Our Favorite Mountain Bike Helmets Fully Reviewed & Compared
In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research
Removable chin bar
Better fit, lighter weight, and more breathable than previous model
- Bell Super 3R
- Smith Optics Forefront
- Giro Chronicle
- Demon Podium
- Giro Switchblade
- GoMax Aero
- Fox Metah
- Base Camp NEO
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Our Favorite Best Mountain Bike Helmets
1. Bell Super 3R
Removable chin bar
Better fit, lighter weight, and more breathable than previous model
Less secure fit when worn without the chin bar
This versatile all-mountain helmet strikes the perfect balance between protection and comfort. With a removable chin strap, riders have the option of full face coverage without the weight and bulk of downhill helmets. It is ideal for riders who need some extra room to breathe on the way up and added protection on the way down. Users who have crashed while wearing the Super 3R have noted excellent face protection and significantly reduced impact during a fall.Read more
This MIPS helmet comes with a detachable chin bar for optional full-face protection during downhills. The chin bar is not as strong as those rated for downhill riding but users note it protects the face surprisingly well during a crash. The adjustable visor is easy to wear with goggles as well for added facial coverage.
The float fit system is easy to adjust for a customizable fit. Riders note feeling very secure when the chin bar is in place. However, the straps attach to the top of the helmet and this causes a bit of movement when worn without the chin bar.
This lightweight and breathable helmet will be a bit more comfortable and less noticeable than the downhill alternatives. Some users note a bit of discomfort due to the exterior straps but most find this to be a great, versatile helmet to keep you comfortable throughout your ride.
This helmet features 23 vents including 6 new brow vents to increase breathability.
Despitethe comprehensive coverage, this helmet is surprisingly lightweight, and is actually 10 grams less than the previous model.
This helmet is available in a variety of single color and multicolor designs including some especially for women.
This helmet is a bit expensive considering it's not downhill rated and will likely need to be replaced after one or two big falls. However, for versatility, lightweight, and full coverage many riders feel it is well worth the price.
2. Smith Optics Forefront
Highly breathable and ventilated
Great adjustment system
Available in a lot of different colors
Does not have MIPS technology
This is a great option that's great for use in hot weather because of how well ventilated it is. This original version doesn't have MIPS technology (multi-directional impact protection system) but it still gets high marks from users who have actually been in an accident while wearing it and come out the other side unscathed. It's also available in several different colors so you can coordinate it with the rest of your biking gear, and it gets high marks from reviewers for its easy to use adjustment features.Read more
While it doesn't have MIPS technology, it still gets high marks from users for its ability to keep yourself from getting injured in a crash. Several reviews can be found from people who had been in a crash and would have been severely injured or even killed if not for this helmet.
This option has an easy to use adjustment system that works great. This helps it to sit well on the head and get a fit that's just right, not too tight and not too loose.
As mentioned above it has a system that makes it easy to customize the size to your head. Once this system is used you'll be assured of having a helmet that is just about perfectly sized for you.
The highly ventilated design, materials, and construction has a side benefit of it being very light. This is great when you're on long rides especially where a heavy helmet can get really uncomfortable over time.
This is one of the best things about this option. It is highly ventilated and your head won't be dripping with sweat even when wearing it in the heat.
3. Giro Chronicle
Secure and adjustable fit
Rear skull coverage
Visor does not effectively block the sun
This compact helmet offers affordable deep coverage with a secure fit and MIPS technology to protect the skull from all angles. The Giro Chronicle is a solid option for those who ride on diverse terrain. It strikes a nice balance between adequate protection and breathable design.Read more
This helmet offers great coverage that provides protection to the sides and back of the head. MIPS technology works to reduce rotational force and absorb energy during a fall. It also has a visor that can be lifted to accommodate goggles for added eye protection. However, some users wish it could be lowered a bit more to block out the sun during early morning or evening rides.
