Road Bike Helmet FAQ
What is the safest road bike helmet?
Virginia Tech have done their own independent testing on a number of bike helmets, by more thoroughly testing a helmet’s ability to reduce linear and rotational forces on impact. Each helmet is given a score rating and a number of stars out of five.
According to Virginia Tech the safest road bike helmets currently on the market in August 2021 are:
1. Lazer G1 MIPS
2. Specialized Align II MIPS
3. Lazer Tonic MIPS
4. Lazer Century MIPS
5. SCOTT Centric Plus MIPS
6. Giant Rev Pro MIPS
7. Liv Rev Pro MIPS
8. Lazer Sphere MIPS
9. POC Octal X SPIN
10. SCOTT ARX Plus MIPS (2020)
For the entire list of helmets, please visit Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech uses a standard tool known as a drop tower to test the helmets. The helmet gets dropped down a slider and lands on steel which is covered in sandpaper. Accelerometers which are attached to the ‘head’ on which the helmet is mounted to, measure the linear and rotational forces at impact. Each test is carried out at two different impact speeds, targeting six different positions on the helmet. Each impact test is repeated twice, which means that there is 24 tests on each helmet. From the data recorded, an overall safety score and star rating can be given. The lower the score number, the better. The higher the star rating, the better.
Do pros wear MIPS helmets?
Yes, cyclists in the WorldTour use MIPS helmets. You will likely see a MIPS equipped Giro, Lazer, MET, Scott and Specialized helmet on the heads of WorldTour riders.
How much does a lightweight helmet weigh?
Any helmet that weighs around 250 grams is considered lightweight. Ultra lightweight road bike helmets weigh around 200 grams.
What is the lightest road bike helmet?
The lightest available road bike helmets in order from the least amount of weight are:
• Kask Valegro – 180g (Small)
• Lazer Genesis – 190g (Small)
• HJC Furion 2.0 – 195g (Medium)
• POC Octal – 195g (Medium – EN)
• HJC Ibex 2.0 – 200g (Medium)
• MET Manta – 200g (Medium)
• POC Ventral Lite – 200g (Medium – EN)
• S-Works Prevail II – 200g (Medium)
• Abus Airbreaker – 210g (Medium)
• Ekoi AR14 – 210g (M/L)
• Endura FS260-Pro – 210g (M/L)
• HJC Atara – 210g (Medium)
• Lazer Z1 – 210g (Small)
• Kask Protone – 215g (Medium)
• MET Trenta – 220g (Medium)
What is the lightest MIPS helmet?
The lightest available MIPS road bike helmets in order of the least amount of weight are:
• Lazer Genesis MIPS – 220g (Small)
• MET Trenta MIPS – 220g (Medium)
• Lazer Z1 MIPS – 230g (Small)
• Bontrager Ballista MIPS – 245g (Medium)
• POC Octal MIPS – 250g (Medium CPSC)
• S-Works Prevail II Vent with ANGi – 252g (Small)
• Lazer Sphere MIPS – 250g (Small – CE)
• Giro Synthe MIPS – 254g (Medium)
• Louis Garneau Hero MIPS – 255g (Medium)
• Mavic Comete Ultimate MIPS – 260g (Medium)
• Scott ARX Plus – 261g (Medium)
• Giro Aether Spherical – 263g (Medium CPSC)
• Mavic Ksyrium Pro MIPS – 265g (Medium)
• MET Vinci MIPS – 265g (Medium)
• Bontrager Circuit MIPS – 266g (Medium)
• Bontrager Velocis MIPS – 266g (Medium)
• Giro Helios Spherical – 270g (Medium CPSC)
• Scott Cadence Plus – 280g (Medium)
• Scott Centric Plus – 280g (Medium)
• Smith Trace – 280g (Medium)
What should I look for when buying a road bike helmet? How do I choose a road bike helmet?
The key qualities and features to look for when buying a road bike helmet include:
• Safety standards: Safety is the most important aspect of any helmet. Make sure that the helmet is from a reputable brand and meets the relevant safety standards where it is sold. The certification should be listed on the helmet box and there should be certification stickers on the outside or inside of the helmet.
