Best cycling helmets for every kind of rider 2022

Work out how to find the best road bike helmet with our helpful buyer's guide

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

Brands are constantly competing to create the best cycling helmet. With the competition so hot, the drive to create the best road helmet, best commuting helmet, or best aero helmet for racing is constantly pushing innovation.

Factors like comfort, aerodynamics, and breathability are all part of your considerations when it comes to making a decision on what to buy. 

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 detailed 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-to details, here are our top picks of the best road bike helmets broken down into all the different helmet categories. 

If at any time you want to quickly navigate to a specific helmet or buyer's guide information, you can use the handy quick links above to take you directly to each one. 

If you need to stick to a lower price bracket, then it's worth visiting our page dedicated to the best budget bike helmets ridden and reviewed (opens in new tab), for low priced head protection, which still ranks high in safety features. 

Our top pick of the best cycling helmets

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

We've hand picked our favourite helmets and highlighted what makes them stand out from the crowd to help you work out what feature is most important for you. If that's still too hard to filter through, we've also included the standout 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 weight of the helmet size that was reviewed, so just do a quick double check of the listed helmet size as it will vary between sizes making the weights not always a comparable factor. 

The ultimate road bike helmet

CW's top pick | Aero helmets | Lightweight helmets | TT helmets | Commuter helmets

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. 

During the review period, we found this helmet to be exceptional in its 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 the gold standard MIPS Spherical technology, which sits between the two shells to make the added safety feature a really comfortable option. Teaming this with the added reinforcement construction gives the rider lots of reassurance on how safe and strong this helmet really is. 

Packaged in a really sleek looking design, with lots of colours to choose from, it's really easy to wear for any style of riding making it all-round the best road bike helmet out there.  

In fact, we loved the Giro Aether MIPS so much, that we gave it a 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. 

Best Aero helmets

CW's top pick | Aero helmets | Lightweight helmets | TT helmets | Commuter 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 its crossover credentials. 

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

Its large air ports mean that it also doesn't take the usual guise of an aero helmet, which tend to have a more solid appearance. POC say the unique design used optimised CFD (computational fluid dynamic) testing which enhances aerodynamics performance by reducing drag and minimalizing air turbulence with the goal of helping you ride as fast as possible. 

The aero lid uses POC's own SPIN (Shearing Pad INside) safety feature, which combines silicone bladders and pads for helping to dissipate rotation impacts, which are the most likely impacts to suffer in a bike crash, absorbing crash energy away, with the aim of reducing head trauma.  

While seemingly superficial, anyone who has ridden with an aero lid will know the challenge of trying to stow sunglasses when they're not on your face. 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 helmet, which will automatically send an SoS to your nominated contact (phone signal depending) and features MIPS. Combined, these two features make the Specialized Evade one of the best road bike helmets for safety features. 

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 seen 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 downside to this effective channelling system is its lack of padding, which does take a little while to get used to. 

There is millimetre size adjustment capability, giving it an excellent snug, yet 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 disappear 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, the plastic straw looking impact absorption feature,  and helmet safety gold standard MIPS, makes the Smith Ignite helmet right up there with the safest 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, which is a rare feature especially in aero focused helmet 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

CW's top pick | Aero helmets | Lightweight helmets | TT helmets | Commuter helmets

Lightweight helmets will obviously save weight, and often provide plenty of breathability, something that will appeal when riding in summer and warmer climates.

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, on the hottest of riding days it could have done with the ability to suck even more cool air in. or exhaust more heat out. That said, on the sweatiest of days in the saddle, we found that the Protone's water irrigation design is top notch, managing to avoid channelling sweat down on to sunglasses or into eyes. 

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, so you can rest assured that while it lacks weight, it doesn't lack head impact protection. 

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 its wide size and colour options, along with exceptionally comfortable fit gives it broad appeal.

The lightweight helmet uses the same Spherical MIPS protection as the Giro Aether, which isn't the only way this lower price offering challenges its more expensive sibling. 

There's also a 10 gram weight, saving to be had on a like for like size, with the brand putting this weight saving is down to the Helios Spherical helmet having less technical ventilation structure than the Aether. 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. But if you're looking for a great value all-rounder option, then this is one of the best road bike helmets out there.  

