Buyers Guide to the Best Mountain Bike Helmets

by and 19

Let’s not get into a debate about the merits of wearing them, let’s just get on with recommending 12 of the best mountain bike helmets.

Here’s a video for those that like moving pictures

Our favourite lids

  • Oakley DRT 3 MIPS
  • Smith Engage MIPS
  • Fox Mainframe MIPS
  • Giro Chronicle MIPS
  • Bell Sixer MIPS
  • Endura SIngleTrack II
  • MET Roam MIPS
  • Bontrager Rally MIPS
  • 661 EVO AM MIPS
  • POC Tectal Race MIPS
  • Kali Maya
  • Endura MT500

Which are you going to choose? And how are you going to decide? They can vary widely in price – and with that you may read bewildering lists of ‘features’. Here’s our quick guide to the things we think matter most.

Full face, open face, or removable chin bar – If you’re planning to some pedalling, you’ll probably want an open face helmet (those are the helmets that we’re covering in this guide.

A helmet with removable chin bar gives you the option of a two-in-one helmet, though the protection level on some may not be as high as a fixed full face helmet, and ventilation is often better on a standard open face helmet. Some bike parks and races will require that you have a full face helmet/chin bar.

Don’t be mashing your melon, man.

Protection

More expensive helmets will usually have some form of rotational impact protection. MIPS is one of the most common technologies you will see that does this, but some brands have their own versions.

Best Mountain Bike Helmets

Shape

It needs to fit your head without any uncomfortable pressure points. Different brands can have slightly different shapes to them, so if you’re switching brands you might want to try one on.

Best Mountain Bike Helmets

Fasteners and adjustments

More expensive helmets will generally have a broader range of adjustment across different parts of the head, making it easier to get comfortable. Cheaper models will generally have more basic clips, which may be harder to use with gloved hands.

Best Mountain Bike Helmets

Visors

May be fixed, or may have multiple positions. If you’re going to ride drop bar bikes and mountain bikes you may find an adjustable visor useful, so you can move it out of your line of sight. Some helmets allow you to stow goggles under your visor.

Many helmets will offer additional features, but we think the key ones to consider are those above.

You can browse all our mountain bike helmet reviews here.

12 of the Best Mountain Bike Helmets:

Oakley DRT 3 MIPS

Oakley DRT 3 MIPS

Price: £110.00

Overall: The Oakley DRT3 MIPS helmet’s stability is the clear highlight of the whole product, Oakley’s boasts in this instance are well-founded. As well as the sweat band’s effect, the helmet’s inner cage really closes around the head, giving a stable fit with no wobble.” Read our review.

Smith Engage Review
Smith Engage MIPS

Smith Engage MIPS

Price: £94.99

Overall: “While we’ve not tested the Engage to destruction, we’re happy enough knowing that it has been lab tested etc. It has a MIPS liner that we rate. Fit, performance, cost – we can’t really fault it. It looks great, performs well and is well priced for a MIPS equipped helmet.” Read our review.

Fox Mainframe MIPS

Fox Mainframe MIPS

Price: £79.99

Overall: “This Fox Mainframe helmet keeps things simple: the visor is in a fixed position, the fastening is a standard plastic buckle – no magnets, and it makes no claims for having eyewear or goggles stowage. What is does have is MIPS. So your money is going head (and brain) protection rather than any functional accoutrements.” Read our review.

Endura MT500 review
Endura MT500

Endura MT500

Price: £149.99

Overall: “If you’re after a high-tech helmet that has a subtle Enduro look and offers a good amount of protection then the MT500 is well worth a look. It is a pricey helmet but remember it is your head, brain, and possibly your life that you’re saving in an event of an accident so that extra £ really is well spent.” Read our review.

Kali Maya

Price: £84.99

Overall: “The Maya is a comfortable helmet that should suit many heads, apart from maybe the very smallest ones. The integrated light/camera mount is a neat idea. In general, the Maya provides loads of coverage in a well-made lid that’s packed with clever technology.”

poc tectal
POC Tectal Race MIPS

POC Tectal Race MIPS

Price: £170.00

Overall: “Definitely at the top end of the market but what price do you put on protecting your head? Fit wise, we can’t fault it. The vents do an excellent job of keeping you cool on even the hottest of rides. It looks as cool as hell while there is the designed in reassurance that it comes from a highly respected company”. Read our review.

