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In the days of yore, summer trends didn’t extend much beyond lazy leisure pursuits: an Avengers movie here and an Aperol spritz there. But this summer’s top activity, biking, requires more verve than sitting or sipping a cocktail, and least one thing to keep you safe: a helmet. This protective headgear can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
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Even if you already have a helmet, you may need a new one. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends getting a new helmet every five to 10 years due to wear and tear that can degrade the helmet’s straps and interior panels. Helmets also need to be replaced after any crash in which the helmet impacts the ground, which can compress and crack the helmet’s foam and make it less protective in the event of another impact—even if it seems fine on the outside, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. This means you shouldn’t buy a helmet used—even if it seems like a good bargain, you won’t know how old it is or what it’s been through.
Finally, to get a new helmet, you’ll have to know how big your head is. (Circumference-wise, that is.) You can do this by wrapping a measuring tape around your head or by wrapping a piece of string around your head and measuring it against a yardstick or retractable tape measure. Then, consult the brand’s sizing chart to see which circumference range your head falls into.
Ready to get a new helmet? These top-rated options are worth your consideration.
Beauty trends 1. For the everyday rider
This Giro helmet is equipped with Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), a third-party built-in function that adds an extra layer of brain protection by reducing the amount of rotational motion that can occur to the head during falls. This, along with its wide range of available colors and dial-powered fit adjuster, makes it a favorite among new and seasoned cyclists alike. In its hundreds of positive reviews, fans praise its compact design, quick-dry interior padding, airy ventilation system, and detachable visor that make for a safe, comfortable ride.
“This is a nice looking and sturdy helmet at a reasonable price. Nice padding on the inside, easy adjustment to make it fit almost any size,” writes a reviewer. “I usually take a three- to four-hour road ride once per week. I feel good knowing my head is well protected with this helmet. Also, my head and scalp are not fatigued after long rides as they have been with other helmets I’ve worn.”
The Giro Register MIPS helmet comes in one Universal Adult size (54 to 61 centimeters, or 21.2 to 24 inches) and one Universal XL size (58 to 65 centimeters, or 22.8 to 25.5 inches). You can also get a kids’ helmet with MIPS, which comes in two sizes and fits head circumferences from 45 to 53 centimeters, or 17.75 to 21 inches.
- Get the Giro Register MIPS Helmet from Amazon for $59.95
- Get the Giro Scamp MIPS Kids Helmet from REI for $60
Beauty trends 2. A good value for the family that rides together
The budget-friendly Thrasher helmet from classic bike brand Schwinn offers up many features that should please most two-wheel recreational riders: an adjustable rear dial system, 20 vents for airflow, and a range of colors and patterns, like black, pink, camo, and flames.
“[This helmet is a] lightweight beauty,” writes a reviewer. “Nice adjustable straps under the chin. Good instructions on fitting the helmet to the head so it is secure. Feels and looks good on!”
The Schwinn Thrasher helmet comes in three sizes, Child, Youth, and Adult, and fits head circumferences between 50 to 61 centimeters, or 19.6 to 24 inches.
Beauty trends 2. For the extreme rider who wants extra protection
This stylish MIPS-equipped Smith helmet is a good option for anyone getting into mountain biking, where rough terrain and errant rocks and roots can make falling more likely (though it’s certainly not a bad choice for road biking, either). It also has a built-in visor and venting channels that direct air away from the front of the head, so it won’t fog up sunglasses.
“This full-coverage helmet adjusts to fit my head better and more comfortably than any of the many helmets I’ve had,” writes a reviewer. “I recently hit the rear right side of my head on ice in a low-speed fall, denting the helmet body and snapping off one of the interior suspension arms. No concussion, just minor whiplash from the neck snap as I hit the ground.”
The Smith Venture MIPS helmet comes in sizes small, medium, and large, which fits heads between 51 to 62 centimeters circumference, or 20.1 and 24.4 inches.
Beauty trends 4. A helmet for people who don’t like helmets
This Thousand Heritage helmet has a sleek design and neutral shell available in colors including matte white and eggshell blue, shiny gold, and patterns like red, white, and blue stripes that should satisfy people who don’t like the look of mountain bike helmets. It also has bonus features that make putting it on easier for reluctant helmet-wearers, like a one-handed magnetic fastener that doesn’t pinch fingers, discreet vents in the rear, and a pop-lock that allows the rider to connect it to a bike lock.
“When I discovered Thousand helmets, it was a game changer,” writes a reviewer. “Not only looks great but [is] good quality, fashionable, and it even has a hidden lock hole. I wear my helmet when I ride my longboard and my bike.”
The Thousand Heritage bike helmet comes in sizes small, medium, and large, and fits heads between 53.3 to 61 centimeters circumference, or 21 to 24 inches.
Beauty trends 5. For the stylish commuter
This best-selling commuter-style helmet has more than a thousand reviews and a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—and it’s not hard to see why. It has eight large vents, interchangeable pads to ensure good fit, and comes in a range of colors and patterns including baby pink, navy blue, forest green, and wood grain—all for the modest price of about $25.