Available in 4 sizes with Giro’s adjustable Roc Loc fit system help to create a comfortably snug fit. These helmets do seem to run a bit large so most users would recommend ordering down if you are between sizes.
When sized and adjusted properly, most users find this to be a very comfortable and compact helmet.
This helmet features moisture-wicking CoolMax padding and 14 vents to keep your head cool and dry.
There is some reasonable weight that comes along with the comprehensive protection and full coverage of the Giro Chronicle. However, it does not seem to be notably heavy, even after hours of wear.
This helmet is available in a variety of solid matte colors for classic and understated style.
At the lower end of the price spectrum, this helmet is a great value considering the excellent coverage and MIPS technology.
4. Demon Podium
Several different color options
Adjustable to fit most sizes
Overall coverage is excellent
Can be a bit bulky for some riders
Doesn't have a spot for a camera or a headlamp
The Demon Podium biking helmet is available in several different sizes and shades and offers a full front visor for optimal protection and comfort. It’s made to be comfortable, durable, and reliable even in the roughest terrain.Read more
Made to surround your head and protect against impacts from minor to severe, the Demon Podium helmet is a great choice for experienced bikers who are on rough terrain and who need optimum protection.
This helmet has several sizes to choose from and with adjustable chin straps and a neck support design you can find the fit that is just right for you with the Demon Podium biking helmet.
Customers love the interior padding and ventilation design of this helmet. They also rave about how comfortable it is for a full head style helmet, something that is difficult to achieve.
With 13 air vents and a high flow front breathing ventilation set up, this is a biking helmet that will keep you cool and relaxed and in control from start to finish no matter how long your ride lasts.
At around 2 pounds this helmet is one of the heavier on the list but when you consider the full range of protection you get that is actually a very lightweight helmet, something users appreciated.
There are a handful of cool colors to choose from so you can find a shade that matches your gear and looks good. The Demon Podium is rugged and, cool and is sure to be a head-turner whenever you wear it.
For a full head protection helmet, the Demon Podium is a bit pricey but we feel it is well worth the investment and is a great choice for any biker who wants one of the best helmets on the market today.
5. Giro Switchblade
Downhill rating with and without a chin bar
Less comfortable for long wear
This 2-in-1 helmet has a downhill rating with and without the removable chin bar. It is a bit heavier and more cumbersome than some of the other options but it offers great protection for those who like to climb everything they go down.Read more
This MIPS helmet has a detachable chin bar and is rated for downhill riding both with and without the chin bar in place. It provides solid protection and deep coverage that extends well over the ears even when the chin bar is not worn.
The Switchblade is available in 3 sizes and features Giro’s patented Roc Loc Air DH fit system for a customized fit. Some users feel it sits a bit low on the brow but most are able to make adjustments for a proper fit.
Plush pads increase the comfort but the heavier weight and slightly decreased breathability of this downhill helmet make it a bit less comfortable for long climbs.
With 20 vents, this helmet has decent airflow. It is fairly good for a downhill helmet but there are certainly more breathable options out there.
This downhill helmet carries a bit more weight than many of the others on this list, but that comes with the territory since downhill helmets need to offer the most protection.
Available in 9 colors and patterns, this helmet offers a good amount of diversity when it comes to style.
This helmet is on the more expensive end but with the detachable chin bar, you can consider this a 2-in-1 helmet with a downhill rating and MIPS safety technology.
6. GoMax Aero
Molded spot for camera mount
Two-handed fit system
The GoMax Aero helmet comes good coverage, nice safety features, and a durable style. It has an adjustable dial for a more custom fit and an extra thick shell for optimal protection.Read more
Even though the GoMax Aero is made without MIPS technology, this helmet is still a great choice for bikers who need a reliable helmet that will keep their heads protected in the event of a crash or accident.
The fit system is good for this helmet and the adjustable dial at the back allows for a semi-custom option to ensure you get the best possible fit while you are out on the trials or at the track.
