One of the true essentials to riding a mountain bike comfortably is to wear a bike helmet. Even though some people do not like getting in the habit of being as protected as possible for every single ride, it makes a big difference in staying safe.
The best mountain bike helmets can come in different forms, but this is specifically focused on standard options.
Some people will opt for a full-face helmet in order to get even more protection (especially with downhill mountain biking), but most want a more traditional look and feel.
From standard options to cutting-edge, expensive protection, these are the best mountain bike helmets right now.
1. Giro Source MIPS
As the newest Source released from Giro (Amazon), many people are gravitating towards one of the best all-around trail and cross country mountain bike helmets on the market today.
The dependable brand continues to innovate by making some solid upgrades to this safe, comfortable option that fits in the budget of most riders.
What people will notice right away is that this helmet needs very little adjusting to get a fit that seems extremely comfortable.
They have included some outstanding features that usually are only reserved for more expensive models. This includes a visor that works extremely well, an easy-to-use fit system, and no compromises whatsoever.
The vents are high-end options that are very well designed to keep everyone as cool as possible.
Those who have had a helmet from Giro in the past understand that they are always putting together high-quality options in a variety of price ranges.
This helmet is a bit on the lower side as far as weight is concerned at 12 ounces, and it feels even lighter than that when it is on the head.
Overall, this might be the best of the bunch right now, and a helmet that is well-rounded enough for any type of mountain bike ride.
- Very comfortable.
- Priced affordably for the features.
- Feels lighter than 12 ounces.
- Could possibly use more than 16 vents.
- Some color choices are hard to find.
2. Troy Lee Designs A2
Many who have followed Troy Lee Designs (Amazon) understand that they put out some high-quality mountain bike helmets that are very stylish in today’s market.
This is an improvement to the A1, which was a huge hit for mountain bikers all around the world. They made a few upgrades that many people are paying attention to, and it seems like they listened to general feedback to make this a quality pick.
The first upgrade compared to the A1 is that ventilation is a little bit better. There are wide channels at the front and back to help with that.
It does not compromise safety by any means, as it has even better protection for the most aggressive riders out there. Using EPS and EPP foam helps fight against any type of crashes that might occur.
It even has a MIPS liner for extra security, which will give the majority of riders more peace of mind.
With a little bit of adjusting here and there, most people are going to get a fit that works perfectly for them. It feels like a minimalist helmet in many areas, but at the same time, it has some of the thickest padding around.
It truly is one of those helmets that feels like the best of both worlds, and that is why it is near the top.
- Easy to get a comfortable fit.
- Upgrades compared to the A1.
- Plenty of safety features.
- Fairly expensive.
- Weight could be reduced a bit.
3. Bontrager Solstice MIPS
There is this thought out there that the only way to get a quality mountain bike helmet is to spend a good amount of money.
While some of the best options are a little bit pricey, Bontrager has done a good job of providing a budget option for those who can’t afford to spend over $100 on protection.
This helmet might not have all the bells and whistles that people are used to with other set ups, but that does not mean that they have to sacrifice protection.
It is pretty much a no-frills solution that offers a combination of comfort and style that most people are able to get behind.
To start with, they grab the attention right away by boasting the MIPS technology. This is great for people who are worried about spending a little less money, but not getting the type of protection they need.
It does a great job of providing all around protection, and when a rider gets the fit they need, it is going to be very solid all around.
Ventilation is much better than most people think originally, as there are a total of 17 vents available. People can keep really cool, and they never feel weighed down since it only weighs in at 11.8 ounces. Being able to keep a budget option like that so light is definitely a positive.
While this is a comfortable budget option, it is not going to stand up to helmets that are double the price.
There is a little bit of sacrifice with comfort, but that is not to say that a person will feel like this is a huge burden by any means. Just do not expect that same plush feeling that is provided by some of the other companies out there.
Whether a person wants to opt for this helmet as their main option, or keep it to the side as something that can work as a backup, it is definitely one to keep in mind. Just make sure that one of the two sizes is good enough to be used.
There are some people on either extreme as far as head sizes are concerned that will not be able to fit into a helmet like this, no matter how many adjustments they use.
- Extremely affordable.
- Quality ventilation.
- Only two sizes are available.
- Not as comfortable as more premium options.
4. Giro Manifest Spherical
Those who are willing to spend a little bit more money and have a premium solution will definitely fall in love with the Giro Manifest Spherical (Amazon).
Designed mostly for trail mountain bike riders, this is a futuristic-looking helmet that has everything a person can ask for. The drawback? It is pretty expensive, and most people will find it to be a little excessive.
Right out of the box, this looks like a helmet that has a premium price tag to it. They spent a lot of time on design to make this look like one of the best helmets on the market, and it gets the job done in so many ways.
It is very easy to get a perfect fit, and riders will notice that they have outstanding coverage all around. The padding inside is not overwhelming, and it does a lot with a thin profile overall.
