Although some mountain bike bike helmets are cool enough to be classified as fashion accessories they’re an essential piece of equipment when it comes to your health and safety. Research shows that accidents involving cyclists, where there has been a death, the most serious injuries are to the head. It’s estimated that by wearing a helmet the chances of a head injury are reduced by half and injuries to the face and neck are reduced by 33%.
However, for them to be effective they need to fit well and be fastened properly. While mountain biking is probably the most fun you can have with your clothes on, in a public area, with a group of people or alone, the terrain can be treacherous and accidents are likely to occur.
There are the best mountain bike helmets to suit every style and budget, from full face to enduro, so finding one shouldn’t be the problem. What might cause a bit of a headache though is deciding which one to get.
Our Top 4 Helmets
Best Overall Mountain Bike Helmet
Troy Lee Designs A1 Drone Helmet
Troy Lee is synonymous with style and full-coverage head protection. It’s fair to say they offer near perfect for all mountain biking.
Some helmets grip the head unevenly, leaving gaps here and applying too much pressure there, but the A1 feels snug from front to back, and on the sides too.
With 16 ventilation holes, the front holes suck cool air in and the back channels pump the heat, and while it seems like a fairly simple system, it’s definitely an effective one. Even with it being a full-coverage design it stays cool enough in warm conditions. The one-piece liner can be removed for easy washing and the visor is effective at blocking the sun, even when it’s at low angles. Because the helmet covers the entire head, down to the nape of the neck and across the forehead, there’s very little that is exposed to blunt trauma.
We like everything about the Troy Lee, from its design and fit to its protective visor. It weighs 11 ounces, which is one of the lightest helmets on the market but still offers superior protection. And it’s good value for money too.
Best Budget Mountain Bike Helmet
Giro Trinity Helmet
The Giro Trinity helmet takes everything good from the more expensive MTB helmets and puts them all together in one very cool (do people still say cool?) affordable helmet. There are 22 vents for ventilation and impact protection is provided by the full-coverage shell.
For a budget helmet, the Giro Trinity has features you’d expect to find on premium products, like the In-Mold™ construction that keeps the weight down and an Acu Dial™ adjustment system that allows you to adjust the fit while you’re riding. In a nutshell, the Giro Trinity is excellent value for money and is suitable for commuting and recreational riding. It’s a great fit and even with its low price, it doesn’t compromise on style, performance or comfort.
Best Full Face Mountain Bike Helmet
Demon Podium Full Face Mountain Bike Helmet
The name says it all. The Demon Podium Full Face Mountain Bike Helmet can be described as multi-functional, it’s perfect for dirt jumping, downhill riding and even BMX riders. While you might look like Darth Vader, the helmet is light and well-made. The inside liner can be removed and is machine washable for your convenience.
There are 13 well-positioned air vents that allow your head to breathe, even though the helmet covers your entire head. The visor is adjustable and the Demon Podium is available in four sizes: small, medium, large and extra large.
Best Enduro Mountain Bike Helmet
Giro Reverb Bike Helmet
The Giro Reverb is one of the coolest looking mountain bike helmets we’ve seen in a long time. The Giro Reverb has been designed for urban riders and is available in 14 different colours. What we particularly like is how it’s rounded ar the back, which is safer than pointed helmets. The helmet is light compared to others and the removable visor adds a nice touch. The Reverb has a self-adjusting fit system and an alternate piece of cushioning is provided to replace the visor that fits on quickly and easily with velcro
Something else we felt worth mentioning is the clasp on the chin strap – it’s easy to open and close, using one hand and while there aren’t any adjustments for the straps by your ears, we didn’t need them because they fitted perfectly.
A smart purchase if you ask us.
Now you know what our top 4 mountain bike helmet picks are there are a few things you need to remember when deciding on one.
Types of Mountain Bike Helmets
Whether you enjoy trail riding, dirt jumping, mountain biking or cross country racing, there’s a helmet for you. There are basically two types to choose from:
Full Face Mountain Bike Helmets
Similar to regular motorbike helmets full face MTB helmets provide full coverage for riders who are more aggressive. For maximum protection, they cover the ears and have a chin guard. The downside is they are heavy and aren’t as ventilated as the half-shell bike helmets.
Half-Shell Mountain Bike Helmets
The half-shell bike helmet is similar to road bike helmets, but where the mountain bike helmet has a visor the road bike helmets don’t. They tend to provide more coverage because of the rocky terrain and inevitable crashes.
Buying Guide: How to choose the best mountain bike helmet for you
There’s a wide choice of mountain bike helmets available which is awesome when you know what you’re looking for, but what happens when you don’t? You read our buying guide, a comprehensive list of the features you should look for when purchasing one.
Always safety first. After all, it’s your cranium we’re talking about. While the design and colors might get everyone talking, it’s all about protection when it comes to mountain bike helmets. You need to look at the construction and choice of materials used. It’s also worth looking at safety certifications, like CPSC, EN or ASTM.
Mountain bike helmets are constructed in one of two ways. They are either in-moulded or they have a separate liner and shell. Most riders prefer the in-moulded helmets because they offer more protection. If you’re concerned about your budget you might want to look at the separate liner and shell models, they’re generally cheaper than the in-molded helmets. But while you’re thinking about the price keep in mind we’re talking about your head, and the difference between walking away from a fall in one piece or suffering severe, possibly life to change injuries.
Another important feature to consider is the ventilation. We suggest you look at the ventilation system rather than the number of vents on the helmet. If the vents are properly placed and the system is a well-designed one then the air moves through effectively.
How a helmet fits on your head is important. You want one that can be adjusted, and ideally, you want to get one that has a self-adjusting system. You want a snug fit that will protect your head in any kind of fall. Make sure the helmet fits and remember it’s not like a pair of shoes, you can’t break it in. It fits or it doesn’t.
Comfort is important and it goes hand in hand with the fit. You need to make sure the helmet you choose is as comfortable as possible, from the moment you put it on to the time it comes off. The last thing you want is a helmet that gives you a headache or crushes your brain. Some of the makes have removable pads and you can customize the size of the helmet, especially if during colder months you’re wearing a hat.
Visors and Camera Mounts
Some mountain bike helmets have visors that look good and block the sun. Some of them have adjustable visors that allow you to move them around for maximum protection from the sun and there are some that can be removed from the helmet when you don’t need it. Nowadays a lot of people have cameras and go-pros and there are mountain bike helmets that accommodate them, which is a pretty cool updated feature.
My Final Verdict
We’re always left gobsmacked at how much money people will happily spend on a mountain bike but then count their pennies when it comes to buying a helmet. No matter how much a helmet costs we can almost guarantee it’ll be less than a hospital visit, and let’s face it, a premium mountain bike means nothing if you’re not around to ride it.
There are more than enough budget-friendly mountain bike helmets that offer maximum protection, look good and don’t cost a fortune. It’s just a case of doing your homework, trying a few styles out, and asking around. It also helps reading reviews like ours, where we focus on value for money and quality while taking everyone’s budgets into account.