With a lightweight design, this is one helmet that you will hardly feel. It is made to be aerodynamic and streamlined and the removable visor is the final touch that makes this helmet a great choice for any biker.
This state of the art biking helmet is designed with 22 decent sized air flow vents, ensuring optimal airflow and minimal resistance, allowing air to pass through in an efficient and easy way.
The GoMax Aero is very lightweight, thanks to its special design, and comes in at about half a pound yet it provides the protection you want and needs when you are out riding your bike.
This half shell helmet feature is available in several colors and with a removable visor design you can wear it in any weather and for any type of terrain, you may be facing on race day.
This helmet is actually one of the cheaper ones on our list but it is still a great helmet and is a perfect choice for beginning bikers or for pros who are looking for a good standby emergency backup biking helmet.
7. Fox Metah
Rear Skull Protection
Not a universal fit
No MIPS lining
The Fox Metah helmet offers more protection around the temples and rear of the skull than a typical road bike helmet without sacrificing much in the way of weight or breathability. Fox designed this to be the perfect all-around helmet for XC but with a bit of MX and even old-school BMX influence and style thrown in.Read more
The Fox Metah offers more protection than the typical half shell with a deep profile and rear to protect lower part of your head. It does not feature the MIPS safety lining but the multi-density Varizorb foam works well to absorb impact.
This helmet has a three position adjustable fit system but some users still find the fit a bit challenging due to the deep profile. Some riders find the front to be a bit too wide and feel it sits too low on the forehead while the back of the helmet feels a bit too tight.
The lightweight, well-ventilated design and addition of moisture-wicking pads makes this helmet great for long rides. Provided you can find the proper fit for your noggin.
The visor sits at a fixed height at the front of the helmet to help conduct air through the three large air vents to keep you cool as you ride.
This helmet gets major style points for the XC inspired design and array of cool color options.
This helmet may run a bit higher in price than other half shells due to the premium design and lightweight feel. At this price you may expect to see the addition of MIPS lining. Fox is known for great design and quality however, so most users were comfortable with the cost.
8. Base Camp NEO
Chin straps may be uncomfortable
This breathable and highly durable biking helmet offers wearers the protection they need at a price they want. Reviewers love the fit and high air flow design as well as the cool and rugged styling of the Base Camp NEO.Read more
This durable yet lightweight biking helmet is designed so it fits snugly and covers the front, sides, and back of the head. It gives riders a clear line of vision while offering full head coverage which is something some lack.
This helmet fits well and is specifically designed to cradle the occipital bone for full protection and to offer ample support and coverage for the back of the head. Durable chin straps keep the helmet in place at all times.
The Base Camp NEO is surprisingly well designed to be comfortable even on the longest of rides. This gives you more confidence on rough, technical terrain and helps you stay focused easily.
With 18 large vents for maximum ventilation, this all-new helmet gives you everything you need to stay cool and relaxed and in control no matter what kind of terrain you are facing.
Weighing less than a pound, this is a biking helmet that does its job without being bulky and cumbersome to wear. You will hardly know its there but having it on will give you the peace of mind you want and need.
Available in black or white, the Base Camp NEO may not be the flashiest helmet on the list but it is still one cool helmet that will do an outstanding job or protecting you while you are biking!
Price of this helmet can vary from vendor to vendor but what our research has shown is that it should be fairly affordable to most riders and we feel it is a good choice for an investment in your biking gear.
Lightweight with good ventilation
The TeamObsidian motorbike helmet offers a comfortable fit and all the features you are looking for in a good reliable helmet. With an affordable price, it is a perfect choice for beginner bikers who are looking for a helmet that will protect them and keep them comfortable without breaking their supply and gear budget.Read more
With a solid construction, this helmet is specially designed by first forming the exterior shell, then reinforcing it with a skeleton of support structures, and finally adding the foam that will hold all the parts together. What you get is a cohesive unit that will make sure you are safe in a case of an accident and that will protect your head and neck.
