The Essential Guide to Finding the Best Mountain Bike Helmet + Reviews
Are you searching for one of the best mountain bike helmets but haven’t had any luck so far? You need not worry as we can help out and save you the time it would take you to read all those endless mountain bike helmets reviews. We’ve taken a look at some of the most appreciated helmets and tried to separate the good from the mediocre. If we were to make a recommendation, it would be the Giro Fixture MIPS Bike Helmet. It’s not really expensive, it comes with a modern design, and it benefits from the new MIPS technology which should offer more protection for your head. You can also adjust it on the fly to ensure a tight fit. In case this one is sold out or you’re looking for a helmet that’s more suited to downhill/enduro riding, you might want to take a look at the Fox Racing Dropframe Helmet.
The Giro Fixture comes with an exterior polycarbonate shell, an inner EPS foam layer, as well as an MIPS layer which helps protect your head from impacts. You can also make adjustments with the Roc Loc Sport dial.
This model has large vents which are great for airflow but not so much for rainy weather.
This helmet has a sleek and modern design that not only pleases the eye, but it also offers protection in case of accidents. The materials are sturdy and the rear dial allows for easy and fast adjustments so you can ensure a tight fit.
This helmet has a solid construction, with a thick EPS foam and liner that offer protection for gnarly mountain biking. It’s easy to adjust, thanks to the Fidlock SNAP buckle, and it also features enough vents for proper airflow.
This helmet has no chin bar so some DH riders might want to opt for a model that features one.
This is a middle-of-the-road option: it’s not beefy like DH models, yet it doesn’t compromise on protection as regular helmets do. It’s a decent pick for people who love to ride aggressively and want to feel safe while doing so.
Also To Consider
The design of this helmet is sure to attract some riders. It’s simple, yet effective, with large vents to keep your head cool as well as sturdy materials for extra protection. There’s also the Roc Loc 5 system for a proper fit.
The pads on the inside of the helmet might come off sooner than anyone would expect.
This model from Giro is lightweight, good-looking, and it also comes with modern technology such as the adjustment system. There are enough vents for proper airflow. You also get lots of colors to choose from.
10 Best Mountain Bike Helmets (Updated Reviews) in 2021
Getting the right model to protect your head during rides is sure to have you reading a mountain bike helmet review or two. The bad part is that it might take you a lot more time than you’d want. The good part is that you don’t have to waste that time, as you can read the descriptions of our top picks right here and scroll through our guide to get an idea about what you should look for.
- 1. Giro Fixture MIPS Bike Helmet
- 2. Fox Racing Dropframe Helmet
- 3. Giro Hex Mountain Bike Helmet
- 4. Leatt DBX 4.0 V19.1 Adult Off-Road Cycling Helmet
- 5. POC Tectal Race Spin Helmet for Mountain Biking
- 6. Giro Chronicle MIPS MTB Helmet
- 7. Giro Disciple MIPS MTB Helmet
- 8. Fox Racing Rampage Pro Carbon Helmet
- 9. Bell Super Air R Flex Mips Mountain Bike Helmet
- 10. SixSixOne Reset Helmet Midnight Copper
- Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Giro Fixture MIPS Bike Helmet
If you’re looking to get some protection for your head without spending a large amount of money, then the Fixture from Giro is just the thing you need. This helmet benefits from the relatively new MIPS technology which helps minimize impact in case of a crash.
This helmet comes with an outer shell that’s made of polycarbonate, which resists scratches and tears, while the inner layer is made of EPS foam – that’s the layer that’s meant to absorb some of the energy from an impact. Adjustments can be easily made with the help of the Roc Loc Sport which is really just a micro-adjustable rear dial which helps tighten or loosen the fit.
The inner liner is the one benefiting from the MIPS technology (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System), which should redirect some of the energy from an impact and protect your brain from damage. The helmet also comes with a visor.
This helmet has a solid construction, with a polycarbonate outer shell that is scratch and tear-resistant.
