Mountain biking is a great sport in that you don’t need a whole bunch of gear. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s cheap. Tote together all the protective gear, bike upgrades, etc. and the costs start adding up fast.
It’s natural that you will want to save where possible. One area that this is never a good idea, though, is when it comes to your helmet. Considering the potential damage you could do to your noggin if you fall off while hurtling down a hill, it makes sense for you to be as prepared as possible.
So, aim to pay more and get the best possible option when it comes to your helmet. Need to know where to start looking? We have reviewed the best mountain bike helmets on the market today. We have stuck to those that offer optimal protection, comfort, and overall value for money.
- 1 Giro Chronicle MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
- 2 Troy Lee Designs A2 MTB Helmet
- 3 Bell Sixer MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
- 4 POC Tectal Race SPIN MTB Helmet
- 5 Kali Protectives Maya Cycling Helmet
- 6 Leatt DBX 3.0 All-Mountain MTB Helmet
- 7 Bell 4Forty MIPS Bike Helmet
- 8 Smith Rover MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
- 9 Troy Lee Designs A1 MTB Helmet
- 10 Bell Super 3R Helmet
- 11 Fox Flux MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
Giro Chronicle MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
- Shell Material: In-Mold (polycarbonate)
- Impact Foam: EPS (foam)
- Ventilation: 14 vents
- Fit Adjustment: Roc Loc 5
- Visor: yes, P.O.V. Plus
This comes in as our number one pick because it offers excellent protection and value for money. This is a fair amount less expensive than our other options and so will not break the bank.
It is a full-coverage option with a MIPS liner, padding for extra comfort and good ventilation. It features a sun visor that will protect your eyes from glare. The visor can be adjusted if you want to wear goggles.
• Great price
• Good safety
• Thoughtful features
• The liner is not the best and not as absorbent as others.
• The vents are on the smaller side, and there are not as many.
Troy Lee Designs A2 MTB Helmet
- Impact Foam: EPP and EPS co-molded
- Ventilation: large vents
- Fit Adjustment: Rear Stabilizer Fit System
- Visor: yes
- Certifications: CPSC 1203, CE EN 1078
This is an upgraded A1 model that offers all the same comfort but some extra kickass features. This model has better ventilation thanks to the wide channels in the front and the larger holes in the back.
This model has been improved to stand up better to hard knocks, so it is a good choice if you like pushing boundaries when it comes to biking.
What makes it unique is that it features two types of foam. EPS foam, as most others do to absorb the impact of high-speed crash. EPP foam to withstand low-speed impacts. The combination of foams and the MIPS liner make this ideal for technical climbs.
• Extremely comfortable
• Well-thought-out design
• Top quality materials
• Exceptional safety
• The visor is not as adjustable as we would like
• Falls in the higher price range
Bell Sixer MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
- FUSION IN-MOLD POLYCARBONATE SHELL, PROGRESSIVE LAYERING AND EXPOSED POLYCARBONATE ROLL CAGE - A process pioneered by bell bonds the helmet's outer shell to the eps foam liner to create a sturdier helmet. The process of engineering a helmet liner with variable eps foam densities to better manage the transfer of energies after some impacts
- MIPS-EQUIPPED AND FLOAT FIT RACE (INTEGRATED WITH MIPS) - MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, which is a leading slip-plane technology inside the helmet designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts. Custom fit at the highest performance, Seemlessly integrated with MIPS and offers three-way adjustability: height, pad width and tension
- X-STATIC AND XT2 PADDING, NO-TWIST TRI-GLIDES AND SWEAT GUIDE - Quick-drying materials, woven with real silver fibers, inhibit growth of odor-causing bacteria and fungi. Quick-adjust fasteners that help keep straps flat and properly positioned. Sweat Guide pad design pulls moisture away from the brow pad and away from eyewear
- DUAL-FLOW VENTILATION, INTEGRATED BREAKAWAY CAMERA MOUNT, AND 4-POSITION ADJUSTABLE VISOR, - Actively ushers cool air over the head and regulates temperature by drawing cool air into the intake ports and circulating it through a matrix of air channels. Seamless camera mount, requiring no zip ties or tape, is engineered to break away upon impact to reduce the risk of injury. Adjusts for maximum comfort and steeze. How many more positions you need bro?!
- SPECIFICATIONS - Small (52-56 cm), Medium (55-59 cm), Large (58-62 cm), and X-Large (61-65 cm) Sizes. (X-Large size comes in some colors); 26 Helmet vents and 4 Brow ports, ; CPSC Bicycle, CE EN1078 Certification
This is the upgrade for Bell’s Super 3 helmet. It offers everything that made the Super 3 popular and a lot more besides. It looks modern, has a low-profile and is padded very well. It is not at all bulky and is very well ventilated. It also has a mount for a camera and MIPS tech built in.
