Dorothy Castillo / Pexels
Dorothy Castillo / Pexels
Dorothy Castillo / Pexels
By Justine Harrington, OnRamp
Bike helmets: you know you have to wear one to stay safe while riding your bike. When it comes to getting a bike helmet – or perhaps multiple helmets for you and your family – it's better late than never. In some states, helmets are the law, and you could be fined without one. Which type of helmet should you get? How do you choose the best safety features with the coolest design? Well, we have the answers. Read on and you'll find the best bike helmets on the market today.
Best Overall: With more cranial surface protection, an anti-theft device, and a built-in Dial Fit system, Thousand takes our top honor.
The Thousand Anti-Theft bike helmet has so many cool-yet-functional features that we had to choose it. The design borrows from the classic Polo helmet, with just a touch of WWI infantry helmet. The result is a helmet that provides optimal cover over the forehead, ears, side, and back of the head. With an integrated Dial Fit system, you can loosen or tighten the helmet with every ride to get the perfect fit. Better still, the helmet is built with a secret “pop lock” behind the logo that you can slip through with a U-Lock or chain, securing your helmet to your locked bicycle. The system is so secure, Thousand guarantees it against theft.
Best Multi-Purpose Helmet: Triple Eight delivers a sleek and durable helmet that’s safety-certified for both skateboarding and bike riding.
If you’re a skateboarder who also enjoys biking, scooters, or BMX, this is the helmet you’ve been waiting for. The Triple Eight complies with ASTM F-1492 Skate Safety Standards as well as United States CPSC Standards for Bicycle Helmets for persons aged five and older. It’s easy to see why with the ABS shell and EPS foam liner that absorbs impacts and collisions. With six different sizes available, and a moisture-absorbing sweat-saver fit pad to help customize the fit, the Triple Eight offers a strong but comfortable grip no matter what tricks you have up your sleeve.
Best Racing Helmet: From the first name in professional bike helmets, the Bell Z20 MIPS provides safety for racers and hardcore street cyclists.
Long-distance riders, professional cyclists, and bike racers alike have come to trust the Bell brand for safety, reliability, and high-tech innovation. One look at the Z20 MIPS and it’s easy to see why. The Multi-Directional Impact Protection System protects riders from the rotational forces that result from certain kinds of impacts. The progressive-layer construction and fusion in-mold polycarbonate shell (a design created by the Bell Company) are designed to transfer impact energy away from the skull. In addition, Bell adds a sweat guide pad to wick away sweat and moisture from the brow and your eyewear. And that’s just the beginning of the list of high-tech features for this amazing helmet.
Best Value: Providing protection, ventilation, comfort and an affordable price, the Retrospec CM-1 is great for budget-conscious riders.
Urban bike riders and Sunday beach cruisers want a simple, everyday helmet that won’t break the bank. The Retrospec CM-1 checks all the boxes, all while meeting CPSC and FTM safety standards. Modeled after the classic skateboard helmet design, the CM-1 features two sets of interchangeable pads that provide a customized fit for all sizes. Eight vents strategically placed around the helmet provide optimal comfort and ventilation, while the chin straps adjust easily and provide additional comfort and stability.
Best Kids Helmet: With an adjustable harness and wheel ratchet made specifically for kids, the Lerujifl provides the best protection for children.
Sure, it’s cute to have your kids in a My Little Pony helmet, or one of those mohawk things that make them look like a junior bike club member, but are those really providing the protection your child needs? Maybe not. That’s why we recommend this helmet from Lerujifl. With ultra-soft straps that adjust securely to your child’s chin and a patented interior dial-adjustment system, the helmet won’t slip around when the going gets tough. And with a heavy-duty shell that’s not made from cheap polycarbonate like other kiddie helmets, you can breathe a little easier as you teach your kids to ride a bike.
Certified safety standards apply to age 5+
I’ve had this bike helmet for the past ten years and it still looks great. How long should I keep it before I replace it?
There are two rules of thumb when it comes to replacing your bike helmet. First, always replace your helmet following a crash. Even if you didn’t go down head-first or if your helmet looks fine following the crash, you should replace it anyway. This is because it could be compromised even if you don’t see a crack or any signs of damage. Second, replace your helmet after five years, crash or not. Weathering, ultraviolet light, and pollution may corrode or damage the materials in your helmet over time, so replace it every five years whether it looks like you need to or not.
I just got into mountain biking. Can I just wear my street biking helmet when I’m mountain biking?
In short, no. Bad idea. Most brands of recreational bike helmets are designed to be lightweight, have good ventilation, and provide enough impact protection for the casual rider. Mountain bike helmets are entirely different. They are designed to provide extra protection for the rear of the head, mountain bikers are more likely to fall backward than other riders. In addition, mountain bike helmets often provide a face screen to protect your eyes from dust, gravel, and rocks kicked up from the dirt path.
How do I know if a bike helmet fits?
A proper-fitting bike helmet is critical to your safety. Without the proper fit, your helmet will not be as effective in the event of a crash. Also, you have to ride for miles with this thing on, and those miles will be much nicer if your helmet fits. The most effective way to find the proper size is to take a piece of string and wrap it around the largest section of your head, then measure the length of the string. Here’s a guide to help you find your size:
Extra small: below 20″ (51cm)
Small: 20″–21.75″ (51cm–55cm)
Medium: 21.75″–23.25″ (55cm–59cm)
Large: 23.25″–24.75″ (59cm–63cm)
Extra-large: above 24.75″ (63cm)
Justine Harrington is a freelance writer covering the latest in travel and cooking or OnRamp. The Active Times partners with OnRamp for informational product guides. OnRamp and The Active Times may earn a commission if you make a purchase through OnRamp product links. The Active Times is not involved in OnRamp content creation.
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