The unique fit of this helmet is balanced to fit well and be comfortable even on the longest of rides and the most intense of competitions. Combined with shock absorption technology, a low profile, and innovative design you are sure to love how the TeamObsidian motorbike helmet looks and feels. And all this comes with a helmet that weighs only 0.63 lb in the medium / large size.
This lightweight helmet provides riders with a comfortable and cool fit that won’t weigh you down or make your overheat while you are out riding.
With 22 massive air vents, this helmet is designed for an outstanding airflow across the head that keeps you cool and dry.
The TeamObsidian motorbike helmet is super lightweight and is a great choice for those looking for good protection without the bulk and weight of other designs.
Users love the cool and streamlined style of the helmet and rave about the look and feel!
This is a very affordable helmet and is a great choice for beginners and seasoned riders alike! So get yours today and see the difference for yourself!
Innovative Koroyd construction
Adjustable and removable visor
Built to include a camera mount
Not very breathable
The Lixada Mountain Bike Helmet has all the features you need in a helmet at a price that is extremely affordable to anyone. The unique design, shock absorption features, and extended front and back overage, all give you great protection in the event of an accident. However, it is not the most breathable option on our list and this may be an issue for some riders.Read more
The Lixada Mountain Bike features integrated in-mold PC shell with multi-dimensional cone-shape EPS impact foam. This helmet also offers good coverage to protect all areas of your head in the event of a fall or impact crash.
This helmet features an innovative one-hand fit adjustment back wheel for comfortable wearing and offers a comfortable and snug fit for head circumference 22.0 - 24.4 inch.
Strategically placed padding gives you the comfort and cushioning you need for those long and intense rides. A fully removable inner quality padding helps to absorb shocks upon impact and helps pull extra sweat away from your skin.
The Lixada Mountain Bike Helmet’s ventilated channel system comes with13 vents that are designed to provide cooling airflow during your ride. They provide some cooling but some users say they still get hot when wearing the helmet for extended periods of time.
Large versions of this biking helmet weigh less than a pound so there is little need to worry about being weighed down while you are on your ride!
Users love the cool and modern look and feel of the helmet and rave about how it looks and functions out on the track.
With a price of less than $50, this is a great choice for beginning runners who do not want to invest a lot in their first helmet. It is also a good choice for experienced riders who are looking for something easy and affordable to use for normal day to day riding.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Hopefully, you will never find out firsthand how well a helmet performs in a crash. However, when it comes to protecting your noggin, it's best to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Mountain bike helmets have come a long way in available safety technology and have made great strides in making these safety features comfortable and easy to wear.
The standard mountain bike helmet has an in-mold construction which includes a hard outer shell to shield the head and a layer of EPS foam to absorb impact and reduce the force on the brain. In recent years, the addition of a MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection Systems) has become commonplace to further enhance protection. MIPS is an additional layer that can be added to the helmet in between the shell and the liner to reduce rotational force. When falling from a bike, riders rarely drop directly onto their head. Most of the time the head hits the ground at an angle creating an additional rotational force that was unaccounted for in helmets until the development of MIPS. The addition of this low-friction layer works to reduce that rotational force by allowing the helmet to slide relative to the head. The MIPS liner does carry an additional cost but most riders find that cost of the added brain protection easy to justify.
In addition to varying technology, the physical coverage a helmet provides varies from model to model. From full face styles to compact half shells, there is a wide range in the amount of coverage and protection a helmet provides, so take into account you're riding style, whether or not you want additional face protection in form of a chin guard, and choose the right helmet for you.