“I’ve had this helmet for a while but finally I was biking, hit a trolley track and totally wrecked my bike,” writes a reviewer. “Bike pretty banged up, a few bruises, but my head very clearly smacked the ground and this guy kept my head fully intact! 100 percent happy with the purchase now. This thing is sturdy and will do the real work—protecting you from even fairly serious wrecks.”
The Retrospec Classic Commuter Helmet comes in sizes small, medium, and large, which fit head circumferences from 51 to 63 centimeters, or 20 to 24.8 inches.
Beauty trends 6. For keeping a cool head in hot climates
Sometimes, it takes more than good air vents to deal with sweat. This Triple Eight helmet (a brand favored by legendary skater Tony Hawk) is outfitted with a moisture-wicking terry cloth liner to keep your head from feeling soggy during long, hot bike or skateboard sessions—and it’s removable, so you can take it out and wash it as needed. It also has two sets of pads, one thicker and one thinner, that you can switch out to customize your fit.
“I really like the color and finish of the helmet, it looks great and my stickers are staying on it perfectly,” writes a reviewer. “The pads do collect a lot of sweat; sometimes I lean forward and sweat floods out but it never drips down my face which is great because I hardly have to wipe my face despite sweating profusely.”
The Triple 8 Helmet with Sweatsaver Liner comes in sizes XS to XXL and fits head circumferences between 51 to 63 centimeters, or 20 to 24.5 inches. It also comes in a kids’ size that fits head circumferences between 46 to 52 centimeters, or 18 to 20 inches.
- Get the Triple 8 Helmet with Sweatsaver Liner from Amazon starting at $59.99
- Get the Triple 8 Sweatsaver Kids Helmet from Amazon for $39.99
Beauty trends 7. For the unassuming rider
Looking for a no-frills helmet that does the job without calling too much attention to itself? The Bell Chicane should do the trick. It has a customizable dial fit, plastic visor, and a build that reviewers say feels lightweight yet durable.
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“Had to grab a cheap helmet in a pinch and ended up grabbing this guy,” writes a reviewer. “For $30 it’s a fantastic helmet! No complaints. Fits really nicely and I know my noggin is protected while wearing this helmet.”
The Bell Sports Chicane helmet comes in one size that fits head circumferences between 54 to 61 centimeters, or 21.25 to 24 inches. You can also get a similar-looking Bell Rally helmet—albeit with a slightly flashier color and pattern profile—in a kids’ size that fits head circumferences 52 to 56 centimeters, or 20.4 to 22 inches.
- Get the Bell Sports Chicane Adult Helmet from Target for $29.99
- Get the Bell Sports Rally Child Helmet from Amazon for $18.49
Beauty trends 8. A helmet for someone who needs some air
This all-purpose Giro helmet is well equipped for road or trail jaunts, with 22 vents for air circulation, a reflective rear decal, and a removable visor. Reviewers say it fits comfortably and is easy to adjust sizing, thanks to a dial-powered fit band in the rear interior.
“I am not an avid biker but I wanted a durable, reliable helmet and this helmet is both,” writes a reviewer. “It is lightweight, which is important to me because my neck has issues and I didn’t want to add weight. The clasp is standard (easy) and the vents prevent sweating. Overall an excellent price for a high quality product.”
The helmet comes in one universal fit option that fits heads with a circumference between 54 to 61 centimeters or 21.3 to 24 inches.
Beauty trends 9. For the rugged rider
POC’s Crane helmet is intended for mountain biking, but its rounded design is reminiscent of a stylish skateboard helmet and makes it well-suited for city commuting, too. The helmet envelops the skull but has strategically placed, large air vents to help you keep a cool head, no matter what you’re doing.
“The vents are great on hot days,” writes a reviewer. “Glove-like fit. I bought one in white for my girlfriend too to use around town. Highly recommended.”
The POC Crane Helmet comes in XS/S, M/L, and XL/XXL sizes, which fit head circumferences from 51 to 62 centimeters, or 20.1 to 24.4 inches. The “POCito,” the kids’ version of the helmet, comes in brighter colors like hot pink and orange and sizes XS/S and M/L, suitable for heads from 51 to 58 centimeters, or 20.1 to 22.8 inches.
- Get the POC Crane Helmet from Backcountry for $119.95
- Get the POCito Crane Kids Helmet from Competitive Cyclist for $79.95
Beauty trends 10. For after-dark riding
If you’re planning on riding around at night, it’s a good idea to have some light on you to ensure drivers know you’re there. You can easily attach lights to a bike, but it can’t hurt to have lights attached to you, too. One great way to do this is with the Base Camp commuter helmet, which has a detachable red rear light that shines in two modes, steady or flashing. It also has a visor, air vents, and an adjustable rear dial.
“It fits and feels just as good as a high-end helmet that costs significantly more,” writes a reviewer. “It looks a lot nicer in real life than in the pictures. The built-in safety light at the back was a huge factor in my decision making. I have safety lights on my bike, but the additional light at the back of the helmet is way more effective.”
The Base Camp Adult Commuter Helmet comes in one size that fits head circumferences 55 to 59.9 centimeters, or 21.65 to 23.6 inches.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
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