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 feels 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 helmets 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 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 as providing great ventilation means that this is a great road bike helmet for anyone wanting a 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 Lazer helmets in general is their 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

CW's top pick | Aero helmets | Lightweight helmets | TT helmets | Commuter 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 trialing 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 its category. If it's really an issue, then the Ultimate version we tested is 30g lighter than this standard version. 

It's not cheap however, although when you 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. 

Lazer Volante TT helmet test

(Image credit: Future)

Specifications

Sizes: S/M/L
Colours: 2
Weight: 538g (medium)

Reasons to buy

+
Wrap-around visor gives great visibility
+
Comfortable and adjustable

Reasons to avoid

-
No ventilation with visor in place
-
No MIPS

With Primož Roglič wearing the Volante to Olympic gold in Tokyo, this helmet has proved its credentials. We found it comfortable and easy to adjust so that it sits well on your head. There's a very deep, wide visor, so you get a really good view of the road and behind you as you ride and it curves in to hug the sides of your face.

There's little venting though, with the visor covering the two small slot vents in the front of the shell, making for a ride that was warm, if manageable. 

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 its 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

CW's top pick | Aero helmets | Lightweight helmets | TT helmets | 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 your existing lid, but if you’re new and looking for top tips for commuting by bike to work, (opens in new tab)and on the lookout for something specific, we’ve found the best road bike helmets to match with the best commuter bikes (opens in new tab) that 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 manages to cram everything from the SOS message system to playing your ultimate riding playlist, to super visibility into 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 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 built in lights and handlebar remote controller, it takes your average commuter helmet to another level, although it will still 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 its 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 says 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 available, 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 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 says 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 unisex helmet shapes. Where there is a women’s specific option, such as the Giro Helios above, this is mostly down to colourways 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 unisex 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 its own in house CINCH Pro™ system which it says is a single handed  6-position height adjustment feature for comfortable pressure distribution.

Liv says 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 its features and its 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 will meet the minimum 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 to 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, sportives, 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. It creates a slip plane to mimic and amplify 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?

How to measure for a helmet and make sure it fits your head.

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. 

All helmet manufacturers will have a size guide on their websites, and we highly recommend following each brand's recommendations of how to measure for its own helmets before investing in a purchase. 

If you are measuring at home, place the tape measure about 25mm (roughly two fingers width) above your eyebrows, and as you wrap it round your head, ensure that it's about 15mm above the top of your ear (about a thumb width) ensuring that you measure around the widest part of your head at the back - think cap not bonnet. 

If you aren't confident in doing this, then pop into your local bike shop to get them to help you do this. This also gives you the chance to try before you buy to check for comfort. 

You are going to be wearing the helmet a lot, potentially for over five hours at a time, so it's imperative that the fit suits your head, no matter what a review says. 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 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.

When should I replace a road bike helmet?

Is it only after an impact or do road bike helmets expire?

If you suffer the misfortune of falling off your bike and taking a head impact, the chances are that the damage to your helmet will be visually obvious, leaving no question about the need to replace it. 

However, it's really important that even the best road bike helmets are replaced even if it looks just a minor scuff on the outer casing. This is because the integrity of the EPS, and other safety features which are designed to absorb the impact are highly likely to have been damaged by doing their job perfectly. This means that the next time you crash, there won't be anywhere for the energy to go, making a head injury more likely. 

While the EPS foam in a bike helmet won't just deteriorate with age, it's over that time span that it will suffer with minor knocks and bumps from being stored, dropped from handlebars, popped in a kit bag. The aggregation will add up to volume loss and require a new helmet to be purchased. 

It's for this 'EPS volume loss' reason that most helmet manufacturers will also recommend replacing a road bike helmet every three to five years. 

Over this time frame, it's also likely that it will be exposed to a lot of UV rays, which can weaken the plastic shell of a helmet too, compromising its safety.

Extreme temperatures can affect the plastic shell too, and while the safety standards will mean it's been tested to the unlikely riding conditions which are as high as around 122°F / 50°C, and as low as -4°F/ -20°C, it could be more likely in places that you store your helmet. 

So bear these facts in mind when not wearing your road bike helmet, and doing things like using a case when not wearing it, not storing in the window with the sun directly on it or in the shed in a really cold winter. 

How we test 

Where we've been able to link to a review, it means that we've put the head protection through its paces. All of the members of the Cycling Weekly Tech Team have years of experience in riding bikes in all disciplines and have a huge wealth of knowledge in what it feels like wearing helmets almost every time we ride. 

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