These days road cycling helmets come in a plethora of categories. Some are light, some are aero, some have MIPS, some cost an arm and a leg, some are easy on the wallet. Here are PELOTON’s 7 favorite helmets from 2018, representing helmets from just about every category and every price point. Not all are brand new to the market, some are just standing the test of time better than others.
• While high-end helmets are getting more expensive, entry level helmets are getting better much too.
• Choose based on your riding and climate. Do you need aerodynamics, ventilation, light weight, versatility?
• While adding MIPS to any helmet improves impact performance, it doesn’t mean a different non-MIPs helmet is less safe. Read more about that here.
The Best Fit and Finish: Bell Z20
The new Bell Z20 is actually two helmets in one. Two discrete EPS foam shells, each with different densities, provide improved impact resistance that is designed for both high speed and slow speed impacts. This design, while complex to make, results in a lower volume helmet with better aerodynamics, better ventilation and beautiful aesthetics. While light, at 305 grams, it’s not the lightest helmet on the road, but those extra grams are used very well indeed. MIPS is integrated into the fit system itself and unlike many high end race helmets with fragile fit systems that won’t withstand a season of race and travel, the Z20’s system is as durable as it is comfortable with a padded rear cradle and multiple, fine adjustments possible. Overall, the helmet’s fit and finish is simply the best we have ever seen. 305grams, $230; bellhelmets.com
Save Grams and Dollars: Suomy Timeless
The Suomy Timeless weighs just 190 grams and costs just $95. Despite the amazing price the Timeless is a full-featured helmet with incredible fit and finish. It has 35 vents and a fit system called SMC (Suomy Minimum Contact) that uses a micro-adjustable rear cradle to minimize contact between the helmet and head to help with cooling. The Timeless is the perfect way to up your helmet game before your next fondo; no one has to know it was a bargain. $95; 190grams, ciclista-america.com
MIPS Comes of Age: Giro Aether
The new Giro Aether is the most advanced cycling helmet in the world and it’s all about delivering the cutting edge safety of MIPS in an elegant and integrated solution. There is no plastic liner in the Aether MIPS, the Aether debuts MIPS Spherical – a beautiful and stealthy solution to fighting oblique impacts. Using two independent EPS shells, with a friction reducing layer between, the Aether MIPS provides the critical ‘slip-plane’ to reduce the affects of rotational force on the brain, without the usual plastic liner. You need to get to a bike shop and hold it in your hands to truly appreciate it. You can even get a custom painted Aether at giro.com. $325, 250grams (CPSC version), three sizes, nine colors; giro.com
Versatile Speed: Lazer Bullet
Lazer’s Bullet was not just sculpted in the wind tunnel for maximum speed, it features Airslide adjustable ventilation. Open, it provides eight vents for huge ventilation; closed, it’s both wicked fast and well insulated for the coldest races. The Bullet comes with a second set of full coverage Airslide caps for truly arctic days. Lazer even moved its rolling-fit adjuster to the rear of the helmet to keep it out of the wind. It’s also compatible with an integrated LED and Lazer’s inclination sensor. To simplify race day, it is compatible with Lazer’s LifeBeam integrated heart-rate meter as well. It’s fast, versatile and full of invention. $260 ($290 w/MIPS); 309g; lazersport.com
Bontrager Velocis MIPS
This is Bontrager’s top of the line helmet, as full featured as any on this list, but it’s just $200.
It’s an aero helmet, with the ventilation and comfort for all day escapes. It’s built from the ground up with MIPS integration and the recessed inner channels provide a noticeable improvement in airflow, even at slow speeds. We love the Neo Visor too, it tucks between the pads and helmet shell for some stylish, extra sun protection. The Trek-Segafredo team rides the Velocis MIPS in Viper Red and it is an incredibly handsome helmet, and likely the most inexpensive helmet on the World Tour. $200, 245grams, trekbikes.com
With the Trenta, Italian helmet manufacturer MET, is ready to take on the heavy hitters of the U.S. market. Designed for both MET’s WorldTour riders and to celebrate 30 years of helmet manufacturing, the Trenta is an aesthetic and engineering home run. Using an elastic 3K-carbon modulus allowed MET to reduce the density of the EPS foam, yet increase protection while including 19 vents. The top vent, based on a NACA airfoil, moves air across the top of your head to carry heat away, but gives the air a clean path to the back of the helmet, significantly reducing drag. Similar performance can be had for a few dollars less, and a few grams more, with the non-carbon Trenta. $315, 215g; met-helmets.com
Swedish Good Looks: POC Ventral
When we received the press release for this new helmet, we saw that POC claims its new Ventral aero helmet to be the “fastest and most aerodynamic, ventilated, lightweight and safest helmet ever developed”. Those are a lot of bests, and needless to say, our interest was piqued. The helmet is quiet, disturbing a minimum of air, meaning it is indeed aero. It’s fairly light for an aero helmet too, just 284grams, with POC’s new SPIN rotational impact dissipation pads. And of course the styling, edgy, colorful and very Scandinavian, everything we expect – and love – about POC. 284g, $290; pocsports.com