couple biking

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A helmet is an essential safety device for any number of activities, but especially when riding a bike, where a fall can lead to a hit on the head. Wearing a helmet drastically reduces your risk of injury in a fall. So, whether you’re trekking through the mountains or traversing a city, there is a bike helmet that can fit your needs and style. We at StudyFinds are doing the digging to find the seven best adult bike helmets to protect your noggin. When recommending the best adult bike helmets, experts look at all the safety features, as well as comfort and fit. 

But not all bike helmets are created equal. In a new study, researchers criticize the standard safety test, which states helmets must withstand an impact equivalent to an average-weight rider traveling at a speed of 12 miles per hour falling onto a curb. That means helmets will help riders if they topple over as they approach a set of traffic lights, but cannot protect them from being clipped by a passing vehicle at a typical driving speed. Whether biking to work or scaling mountains, this list of the seven best bike helmet recommendations has you covered (literally). We at StudyFinds searched the web and found 10 experts to learn more about what makes these picks stand out from the competition. If you love the one you use, let us know in the comments below!

The List: Best Bike Helmets for Adults, Ranked for Safety

1. Specialized Align II

Align II (specialized.com)

Here’s why budget-conscious cyclists should take note: most cheap helmets are one-size-fits-all nightmares, often relying on stretchy straps instead of a secure dial system. The Align II breaks the mold by offering three distinct sizes and an adjustable fit system that comfortably wraps around your entire head, adds the NY Times. So, what makes the Align II truly stand out? It’s the combination of budget-friendly pricing with features usually reserved for higher-end helmets. Multiple size options, a secure and adjustable fit system – all for a price that won’t make you wince.

MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, and it’s a fancy way of saying the Align II offers an extra layer of safety during a crash, says Bike Radar. Here’s how it works: MIPS uses a special internal liner that can slide slightly upon impact, potentially reducing rotational forces transmitted to your brain. 

This helmet keeps your head cool on hot rides with plenty of ventilation, and comes in various bright colors to help you stand out in traffic (coral is a popular choice!), shares NY Mag. Here’s the kicker: the Align II is a certified winner! It boasts approval from the Snell Foundation, a recommendation by Consumer Reports, and a whopping five stars from Virginia Tech’s testing program. That makes it the most thoroughly tested helmet on the market, all at a price tag that won’t break the bank.

2. Specialized S-Works Prevail 3

S-Works Prevail 3 (specialized.com)

Specialized isn’t known for messing around – their motto is “bike perfection,” and the Prevail 3 reflects that commitment. It’s the most high-tech helmet, boasting a construction that balances rigidity and lightness thanks to a carbon and aramid fiber layer, says Tom’s Guide. But this helmet takes things a step further with its innovative ANGi system. This fancy name stands for “angular and g-force indicator,” and it basically means the helmet can detect a fall. If it senses a tumble, ANGi triggers a countdown on your connected smartphone through the Specialized Ride app.

The helmet uses MIPS Air Node technology, integrated directly into the Prevail 3’s padding. This keeps those vents nice and open for maximum airflow. Speaking of padding, they’ve also trimmed it down to shed some weight and (you guessed it) improve breathability, writes Bike Radar. But the Prevail 3 doesn’t stop there. The new “adjustable tri-fix web splitter” strap keeps excess strap material in check, eliminating annoying flapping in the wind.

So, what makes the Prevail 3 such a breath of fresh air (literally)? Specialized ditched the traditional foam bridges found in most helmets. Instead, they use a new “Air Cage” design that features five massive vents, states Bicycling. This creates a helmet that feels practically invisible on your head – perfect for those hot summer rides where every bit of airflow counts. Bicycling isn’t the only one impressed. The helmet’s design makes it feel nearly helmet-free, keeping your head cool and comfortable even on the most challenging climbs.

3. Giro Register MIPS

Giro Register MIPS Cycling Helmet

Experts love the Giro Register MIPS as a budget-friendly, lightweight option for entry-level road cyclists. The helmet boasts excellent airflow thanks to its well-designed vents, states NY Mag. An unexpected bonus? The mini-visor makes it surprisingly handy for venturing off-road on some light dirt biking adventures. The Register MIPS caters to both budget-conscious shoppers and those who appreciate a simple, no-fuss approach.

Testers couldn’t stop raving about how incredibly light the Register MIPS is. They even joked about forgetting they were wearing it while grabbing groceries – that’s how comfortable it is, says Tom’s Guide. So, if you’re a cyclist who prioritizes a barely-there feel without sacrificing safety, the Giro Register MIPS deserves a spot on your shortlist.

Unlike most helmets that come in various sizes, the Register MIPS offers a one-size-fits-most approach. The helmet uses a dial-fit system at the back that allows for extensive adjustments to achieve a secure and comfortable fit for most head shapes and sizes, shares Good Housekeeping. This is a major perk, especially when compared to traditional sized helmets that might require multiple tries to find the perfect fit. The Register MIPS boasts over 3,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, with many praising the convenience and ease of the universal fit system.

4. Specialized Echelon II

Echelon II (specialized.com)

The Echelon helmet is a great option for cyclists who take their rides seriously. Ample ventilation keeps your head cool and comfortable no matter the intensity of your ride, whether you’re cruising to work or conquering challenging routes, says NY Mag. But ventilation isn’t the only perk. The Echelon also boasts a “static yoke below the ear.” This might sound technical, but it basically means the straps won’t tangle when you hang your helmet on your handlebars. The yoke keeps the straps secure, eliminating the pre-ride fumble and saving you precious time.

