Top 10 Best Mountain Bike Helmets of 2020

  • best mountain bike helmet
We hope you love the products we recommend. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Choosing the Best Mountain Bike Helmet: A Buyers Guide

Whether you are going to be buying a mountain bike helmet for yourself or as a gift for a loved one, you naturally want to make sure that you are choosing from among only the very best. However, with so many options available today, it can become difficult to know exactly which of the helmets is going to be the best choice. It can often seem like there are as many helmets as there are types of bicycle… and that is not far from the truth.

It is time to demystify that problem and help you learn more about what you need to consider when you are choosing your mountain bike helmet. We will also look at some of the very best mountain bike helmets available today.

What Makes a Mountain Bike Helmet Different from Other Helmets?

When you first start to look at the different types of biking helmets, you may notice that there are some similarities from one to the other. The mountain bike helmets, for example, tend to look quite a bit like a road helmet in terms of the design. However, there are some differences that you will want to note.

One of the primary differences is the fact that the mountain bike helmets will usually have fewer vents than the road helmets. In addition, they tend to cover the sides of the back and the head more than a road helmet. This is to help provide you with more safety for your head in the event that you were to take a bit of a tumble from the back of your bike.

You will also find that many of the mountain biking helmets available today will have a built-in visor. Even though many riders will have their own eye protection, and even sunglasses for certain parts of trails, there are also those areas where sunglasses are just not going to work very well because they would make riding through darkened areas of the trail too difficult. Instead, these built-in visors tend to be a great way to help keep the sun out of the eyes on open trails, and to ensure that the rider still has full visibility when they are in darker environments.

CPSC Label

A feature that is going to be the same for all bicycle helmets sold in the United States, regardless of their type, is the fact that they all need to have passed the CPSC test and have the CPSC label on it. This is the Consumer Product Safety Commission. All of the helmets that you see and that are for sale should have this label, ensuring that the manufacturer has at least met the minimum safety requirements deemed necessary by the United States.

Mountain Bike Helmet Reviews

The following are some of the most popular mountain bike helmets available today, along with a bit about the various features that each of these helmets offers. These are some of the primary choices that are well worth considering

Giro Montaro MIPS Helmet

This helmet is made from a liner of EPS, or expanded polystyrene, foam, and it features a quality shell of in-mold polycarbonate. The helmet offers up 16 vents, which is going to help with the ventilation to keep the rider cool, and comfortable, and to help keep the weight of the helmet down. It includes a visor, and it utilizes the company’s Roc Loc Air fit adjustment system. The visor can be adjusted to fit full goggles if you choose to use them. This helmet also features MIPS technology, or the Multidirectional Impact Protection System.

Overall, this is a very safe helmet with excellent safety features, but it does have some other elements that help to make it a real standout. Its design allows it to integrate with other gear quite well. For example, it offers a built-in camera mount with a breakaway design. This makes it easy to record your rides, and the breakaway ensures that you and the camera are protected more in the event of a crash.

You can choose from four sizes with the Giro Montaro helmet, and you can find the helmet in a wide range of colors. Choose from matte black and gloss black, matte black/lime/flame, matte blue/lime, matte dark red, matte frost, matte lime/mountain division, matte olive, matte sonic psych, matte titanium flame, matte vermillion, matte walnut, matte white/lime, matte black riptide.

POC Tectal Race Bike Helmet

This mountain bike helmet could be a wonderful choice, as it has a fantastic reputation when it comes to safety. The helmet has plenty of ventilation, and it is comfortable to wear, making it a smart choice for both trail riding and endurance racing. The helmet features an expanded polystyrene foam liner, along with a quality shell for durability. The helmet has been optimized for aerodynamics and ventilation thanks to the wind tunnel testing that it has gone through.

This POC helmet also features a goggle clip, along with a simple to use adjustment system that should make it easy for anyone to use and to ensure comfort and that the fit is secure.

The helmet also features MIPS technology. You can choose from three sizes with this helmet, and you can choose from four different color combinations. There is the hydrogen white/uranium black helmet, the phenol gray/lactose blue helmet, the uranium black/beryl green helmet, and the uranium black/hydrogen white combination. Among those color schemes, the color that comes first is the main color of the helmet, with the secondary color being more of an accent color on the helmet.