• Added safety technology: Safety technology incorporated into a helmet such as MIPS, Koroyd and WaveCel, reduce the amount of rotational and linear force exerted on the brain during impact, compared to a standard bike helmet. This can reduce the risk of concussion and serious brain trauma.
• Fit, sizing and comfort: It is crucial to get the fit right first before purchasing any road bike helmet. The helmet should be the correct size, fit snugly and should be comfortable for any length of time without any pressure or helmet movement.
• Ventilation: Ventilation is important as it helps to cool you down, remain comfortable, and reduce perspiration and fatigue levels. The amount of ventilation you need depends greatly on the climate that you live in. A helmet with few air holes such as a aero road helmet can actually be quite comfortable to wear in cooler climates. In contrast, helmets with numerous air holes are definitely required in warmer climates.
• Weight: The weight of your helmet is important, just as long as the comfort, fit, ventilation and safety levels are not compromised. A lighter helmet is usually more comfortable as it reduces neck fatigue and can allow a rider to forget that they are actually wearing a helmet. Ventilation and weight usually go hand-in-hand. Of course, the greater the ventilation with more air holes equates to less weight, which also aids comfort.
• Reflective Features: Reflective decals, stickers or paint on a bike helmet can increase your visibility on the road. They can make you stand out, which reduces the safety risks in poor lighting conditions or at night.
• Hair port: For those with long hair, for example a ponytail, it is worth looking for a helmet that can adequately accommodate hair at the rear of a helmet, without influencing the fit or reducing the safety of the helmet.
• Sunglasses compatibility: It is best to make sure that the helmet fits well with your sunglasses or regular spectacles. Whilst trying on a helmet, bring your sunglasses. The arms of the sunglasses shouldn’t touch the helmet foam or tightening mechanism.
How do I know my helmet size? How do you measure for a bike helmet? How should a bike helmet fit your head? How do you know if a helmet fits? How do I make sure my bike helmet fits?
There are a few simple steps to follow when determining your correct helmet size.
Step 1: Measure the circumference of your head by wrapping a tape measure around the widest part of your head, starting approximately 2cm above the eyebrow line.
Compare your measurement to a helmet sizing chart. Select the appropriate helmet size. Keep in mind that helmets vary is size, shape and design from one manufacturer to the next.
Step 2: Try the helmet on. The helmet should fit level on your head and low on your forehead. It should be snug and remain in place. Make sure that the helmet cannot move from side to side or up and down. Some helmets do come with extra padding which vary in size and thickness. These pads can be used to create a more secure fit if need be.
Step 3: Once the retention system is properly tightened and the chin strap (buckle) is closed, you should only be able to fit one to two fingers between the strap and your chin. Tighten or loosen the strap if needed.
The strap should make a “V” shape, so that the point meets just below your ears. Slide the strap up or down if needed.
Step 4: Make sure that there are no pressure points. This may mean that the helmet is the wrong size or the wrong shape for your head.
Step 5: Push the front of the helmet up and back with your palm. Adjust the fit if it moves more than an inch.
Step 6: Shake your head in every direction. Adjust the straps if the helmet shifts.
Step 7: Check to see if your sunglasses or prescription glasses fit correctly whilst the helmet is in the correct position.
Step 8: Finally, make sure that the helmet is comfortable to wear.
Step 9: You’re all done and should be good to go!
How tight should a road bike helmet fit?
A road bike helmet should fit snugly around the entire head and should be comfortable, without any pressure points. The helmet should not be too tight or too loose. There shouldn’t be any movement up or down or side to side whilst riding.
How much is a road bike helmet?
Road bike helmets can start from as low as $40USD/27£/€31/$50AUD. If you shop around, you will be able to find some great helmets at low and very reasonable prices.
How much does a good road bike helmet cost?
The characteristics of ‘good’ road bike helmets are: excellent ventilation, lightweight, compatible with many sunglasses, durable, comfortable and (may) have added safety technology such as MIPS, Koroyd or WaveCel.
