With the new year here, many of you are probably making resolutions of some sort. For a lot of you, these resolutions might be something like ride more miles per week or get out on the bike more than last year.
Both of these are great resolutions and are certainly worth pursuing! One thing that people overlook is bike helmets.
Bike helmets have a lifespan, and after even one single crash are not as safe as they were when they were new. Even if you have not had any bad crashes recently (thankfully!) your helmet might be nearing the end of its life and should also be replaced.
As time goes on the foam that the helmet is constructed out of to protect your head from impacts can degrade and offer less protection. It is for this reason that we recommend you consider purchasing a new helmet this season.
When you crash your mountain bike, your helmet is the only thing that is protecting your head and your brain from the ground. One bad concussion can cause a person to have memory-loss, among other problems that are irreparable.
Obviously, we all want to get out on our bikes as much as possible and have fun, so keeping yourself safe and protecting your head from any injuries is a very important aspect to consider before going out on a ride.
In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the best mountain bike helmets that are on the market today.
These are going to be an investment, but it is a seriously small investment when you think of the protection, they provide you.
If cost is an issue, consider this- if you go out to eat once per week, and it costs you $20, if you went out three times per month instead of four, you could have one of these top-tier helmets completely paid for in a handful of months.
That’s a small sacrifice to make to protect the most important part of your body and allow you to keep having fun on and off the trail.
Top 5 Best Rated MTB Helmets
What we will do first is take a look at some of the best mountain bike helmets out there for a variety of off-road disciplines, and then we will dive into some details about what makes a good helmet good, and what makes a great helmet even better. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Smith Forefront 2 MIPS Helmet
The first helmet we are going to recommend is the Smith Forefront 2 MIPS Helmet. It sells for $200 give or take a little bit and is available from REI by following this link.
This helmet is a full-coverage helmet, so its profile is going to be in between a half-shell and a full-face helmet. This is pretty popular among mountain bikers because it offers more coverage but without the weight of a full-face helmet.
It has 20 vents throughout the helmet, some of which can be opened and closed to customize the amount of airflow you are getting when wearing it, which is great if you will be riding in a variety of conditions and seasons.
The helmet also features a visor that can be set in three different positions so you can get just the right amount of sun protection.
Another sweet feature that it offers is an integrated action camera and light mounts. It weighs 12 ounces and comes in a variety of colors.
The second helmet that we are going to recommend is POC Tectal. It can be found on Amazon by following this link.
This helmet, like the Smith Forefront 2, is a full-coverage helmet. It was designed with aggressive trail riding in mind, so you know it can stand up to the abuse that mountain biking dishes out to the riders. It weighs a little bit less than the Smith, coming ion at 11.8 ounces.
POC tested and further refined this helmet in an air tunnel for maximum aerodynamics and also maximum ventilation. It has quite a few large vents to really get air flowing through the helmet and over your head.
One thing that POC really does well is to make helmets that not only are safe but look stylish on the bike as well. This is one of the better-looking mountain bike helmets out there, so if you are the type of rider that likes to look good when they are on the bike this helmet should be on your shortlist!
Troy Lee Designs Stage MIPS Helmet
If you are a more aggressive rider, or do endure or downhill riding, then the Troy Lee Designs Stage MIPS Helmet should be one that you take a look at.
It is a little pricy, selling for $220-$300 depending on the size and color you are looking to purchase, but offers an excellent amount of protection for the money. You can check it out at REI’s website by clicking this link.
This helmet weighs only 24 ounces, which for a full0-face helmet is very light. On longer rides a heavy helmet can really be a drain, so you will be quite happy that this Troy Lee Designs helmet is so light.
This helmet also has 11 air intake ports and 14 exhaust ports to provide superior ventilation and keep you cool while you shred the mountain in style.
It can be challenging to get a proper fit on a full-face helmet without trying on loads of different models, so the manufacturer includes 2 liners, 3 different sets of cheek pads, and 2 neck rolls allowing the customer to achieve a perfect fit that is comfortable for using all day long.
POC Octal X SPIN Helmet
If you find yourself riding more cross-country routes or want a helmet that can pull double duty on the cyclocross bike as well, then you should take a look at the POC Octal X SPIN Helmet. It sells for around $275 on REI’s website and can be found here.