The inner EPS foam is there to help absorb shocks from falls and prevent them from causing damage to your head.
This model features the MIPS technology that reduces the force of impacts and helps lower the risk of injuries from rotational forces.
You can make adjustments to the helmet on the fly thanks to the Roc Loc Sport rear dial which allows for even tiny adjustments.
There’s also a visor included that offers some protection from the glaring sunrays.
The visor does offer a nice coverage, but unfortunately, it’s not that securely attached to the helmet, so it might come off accidentally.
The vents in the outer shell are quite large, so you’d need some form of protection if rain catches you while you’re riding.Buy from Amazon.com
2. Fox Racing Dropframe Helmet
The Fox Racing Dropframe model is perfectly suited for those riders that love technical trails but who don’t want to sacrifice protection by going with a normal helmet, and neither do they want the built-like-a-tank DH helmets. This one looks just like its Proframe sibling, minus the chin bar, which may be a boon to some and an inconvenience to others.
This helmet has a polycarbonate outer shell, just like most bike helmets out there, with the difference that this one’s thicker. The fixed visor is longer and sturdier as well, and that’s not just for looks – it’s supposed to protect your face in case of a crash. The inner liner is made of thick Varizorb EPS foam which should absorb the brunt of the impact from a crash.
Ventilation is ensured by the 8 Big Bore intake holes as well as 7 exhaust vents which allow your head to cool down even during intensive riding. Adjustments can be made in a jiffy with help from the Fidlock SNAP helmet buckle.
Thanks to its solid construction, this helmet gives you ample protection for your ears and the back of the head.
The visor, while fixed, offers increased protection so you don’t risk hitting the vulnerable areas of your face if you fall (actually, it’s when you fall).
Thanks to the Fidlock SNAP helmet buckle, you can adjust the helmet and make sure it fits well, which is actually a very good idea if you’re planning to slay those trails over the weekend.
The large vents should allow for sufficient airflow so you don’t overheat when putting in a lot of effort on those steep inclines.
While this helmet is lighter than many DH options, it does not come with a chin bar so some might be inclined to go for models that include one.
The sizing might be off for this model, so if you have a big head, you might want to make sure you can return this item if it doesn’t fit, or you’d better look elsewhere.Buy from Amazon.com
3. Giro Hex Mountain Bike Helmet
This helmet is made of synthetic materials that are sturdy and reliable and that offer no reason to worry to animal lovers all over the world. The outer shell is made of polycarbonate which is meant to be the first line of defense in case of a crash. Both it and the layer underneath feature 21 vents which should help keep you cool even when you’re riding in hot weather.
The Roc Loc 5 fit system is claimed to be 40 percent lighter than its predecessor. It’s actually a small plastic dial positioned in the back of the helmet which allows you to tighten it and make sure it fits well. The micro-adjustment system is great especially if you’re planning to refit the helmet mid-ride.
Below the foam layer, there’s the Three-Position Vertical Fit system which ensures that you can fine-tune the fit and make sure you don’t lose your protection along the way.
The 21 wind-scooping vents help with ventilation so that you don’t ride with a soaking wet head for hours on end, even during those hot days of summer.
This unit is made of sturdy materials that are synthetic-only, so vegans have no cause to be worried when purchasing it.
The Roc Loc 5 fit system is lightweight and easy to adjust with just 2 fingers, so you can actually refit the helmet or make micro-adjustments on the fly, even when riding the bike.
The Three-Position Vertical Fit system ensures a proper fit so that your head gets the right protection without the risk of having the helmet fall off.
If those large vents are great for sunny-weather riding, they’re not so great in cold weather or when it rains. A helmet cover is probably going to fix the problem when riding in the rain, though.
The interior frame and pads might become loose or even detach in time.Buy from Amazon.com
4. Leatt DBX 4.0 V19.1 Adult Off-Road Cycling Helmet
If you’re looking for a rock-solid helmet that’s perfect for aggressive riding, then you can’t go wrong with this helmet from Leatt. The shell is made of polymer compound for superior strength, and it should be able to handle quite some abuse.
