro’s Aerohead will maximise your performance with its excellent aerodynamic design which also boosts plenty of ventilation with its four Wind Tunnel vents.
On test we fount the Aerohead to be one of the best road bike helmets in the time trial category which offered impressive field of view is possible 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.
In our testing we found the Giro Aerohead to be around 17 watts faster at 40kph than the standard Giro aero helmet, the Synthe.
Read more: Giro Aerohead MIPS helmet review
See more UK: Giro Aerohead MIPS at Wiggle from £188.99
Lazer Wasp Air helmet
A honeycomb front ventilation panel is used on this time trial helmet to limit overheating and Lazer’s advanced Turnfit retention system ensures this helmet has a comfy fit that won’t distract you from any efforts. This model has a short tail but there are long tail conversion kits available.
See more US: Lazer Wasp Air helmet at Amazon US for $349.99
See more UK: Lazer Wasp Air helmet at Cycle Store for £249.99
Best women’s road bike helmets
Giro Seyen MIPS helmet
A subtle, smart design is wrapped around this Giro helmet specifically stylised for women – it does not feature a unique women’s fit. Giro says this is because there are no anatomic differences between women’s and men’s heads except for the average diameter.
The Seyen is lightweight and uses Giro’s Wind Tunnel ventilation system, which combines a total of 25 active vents and exhaust channels to thrust cool air over the head and force the hot air out.
View item US: Giro Seyen helmet at Competative Cyclist from $120
View item UK: Giro Seyen helmet at Wiggle from £91.99
Liv Extima MIPS helmet
The Extima is Team Sunweb’s helmet of choice as it superbly balances aerodynamics with being lightweight and well ventilated making it one of the best women’s road bike helmet for all round racing. An environmentally safe and effective material by X-odour – that neutralises the smell of sweat after a taxing ride – is used in the padding of this helmet.
It is also good to know that the helmet is protected for 12 months under Liv’s helmet crash replacement service.
It ‘s proving tricky to track down in the States at the moment, but as soon as it come’s available we’ll let you know.
View item UK: Liv Extima at Tredz for £189.99
Best commuter cycling helmets
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 on the look out for something specific, we’ve found the best road bike helmets for commuting that combine looks with safety features.
Livall BH60SE Smart Helmet
- RRP: $295/ £99 Weight: 278g
- Review score: 9/10
- Pros: Lightweight, SOS system, Build in lights, Hands free phone connection, speakers, walkie-talkie, ventilation. comfort
- Cons: One size, Phone battery/ signal demand
The Livall BH60SE Smart Helmet is mind-blowingly impressive. It’s actually so good that it’s hard to place in just one category. It somehow manages to cram everything from an SOS message system to playing your ultimate riding playlist, to super visibility in to one reasonably lightweight, good looking helmet for less than £100. If there were more sizes available and didn’t rinse phone battery quite as quickly it would be a perfect road bike helmet for any use.
Read more: Livall BH60SE Smart Helmet review
See more US: Livall BH60SE Helmet at Amazon from $137.00
See more UK: Livall BH60SE Smart helmet at Amazon from £99.95
Bern Watts EPS 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.
Bern say the helmet has a ‘sink fit’ which means the helmet extends to cover the back of the head, thereby providing greater protection. On the outside it has a thin ABS shell and on the inside is lined with EPS foam, to create a lightweight helmet that is also strong and hardy.
There’s two Bern Watts helmet’s to choose from, a Summer and Team, and additional liners too.
See more US: Bern Watts EPS helmet at Backcountry for $59.99
See more UK: Bern Watts EPS helmet at Amazon UK for £90
Overade Plixi Fit helmet
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. Ride in style in the city with this helmet that complies with US CPSC and the European EN1078 safety standards for helmets.
See more US: Overade Plixi FIT helmet at Amazon US for $109.98
See more UK: Overade Plixi FIT helmet at Amazon from £89.99
Giro Cormick MIPS Urban Cycling Helmet
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 a 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.
Endura PissPot Urban Helmet
Designed in collaboration with stunt cyclists Danny MacAskill and Kriss Kyle, this smart looking helmet also boasts high performance. It’s lightweight so as to cause less of a distraction, the adjustment system functions in micro increments for a perfect fit and the padding is fast wicking, antibacterial, as well as being removable for washing.
Two sizes and a range of colours make finding the perfect one a significantly easier task.
See more US: Endura PissPot Helmet at deporvillage for $69.08
See more UK: Endura PissPot Helmet at Tredz for £49.99
Lazer Next+ MIPS LED Urban Helmet
Lazer have hit the important points with their commuting offering, featuring a small brim to keep sun and rain out of your eyes, vents that allow for enough cooling but also don’t let too much rain in, and top rated protection, with the MIPS system built in. making it another contender for the safest road bike helmet in the commuter category.
This allows the helmet to rotate and thus absorb some of the energy in the event of a crash, meaning less force is transmitted into the wear’s head.
See more US: Lazer Next+ MIPS LED Urban Helmet at REI for $48.73
What are the key features you should look for in the best road bike helmet?
Bike helmet safety
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.
Road bike helmets and MIPS: 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.
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.
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.
Bike helmet adjustment/retention system
The 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.
Which is faster?
Bike helmet comfort and padding
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.
Bike helmet venting
These 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.
Bike helmet weight
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.
Different types of road bike bike helmet
Leisure/commuting bike helmets
These kinds of helmets typically range from $50 / £40 to $100/ £80 and are ideal for those getting into cycling, or those who aren’t troubled by and extra 50-100g of weight. They tend to be just as comfortable in terms of padding as more expensive helmets, but with a slightly heavier weight.
A good example is the Smith Optics Signal ($75/£65 ), pictured above. The Specialized Echelon II ($90/ £50 is another great road bike helmet option, although there are many more.
Performance road bike helmets
These are the best road bike helmets for all round performance and are among the lightest and most breathable options available, used by professionals during races. As an aside, helmet vents can be useful for stowing glasses, when not being worn and offer plenty of angles to get at an itch on your head.
Time Trial bike helmets
Time trial (TT) helmets are designed to be worn during time trials and are not permitted in standard UCI road races, but are permitted in UCI TT’s if they carry the necessary safety credentials . They are also a popular option for triathletes and track riders as they are the best road bike helmet for minimising drag. These helmets often feature elongated or teardrop shapes to maximize aerodynamics, but venting is minimal, as vents create drag and visors are common. Do not show up to a sportive or Sunday ride in a time trial helmet, unless you enjoy being ridiculed.
Aero road bike helmets
A helmet type that has become increasingly popular in the last few years, an aero road helmet is a cross between a traditional road helmet and a TT helmet. They are designed to be more aerodynamic than a standard helmet, but this means they sometimes try to reduce drag by featuring less venting, generally making them slightly heavier and warmer, although in the best aero road bike helmets it will negligible. This breathability / weight trade-off is worth it for breakaway riders and sprinters. The Specialized Evade and Smith Ignite are good examples.
Road bike helmet top tips
Some best road bike helmet manufacturers offer a crash replacement scheme, where you can buy a cost price replacement if your helmet is damaged within the first couple of years of the original purchase.
Most helmets are made from expanded polystyrene, with an outer polymer shell, covering this. During a big impact, the polystyrene is designed to absorb energy and compress. After a crash, the outer casing can hide the compromised polystyrene underneath, and look undamaged. Always replace your helmet after a crash or impact, and check it regularly for wear and tear.