This helmet is a half-shell helmet, which is common in the less-aggressive forms of mountain biking. POC has incorporated its SPIN technology in this lid, which is similar to MIPS in that its goal is to limit the rotational impact for the wearer.
It also has an embedded RECCO reflector, which will enhance the radio signal response from search and rescue teams in the event that you are involved in a really bad crash. This is a nice piece of mind for people who like to go on long treks or do a lot of solo riding.
It is also a very light helmet, weighing in at 10 ounces for the size Medium. With plenty of airflows thanks to the large vents found throughout the helmet you can be sure that it will keep you cool on even the hottest rides of the year.
Fox Flux Helmet (Best Cheap MTB Helmet)
We would not recommend skimping on a helmet, one of the most important pieces of safety gear you can own, but if you are looking for something a little more affordable then we would recommend the Fox Flux Helmet.
It can be found on Amazon by clicking this link.
One of the things we really like about this helmet, especially for the price, is the large amount of ventilation that it has. The Flux features 14 huge vents to make sure that you stay cool on your rides.
It features an internal cage for additional strength and impact-absorption and has a nice retention dial at the back of the helmet making it easy to get a customized fit.
This helmet doesn’t have all of the features that the more expensive helmets we mentioned previously do, but it is a very nice helmet for the price, and that is why we feel confident recommending it to riders who don’t want to drop that much coin on a fancier helmet.
What You Should Look For In Your Next MTB Helmet
Now that we have talked about some of the best helmets out there right now, let’s talk about the features that these helmets offer that really makes them stand out from the rest, and why you should be looking for these features in your next helmet purchase.
One key feature that is important in any helmet is ventilation. This is what is going to keep you from overheating and allow you to stay on the trail longer. A lot of body heat escapes from your head, that is why in the winter people are always wearing hats.
Unlike in the colder months of the year where you are focused on keeping that body heat in, in the summertime, we want to make sure that we have an outlet for that heat to go.
A good helmet is going to be ripe with ventilation channels for maximum airflow over your head. This aids the evaporative cooling effect that your sweat has on the body and helps you from feeling bogged down from the heat.
Look for a helmet that has long air channels to make sure you are getting maximum airflow through the helmet and across your head.
MIPS is a technology that you will find in some helmets. MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection. Basically, what MIPS means is that the helmet is designed to reduce rotational forces in the event of a crash which will protect your neck and your head.
When you have a crash, you can have linear forces acting upon your body (hitting the ground straight on), and rotational forces (twisting, tumbling, etc.).
All helmets are good at providing protection from linear forces, but MIPS helmets provide additional protection from the rotational forces which have been shown to contribute to devastating and debilitating brain damage.
Not all helmets have MIPS technology, but just because they don’t do mean that they are not a good helmet. MIPS technology is still relatively new, and so not all manufacturers have incorporated it into their designs yet.
One company that has really charged forward incorporating MIPS into their helmets is Giro, and you can see that they have a lot of helmets featuring MIPS for cyclists as well as skiers.
A good helmet is going to offer a fair amount of adjustability for you to dial-in the fit of the helmet on your head. In order to provide the maximum amount of protection, the helmet should fit snuggly, and should not wiggle around when you shake your head from side to side.
By incorporating different adjustments such as strap length, and a way to cinch the helmet up in the back to make it fit snugger, you can be sure that you have a safe and secure fit for maximum protection in the event of a crash.
Well, after reading this article we hope that you now better understand the features you should be looking for in a helmet, and why they are so important.
Keep your rides safe and fun by making sure that you have a good helmet that will help protect your head if you crash so that you can continue riding and doing what you love.
With all the options out there, it can be challenging to sift through the competition and find a quality helmet that is going to fit well, look good, and keep you safe.
We hope that the options we gave you today were a good start and have given you some helmets to read a little more about and determine if they are for you.
Both the retailers mentioned in this article- Amazon and REI- offer excellent return policies, so you can buy with confidence knowing that if it doesn’t work out, they will make it easy for you to find something that will. Until next time has fun, ride hard, and keep the shiny side up!
Jake V is an avid cyclist from Wisconsin. Over the last 12 years, he has explored the worlds of road biking, mountain biking, cyclocross, and urban riding. He currently has too many bikes (if that is even possible), but his favorite would be his Colnago EPS or Cinelli Tutto, depending on what kind of riding is in store for him that day. When he is not riding bikes, he likes to go sailing, skiing, and enjoy a few craft beers.