Thanks to the Turbine Technology, this helmet is able to reduce up to 30 percent of the impact the head is exposed to while also reduce up to 40 percent of rotational acceleration, which translates to lower chances of injury to the head and brain. With the in-molded EPS and EPO impact foam, the unit is able to absorb more energy from impacts and keep you safe.
The 22 vents help maximize airflow so your head stays cool and dry even when riding in the summer heat. The Fidlock magnetic closure is easy to use and ensures a tight fit every time. The inner liner is made of Dri-Lex moisture wicking fabric and it’s also removable so you can wash it and keep it clean.
This helmet has been optimized for riding and it offers protection even at low speeds when many people are actually getting hurt because they’re not paying attention.
The Turbine technology used in this helmet ensures that your head and brain are protected from direct impact as well as rotational forces, so you can ride knowing you’re covered in case of a crash.
Thanks to the 22 vents, your head can stay dry and comfortable even when you’re putting in a lot of effort, especially on those steep climbs.
The chin bar is sure to add protection for that area so even if you fall face-down, the risk of getting seriously hurt is significantly minimized.
The inner liner is made of moisture-wicking fabric and it can also be removed for cleaning.
This helmet sure isn’t one of the cheapest out there. However, people serious about riding should consider getting the proper protection, so a higher price is normal.Buy from Amazon.com
5. POC Tectal Race Spin Helmet for Mountain Biking
Whether you’re a racer or just someone who enjoys slaying forest trails over the weekend, this helmet is one you might seriously want to consider. It’s lightweight yet strongly built, with a tough polycarbonate outer shell that’s meant to resist tears and scratches. The inner layer is made of reinforced EPS foam which can absorb some of the energy of an impact and keep your head safe.
This unit benefits from the use of the SPIN technology (Shearing Pad Inside), which has the role of absorbing and redirecting a lot of energy from rotational impacts, which are quite common in mountain biking.
The chin straps are easy to adjust and ensure a tight fit so you don’t risk losing your helmet along the way. There’s also a Recco reflector incorporated into its design so that rescue teams have a higher chance of finding you faster if anything happens. This helmet also has large ventilation holes for maximum airflow.
The polycarbonate shell will help offer protection for the inner layers of the helmet, preventing bushes and twigs from causing any harm.
The inner EPS foam is thick and it should be able to absorb the energy from impacts so your head doesn’t.
This unit benefits from the SPIN technology which has the role of redirecting rotational forces so your head and brain are better protected in case of a crash.
The large holes offer adequate ventilation so you can stay cool even when cranking up the power on those steep inclines.
This model does not come with a chin bar. While this keeps it lightweight, it does compromise on protection, and more aggressive riders may want to get a full-face helmet.
While the large vents are great for airflow, they also let water get in so you’ll need a cover in case of rainy weather.Buy from Amazon.com
6. Giro Chronicle MIPS MTB Helmet
If you’re looking for a lightweight helmet that offers the right protection without being overly expensive, then the Chronicle model from Giro might be just the thing you need. The in-molded polycarbonate shell is thin yet strong and should be able to handle some abuse.
The EPS liner can absorb some of the energy from impacts and minimize the risk of injury to your head. The Coolmax padding is actually a wicking layer which helps with sweating, while the 14 vents help keep the air flowing and ensure your head can stay dry and comfortable even under the scorching sun.
The P.O.V. Plus visor offers wide coverage so you don’t have to squint your eyes when riding in the sun. Thanks to the Roc Loc 5 system, you can ensure a tight fit with a twist of a dial, and this also allows you to make small adjustments even during the ride.
The Roc Loc rear dial and the straps are easy to adjust so that you ensure the perfect fit and ride safely while also being able to make adjustments on the fly, without getting off the bike.
The 14 WindTunnel vents facilitate improved airflow so you don’t have to worry about over-sweating even during those long summer rides in hot weather.
