The best road cycling helmets will give you plenty of protection and many of them are not too expensive either.
Yes, you can pay a lot for a top-spec road helmet as used by the pros, but even budget helmets can come with a range of great features.
MIPS tends to be the headline extra feature, although other technologies are available that are designed to increase the level of protection in a crash (see our buyer’s guide further down this post).
MIPS used to be confined to expensive helmets, but now you can pick up a helmet with MIPS for well under £100/$100.
All helmets must pass stringent testing standards to be approved for sale, so even without extra safety features your helmet will help protect you in a crash.
As with all things road cycling, aerodynamics has become a major selling point for the best road bike helmets. We’ve included some dedicated aero helmets here, but check out our list of the best aero helmets for more options.
If you’re looking for off-road helmets, you can also check out our selection of the best mountain bike helmets.
We’ve organised this buyer’s guide into the best road cycling helmets at different price levels from the inexpensive to the top-of-the-range. You can use the links below to jump to the section you need.
Then scroll down to the bottom for our buyer’s guide to choosing the best road cycling helmet.
Best road bike helmets under £50
Van Rysel RoadR 500
- £30 / $40 / €35 as tested
- Great looks for a budget helmet
- Good ventilation from its 14 vents
Looking more expensive than its price tag, the Van Rysel RoadR 500 helmet from Decathlon is comfortable with a race-oriented outline and 14 large vents that do a good job of cooling. The dial adjuster feels a bit cruder than higher-priced helmets, though.
The RoadR comes in two sizes and three colour options. It’s not quite as compact as the Van Rysel Aerofit 900, although that helmet will cost you £10 more.
Giant Relay MIPS
- £45 / $50 / €47.50 / AU$80 as tested
- Great value for a MIPS helmet
- Decent ventilation
The Giant Relay MIPS is a budget helmet that has received a 5-star rating in Virginia Tech‘s independent helmet testing. Quality features include in-mould construction and anti-odour padding. The 17 vents ensure good airflow and although not lightweight at 348g for a size M/L, the helmet doesn’t feel heavy when riding.
Although a little clunky, the retention adjuster works well and the MIPS Cinch system is well integrated. It’s an impressive performance for a budget helmet.
Specialized Align II
- £45 / $55 / €60 / AU$80 as tested
- Includes MIPS in a low-priced helmet
- A little heavy at 374g for a M/L
Specialized manages to give you MIPS protection in its Align II budget helmet, which is impressive. There’s a good level of internal padding and the fit is secure and easy to adjust on the go with a decent dial adjuster. Cooling is reasonable too via the 16 vents.
On the flip side, the 374g weight for the size M/L helmet is a little on the high side and could be felt during our test.
Best road bike helmets under £100
Bell Avenue MIPS
- $120 / £65 as tested
- Outstanding value
- MIPS tech and user-friendly features
There was a time when MIPS technology held a significant premium and was used almost exclusively in the most expensive helmets. Those times are very much in the past, with Bell’s Avenue MIPS being a perfect example.
Its retention system is easy to adjust and very effective, while the polycarbonate shell features 18 vents to keep things nice and cool, as well as reflective highlights to boost visibility.
Its 310g weight is heavier than quite a few helmets at this price, but we think it’s a sound trade-off when you consider just how well this lid performs for its price tag.
Specialized Propero 3 ANGi
- £95 / $140 / €130 / AU$200 as tested
- Both MIPS and ANGi sensor included
- Quality details and high airflow
The Specialized Propero 3 is packed with safety features in a reasonably priced helmet: not only do you get MIPS, but also the ANGi crash detector that uses your phone to alert contacts to a possible crash. It also shares the looks and high airflow of Specialized’s high-end Prevail helmet.
The internal skeleton means the Propero 3 is pretty lightweight at 305g for a size M and the straps worked well even under high-intensity, sweaty efforts.
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Coros Safesound Road
- £93 / $100 as tested
- Built-in Bluetooth speakers and rear light
- Incident detection
Corus builds Bluetooth connectivity into the Safesound, enabling you to listen to music without blocking out sounds from around you. You can change playback volume, answer calls and turn the in-built rear blinkie on and off with the included bar-mounted remote or via the Coros app.
In addition, there’s in-built incident detection, which will alert your emergency contacts via the app.