Troy Lee Designs A1 Classic Mountain Bike Helmet

This is one of the new options on the market for Troy Lee Designs, and it has quite a bit going for it. The helmet includes MIPS technology to help reduce rotational forces to the head, along with a reinforced polycarbonate shell with an expanded polystyrene liner. The liner in the helmet is removable and washable. There are plenty of other features that help to make this a quality helmet including fantastic ventilation thanks to the six pressurized intake passages, and the six rear vacuum vortex outlets that allow for some exhaust to draw the heat away from the head.

Those who choose this helmet will also enjoy the retention system, which has three positions. This makes it possible for you to customize your fit for different types of eyewear that you might have, along with your head shape and even your riding style for that matter.

Giro Hex Mountain Helmet

The Giro Hex offers up a great rugged style that is sure to please. You will find that it also has some other great features that could help to make it a great choice for your next or your first mountain bike helmet. You will find that it has 21 wind scooping vents to provide you with plenty of ventilation while you are riding. It also has a specialized fitting system called the Roc Loc 5, which allows you to change the fit tension and the vertical position all with a single hand. This is a strong and safe helmet, and it is also 40% lighter than the predecessors in the line.

When you choose this helmet, you will be able to choose from four different sizes, along with multiple colors and color combos. Color options include matte black, matte blue/lime, matte flame/white/titanium, matte purple/bright pink, matte titanium/flame, matte vermillion/flame, matte white/lime, and matte titanium/flame. There is a combination that should work well for just about anyone.

Smith Optics Rover Adult MTB Cycling Helmet

Here is a mountain bike helmet that offers up some great design features, along with plenty of other elements that make it a nice choice for those in search of a quality helmet. It features an integrated visor, along with plenty of ventilation to keep cool. It is a lightweight helmet, as well, so you can be sure it is going to be comfortable to wear.

You can choose from three different sizes for this helmet. It features a specialized VaporFit Adjustable Fit System, so you can make sure it is sitting just right and that it is providing you with the protection that you need. The helmet is also available in several different colors. You can choose from the matte black, matte charcoal, and the matte white. There is also a matte reactor, which is a bright green color.

Bell Super 3R MIPS Bike Helmet

One of the first things that you are going to notice about this helmet, which makes it different from the others on the list thus far is the fact that it is a full face helmet. This provides more overall protection for the rider. The helmet features breakaway screws, a float fit, fusion in mold polycarbonate shell, and a goggle guide adjustable fit visor system. The helmet also has over brow ventilation, as well as MIPS.

Overall, this is a safe and highly effective helmet. It is available in three different sizes, as well as a range of colors. Color choices include matte black/Orion, matte black/white, matte cobalt/pearl, matte emerald joy, matte hibiscus/smoke, matte lead, matte smoke/pear, matte white/cherry, matte or gloss black/cherry, matte or gloss copper/black, and matte or gloss navy/cherry fibers.

Another very interesting feature of this helmet is the integrated breakaway camera mount. This is a nice choice for those who might want to have a camera mounted on their helmet, which can help them capture all of their adventures on the trails.

Fox Metah Mountain Bike Helmet

This helmet features 14 large vents, which can help to improve the airflow of the helmet, and it helps to reduce the weight. The helmet features MIPS technology, which provides riders with additional protection. It has an anchor Y-strap system that makes putting the helmet on and taking it off again fast and easy. It has a premium liner with sealed edges, and quality construction overall.

There are five sizes from which you can choose with this helmet, as well as a substantial number of colors. For the color choices, you can pick from black and yellow, flow cloud gray, flow teal, flow black/white/red, green camo, gray, matte black, silver and black, thresh flow yellow, thresh red/black, flow yellow, and flow yellow/black.

Smith Optics Forefront Adult Off-Road Cycling Helmet

You will find quite a bit to love when it comes to this particular Smith Optics Helmet. It features some excellent elements that make it a great helmet that offers plenty of coverage and safety, and that is nice for riding on the trails or racing.

The helmet offers lightweight construction, while still being highly protective in the event of a fall. It has 21 vents on it that help to make it so lightweight and that allow more airflow for a cooler and more enjoyable ride. It includes the VaporFit Adjustable Fit System, which is geared to make the process of putting the helmet on and getting it to fit just right much easier.

The helmet also features a goggle retention strap, sunglass integration, and even an integrated camera and light mount if you want to record your rides, or you need to have some extra light.

