Although inexperienced riders might not think too much about the issue, the matter of protective gear should never be taken lightly when mountain biking. While this is true for most sports, with mountain biking you need an extra bit of protection and reliability.
Given the nature of the sport itself, you don’t want to be left stranded in a remote area with a head injury, all because you tried saving up some cash on proper protection. With this in mind, let us point out that quality mountain bike helmets aren’t exactly cheap. That said, let’s find out what are the ten best mountain bike helmets the market has to offer right now.
Best Mountain Bike Helmet – Reviews
10POC Trabec Bike Helmet
This is a customizable and ideally fitting helmet that features a MIPS liner to boost safety. It comes with easily adjustable straps and a flexible fit for comfort and proper fit, and while it is neither the best ventilated nor lightest of its brand, it works well to maintain your head adequately cooled. At the same time, it also includes a visor that protects your eyes from the sun, a nice feature to have.
9Kask Rex MTB Helmet
Kask Rex MTB is an excellent helmet designed for enduro and trail riding since it has adequate protection both on the sides and the back of the head. Additionally, it includes a ratchet (at the end of its retainer) which allows easy adjustability not to mention a large-sized visor for protection against the rain or sun. Its standout feature, however, is its integrated mount for cameras or lights eradicating the need for cable ties.
8Smith Optics Forefront
Smith Forefront is a lightweight helmet designed to guarantee exceptional protection. Unlike standard helmets, it shuns from using expanded polystyrene and makes use of Koroyd for its main body. This helmet features a honeycomb structure that is not only light but can efficiently absorb impacts. The helmet includes a MIPS liner which boosts overall protection and is compatible with both its goggles and glasses. Furthermore, although it is well-made for mild climates, it, unfortunately, features 21 vents only which means that it warms up during hot weather, not to mention its honeycomb design that allows heat to escape during cold days.
7Fox Flux MB Helmet
Fox Flux MB is a versatile and affordable helmet-Versatile since it works well in numerous riding styles. Besides proper ventilation, it effectively protects both the back and sides of our head making it an ideal choice if you love rail riding or occasionally participate in enduro races or occasional XC. Although it has an adjustable visor that easily snaps off during crashes, it has a hard outer shell covering and therefore does not suffer from significant cosmetic damage compared to other helmets.
6Giro Montaro MIPS Helmet
Montara MIPS is a stylish helmet that boasts advanced protection. It includes a polycarbonate shell and MIPS liner which combine to ensure you remain safe. The helmet features six large vents that efficiently channel air over your head, an adjustable visor that can be pushed to facilitate wearing of goggles and strap grippers positioned at it back. While there are cheaper options, none is offered at the price of Montara and considering it integrates well with camera mounts; this is truly among the best helmet choices out there.
5Giro Switchblade MIPS MTB Helmet
The Giro Switchblade full-face helmet is one designed to suit downhill racers, or those participating in big drops, jumps, and risks. It offers protection for the entire head with its front-placed chin bar ensuring your face is ever safe. It features an adjustable visor that is adjustable and as such can allow the wearing of goggles not to mention a MIPS liner for added safety. And although it is expensive, it offers unmatched protection for risk-taking riders.
4Bell Adult Event XC
This is a well-ventilated and exceptionally light helmet for either long rides or XC racing. Although it includes a MIPS liner for added protection, it has a limited cover on its sides and back rendering it unsuitable for technical riding and also has a visor that is non-adjustable. Nonetheless, Bell includes a Twin Access Gear System that facilitates the tightening and smooth movement of the retention down and up.
3Fox Proframe Moth Mountain Bike Helmet
Full protection is essential for extreme enduro participants and big mountain riders and the Fox Proframe helmet guarantee precisely that. It is a lightweight full-face helmet featuring big chin bar vents for proper air circulation around your mouth and 24 vents that keep you fresh. What’s more, it includes a visor, a MIPS liner for boosted protection and is comfortable to wear for long enduro races and ride.