It’s a comfortable helmet in its own right, with good ventilation. At just over 300g for a large helmet, the Safesound Road isn’t overly heavy either.
Endura Xtract II
- £60 / €75 as tested
- Great airflow and a quality feel
- No MIPS option
It may be Endura’s entry-level road helmet, but the Xtract II is light at 270g for a large, looks good and is well finished.
You get five large forward-facing vents, another eight at the rear and deep channelling to encourage airflow between them. Quality features such as a shell that fully wraps the EPS core and thick, hard-wearing straps make for a helmet that belies its budget price.
Limar Air Stratos
- £80 / €100 as tested
- Well made, lightweight budget helmet
- No MIPS option
Although targeted at gravel riders, the Limar Air Stratos is a 240g helmet that works as well on the road as off. The muted, matt colours are the principal gravel feature.
There’s plenty of padding and adjustability, and the helmet is well finished, belying its low price, although the dial adjuster is a little small. There’s no MIPS in the helmet.
- £70 / €80 as tested
- Gravel-specific design
- Integrated light and sun visor
The MET Allroad is designed for gravel riders, but if you like your road or commuting lid to have a bit of mountain bike style then don’t let the marketing get in your way.
The adjustable retention system also integrates a rear light and is compatible with ponytails.
The Allroad is very comfortable and breathes well, just like a high-quality road helmet, even with the extra protection it offers for off-road duties.
Best road bike helmets under £200
Bontrager Starvos WaveCel
- £100 / $100 / €110 as tested
- WaveCel construction
- XL helmet available for heads up to 66cm
The Starvos brings Bontrager’s WaveCel collapsible cellular construction technology, which is claimed to be more effective at impact absorption than EPS, to a new low price. It’s very airy, adding extra comfort to rides in hot weather.
The build leads to a helmet weight of 375g for a size large, although we didn’t notice the extra weight in testing.
With WaveCel having a bit more give than the usual EPS foam helmet material, the Starvos WaveCel is comfortable. There’s good adjustability and an extra-large option to fit heads from 60cm to 66cm, too.
Endura Pro SL
- £150 / €200 as tested
- Great quality and comfort
- Warm in very hot weather
The Endura Pro SL helmet uses Koroyd impact-protection technology, which is said to help protect your brain from direct and angled impacts. The protection comes in the form of honeycomb-like tubes inside the helmet, and plush padding ensures these don’t lead to an uncomfortable fit.
In fact, the Pro SL is very comfortable to wear. It has a cradle with vertical adjustment and a ratchet that enables you to dial in optimum fit.
The exterior of the helmet has a hard exterior shell, which meant after months of testing the helmet still looked new.
One thing to bear in mind is we found the helmet was warm in hot weather.
Scott Centric Plus
- £150 / $200 / €200 / AU$300 as tested
- Aero and well vented
- Minimalist MIPS implementation doesn’t get in the way
The new Centric Plus helmet carries on where the original left off with a design that’s been wind-tunnel tested and has large vents for great airflow. There’s easy adjustment and Scott has now added MIPS’ anti-rotation system, integrated into the padding as seen in Specialized’s high-end helmets.
There’s better air circulation over the crown of the head, with additional vents relative to the previous-generation Centric. It’s well finished and weighs an impressively light 272g for a size L.
- £130 as tested
- Very light, comfortable and well ventilated
- Not available with MIPS
The size large StormChaser helmet, the third in Abus’s road line-up after the GameChanger and AirBreaker, is impressively light at 238g. That’s around 80g less than the major competition at its price, thanks to less material in the lower-volume shell, which also gives a more compact outline.
There’s deep channelling for good ventilation and soft straps, making for plenty of comfort when riding, although the fixed strap anchor points limit adjustability.
Large reflectives at the rear increase visibility and the internal skeleton is designed to help maintain the integrity of the helmet in an accident. Unlike many helmets, there’s not a MIPS option, though.
Bell Stratus MIPS
- £135 / $170 as tested
- Excellent fit and performance
- MIPS liner
At 317g for a size large, the Stratus is not the lightest helmet on the market, but that’s not noticeable when wearing it. Ventilation is fantastic too, making this a great helmet for those who live in hot climes, or who regularly find themselves overheating on the climbs.