This helmet is available in three sizes, as well as many different colors. Some of the colors from which you can choose include matte black, matte darkness, matte disruption camo, matte neon orange, matte opal/charcoal, matte pink/charcoal, matte reactor gradient (green), matte reactor split (another shade of green), matte root/lasso, which is brown with some interesting design features, and matte white.

Bell Sanction BMX/Downhill Helmet

This is a full helmet that is lightweight but durable and that works well for many different types of mountain bikers, especially those who are into downhill racing. The full-face helmet features 15 vents, and it has a low profile design. While it is available in four sizes, it should be noted that these are sized for smaller riders and junior riders. Those who have larger heads will want to buy larger sizes, or they may want to choose a different brand.

The available colors for this helmet include the gloss black/hibiscus, gloss force blue/retina sear assassin, gloss smoke/pear, hibiscus/smoke, black/titanium/retina sear, and the white/black/red.

Fox Head Flux Helmet

The helmet is designed to work well for all types of mountain bike riding. It has a deep rear EPS profile for added coverage and protection, along with 20 vents for better overall airflow and temperature control. The addition of these vents can also make the ride more comfortable, since you can keep cooler. This helmet offers a removeable visor, as well.

It features a nice overall design that should please most riders. You will also have plenty of choices when it comes to the colors for the helmet. You can choose from Creo dark green, Creo yellow, Creo white/navy, matte white, red, fluorescent yellow, and red/black.

Now that you have seen and started to learn about some of the top options available when it comes to mountain bike helmets today, it is time to go a little deeper and learn more about these helmets, some of the different styles of helmet, and the features they offer. This way, you will have a better understanding of which one of the preceding helmets would likely be the right choice for you.

Main Features Found on Most Helmets

When you start to look at the different types of mountain biking helmets available, it is helpful if you have some knowledge of main features that these helmets include. It can be a good way to help ensure that you are getting the helmet that is right for you, and that you know what all of the parts are and what they do.

  • MIPS – This is a designation that some of the mountain bike helmets will have. It stands for Multidirectional Impact Protection System. This is discussed later on in the article.
  • Hair Port – There are some helmets on the market that feature hair ports. These are helpful for those who have ponytails.
  • Straps – The straps are the system that will help to keep your helmet on your head and firmly in place so it can protect you. There are different types of strap systems available.
  • Ventilation – The vents that you see on the helmet, and that are often highly touted in product descriptions, help to improve the flow of wind over your head. It helps to keep you cooler and more comfortable as you are riding.
  • Visor – Some of the helmets will include this piece, which helps to shield riders from the sun.

Basic Types of Helmets for Mountain Biking

You will find that most of the helmets that are on the market, including those listed above, tend to utilize EPS, or expanded polystyrene foam as the main part of their construction. However, they will still feature a polycarbonate shell around the outside of this foam. Not only will this help to protect the foam from damage, but it also helps to spread the force of an impact over a larger area on the helmet, which can help to reduce injury.

A typical helmet is also going to have a harness or strap to ensure fit and that helps to keep it attached to the head. This strap is adjustable as well, which will make it possible to get the perfect fit. It is important that the strap is in good working condition, and that it helps to keep the helmet in place in the event of an accident. After all, if the helmet were to fly off your head when you go over the handlebars on a trail, it would not be doing you much good at all.

There are two basic categories of helmets for mountain bikes. There are those that cover the entire face, and the half-shell options that cover only part of the head. Let’s take a closer look at these two different types of helmets.

Half-Shell Helmets

The half-shell mountain bike helmets are a popular option because they can be used for off-road riding, but they look close enough to a typical road bike helmet that they could pull double duty. The biggest difference between the half-shell and the road helmet tends to be the fact that the half-shell helmet includes a visor, while the road helmet does not.

These visors are more necessary for those who are out on the trails, as they can help to keep the sun, rain, and other elements out of the face and eyes. With some of the helmets, including many of the full-face helmets, the visors will be adjustable. They are also removable in most cases, which makes these types of helmets very versatile. You can easily take off the visor and use it as a road helmet when needed.

One of the other differences you are likely to notice is that the half-shell helmets will generally provide a bit more coverage and protection than the road helmets. This is because those who are out and riding the trails, whether they are just out for a lazy Sunday or they are competing in a cycle-cross event, tend to have a higher risk of crashing.

These helmets can be worn with sunglasses or with goggles, both of which have their advantages and disadvantages. Sunglasses are easy to put on and take off, while they might not provide quite as much protection as the goggles do. However, one of the issues that some people have with the goggles is fogging since they do not have ventilation.