The Echelon II is the latest version of a Specialized classic. It’s been a popular choice for years, and for good reason. While technically labeled as a road helmet (meaning it doesn’t have a visor), it’s perfectly suited for tackling some light trails as well, says Bicycling. Looking for features? The Echelon II borrows some tech from its pricier cousin, the Prevail II. One of these perks is the “HairPort fit system.” This fancy term basically means the helmet is designed to accommodate various hairstyles comfortably, so you can hit the road (or trail) without helmet hair woes.

5. Thousand Chapter

Thousand Chapter MIPS Adult Bike Helmet

Looking for a helmet that shields you from the elements without feeling bulky? The Thousand Chapter uses a thick foam layer to provide extra defense against dust, dirt, and other debris you might encounter on your rides, explains Tom’s Guide. Despite this focus on protection, Tom’s Guide emphasizes that the Thousand Chapter remains lightweight, comparable to other helmets on the market. Comfort is also a priority, with the helmet offering a generally comfortable fit. Testers even acknowledged that the fit is good, although a slight increase in forehead padding could take comfort to the next level.

Forget hiding your helmet under a lock – the Thousand Chapter is a head-turner that combines safety with serious style. It is perfect for laid-back rides – it’s lightweight and complements vintage road bikes or beach cruisers beautifully, adds NY Mag. But style isn’t all this helmet has going for it. Targeted toward fashion-forward daily riders, the Thousand Chapter boasts innovative features like vegan-friendly straps and a user-friendly magnetic clasp that eliminates pinching.

This model boasts a built-in 30-lumen LED taillight, keeping you visible on the road even in low-light conditions. The best part? It charges conveniently via USB, states Good Housekeeping. But wait, there’s more! Hidden functionality meets security with the Thousand Chapter’s clever pop-lock system. A hidden hatch on the side of the helmet allows you to thread your lock through, securing your helmet to your bike with ease. The Chapter model features MIPS technology for added impact protection, although it’s not available on the more budget-friendly Heritage version.

6. Bern Hudson Commuter

Bern, Hudson Commuter Helmet with MIPS

Not a fan of the traditional, aerodynamic bike helmet look? Check out the Bern Hudson Commuter – a helmet designed with the everyday rider in mind. Sure, it might not be the most streamlined option for speed demons, but what the Hudson Commuter lacks in aerodynamics it makes up for in versatility, raves Popular Mechanics. This helmet is perfect for commuters who prioritize practicality and functionality for their daily rides.

Staying visible is crucial, especially on the road. The Hudson Commuter features a built-in rear LED light with various settings – steady, flash, and pulse – to alert drivers of your presence, offers Good Housekeeping. It’s easily rechargeable via USB and lasts for up to 10 hours on a single charge. This helmet is also certified for speeds up to 27 mph, making it a perfect match for e-bikes that can reach higher speeds than traditional bicycles. The removable visor shields your eyes from the sun, while the 13 vents keep you cool and comfortable even on hot days.

The Hudson Commuter earns top marks for impact absorption. This means peace of mind knowing you’re well-protected in case of a fall. Another perk? Ease of use and fit adjustment. Its user-friendly design and comfortable fit – a major plus for cyclists who value a hassle-free helmet experience, Consumer Reports adds. However, ventilation isn’t the Hudson Commuter’s strongest suit. While it gets a passing grade, Consumer Reports suggests there’s room for improvement in this area. This might be a factor to consider if you tend to overheat on rides, especially in hotter climates.

7. Giro Aries Spherical

Giro Aries Spherical Bike Helmet

Serious cyclists deserve serious helmets. Enter Giro, a brand known for high-end options that deliver both excellent aerodynamics and top-notch protection. Popular Mechanics sings the praises of these helmets, particularly for their impressive ventilation and performance. They especially love Giro’s proprietary MIPS system. These helmets are also known for their minimal, lightweight designs that prioritize a comfortable, streamlined fit – perfect for riders who want to focus on speed without sacrificing comfort.

Instead of putting the MIPS liner inside, Giro uses the Spherical design. This allows two parts of the helmet to move against each other with no possibility of interrupting airflow, adds Cycling News. Then, as a final nod to cooling, there is extensive internal channeling to get the air right where it’s needed. Everything combined, Giro claims that compared to the previous Giro Aether MIPS, the Aries ups cooling efficiency by 2.3 percent. That’s on top of four percent less aerodynamic drag plus a Virginia Tech STAR value score of 8.40 making it the top-ranked helmet tested in 2023.

The Aries takes MIPS technology to a new level with its unique ball-and-socket design. This sleeker, integrated approach adds protection without compromising comfort or airflow, raves NY Times. The adjustable chin straps and low-profile buckle create a barely-there feel, making you forget you’re even wearing a helmet. It also incorporates a reflective triangle on the back, boosting your visibility on the road. All this innovation comes at a cost. The Aries carries a hefty price tag, and only offers the limited crash-replacement policy.

Sources:

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

About Janelle Davis

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1 Comment

  1. Ben says:

    Would be great to have pictures of each helmet discussed showing the inside and outer shell.