The Coolmax fabric is moisture-wicking and it dries really fast so it complements the vent system and keeps your head dry and cool.
The large visor keeps the sun’s glaring rays away from your eyes so you can ride in comfort.
The EPS liner is quite thick so it should be able to offer the proper protection in the case of a crash. Further protection is ensured by the MIPS technology.
While this helmet isn’t expensive by many standards, some might still be reluctant to spend that much on a light racing helmet.Buy from Amazon.com
7. Giro Disciple MIPS MTB Helmet
Whether you’re into downhill biking or love freeriding on forest paths, this helmet might be just the thing you need to have fun while staying safe. This helmet features a sturdy construction, with a fiberglass shell for toughness and an interior Vinyl nitrile padding for extra shock absorption. This material is better than EPS, especially after repeated impacts.
This model is perfectly suited for aggressive riding, and the extended visor and chin bar ensure that your face gets the proper protection even if you get into an ugly crash (although you’d probably want to avoid that).
You also get to enjoy the MIPS technology, which stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System that takes away rotational impact forces and redirects them so that your head and brain are protected much better than in the case of a normal helmet. The helmet also comes with an integrated P.O.V. mount so you can attach a camera and record all your adventures.
This model is a great pick for anyone interested in DH or freeriding. It’s built like a tank and the fiberglass shell can take scratches and bumps like a pro.
The inner layer isn’t made of the regular EPS foam but of Vinyl nitrile which is a much better alternative, especially if we’re talking about repeated impacts.
The MIPS technology can protect your head from both linear and rotational impacts so that even if you crash at an awkward angle, chances are still lower that you’ll get seriously hurt.
You also get a POV mount to attach a camera and show off your style on the slopes.
This helmet doesn’t come exactly cheap, although riders being serious about their safety shouldn’t try to save money and compromise on safety.
Due to the few vent holes, your head might overheat faster than with other helmets. On the upside, the lack of holes makes it sturdier and also great for inclement weather.Buy from Amazon.com
8. Fox Racing Rampage Pro Carbon Helmet
If you’re planning on getting one of the Fox mountain bike helmets but have no idea which one to choose, then this one might just edge out its siblings. Although it’s definitely not one of the affordable models out there, it comes with a super-solid construction, which is to be expected coming from a reputable company like Fox.
The price reflects the materials used: for the outer shell, carbon fiber and FRP resins have been using instead of the regular polycarbonate. The impact foam is made of Varizorb dual-density EPS which is more than able to absorb the brunt of the impact and keep you safe so that you can ride another day.
The ventilation is ensured by the large intake and exhaust ports. These aren’t huge, but they do their job unless the weather really gets hot. The helmet features the Fluid Inside technology to better protect against both linear and rotational impacts. You also get the Magnetic Visor Release System 2.0 to easily customize it.
This helmet has an outer shell that’s made of carbon fiber and FRP, so you know this is a high-end build meant to protect your head from the worst.
The Varizorb dual-density EPS inner layer will absorb more energy from impacts while the Fluid Inside technology will provide better protection against rotational impacts and not just linear ones.
There are some intake and exhaust vents to facilitate airflow and keep you from over-sweating when you’re working those ramps.
The Magnetic Release System 2.0 means you can take the visor off in a jiffy, should the need arise. However, it’s recommended that you keep it on, for extra protection.
This helmet sure doesn’t come cheap. It offers top-notch protection and can even save your life, but be prepared to spend quite a hefty sum of money on it.
Just as in the case of other such helmets, ventilation isn’t one of its strong points, so you might overheat when riding on hot summer days.Buy from Amazon.com
9. Bell Super Air R Flex Mips Mountain Bike Helmet
When it comes to Bell mountain bike helmets that feature a full-face design, you can’t go wrong with this one. It’s not dirt cheap, but it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg either, and in return, you get a Fusion In-Mold polycarbonate shell that’s tough, but also the MIPS technology.