These types of helmets tend to be a good option for those who are brand new to mountain biking, as well as those who have been enjoying this activity for many years. They are versatile, available in many styles, and at many price points. However, they are not the only option.

Full-Face Helmets

The other basic type of helmet is the full-face helmet. This type of helmet is going to cover the entire head, which will provide you with a substantial amount of protection. These features help to make this a good choice for those who want to ride fast and who do a lot of downhill riding and racing. Bikers who like cycle-cross might prefer this type of helmet, as well.

The chin guard on the helmet will help to protect your chin and mouth from rocks, dirt, and other debris that you could be facing out on the trails. While these are popular among many riders, they are not as ventilated as other type of helmets, and this could be a concern for some riders.

One of the things that is important to remember about these helmets is that even though they might look similar to dirt bike helmets, they are not DOT certified. This means that they are not going to provide you with as much protection as you need on a motorbike. They should only be used for mountain biking and BMX biking.

These helmets will feature a chin strap that is attached to the helmet, typically beneath the ear area. Most of the time, you will also want to get a pair of goggles that can go with your fill-face helmet. It is also possible to get a neck brace to wear with these full-face helmets. They can help to keep the spine safer in the event of an accident, and they can be quite beneficial to those who do a lot of racing and downhill riding. However, these braces should only be worn with a full-face helmet. They are not for the half-shell helmets.

What Is MIPS and Why Is It Important?

You have likely noticed that some of the helmets discussed include MIPS technology and some do not. The Multidirectional Impact Protection System is essentially a specialized construction method that helps to provide the head and brain with added protection from rotational forces that may occur during a fall or crash on the bike. These helmets will feature something called a “low friction layer”. This layer has the capability to rotate a tiny amount. This movement can help to reduce the amount of rotational force that has been applied to the head.

Most Important Features to Consider When Choosing Your Mountain Bike Helmet

Knowing more about the options available for mountain bike helmets is important when you are making your decision. However, there are certain basic elements and features that you are going to need to consider when you are buying a helmet. Let’s look at a list of those most important considerations.

  • Safety – Naturally, safety should be your primary concern when you are buying a helmet. Only choose those devices that have proper certification, and that utilize high quality materials in their construction. You do not need to have a MIPS helmet, but it can add some extra protection for you.
  • Type – The type that you choose – full-face or half-shell – is likely to depend on the type of riding that you are going to be doing. For those who are just starting out, or who are not planning to race downhill, the half-shell is typically a perfect choice.
  • Size – You need to be sure you are getting a helmet that fits properly. To know your basic measurement for helmets, you will want to take a piece of string, wrap it around your head just about an inch above the eyebrows, and then measure the string in inches to determine the circumference of your head. Use this circumference number when you are choosing the size for your helmet.
  • Weight – When a helmet is lightweight, it is going to feel more comfortable on the head, so you might want to look at the overall weight when you are comparing helmets. For the most part though, the weight differences between helmets will be minor, and most riders are not going to notice an ounce or two.
  • Aesthetics – Naturally, you want to make sure that you have a helmet that looks great and that fits in well with your style. Fortunately, there are plenty of style and color choices out there, so anyone should be able to find something that works for them.
  • Price – Of course, you will also want to consider the price. There are many helmets out there today that are reasonably priced, and that still offer plenty of safety and style. Just make sure that you never sacrifice safety just to save a few dollars.

When Should You Replace a Mountain Bike Helmet?

Your mountain bike helmet is one of the most important pieces of equipment that you own and that you will take out with you on all of your rides. It is just as important as your bike. It helps to keep your head safe from injuries sustained during falls and crashes with the bike, which tend to happen far more frequently with trail riding and racing.

You will always want to replace a helmet after you have been in a crash on your bike and the helmet impacted the ground, a tree, or any other surface. The reason for this is simple. The foam that provides the protection and distributes the shock when in an accident is likely going to be damaged in the crash. This means it is not going to protect the wearer as effectively in the future, and you should simply get a new helmet.

Many manufacturers say that you will want to replace the helmet every three to five years, and this tends to be a good rule of thumb. However, if the helmet has not been damaged in that time, it should still provide you with adequate protection.

Now that you have more of an idea of what you should look for with your mountain bike helmet, and you know some of the popular brands, it should be much easier for you to make your final choice. Get a new mountain bike helmet today!

2020-02-17T21:32:03+00:00By |Bike|