Comfort is an important factor when choosing a helmet. Proper fit is a big contributing factor but the addition of pads and having a good weight distribution can also enhance comfort. Most likely you'll be wearing your helmet for hours at a time, so you need it to be comfortable. If it isn't you'll be less likely to wear it, and even if you do you may be distracted by an uncomfortable fit and enjoy your ride less, and when you're flying down a hill at a high rate of speed the last thing you need is to be distracted as that can lead to an accident and injury. Today bike helmets are more comfortable than ever and this is owed to modern design and just plain experience. Computer technology allows us to map the skull and use computer-aided design to produce helmets that fit the user perfectly. Another thing that helps is that all of the helmets on our list include a variety of pads that allow you to customize the helmet to your own head. These pads will be of different sizes and especially thicknesses and can be used to replace the ones the helmet comes with from the factory. We recommend taking the time to use these pads and make sure you get the right fit in the comfort of your own home before you strap on the helmet and go for a ride. We know you'll be excited when you first receive the helmet and want to use it right away, but taking the time to get a good and comfortable fit will pay off with dividends in the end.
Finding a helmet with a good fit is key not only for comfort but for safety as well. Ill-fitting helmets can bobble and move around your head when you're riding and can easily move around during a crash and not where you need it to protect your head. On the other hand, helmets that are too tight can squeeze your head and cause headaches. We looked for helmets that can be easily adjusted and can accommodate a wide range of head shapes and sizes. We realize that ordering a helmet online can be a bit scary because it's hard to know how well it will fit. But we also know that ordering online can be extremely convenient and save you a lot of money, so if you decide to buy online we recommend reading as many reviews as possible and getting a good feel for how the product will fit. All of the products on our list are highly reviewed so you'll have the ability to hear from real people who give their honest opinions and experiences. Look for people who have similar physical characteristics as you and read about how the helmet fit them. For example, if you have an especially large head, look for someone else with a large head and see what they had to say about the fit.
Safety trumps weight every time so this should not be the main focus when choosing a helmet. However, since your helmet will be sitting on your head for a long time, and we want you to be comfortable and not distracted during your ride, we tried to include only helmets on our list that are at the very least reasonably light. Fortunately, design and materials continue to evolve to allow for the creation of lightweight but effective protection, so a lightweight but effective helmet isn't too hard to find. If you like to go on especially long rides, weight is worth considering more than usual since the helmet you choose will be sitting on your head for quite some time. As we mentioned before the weight of the helmet will be determined by the materials used in its construction. Most modern helmets are made with a liner made of a foamed polymer liner that's made from expanded polystyrene which is known as EPS. This is the major impact absorbing material in a helmet and buyers should be sure that the helmet they're considering includes this. All of the helmets on our list are reputable and well-made, but you should know that there are a lot of fake helmets on the market and it pays to do your research before buying to make sure you get a product that's the real deal and not a fake.
Having a breathable helmet with good airflow is key for enjoying your ride and staying safe. First of all, a helmet with good ventilation will help keep you cool and focused on the trail and enjoying your ride. Secondly, a super sweaty head may lead to your helmet slipping around a lot as you ride, and not being in the right place to protect you if you do happen to fall.
Depending on the time of year and location you ride, this may be more or less important. If you live in a hot climate and/or ride frequently during the summer or hotter parts of the day, we suggest you make breathability and ventilation an important factor when choosing a helmet. Not all helmets are made for use in the heat but it's really easy to see if this is the case or not. Just look at the helmet and see how many vents it has or not. Some products have vents that can be opened or closed manually, which is often the best of both worlds. Especially if you live in a high-altitude environment with cold morning and evenings and hot days during the day, we recommend looking for helmets with this feature since you'll want a helmet that gives you the ability to close the vents in the morning and evening and open them in the heat of the day.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
There are many different types of bike helmets, make sure you buy the one for the right activities. In this list we focused on mountain bike helmets, but if you're primarily a road biker there are better options for you. Consider design elements, materials used in the construction, the size and fit, and also the price point as you shop around for the best helmet for your needs.
Bike helmets can reduce the risk of serious head and neck injury up to 70%. It is important that you always, always, always wear a helmet! Even if you cannot afford the best helmet out there you need something. Even a decent helmet is better than not having one at all. So never get on your bike without some kind of helmet protecting your head!