If you haven’t heard of it, you should know that it’s one of the most modern technologies around, with a flexible inner system which can take rotational forces from angled impacts (which are apparently nastier than linear ones) and redirect them so that you stay safe. Thanks to the X-Static padding, you will stay comfortable while also benefiting from a tight fit, for extra protection.
The Goggleguide Adjustable Visor System lets you make sure that the goggles of your choice fit just right while making sure that the visor doesn’t bother you. With the Integrated Breakaway camera mount, you can record live action and share it with your friends and show off your new skills.
This unit comes from a reputable company and delivers the performance and protection one would expect. You get a Fusion In-Mold polycarbonate shell and beneath it, the X-Static padding that keeps the helmet tight on your head while absorbing impacts.
Thanks to the Flex Spherical and MIPS technologies, you have lower chances of getting seriously injured even if we’re talking about crashes at weird angles.
The camera mount helps you easily record awesome action scenes that you can use to brag about your newly discovered trail to your friends.
The adjustable visor is a nice feature and it also allows you to properly fit even large goggles.
While it’s not extremely expensive for a full-face helmet coming from Bell, some riders might not be able to afford this one.
Just as with other similar helmets, you might overheat faster due to the extra weight, fewer vents, and thick cheek pads. Then again, all these make you safer.Buy from Amazon.com
10. SixSixOne Reset Helmet Midnight Copper
Are you trying to find a full-face helmet that does not necessarily put a serious dent into your budget? Then look no further, as this Reset model from SixSixOne offers the protection you need to rip those trails without asking for a whole lot of money.
The outer shell is made of ABS which keeps the entire unit reasonably light. There’s also a large visor that you can adjust to your liking to keep out the sun and vegetation out of your eyes and also fit any type of goggles properly. Thanks to the D-ring closure, you can easily fit and tighten the helmet so that it stays on, no matter how hard you’re riding.
The thick inner liner and cheek pads are more than enough to offer proper protection in case of an impact, and while they might cause you to overheat, you rely on the 10+ angled ventilation ports which should keep things cool enough.
For a decent price, you get a full-face helmet which can give you peace of mind that even if you crash badly, chances are you’ll be able to get up and start over.
The ABS outer shell is lighter than the alternatives while still being quite resistant to bumps and scratches.
The inner liner is quite thick and besides the shock-absorption it’s supposed to handle, it also ensures a decent fit.
The D-closure makes putting this helmet on or taking it off a breeze so you don’t have to waste any time.
The vents in this helmet aren’t many and neither are they large, which means you’re going to be sweating quite a lot in hot weather or during intense riding sessions.
There’s no MIPS or any other kind of technology so most of the protection will come from the foam layer and pads.Buy from Amazon.com
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
Whether you’re looking for an affordable mountain bike helmet or you’re more interested in the protection your future purchase should offer regardless of the cost, there are so many models on the market that making the right choice might not be that easy.
The good part is that you can read a thing or two about mountain bike helmets in the following lines and understand the basics so that you’ll be better able to make an informed choice.
Open or full-face?
The first choice you have to make is between the two main designs: open or full-face. This should also be dictated by the type of riding you’re performing. If you love slaying those trails and performing tricks or you’re into downhill riding, then the choice is simple: you need a full-face helmet.
If you were to look at downhill mountain bike helmets, you’d see that they feature a solid construction, and that they’re thicker and sturdier compared to open face or normal helmets. That’s because the speed and the tricks involved increase the risks of nasty accidents, and every rider should take all the measures necessary to ensure the proper protection.
These helmets usually feature a large and adjustable visor as well as an elongated chin bar. These two protect your face from frontal impacts, and they also allow you to wear larger goggles which are meant to keep away debris and vegetation from getting into your eyes.
If aggressive downhill biking isn’t your thing, then an open face design should do the trick. These helmets aren’t as beefy as full-face models but they do ensure quite decent protection in case of a crash and may save your life. Even wearing one of the cheap mountain bike helmets is preferred compared to having no protection at all.