• Extremely comfortable
• Has rubber on the back so that goggles won’t slip
• High degree of protection
• Excellent ventilation
• It is heavier than other models
• Not everyone is interested in the camera mount
POC Tectal Race SPIN MTB Helmet
“Best looking MTB Helmets on the market”
- FEATURES: Includes an EPS liner, outer PC shell, and unibody shell construction
- PROTECTION: Aramid fiber grid for protection and durability
- FULL COVERAGE: Designed to provide more coverage at the temples and back of the head
- FIT FOR YOU: Size adjustment and adjustable visor
- EXTRAS: Recco reflector
POC is a new brand, but it has been making waves thanks to their innovative new designs and safety features. Their SPIN tech takes safety to a whole new level as it protects the brain from damage during an angled impact.
The primary difference between this tech and MIPS is that this tech uses pads that are on the inside.
It is comfortable to wear, offers excellent protection and will leave your head feeling cool. The styling is contemporary and sure to turn a few heads.
We do have to warn you, though, that the price might make your eyes water. This is not the option for someone on a tight budget. And, while the features are good, there are similar options that are not nearly as expensive.
• Innovative tech
• Extremely comfortable
• High performance
• Great design
• Very pricey
Kali Protectives Maya Cycling Helmet
- COMPOSITE FUSION TECHNOLOGY - In-molding technology merging the shell and EPS foam liner. Better impact energy management, increased dynamic range - smaller, lighter and stronger
- FEATURES - Anti-Microbial Pads, Flex Moto-Style Visor, Bug Liner, Locking buckle & Sliders, and 12 Vents
- MATERIALS - PC Shell & Underwrap and EPS Foam
- RETENTION - Dual Closure System
- CERTIFICATIONS - EN 1078, CPSC
This is one of the company’s mid-range models. We have included it here because it offers the best value for money out of the entire range. It provides great coverage for not only the back of your head but the sides as well.
The primary protection is provided by its composite foam construction. This will help protect you against high and low-speed impacts. The ventilation system is okay but better suited to cooler climes.
The main issue here is that the fit system is a little clunky. Most modern models can be adjusted easily with one hand. That is not the case here – you will have to use both your hands.
• Good protection
• Nice price and value for money
• The fit system needs work
• Might not be well-ventilated enough for warmer climes
• No MIPS tech built in.
Leatt DBX 3.0 All-Mountain MTB Helmet
- WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including Bisphenol A (BPA), which is known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.
- Shell Material: polycarbonate
- Impact Foam: 3D in-molded impact foam, 360 Turbine Technology
- Ventilation: 18 sculpted vents
- Fit Adjustment: Fidlock mangetic buckle, micro-adjustment dial
Leatt is a company that has established a name for itself with their neck braces and full-face helmets. The DBX 3.0 is a slight departure for them in that it is the first model that they offer in a half shell shape. You can also select the full face convertible option here.
The 360° Turbine Technology that has achieved accolades is also included here. This is designed to protect you against angled impacts. Unlike MIPS, this protection is offered by turbines that are placed in the liner. They will absorb the impact and make it less likely that you will suffer a concussion.
The visor can be adjusted and is large. The interior is nicely padded and very well ventilated. It seems that this model ticks all the boxes but just lacks the real-world experience that would make it a top pick.
• Good ventilation
• Outstanding comfort
• Good safety features
• Protection offered differs to MIPS tech
• No real track record yet
• A little bulkier
Bell 4Forty MIPS Bike Helmet
- Shell Material: polycarbonate
- Impact Foam: EPS
- Ventilation: 15 vents
- Fit Adjustment: dial
- Visor: yes, removable
This is a newer version from Bell. It is a lot like the Sixer that we reviewed before, but it has pared down features. There is nowhere to mount a camera, and the ventilation system has been pared down as well.
That said, it does still offer a range of features that are appealing and at a good price as well. It offers excellent protection and does have a MIPS liner. The visor is completely adjustable.
It is a good choice for hot weather climes, as it does feature vents that are larger. The MIPS liner has a lower profile. The padding is absorbent and will help keep your eyes or goggles clear of sweat.
You can also find a slightly less expensive model that does not include the MIPS tech.
• Good price
• High performance
• No unnecessary extras
• Comfort is okay, but not the best out there
Smith Rover MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
- Lightweight Aerocore In-Mold Construction with Zonal Ventilated Protection Featuring Patented Koroyd Material, MIPS system available in all colors
- VaporFit Adjustable Fit System WITH 20 Optimized Vents
- X-Static with Reactive Cooling Performance Lining and Ultra-Light Single Layer Webbing
- AirEvac Ventilation and Ultimate Sunglass Integration with integrated visor
- Certification: CPSC, CE EN 1078, AS/NZS2063 and Weight: 11 oz/330 Grams
When Smith released its Forefront helmet, it was quite an exciting moment in the industry. What was not so exciting was the high price tag. In response to the backlash in terms of price, Smith has released this lid.
It has an attractive appearance and is light and comfortable. If you need to ride for longer periods of time, you are really going to appreciate this feature. The fit system is easy to control thanks to the dial. The ventilation system looks pretty crazy but works well.
We weren’t so happy with the fit. We just felt that the fit wasn’t deep enough. We would have preferred that the visor was adjustable, but it isn’t.