As mentioned above, any helmet is better than nothing so you need to get whatever helmet you can afford. If possible, try to invest in a quality helmet right from the start. They are more expensive but will likely offer better protection and will last longer so they are well worth the investment. This is your health and safety and your very life we are talking about so you need to put as much as you can into getting a good helmet.
Other Factors to Consider
If you ride with goggles or while filming with a GoPro, be sure to take that into consideration when choosing a helmet. All of the helmets on our list are designed to be used with goggles, but especially if you have specialized goggles or glasses you like to use it's good to double check. And some of these helmets don't have a place for a camera or a headlamp so check on that if those are things you like to use when you ride.
Again, it's not as important as safety, but it never hurts to invest in good-looking protection you are excited to show off. When riding covered up in safety gear and goggles, your helmet is a good way to make a statement and personalize your look.
Helmets can be pretty expensive, but so are new brains. Just kidding, even if you had the money, you can't buy a new one, so keeping your brain safe is worth an investment. We thought about the price in terms of the safety, comfort, and convenience factors you are getting with your purchase.
Before buying a helmet, it's good to think about how you're going to use it. The type of riding you do plays a huge role in what safety features you choose to invest in.
Typically helmets are divided into three categories:
-Cross Country (XC) is the lowest intensity of the three. With less technical descent, XC riders are at lower risk for high-speed crashes. Cross Country helmets can be lighter in weight and have better airflow while still providing adequate protection for this type of riding.
-Enduro or All-mountain riding is a bit more technical with steeper inclines and bigger drops. All-mountain riders require a bit more protection than XC that covers more of the head. Helmets that offer optional full face coverage such as the Giro Switchblade and Bell Super 3R are great for All Mountain riders as coverage can be adjusted based on the terrain.
-Downhill riding (DH) is the most technical, with long descents and big drops, so it carries higher chances for big falls. For this type of riding, a full coverage helmet with a downhill rating is well-worth the investment and a necessary part of your gear.
Frequently Asked Questions
To find the right size mountain bike helmet you will need to measure the circumference of the largest part of your head by placing a tape measure about 1 inch above your eyebrows and just above your ears. Most helmets have adjustable fit systems to help fine tune the fit for maximum comfort. The helmet should fit snugly with little movement while you ride.
Unlike running shoes and clothing, there is not much benefit to limiting your search to gender-specific helmets. The helmets on this list are all unisex and most come in colors and sizes that will work for everyone.
Obviously, a full-face helmet gives you the most protection possible. Most full-face helmets are designed especially for downhill mountain biking, where the speeds can be extreme, the drops huge, and the potential for injury huge.
Even if you don't do downhill, if you want the maximum amount of protection, a full-face helmet is the way to go. However, know that these helmets are hot, heavy, and less comfortable than helmets designed for XC, so be sure to keep that in mind. Most XC riders opt for a lighter, more breathable half-shell helmet that will still offer them good protection.
This is a tricky question, but the short answer is that if you crash and your helmet takes a big hit, it's probably best to replace it. These helmets are typically designed with special zones that are made to absorb the impact of a fall by collapsing in on themselves. They work great, but the downside is that your helmet will need to be replaced if you have a bad fall on it. You may want to contact the manufacturer directly to see what they recommend and thank them for saving your melon while you're at it.
Well, you could, but we don't recommend it. First of all, this is your brain we're talking about, so don't mess around. Secondly, helmet technology has advanced so far recently that a top of the line helmet from 10 years ago isn't even close in terms of the quality and protection that even a bottom shelf modern helmet gives. A few of the helmets on our list start at only around $100, making it easy and well worth it to make sure your head protection is up to snuff.
- Best Mountain Bike Helmets of 2017, Web Page, Jun 01, 2017 ,
- Mountain Biking Disciplines - Cross Country, Enduro & Downhill, Web Page, ,
- How to Choose Bike Helmets, Web Page, ,
- How to Choose the Best Mountain Bike Helmet, Jun 13, 2017 ,