2Giro Phase Helmet
This particular helmet from Giro Phase is an affordable and well-ventilated helmet for everyday all-day comfort. It features a low-profile styling similar to that of a typical XC helmet complemented by a protective visor not to forget rear and side protection. Moreover, this lightweight helmet is not only characterized by a durable construction, but it also includes 27 vents that ensure your head remains cool. What’s more, Phase includes their signature Acu-Dial system which eases adjustment and micro-adjustments along its trail.
1Bell Super 2 Helmet
This is more or less the definition of a super helmet. Other than its large vents that ensure you remain cool at all times during your ride, it also has an adjustable visor to protect against the sun and a detachable chin guard which allows conversion from an open face to a full face helmet. Its open format facilitates protection towards the side and back of your head, and in case of a crash; the chin guard design allows it to break away on impact. Last but not least, it also includes an integrated mount for cameras and lights.
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Choosing A Mountain Bike Helmet
Safety should be paramount when it comes to extreme sports, even if you’re only interested in mountain biking as a casual activity. Given the nature of the sport, you should always invest in quality gear to protect yourself. To differentiate between models, you should keep in mind that not all these helmets are built to the same standards, with some being definitely tougher than others, both in terms of impact resistance and durability.
When it comes to mountain bike helmets, there are certain standards that have to be met. The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), for starters, has some pretty well-defined regulations regarding the requirements each protective helmet should meet. As such, helmets have to pass the CPSC test before being issued a CPSC label, which will then serve as a guarantee of the helmet’s quality.
It is important for bike helmets to be not only tough but comfortable to wear as well. In this regard, many helmets incorporate a MIPS technology which involves a thin, protective layer of material to absorb shock in place of your head. When an impact occurs, helmets with MIPS will prevent concussions and brain damage by absorbing the impact without causing any long-term damage to the helmet itself.
Differences between brands
One thing to remember is that different brands build different helmets. Although not different in the sense that they look unlike one another, they do tend to ‘feel’ different and to also provide different levels of protection. Like we said, most helmets are required to pass certain tests before being allowed on the market, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they can all be expected to provide the same protection. While some manufacturers focus solely on protection, some also balance it out with a good ventilation and reasonable amount of comfort.
Type of helmet
When it comes to helmet types, a mountain bike helmet can be one of two categories – full face or half-shell. Most of the time, full face helmets are used for downhill mountain biking because they provide a much stricter protection of the face, head, and neck. Half-shelled helmets, on the other hand, are designed in the same fashion as traditional helmets, meaning that they cradle the head and provide extra protection on the sides and back. These helmets are also generally equipped with visors to keep the rain, mud, or dirt away from the rider.
Mountain bike helmets can range from XS to XL and can have different size charts depending on the manufacturer. You should also keep in mind that some helmets are designed for women in particular, which involves a whole different sizing criteria. Furthermore, you must also keep in mind that your head might be differently shaped than the standard head a specific manufacturer builds their helmets for, which is why you should test a helmet you plan on buying to ensure a perfect fit.
Speaking of helmets that fit, try your best to get a helmet that comes equipped with straps and pads for added comfort and stability. In this respect, you want a helmet that straps on tight enough to provide a good fit, yet loose enough to be comfortable. What you want is to have about a finger width between your chin and the strap to make sure that you’re getting the right amount of tightness while still being comfortable to wear. On a related note, make sure that the pads are soft and comfortable; you do this by ensuring that they don’t dig into your temples when putting the helmet on.
It is imperative for a mountain biking helmet to be properly ventilated at all times. Seeing how you’ll heat up when riding your bike for long periods of time, you want a helmet that provides you with an adequate cooling while still being protective and comfortable to wear. Interestingly enough, it is half-shelled helmets that provide the best ventilation, even the inexpensive, low-end models.
Although not that common, some helmets will also be equipped with inbuilt additions that allow you to attach GoPro cameras, lights, or other gadgets to them. For the most part, these additions don’t necessarily add too much weight overall, although they might get in the way if they’re too big. For instance, some helmets are equipped with removable chin bars, straps, and even extra padding that you can attach or remove at will.