Normally, good road bike helmets with these good qualities usually start at around $120. Great helmets are around $180+ and the best helmets are usually around $250+. As the price of a helmet increases, the weight decreases, the ventilation is better, the comfort levels improve and the safety levels may be improved, if equipped with added safety technology.
Once again if you shop around, you can pick up some excellent helmets at a low price.
Are more expensive bike helmets safer?
Yes. There are two parts to this question.
There should be no difference in the safety of a standard low cost helmet compared to a standard more expensive bike helmet. All bicycle helmets must meet the safety standards in the location where it is sold. Helmets can’t legally be sold if they don’t meet those standards.
In terms of standard helmets without added safety technology, more expensive helmets are usually lighter, more comfortable, provide greater ventilation, are more durable and look better. If you rarely ride a bike, then a cheap helmet will safely do the job, however, if you ride more often, then a more expensive helmet will be the more comfortable way to go.
If a helmet is equipped with an added safety layer that reduces rotational and/or linear forces on the brain during impact, then the helmet is deemed to be safer. Helmets with added safety technology such as MIPS, Koroyd or WaveCel, tend to be more expensive than the standard version of a helmet. Therefore in one respect, a more expensive helmet, given that it is equipped with extra safety technology is considered to be safer as it reduces the risk of concussion, brain trauma and even death.
It’s best to buy a helmet from a reputable brand, which meets the safety standards, and has the relevant safety identification stickers on the helmet and box. The benefits of added safety technology has been well documented, so whether or not you opt for it is up to you.
Is it unsafe to ride a bike without a helmet? How dangerous is it to ride a bike without a helmet? Do helmets really save lives?
Research has indicated that bike helmets greatly reduce the risk of head injuries and brain trauma. Head injuries are a major cause of death or injury to bike riders.
A comprehensive systematic review of 40 studies into bike helmets and the risk of serious head injuries was published in 2016, in the International Journal of Epidemiology. The researchers found that bike helmets reduced the chance of a serious head injury by almost 70%.
According to numerous other studies, between 60-97% of deaths in bicycle crashes involved people who were not wearing helmet. Some studies have also indicated that wearing a bike helmet can result in almost a 10-times greater chance of surviving an accident.
Helmets not only protect your brain, but they can also protect your face. One study found that 31% of riders with a helmet had lower odds of acquiring any facial injuries or fractures, particularly around the upper part of the face and eyes.
Approximately 26,000 children and adolescents in America are treated in emergency rooms for traumatic brain injuries every year, as a result of bike-related incidences.
Many people have died from accidents even whilst wearing bike helmets. People should be aware that helmets cannot protect them in particular situations. This of course depends on a number of factors, including the cause of the accident, whether it involves a small or large vehicle, the angles and velocity of impact, as well as the age, fit and integrity of the helmet.
Some people simply choose not to wear a helmet because they think they are uncomfortable, will ruin their hairstyle, may reduce visibility and/or hearing, have an ego, fear that it will look ‘uncool’, or, maybe people are just simply unaware of the ramifications of not wearing a helmet, whatever the excuse or reason one may have.
Regardless, the overwhelming conclusion of every bike helmet study, without doubt, is that helmets save lives, and it is unsafe to ride a bike without a helmet.
How does the MIPS system work?
MIPS was created by Swedish neurosurgeon, Hans von Holst and his colleagues from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System. MIPS uses a slip-plane system, a thin yellow layer inside the helmet, which allows for approximately 10-15mm of rotational movement between the helmet and head immediately during impact. The rotation of the thin MIPS layer inside the helmet reduces the rotational forces exerted on the brain, which can reduce the risk of concussion, brain trauma and even death.
A helmet equipped with MIPS will have the MIPS sticker on the helmet and/or box. The helmet will look the same as a standard helmet except you will be able to see a thin yellow MIPS liner inside the helmet beneath the pads.
Are MIPS helmets safer? Are MIPS bike helmets better? Are MIPS helmets worth it? Do I really need MIPS?