It’s great to see a MIPS liner at this price point and it doesn’t hurt that it looks very smart as well. Plus, if lime green isn’t your favourite colour, there are eight alternative choices, so you should be able to find something that suits.
- £125 / €149 as tested
- Well made, good looking and lightweight
- Unvented section at the rear can get a bit warm
HJC brings its aero expertise, honed from 50 years of making motorcycle helmets, to cyclists. All its helmets are wind-tunnel tested and the Valeco is well finished, good looking and reasonably light for an aero design at 272g (size large), although it comes without MIPS.
The Valeco uses multiple densities of EPS foam, positioned for extra protection in high-stress areas and lower weight in less critical zones.
You get seven forward-facing vents and another seven at the rear, but despite this, the solid rear end means the helmet can become a bit sweaty around the nape of the neck.
- £180 as tested
- Very light and good ventilation
- Limited hardshell coverage
The Genesis is Lazer’s pro-level helmet and at 210g it is one of the lightest available too.
There are 22 vents that provide ample ventilation and five levels of vertical adjustment to help find the right fit.
Overall, the build quality is great, but a lack of hardshell coverage at the back means you’ll have to be careful not to dent the exposed foam.
You can pair the Genesis with Lazer’s aeroshell, which, at the time of testing, cost an extra £19.99.
MET Rivale MIPS
- £140 / €150 as tested
- Light, airy and comfortable
- Non-removable straps
Often, aerodynamic helmets mean less ventilation, but the MET Rivale MIPS hits a sweet spot between aero efficiency and head-cooling properties.
The Rivale is also comfortable to wear with soft internal pads and soft-touch straps.
Overall, the helmet has a high-quality feel with an exemplary finish and a hard exterior shell that protects the EPS foam.
The presence of MIPS provides a good level of protection.
POC Omne Air SPIN
- £140 / $150 / €160 as tested
- Great fit and safety tech
- Secure and easily adjustable
We found the POC Omne Air SPIN helmet to have a great fit, and were impressed with its innovative safety features and effective ventilation.
POC’s SPIN (Shearing Pad INside) pads have a silicone gel-like membrane within them, designed to reduce rotational forces being transferred to the brain in the event of a crash.
The rotary dial retention system acts on a band encircling the head for great security and adjusts between four vertical positions. It’s a stylish-looking lid too.
Rudy Project Nytron
- £153 / $325 / €200 as tested
- Impressive aero performance, although only if you ride head-down
- Lightweight and well finished
Rudy Project developed the pro-level Nytron aero helmet in the wind tunnel with the help of the aerodynamicists at Swiss Side. Its compact shape hides six forward-facing vents, internal channels and nine exhaust ports. It meets the WG11 rotational impact protection standard, although it doesn’t incorporate MIPS.
It’s light at 307g for a size L too, and well finished, although the venting only works well and catches the airflow if you ride in a head-down position.
Best road bike helmets under £300
Specialized S-Works Evade with ANGi
- £250 / $275 / €320 as tested
- Cutting-edge safety features
- Excellent ventilation, weight and claimed aero performance
We found the S-Works Evade to be supremely comfortable and well ventilated, and it’s claimed to also be very aerodynamic – one of our tests backs this up too.
Adding additional safety features such as MIPS and ANGi to the already stellar S-Works Evade II makes this easily one of the best helmets on the market.
Specialized is now onto the S-Works Evade 3 helmet, which it claims has improved ventilation. We haven’t yet reviewed the latest Evade 3 though.
Giro Eclipse Spherical
- £240 / $250 / €260 / AU$430 as tested
- Unobtrusive MIPS Spherical integration
- Lightweight and well vented for an aero helmet
The Giro Eclipse Spherical uses Giro’s own MIPS Spherical, which integrates a sliding plane between two layers in the shell, making for a neater implementation than the more common liner.
It’s an aero helmet that Giro claims is the slipperiest out there, with a low-profile shape, while 17 vents help keep you cooler than many such lids. It’s not too heavy either at 277g for a medium and the padding incorporates silver to help keep it smelling nicer.
Giro Helios Spherical
- £230 / $250 / €250 as tested
- MIPS Spherical helmet geared to gravel riders
- Comfortable and light, with good venting performance
Like the Giro Eclipse Spherical helmet, the Helios Spherical uses Giro’s neat MIPS implementation. Geared to gravel riding, the Helios Spherical takes less account of aerodynamics than Giro’s more road-oriented lids (although aerodynamics is becoming increasingly important to gravel riders too).