Giro uses spherical technology along with MIPS to create a helmet that is pretty much made in two pieces. The top portion is going to move on its own if a person is involved in a crash.
This is done to help cut down on rotational forces on the brain. Giro is very excited about the technology, and it works exactly as it should in testing.
Hopefully, most people will not have to deal with any actual crashes when wearing this helmet. What they will get to take advantage of are the 19 total vents on the helmet.
It can certainly feel like there is nothing on at all, which is great for people who are logging hours and hours of riding time each day.
This helmet is not for everybody, but those who can afford the premium price tag should give it a look at something that is on their shortlist.
- Excellent ventilation.
- Innovative design helps cut down on serious injuries.
- Extremely lightweight.
- Very expensive.
- Not everyone loves the future as it look.
5. Smith Convoy MIPS
Smith provides one of the best bang for your buck helmets on the market today with a Convoy MIPS (Amazon). Designed for cross country and trail riding, this helmet is very budget-friendly for those who do not need anything too crazy.
It is more for recreational riders, but people who log a lot of hours on the bike can still get plenty of use out of this as well.
When putting it on for the first time, it is very easy to get everything fitted and ready to go. There is a way to fit it not only forward and backward but up and down. Those who have unique head sizes will love the ability to make small changes here and there.
Breathability inside the helmet is excellent, as it comes with a total of 20 vents. There is a MIPS liner involved with the helmet as well, so even with vents, people do not feel like they are lacking any type of protection.
Like a lot of budget helmets, padding is subpar, but that is to be expected in this price range. People who do not really need premium padding all the time will find it to be a helmet that they can count on without really worrying too much.
- Very adjustable for the perfect fit.
- High-quality, trusted brand.
- Plenty of ventilation.
- The visor is not adjustable.
- Padding could be better.
6. Specialized Ambush with ANGi
Specialized has a few helmets for people to choose from, but the Ambush with ANGi is one that they are very proud about. Using this new type of technology is pretty impressive, but it does come with a hefty price tag.
Those who strongly believe in the Bluetooth crash sensor will definitely put it on the shortlist when they are doing initial shopping.
How does ANGi work? They provide tracking information to all emergency contacts and instantly notifies them if there is an accident on the bike.
In order for it to work, the app needs to be downloaded, but the good news is that each helmet comes with a lifetime subscription.
Some people will find this to be unnecessary, while others feel like this gives them the confidence they need to ride solo and not worry about things.
Specialized is not the first to offer something similar to this, but their technology works particularly well. Beyond the ANGi, they also have a very premium helmet all around.
There is extended coverage in the rear part of the helmet, but it does not feel too hot or heavy with 20 vents to provide ventilation. It feels very lightweight on the head, and allows people to stay extremely cool in even the highest temperatures.
Cushioning could be a little bit better for a helmet priced this highly, but some people will appreciate a minimalist feel.
It certainly lost a little bit of weight because of a lack of cushioning, but those who do not feel like they are extremely comfortable inside of a helmet might want to look at something else.
- ANGi technology works very well.
- 20 vents for perfect breathability.
- A Futuristic look overall.
- Padding is a little lackluster for the price.
- Not everyone buys into the technology just yet.
7. Bontrager Blaze Wavecell
Finally, the last helmet to make this list is also the most expensive of them all. Coming in at $300, this is designed mostly for riders who want to make sure they have the best protection possible.
It definitely weighs more than the average helmet, but with added protection to stay as safe as possible, there is no doubt there is a market out there for certain riders.
Bontrager is very confident that they have a helmet that can change the way some people ride. According to the company’s studies, they have a helmet that is 48 times more effective at reducing the chance of a concussion happening compared to a basic EPS helmet.
While the numbers could be exaggerated a bit, it is certainly one of the most protective options out there. They have put a lot of technology in the helmet, and even though it weighs pretty heavy, it is comfortable enough for people to wear and log a lot of miles in it.
Seeing that it weighs in at 15.5 ounces, people definitely will pause if they feel like their current helmet is a little heavy already.
However, it is one of the only helmets that also does not have a face cover that some people will feel confident enough to use in downhill biking. Those who like to have a versatile mountain bike option will certainly consider this at the very least.
- Significantly cuts down on the chances of a concussion during a crash.
- The fitting system works well.
- Accessory mount helps keep people hands-free.
- Very expensive.
Shopping Tips For Buying a Mountain Bike Helmet
Buying a helmet for any type of bike riding can seem pretty overwhelming. This is because there are so many different options out there, and even when focusing on ones without full face protection, there are still tons of brands to choose from.
Considering the importance of a helmet, make sure to follow proper buying advice so that the right helmet is doing everything it can to protect. These are just a few qualities to look for.
There is a reason why this is listed at the top of the tip list. There is nothing more important than getting the proper fit for a helmet, no matter how great it is.
Without a proper fit, it is not going to protect the way it should, and it could become a distraction while on the bike.