The brain is good at handling linear force impacts but is very poor at handling impacts which cause rotational forces. Helmets without MIPS were designed to work well at reducing linear impacts, however, the most common cycling related accidents inflict rotational force on the brain. That is where MIPS comes in. MIPS helps to reduce the rotational forces exerted on the brain.
Although it is difficult to quantify how much safer a MIPS helmet is compared to a standard road helmet, the people behind MIPS has previously stated that a helmet equipped with MIPS will reduce rotational forces exerted on the brain by at least 10%. They also stated that many helmets can handle rotational forces up to 60% better with the addition of MIPS. However the percentage of improvement depends on the brand and helmet.
Although you can never guarantee the outcome of a crash or that MIPS will save your life, as every rider and crash is different, you can take steps to reduce the possible risks. MIPS equipped helmets may cost a little extra but the expense could well be worth it. MIPS could potentially be the difference between serious injury and walking away from a crash with minimal damage to the brain.
What is WaveCel? Is WaveCel better than MIPS? Is WaveCell better? Are WaveCel helmets safer?
WaveCel is a thick collapsible layer of cellular copolymer that flexes and crumples on impact, reducing the force of impact that occurs during a crash. By reducing the force of impact and subsequent rotational forces, it helps to reduce the risk of brain trauma, damage and possibly even death. It was developed by Trek/Bontrager.
According to a few studies and researchers at Virginia Tech, they found that WaveCel is more effective than MIPS at reducing both linear impact forces and rotational forces on the brain.
Virginia Tech did their own independent testing on a number of helmets and gave them a rating out of five in terms of the helmet’s ability to reduce linear acceleration and rotational velocity. Check out the results of the testing here.
Although WaveCel was deemed to be better than MIPS from a safety perspective, WaveCel helmets tend to weigh more and have reduced levels of ventilation compared to a MIPS helmet.
Do bike helmets need to be replaced? Do bike helmets expire?
Bike helmets need to be in excellent condition, the best that they can be in, to ensure that a rider is properly protected in a crash. Helmets do deteriorate over time due to a number of factors and therefore need to be replaced.
A cyclist who rides multiple times per week using the same helmet should replace it approximately three to five years after first use, even if it hasn’t been involved in a crash. This is due to the deterioration of the EPS foam, glues and solvents over time, which is brought on more quickly from the weather, use, as well as general wear and tear. If the helmet isn’t replaced after years of use, then it may not perform in the way that it should, which can expose a rider to serious head injuries and possibly even death.
A helmet definitely needs to be replaced after a crash, despite the appearance. The integrity of the EPS foam will be compromised and will not bounce back. This can cause the helmet to fall apart too easily and once again expose a rider to serious injury, if any future accident occurs.
In summary, if your helmet is compromised in any way, then it should be replaced. It may just save your life!
Is a helmet bad for your hair? Do helmets cause hair loss?
To some degree yes. Prolonged usage of a helmet has not been proven to accelerate or cause general, or future hair loss, although traction alopecia, where hair loss occurs from pulling, can take place when moving your helmet. A helmet with less ventilation can cause hygiene issues from greater sweat build up, which can lead to greasy hair and potentially dandruff. If you are concerned, then the hair experts recommend wearing a clean cloth on your head, which can be effective at reducing friction between your hair and helmet, thereby protecting your hair from traction and sweat build up. They also recommend regularly cleaning your helmet (especially the helmet pads) and washing your hair with organic products or ones low in harsh chemicals.
How do you prevent helmet hair?
You can help to prevent or reduce the severity of helmet hair by:
• Having short hair or getting a hair cut
• Changing your hair style, for example by braiding or making your hair into a ponytail or bun
• Wearing a cloth or bandana over your head
• Ensuring your hair is clean and washed with organic products or ones low in harsh chemicals
• Using a light hairspray
• Avoiding the frequent use of hair heating appliances
• Carrying a comb with you
Looking to buy a road bike helmet? We have compiled a list of road cycling helmets that are available to buy, with specifications, summarized reviews and the latest deals.