There are also quite a few lighter, thinner helmets made by renowned brands such as Giro that offer decent protection. These are great for riding on paved roads but also good enough for the trails, especially if you’re into cross-country riding rather than DH and you’re not performing tricks which are dangerous.
What does MIPS stand for?
If you’ve seen MIPS in many product descriptions, then we’re here to clear this for you. MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System which can help lower the risk of injuries to the brain in case of rotational or angled motion. It allows the inner part of the helmet to move and redirect some of the energy from the impact into linear motion so your brain is less likely to suffer.
There are other similar technologies coming from other brands, but what’s important to understand is that they can lower the chances of serious injuries and redirect up to 30/40 percent of the energy from rotational impacts.
Materials and closure systems
Most helmets come with outer shells made of polycarbonate, but you can also find ABS and fiberglass and, in the most expensive models, carbon fiber. The inner layer is usually made of EPS foam but there are some brands that use other types such as Vinyl nitrile.
The inner liners are usually made of wicking fabrics, which should soak some sweat. Some of them are removable, so you can clean them and let them dry faster.
As for closure systems, there are the common straps with D-ring closures or side release buckles, and some helmets feature an interior plastic-straps system that can be tightened with the help of a rear dial which can be rotated for micro-adjustments.
Last, but not least, you should seriously consider getting a helmet that features at least a few vent holes. Without these, you will seriously overheat when putting in a lot of effort or during the summer, and besides making you uncomfortable, it could also cause you problems down the line.
If open face helmets have fewer problems in this department, especially since they have a lighter build, cover less area on the head, and usually come with plenty of holes, the same cannot be said about full-face helmets. Make sure you choose a model that has a few intake holes and a few exhaust vents, to ensure some airflow and help cool your head.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should I get an open or full-face mountain bike helmet?
Depending on the riding you do, you should either pick the lightweight open-face design or go for one of the full-face models. If you’re riding casually or are into cross-country or a similar style of riding, getting a normal, open-face helmet should do. These helmets are light, quite comfortable, and they usually cost a lot less than their full-face counterparts.
They also feature better ventilation and they’re more comfortable to wear over long periods of time. The downside is that they don’t offer enough protection for aggressive riding such as downhill biking or freeriding. If you’re into one of these, you should seriously consider getting a specialized helmet.
These are heavier and might get uncomfortable after some riding, but then they have a solid build and come with large and sturdy visors and chin bars so that you don’t get facial fractures when you could have easily gotten away with a few bruises.
Q: What size mountain bike helmet do I need?
If you’re going to get protection for your head, even the best mountain bike helmet won’t do much good if it doesn’t fit properly. In case it’s too big, it will roll over or slide out of place, which is the last thing you want when you crash. Too small a helmet and you’ll have trouble putting it on, deal with constant headaches, or simply not be protected enough due to the reduced coverage area.
An important thing to note is that the sizing is not universal and each company may have its own size charts. That’s why you should consult the charts of the brand you’re planning to purchase the helmet from and it also wouldn’t be a bad idea to read some mountain bike helmet reviews for that specific model to see what previous owners had to say.
Many specify that a particular helmet runs too small or too large in general, and they can be extremely helpful. Also make sure that you are able to return the product, preferably at no extra charge, in case it doesn’t fit properly.
Q: How much does a mountain bike helmet cost?
The great thing about these is that there’s surely a model for every pocket. In terms of affordable mountain bike helmets, you can expect to pay as little as 30 or 40 bucks for one. The design will probably be poor and the materials not exactly top-notch, but then again, you can’t expect to get a cheap mountain bike helmet and wish for carbon fiber and other high-end features and materials.
You can get decent helmets around the 60 to 100-dollar mark. These are usually open-face designs, but you might find a full-face helmet that doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of big-brand models but still does its job.
If you value protection more than anything else and have the money to spend, then you can pick a helmet from brands such as Leatt, Bell or Fox and enjoy great protection. These come with materials such as carbon fiber, have a super-sturdy construction, and they also have decent ventilation. However, expect to pay anywhere between 200 and 500 bucks for one.