The first thing to do is make sure that the helmet falls in the range of head size. Most companies are pretty good at listing a size chart so that people can get exactly what they need.
From there, it requires a little bit of patience, but it is worth all the effort to do exactly that.
All helmets come with their own fit system, and some do a better job than others. Most people really like the knob adjuster on the back of helmets that will help to enclose the fit in general.
The most important thing is to make sure that the helmet is not moving around when riding, but a person does not want it so tight that they get a headache as well.
It might seem silly, but also make sure that the helmet is actually positioned correctly. Some people put the helmet on and start to tighten it up, only to find out that it is leaning to one side or the other.
It should be sitting evenly on the head, facing straight forward and even on both sides.
When in doubt, try to go for a slightly bigger helmet. The reason why is that it allows for a person to grow their hair out if they want, or put something underneath on colder days.
Even putting a very thin hat on is still going to make the helmet a little bit bigger, but that is nothing that some small adjustments can’t fix.
Type Of Mountain Bike Riding
Within mountain biking, there are three main types of riding. Riders either focus on cross country, trail, or downhill biking. Most people who are riding cross country or trail are going to be fine without any type of extra coverage on the face.
However, those who are doing a lot of downhill biking should probably go for a helmet that offers a bit more protection than the ones detailed in this article.
In a pinch, a person could always use a road bike or dirt bike helmet. However, it is not going to provide the right type of protection in the long run, which is why a rider should always buy something specifically for their discipline.
Helmets are more protective than ever before, and they also have been dropping weight. Technology has certainly come a long way over the decades, as riders looking to have that feeling that there is nothing on their head can get pretty close to that even when mountain biking.
For the lightest feel, cross-country helmets are usually a little bit lighter. However, trail options also tend to fall somewhere between 11 ounces and 14 ounces.
The weight distribution is pretty good as long as the person gets the right size. It can sometimes feel even lighter than the listed weight because of the distribution.
Every rider can benefit from better ventilation with their helmet. There can be very hot and muggy days on the trail, and that could be extremely frustrating for those who are wearing a helmet that does not seem to breathe at all.
A lot of ventilation is needed in the head area, as anyone can tell if they are sweating during a colder day. All the top options go above and beyond typical ventilation.
It is not necessarily the number of vents on the helmet, but also where they are placed and how they are designed.
Unisex options are great, but some people might need a gender-specific helmet. This usually is reserved for those who are on one of the extremes of the spectrum.
For men, those with really large heads might need to opt for a helmet that is designed for their features in particular. Women can get in trouble if they have a smaller head, or if they have longer hair.
There are some helmets that are ponytail compatible, which can make life a little bit easier for riders who are constantly trying to tuck hair underneath your helmet.
The padding in a helmet will largely determine just how comfortable it is overall. Generally speaking, the more cushioning and padding there is inside of a helmet, the more expensive the model is.
Those who go for a really cheap helmet usually have to sacrifice some level of comfort, and when writing for hours and hours of the time, that can cause irritation.
Not only is excellent padding good for comfort, but it helps with absorbing sweat as well. More expensive pads are usually doing a better job of working away sweat and keeping everything as cool as possible.
Included Safety Features
Now the people are very much aware of the importance of wearing a helmet, additional safety features can be a huge selling point when shopping around.
There are plenty of different teachers out there that grab the attention of users, and that includes systems like MIPS and SPIN.
The most common option is the multi-directional impact protection system, otherwise known as MIPS. It usually involves an increase in price, but people are getting extra protection for their head when facing angled hits.
It works by creating a low friction layer that is between the helmet shell and the soft liner. If a person is hit at an angle, this layer move to help cut down on rotational forces.
The majority of mountain bike helmets come with a visor built-in. While some can find options that do not have a visor, they are going to come in handy for a variety of reasons.
It helps to keep the sun out of a person’s eyes, and it protects against being able to see when it starts raining. It might not seem like much, but the good news is that some companies make it so that they can slide out of the way when not in use.
Those who opt against visors usually wear some type of other eye protection when they are biking. They might find it to be redundant, and they would rather have a little bit of a lighter option.
Goggles and Sunglasses Compatibility
This is especially important for those who need to ensure that they have prescription eyewear that is capable of being used at all times. A helmet must allow for people to put everything on and ride as comfortably as possible.
Make sure that the visor is adjustable so that there is room for the eyewear. There is also a strap at the rear of the helmet in some options that will help keep everything in place.
This can really come in handy for those who seem to always be battling for the right type of fit that works for them.
The Final Word on Mountain Bike Helmets
By now, most people should be very much aware of the importance of wearing a mountain bike helmet.
After spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a bike, it is worth the investment to protect the most important part of the body.
Helmets save plenty of lives every single year, and they are lightweight enough that they do not cause any hindrances whatsoever. Simply put, anyone who does not have a helmet right now should make that their top priority.