• Great quality
• Excellent protection
• Different design
• The visor is not adjustable
• The fit could be better
Troy Lee Designs A1 MTB Helmet
- Reinforced polycarbonate shell in-molded with the EPS liner extends down the sides and back of the head for maximum coverage and durability
- 8 pressurized intake passages draw in cool air for maximum ventilation
- 8 rear vacuum vortex outlets help exhaust and draw heat from head
- CPSC 1203, CE EN 107B, AS/NZS 2063 certified
- Not intended for use with motorized vehicles
This is the original version of the Troy Lee design that we reviewed above. It features great fit and comfort from the moment that you put it on. The innovative closure system makes it easy to get the exact right fit no matter what your head is shaped like.
The soft padding is something that you would expect from a more high-end brand. So, if the original was so great, why was the A2 necessary? Simple – the ventilation system in the A1 leaves a lot to be desired. The company has since had a MIPS liner incorporated into it, and this has made the ventilation issue a little worse.
The A1 is not a good bet if you live in warmer climes.
• Comfortable padding
• Excellent fit
• Has MIPS built-in
• The ventilation is not great
Bell Super 3R Helmet
- NO-TWIST TRI-GLIDES & X-STATIC AND XT2 PADDING - Quick-adjust fasteners that help keep straps flat and properly positioned. Quick-drying materials, woven with real silver fibers, inhibit growth of odor
- MIPS-EQUIPPED & WRAPAROUND PROTECTION - MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, which is a leading slip-plane technology inside the helmet designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts. Removable protective chin bar, designed for trail riding adaptability. Attaches with a simple 3-step connection process no tools required
- OVERBROW VENTILATION - Overbrow Ventilation features intake ports on the brow of the helmet to usher in cool air and push it through the air-channel matrix for full-head ventilation
- GOGGLEGUIDE ADJUSTABLE VISOR SYSTEM & INTEGRATED BREAKAWAY CAMERA MOUNT - Adaptable visor system accommodates both goggles and glasses and works with or without the visor attached. Seamless camera mount, requiring no zip ties or tape, is engineered to break away upon impact to reduce the risk of injury
- SPECIFICATIONS - Small (52-56 cm), Medium (55-59 cm), and Large (58-62 cm) Sizes; 23 Helmet vents, 4 Brow ports, and 6 Chin Bar vents; CPSC Bicycle Certification
This incorporates some full-face protection and a light, half shell – full-face helmets are essential for downhill mountain biking. The result is superior protection in a lightweight package with excellent ventilation. While it is not going to offer quite the same level of protection you would get with a traditional full-face option; it is a pretty good comprise for training.
We would have preferred it to have full downhill safety certification. It is therefore stuck in something of a limbo. It is not a downhill option nor is it an enduro option. If you want the certification, the Super DH from Bell is a better bet. Be prepared to pay for this feature, though.
• Good fit
• Extra protection
• Not as much protection as the traditional full-face version
Fox Flux MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
- MIPS impact protection system
- X-Static liner inhibits the growth of bacteria
- Varizorb multi-density EPS for enhanced impact absorption
- Internal cage provides additional strength
- 300-degree retention system provides full wrap for premium fit and comfort
This is Fox’s upgrade to their Flux design, but it bears very little resemblance to that design. One of the main changes is the very large ports that help vent air. These are great if you live in a warmer area, but might just be a touch too far when it is cold.
The back and sides of your head are well-protected, and the magnetic buckle makes it easy to fasten it on. You will find this model as luxuriously comfortable as you would expect from Fox.
It comes in at a reasonable price point and includes MIPS. You can choose the pared-down model without the MIPS, but that also means getting a less comfortable liner and no magnetic buckle.
• A timely remodel of the popular design
• Very comfortable
• Has MIPS
• You will either love the look or hate it
• The visor is small
• Might be too breezy in cold weather
The Primary Things to Look Out For
There are a lot of different factors that influence how the helmet feels when riding. What becomes most important to you will depend on what type of cycling you are doing. If, for example, you are going for a quick ride out, you might not need as much ventilation.
On the other hand, if you are spending all day on the bike, ventilation becomes much more of an issue, as does the weight of the helmet. So, what are the important things to look out for?
Lighter is usually better, but in some cases, the differences are barely worth mentioning. Generally speaking, the longer you are riding for, or the more competitive the race is, the lighter you need to go. Just keep in mind that lighter is also usually more expensive.
This is going to be important when you are working hard and building up a sweat. The number of vents does influence how cool the design is but there is a lot more to consider besides. The quality of the liner can also influence how cool you feel.
If you were to choose on just one factor, this would be it. A design that is too constrictive will leave your head aching when your run is over. A design that is too loose could end up chaffing, or, at the very least, tipping to one side. Either way, it is annoying and means that you are not getting optimal protection.
When it comes to headgear, you want reliable protection that is also comfortable. The brands that we have listed above have all made names for themselves with their high-quality product lines. Any of the options above will serve you well.
If we had to choose our favorite, though, it would be the Giro Chronicle. It has features you would normally only find at a higher price point and so offers exceptional value. We hope that this review has helped you to narrow down your choices and that you feel better able to make the right one now.