It’s a compact helmet with a fairly round interior shape, minimal padding and 28 vents to keep you cool. We found it really comfortable, with the padding well placed and good ventilation. The 303g weight of the size L helmet is reasonable too.
MET Trenta 3K Carbon MIPS
- £280 / $336 / €330 / AU$463 as tested
- Great airflow and ventilation
- Very light for a helmet with MIPS
MET’s top-of-the-range Trenta 3K Carbon has a racing pedigree – it was worn to victory in the 2021 Tour de France by Tadej Pogačar.
An upgrade on the Met Trenta, the 3K carbon has MIPS Air built in to protect you, while minimising weight. In a size L (58 to 61cm), it’s 265g. However, MET uses slightly different size banding, with my head falling into its large size and most other brands’ medium. In medium, it’s a mere 225g.
It has a striking wave-shaped rear profile, made up of the two exhaust vents, and a wind-tunnel backed Kammtail for an aero benefit. The ventilation is a key element of the helmet, which is pitched for hot conditions and extreme efforts. It performed brilliantly during a brief British heatwave.
It’s the only helmet where the hardshell doesn’t wrap fully around the underside, which won’t affect how it rides but may impact on its longevity.
Kask Protone Icon
- £245 / $276 / €275 / AU$362 as tested
- Superb ventilation and aero performance, delivered by CFD design and wind-tunnel testing
- Octofit+ retention system offers huge adjustment range
The Protone’s aesthetics set it apart. It’s a thing of beauty, especially in a matt finish, and features nice extra touches. A soft leather chin strap and a reflective strip on the rear are welcome additions to comfort and safety.
Weighing just 230g, the Protone is one of the lightest helmets on this list, making it a great option for saving weight. With Cycling Time Trial (CTT) regulations in the UK now requiring helmets at all events, this could be a hit at hill climbs.
The adjustment system will seem familiar to those who’ve previously used Kask helmets, albeit with upgrades on the older models. This Octofit+ makes it easy to achieve a perfect fit.
Helmet cage height can be adjusted readily and gives a wide grip, with tension controlled using a well-designed grippy dial. It’s ponytail-friendly for long-haired cyclists too.
There’s no specific technology for rotational impact protection. Kask says it has been tested (using Kask’s WG11 internal protocol) to ensure it would provide protection in such a crash, but this may still be a drawback to some.
Lazer Vento Kineticore
- £250 / $300 / €269 / AU$439 as tested
- Comfortable, with good ventilation for an aero helmet
- Kineticore impact protection adds a crumple zone inside the helmet
Lazer’s top-of-the-range aero road helmet has been designed in conjunction with Team Jumbo-Visma. It’s aerodynamic, well ventilated and good looking.
According to Lazer, it is also 2.3 per cent more aerodynamic than its predecessor, with a 12 per cent improvement in cooling efficiency. While it’s hard to verify the aero bonus, we could easily believe the cooling benefit – feeling a stream of air coming through the helmet top when riding.
The aero gains may not be game-changing for the recreational rider, but better cooling could have a serious impact on performance on a hot day.
The Vento gets five stars from Virginia Tech, achieved by the use of ‘Kineticore’. This is an EPS block-based protection against both direct and rotational impact – providing a shear layer with specific crumple zones.
It weighs 290g, but doesn’t feel heavy or bulky to wear. A comfortable fit and easy adjustment mean its weight doesn’t impact on experience. Rubber docking points for glasses are also featured and work well.
MET Manta MIPS
- £220 / AU$388 / €250 as tested
- Lightweight and great fit
- Not as well ventilated as non-aero helmets
With the Manta, MET looked to turn the aero helmet on its head, keeping the weight low and ventilation high.
At 272.6g for a size large, it is indeed a light helmet considering its watt-saving design. It’s relatively aerated too, but it still won’t keep your head as cool as many non-aero lids.
When it comes to safety, the helmet is fitted with MIPS.
The fit of the helmet is excellent and there’s a host of great details, such as a magnetic Fidlock clasp.
The only downside to this helmet is the high price tag.
