Bike helmets are a cycling essential. But deciding which are the best adult bike helmets can be a bit daunting … especially when considering factors such as protection, comfort and ventilation. No one wants a helmet without the safety features needed for a crash, or one that’s going to feel like a chore to wear or cause you to sweat more than you should. Realizing that, manufacturers have come a long way in the pursuit of perfecting cycling gear.
Even though cycling has been popular since the 1890s and even inspired the betterment of roadways, the first bike helmet wasn’t commercially produced until 1975! Wait, what? The surprising truth is that back in the 1890s, it was cyclists who first advocated for cities to pave streets and build new roads. But head injuries spurred the invention of helmets since crash-related brain trauma was the main cause of death when it came to cycling.
While the history of cycling may have started with injuries, we’ve learned that there are serious benefits to jumping on the bike. A study by two former Olympic athletes at Leeds University suggested that cycling to work on a daily basis may lower one’s risk of suffering a heart attack. And that’s not all … According to the British Government, active commuting like cycling may help mitigate problems, such as climate change, traffic congestion and air pollution levels.
But not all bike helmets are created equal. Researchers have criticized 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. Meaning, the helmets will help a rider 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. So, researchers in Sweden decided to test helmets differently. They designed a new analysis method to address this gap by combining experimental oblique impacts with a highly detailed computational model of the human brain.
When recommending the best adult bike helmets, experts look at all the safety features, as well as comfort and fit. Whether you are biking to work or mountain biking, this list of helmet recommendations has you covered (literally). Keep reading to learn more about what makes these picks stand out from the competition. We hope this compilation of the best adult bike helmets helps you feel safe on your next ride! If you love the one you use, let us know in the comments below!
The List: Best Adult Bike Helmets, According To Experts
1. Giro Aether MIPS
Hitting the open road? Cycling Weekly suggests this helmet: “An absolute favourite road bike helmet for us is the Giro Aether MIPS. On test we called it a game-changer of a road bike helmet due to its unrivalled all-around performance. During the review period, we found this helmet to be exceptional in its ventilation ability and at the cutting edge for safety features. The Aether features the gold standard MIPS Spherical technology, which sits between the two shells to make the added safety feature a really comfortable option.”
“The real gold in this helmet is the proprietary MIPS system. Instead of the sliding layer inside the helmet, the shell and outer layer can move independently, thus getting rid of the sometimes annoying plastic liner from the traditional MIPS system and providing, according to Giro, even more protection from impacts. The updated Roc Loc 5+ Air retention system is minimalist and easy to adjust, making the helmet feel as good as it looks,” Bicycling.com says.
Forbes calls this the best luxury helmet for road cyclists and writes, “The six-piece polycarbonate shell has wide air vents in between, plus deep channels inside to maximize airflow, so don’t let the number of vents fool you—this helmet may not have as many vents as other styles but the quality of the ventilation is as good as it gets.”
2. Giro Register MIPS
Tom’s Guide thinks even helmet-haters will love this pick: “If you hate wearing a helmet, the Giro Register MIPS may be the best bike helmet for you. It was one of the lightest helmets we tested, and we found it was extremely comfortable, so much so that usually when stopping the first thing we do is remove our helmet, but the Giro Register MIPS was so light we forgot we were wearing it while shopping for groceries at a local farm stand.”
And Forbes says it’s a favorite for them as well as customers: “Even though this helmet comes in universal sizes, it has a fine-tuning fit system that’s similar to other Giro helmets that have higher price tags. It’s also a customer favorite, with more than 500 reviewers giving it an average 4.6-star rating. The Register has a polycarbonate shell, in-mold construction and MIPS technology, along with quick-dry padding and reflective strips that improve visibility in low-light situations.”
The Strategist thinks this choice is the best for universal sizing: “While all of our experts stressed that it’s best to buy helmets in person in order to find the right sizing, we think this one is particularly suited to online shoppers.”
3. Smith Persist
REI recommends this helmet to protect your lid on the road: “The Smith Persist hits all the roadie highlights in a light, well-ventilated package. Comfort matters when you’re laying down the hammer, and reviewers rave about the Persist’s adjustability, soft lining and AirEvac system, which pulls hot air away from your brow when you’re working hard, as well as the brand’s trademark system that allows you to customize the fit to your head.”
“Reasonably priced for a higher-quality helmet, the Smith Persist provides a touch of urban style and loads of protection. The road-centric lid includes Smith’s adjustable VaporFit system, which works to provide a near-custom fit via an easy-to-operate dial that adjusts the band around 270 degrees of your head; it’s simple to get a snug-but-not-tight fit. A cache of 21 vents work to channel air to keep you cool. It also boasts the highest-level of protection on the market with its MIPS Brain Protection System, which reduces rotational forces from angled impacts,” Travel+Leisure claims.
4. Bontrager Starvos WaveCel
The Strategist recommends this helmet for road biking: “Blending form and function at a mid-range price point, this helmet for road biking is sleek enough to suit urban riders, being light in weight and well ventilated yet incorporating a flattering, slightly rounded silhouette. It’s available in five sizes, from youth to XL, with the brand providing clear guidance about how to measure your head and find the best fit. Safety-wise, the Starvos received a rare five-star rating from Virginia Tech.”
“The Bontrager Starvos WaveCel gets top marks for its impact absorption and ease of use, and earns a respectable rating for ventilation. Like its name suggests, it features WaveCel technology, which is meant to reduce the effects of rotational impact. It also comes in five sizes, and has reflective features, so you can still see it in low light. There’s a crash replacement program in case you damage your helmet in an accident within the first year of ownership,” Consumer Reports says.
5. Giro Manifest Spherical Helmet
And if you’re heading to the trails, GearJunkie says to check out this helmet: “If your rides pull you off the beaten path, it’s worth investing in more protection. Shell materials drop a little lower, protecting more of your head. Our favorite mountain bike helmet this year comes from Giro. We fell in love with the fit, feel, and overall protection of its recently released Manifest.”
“It’s been our primary lid for the past season, and we have yet to identify a true weakness. The open and wide interior fits great, offers excellent all-around coverage, and has a just-right amount of padding. And safety is a real hallmark of the design: Featuring Giro’s innovative Spherical Technology (developed alongside MIPS), the shell is essentially made up of two pieces, which allows the top portion of the shell to move independently of the lower in a crash (minimizing rotational forces on the brain). Taken together, we think the Manifest is the best trail helmet available in 2023,” Switch Back Travel raves.
If you’ve got another recommendation, feel free to let us know in the comments below! Also, make sure to tell us about your favorite place to cycle.
You may also be interested in:
- Cycling Weekly
- Tom’s Guide
- The Strategist
- Consumer Reports
- Switch Back Travel
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 post may contain affiliate links.