661 EVO AM MIPS

661 EVO AM MIPS

Price: £129.99

Overall: “Sitting near the very top of 661’s open-face helmet lineup, there is quite a bit of tech going on underneath that shiny, colourful exterior. The Evo AM MIPS ticks a lot of boxes. It’s lightweight, and very comfortable. Neat styling and high-tech features, like the excellent Fidlock buckle and BOA adjuster. A high quality, every-day riding helmet.” Read our review.

Bontrager Rally MIPS

Bontrager Rally MIPS

Price: £99.99

Overall: “The chunky EPS construction and sturdy harness provide added reassurance when riding technical, high-risk trails. Add in the MIPS liner, that clever Blendr mount and the Crash Replacement Guarantee, and the Rally MIPS will have you questioning why anyone would spend any more than 100 quid on a helmet.” Read our review.

MET Roam MIPS

MET Roam MIPS

Price: £150.00

Overall: “The Roam is a really versatile solution for those who don’t just stick to XC or enduro, but like to mix it up a bit. The sort of rider who rides both uphill and downhill, wants optimum safety, and who wears goggles sometimes but don’t want the stuffiness of a full-face lid for a day in the saddle – which is probably most of us.” Read our review.

Endura SingleTrack II

Endura SingleTrack II

Price: £74.99

Overall: “A very comfortable, lightweight and secure helmet. The large vents and clever channels make it great for riding in warmer conditions and the unique accessory mounts do give you some piece of mind when using a helmet camera. Certainly one to put on your short list.” Read our review.

Bell Sixer MIPS

Bell Sixer MIPS

Price: £149.99

Overall: “A top quality helmet that fits well with minimal MIPS-induced wobble, and for the amount of coverage and protection on offer, it is supremely well ventilated. With a well thought-out visor and clever camera and goggle compatibility, it’s well finished too.” Read our review.

Giro Chronicle MIPS

Giro Chronicle MIPS

Price: £99.99

Overall: “The Chronicle sits fairly neutral in terms of both internal fit and external volume. Compact is probably a good way to describe the lid, especially with the inclusion of MIPS technology One of the best mountain bike helmets: comfortable and close-fitting, with excellent coverage. Ticks plenty of boxes.” Read our review.

While you’re here…

Review Info

Brand: N/A
Product: N/A
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Tested: by N/A for
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Viewing 19 posts - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)
  • Buyers Guide to the Best Mountain Bike Helmets
  • Bruce
    Full Member

    Lovely, but I dont want a helmet designed for enduro with a massive peak for wearing with googles.
    I don’t want to ride with a road helmet unless I am on my road bike
    I want a helmet with a sensible peak, good ventilatiion and decent quality.
    I am never going to race or be rad again.
    Any advice?

    fazzini
    Full Member

    Giro Fixture…right up until you said this:

    good ventilatiion

    Sweatiest helmet I’ve owned, but by god its lightweight and fits brilliantly. That plus a Halo headband for less than £50. Job jobbed.

    kelvin
    Full Member

    Any advice?

    Mountain bike helmets now give you much better protection than in the past (if you want it). More of the head being protected, and advancements such as MIPS, aren’t just for “Enduro”, but good for all off road riding. My advice would be to not worry about looking as if you have “all the gear no idea” and embrace the newer better protecting helmets even if you aren’t “RAD” (I’m not).

    I admit I hadn’t watched that video before… it’s really good! Lots of things I hadn’t considered were covered in an easy to consume way. Like it.

    Bruce
    Full Member

    I have Giro Chronicle helmet, its hot and I am constantly catching the peak on things. I don’t wear it often. I mostly wear a Giro Arca I bought from Decathlon. It just works.
    I have been mountain biking since thumbshifters were common and have survived with most of my brain intact. I get that modern helmets may have better protection but I am far from convinced that my riding warrants it.
    If you take that argument to its logical conclusion a motocross helmet will give more protection.

    alanclarke
    Full Member

    Very timely as I’m looking for a new helmet. Last one was IXS trail and don’t think it deserves full marks – I crashed about 20 km/h on a stoney lane, taking it gently as had just turned on lights after sunset – don’t know what happened as I was knocked unconscious. Helmet is scraped on one side so I guess this is where MIPS would help, as must have been a rotational impact. Obviously the helmet saved me from far worse injuries, but losing consciousness is not taken lightly – luckily I seemed to have no lasting damage.
    I’d be interested to know what the test methodology is for MTB helmets and how to chose on basis of protection rather than styling.

    Yak
    Full Member

    Edit – Virginia tech impact test scores do include rotational and regular impact forces.