Specialized S-Works Prevail 3
- £275 / $300 / €330 / AU$475 as tested
- Great ventilation with 25 vents
- Padding stays dry however much you sweat
The third iteration of the Specialized S-Works Prevail helmet retains the original’s great ventilation and low weight (258g for a size M). Rather than the usual EPS foam bridges between the ribs, there’s an aramid cage, which leads to huge vents for great airflow on hot and hilly rides.
MIPS doesn’t impede airflow because Specialized uses the Air Node version that’s integrated into the internal padding, which stays impressively dry, even over the brow, on hot days. Fit is great and highly adjustable. You can fit Specialized’s ANGi crash alert system, although it’s an extra.
We’ve also recently tested the slightly cheaper S-Works Prevail II Vent helmet, which has much of the Prevail 3’s lightweight airy design in common.
What to look for when buying a road bike helmet
Fit and retention systems
First and foremost, in the event of a crash, a helmet has to stay on your head to be effective. Just like shoes, helmets from different brands are made to fit slightly differently, so it’s important to try before you buy.
Most helmets use a dial-based retention system (e.g. Giro’s Roc Loc 5 or Kask’s Octo Fit) to adjust the fit, but the vertical adjustment range (i.e. how high or low the rear adjustment supports sit on your head) will vary between helmets, so this is something to look out for.
Adjustable and comfortable straps are also incredibly important – you need to be able to wear them with a fairly snug fit against your chin for maximum effectiveness.
Most cycle helmets are made primarily from expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. This skeleton is then covered, to varying degrees, in a hard polycarbonate shell (and sometimes a dash of carbon fibre) to add strength and protect the EPS foam from accidental bumps and scratches.
This basic design has been in place for decades now, but other manufacturing techniques and materials are beginning to filter through, such as 3D-printed Polyamide 11 or other proprietary polymer materials.
Naturally, manufacturers claim these designs offer benefits over traditional cycle helmets, but whether those benefits are realised in use remains to be seen.
While we won’t comment on the overall efficacy of helmets in general, it’s worth noting that all helmets sold in the EU must conform to the EN 1078 European Standard (and therefore have a CE mark). In the US, they must be CPSC-certified.
Every helmet on this list does just that, if not more, and should at least offer your head some protection against bumps and scratches if you fall off your bike while out riding.
Recently, we’ve seen a substantial increase in additional safety technologies such as rotational liners (e.g. MIPS) and Bontrager’s proprietary WaveCel material. These innovations are claimed to offer increased protection from head and brain injuries by reducing rotational forces or simply by using materials that are better able to absorb certain shocks.
There is some independent safety testing of cycle helmets, but these things are obviously harder to test outside of the lab, where there are so many variables at play. On balance, these extra safety features are almost certainly worth looking for and have now trickled down to quite inexpensive lids.
For fast road riding, especially in hot weather, ventilation is key. A well-designed system of vents and channels in the internal structure of a helmet can help to draw air over your head and dissipate heat.
As might be obvious, putting holes in a helmet to increase ventilation is likely to lead to reduced weight and, potentially, robustness. So, to make up for that, airy helmets often need more reinforcement or are constructed with pricier materials, to ensure they still meet safety and durability standards.
The aero brush touches everything these days, increasing costs and making all your current kit feel outdated, but with helmets it probably does make sense. The potential watt savings to be made with aero helmets shouldn’t be overlooked if you’re concerned with riding fast.
There are compromises of course: increasing aerodynamic efficiency usually means closing off ventilation holes or putting up with funky-shaped lids that, frankly, have looks that sometimes border on the ridiculous. But then again, if your main concern is simply to ride faster, perhaps looks aren’t that important.
Only a few brands actively promote their helmets’ ability to hold your sunglasses in the front vents, but this feature can be a real bonus.
Helmet brands that also make sunglasses tend to do better in this regard, but make sure to take your sunglasses with you when you’re shopping for a new helmet so you can check the hold.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but it is worth considering what kind of riding the helmets you like the look of are designed for.
Let’s say you like classic-looking helmets with lots of vent holes; if you live somewhere cold, maybe you’d be better off with a more aero-focused helmet with less ventilation and holes for water to seep through.
Likewise, the opposite could be true if you live somewhere hot; there’s no use having a helmet that’s incredibly fast in the wind tunnel if you don’t want to wear it because it makes your head boil.