    Here it is
    https://www.helmet.beam.vt.edu/bicycle-helmet-ratings.html

    alanclarke
    Full Member

    Thanks Yak, my searches took me to same site – actual testing of helmets for relevant impact! – have updated my shortlist a bit!

    Yak
    Full Member

    Yes, I think it’s a reasonable place to start + good fit. I went through the same process as you after a concussion and wanted quantifiable impact reduction, not just style and features.

    Shred
    Full Member

    I ride XC, but that does include some rocky descending, and lots of time in tree lined singletrack. I used to just wear my road bike helmet, but decided a while ago to look at a dedicated MTB helmet. My main requirements are MIPS, not too hot, and a good place to mount an exposure axis as a head torch for winter night riding.

    I got a Bell Sixer MIPS for a few years now, having been very happy with the fit of Bell helmets on the road. I have not been that happy with the overall fit and comfort with this. It seems to put pressure in odd places, and just seems a bit off, not enough that I can’t wear it, but just a bit uncomfortable.
    The other major problem for me is the sunglasses compatibility. I don’t own googles, nor will likely ever ride with them. But the bell interferes with all my different sunglasses that I have tried, making the glass uncomfortable or not sitting quite right.

    All these helmets seem to have a similar design in how low they come down in front of the ear, and where the straps enter the helmet, so all look like they might have a similar issue with glasses. Trying these on is also a problem, as my LBS does not stock a lot of these.

    ads678
    Full Member

    As i’ve got Oakley Jawbreakers, if I can find a reasonable deal, I’ll look at Oakley helmets next as they have been designed to work with their glasses.

    ££££’s though innit….

    Edit: they’re not as pricey as I thought they were actually!

    jimthesaint
    Full Member

    Interesting that you don’t rate any Specialized lids although they are some of the most commonly available (therefore easier to try on) and come out as probably the best brand with regards to safety on the Virginia Tech tests. Also surprised at the omission of Troy Lee lids, always seem to be sold at trail centre bike shops and come out better in safety tests than some of the lids on your list.

    kelvin
    Full Member

    I was trying the Specialised lids on the other day (currently reduced in bike shops) and the fit is lovely. Not sure I can get past the peak/visor though… just look odd and not very useful to me. If you think otherwise, they offer MIPS without the expected price right now. Worth a look.

    stevextc
    Free Member

    I usually work on the premise that the best helmet is the certified one I can afford to replace after a crash.

    LAT
    Full Member

    If you take that argument to its logical conclusion a motocross helmet will give more protection.

    but it wouldn’t be light or well ventilated.

    alanclarke
    Full Member

    Video showed a specialized tactic 4 so presume review of this coming up soon – though I have one coming my way in the post to try on sooner.

    Other one in list above with good safety rating is bontrage but where I looked this was no longer available

    jairaj
    Full Member

    If you take that argument to its logical conclusion a motocross helmet will give more protection.

    Not sure if this was “Internet Science” or real science but I remember a while back when full face helmets started becoming more popular for mountain biking. It was said that a motocross helmet is designed for higher speed impacts than a cycle helmet and so was made to be stiffer and therefor transmitted more force to the human than a cycle helmet when tested at lower impact loads.

    Having the right certification is important; “higher” specification does not always mean better safety.

    zerocool
    Full Member

    The main feature I look for in a helmet is it fitting my big head. That usually narrows it down to about 2 or 3 options across the whole of the biking industry.
    Then I go by colour and which ever look the least like a giant mushroom head.
    Then I’m probably left with one option.

    We need more helmets for us big-heads.
    I can only dream of wearing a buff or headband underneath one.

    zerocool
    Full Member

    Motorbike helmets don’t offer increased protection (they might from something like penetration) as the main function of a helmet is to reduce the energy that actually gets to your brain (think crumple zones, etc in cars) so you actually want a ‘softer’ helmet which is made using different types of foam. A motorcycle helmet is designed to pass a completely different test at much higher speeds.

    The SNELL test that people used to see as the motorcycle benchmark was/is actually producing helmets that were too stiff and thus not reducing the energy to your head.

    There’s some good reading about it online although I haven’t seen anything recently.

    TLDR – New helmets are supposed to reduced the energy transferred to your brain.

    Old helmets and motorcycle helmets were designed to be harder to stop injury to your skull.

    b33k34
    Full Member

    I was trying the Specialised lids on the other day (currently reduced in bike shops) and the fit is lovely

    Go for it then. Not everyones head is the same shape – spec lids fit K really well but I found the one I had really uncomfortable (in a similar way to the Endura I tried). Giro fit me like a glove however.

Viewing 19 posts - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)

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