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Your bike is a good option for all kinds of getting around, whether you are heading to work, exploring a new trail, cruising around town, or prepping for a century tour or bikepacking trip. But even if you are just out for a short ride, you shouldn’t forget to wear a helmet to help protect yourself.
Bike riding has been on the rise. During the pandemic, a lot of people set out on two wheels for the first time in at least a year, according to survey data from industry group PeopleForBikes. But cycling injuries have risen along with the number of cyclists on the road. And whether you take a tumble while out on a trail or are involved in an incident with a vehicle, a helmet can dramatically reduce your risk of head injury or death. In fact, in 21 states and the District of Columbia, kids are required to wear bike helmets, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. And many cities and towns have other mandates for kids or even adults requiring helmets.
All the helmets in our ratings are rigorously evaluated in the lab by our expert testers.
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To test how well a helmet will absorb an impact, it is strapped onto a head form and dropped from a little more than 2 meters in the air onto a steel anvil—at a speed of about 14 mph. This test is performed four times, to evaluate the impact absorption at different positions on the helmet. It simulates what would happen if a cyclist fell and hit his or her head on the front, the side, the rear, or the crown.
Our testers evaluate ventilation by wearing each helmet model in front of a ducted air flow, created by a fan blowing air through a wind-concentration fixture. And they examine the features, versatility, and ease of use of all the buckles and adjustments.
Remember, if you’ve fallen and hit your head while wearing a helmet, it’s time to get a new one.
Below are some of our top picks for adults (separated into road/mountain style and urban/skate style) and kids, in alphabetical order. Members can access our full ratings of 58 bike helmets for adults and 21 bike helmets for kids.
We also note below which of these picks come with Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), Low Density Layer, Rotexx, Spin, or WaveCel, all of which are liners designed to reduce the risk of a concussion.
Best Bike Helmets for Adults (Road/Mountain)
CR’s top-rated bike helmet gets top marks for impact absorption and ease of use, and earns a Very Good rating for ventilation. It features MIPS technology and a built-in rear LED light for safety.
This CR Best Buy is one of the best helmets CR has ever tested. It gets top marks for impact absorption and earns an Excellent rating for ventilation, which means you’ll stay cool during long rides. It also features MIPS technology.
This relatively lightweight helmet is our top-rated mountain biking helmet. It earns an Excellent rating for impact absorption and comes with anti-concussive technology known as Low Density Layer. There’s a dial to make it easier to adjust the fit and reflective features to improve nighttime visibility. It also comes with a detachable visor.
This moderately priced helmet earns Excellent ratings for impact absorption and ease of use, and a Very Good score for ventilation. It is relatively light and comes with a built-in LED light and Shearing Pad Inside (SPIN) technology, designed to mitigate the effects of rotational impacts.
Best Bike Helmets for Adults (Skate-Style/Urban)
This helmet earns an Excellent rating for impact absorption and ease of use. It is available in three sizes and includes additional padding, a dial, and adjustable retention straps to help you find the right fit. It has surprisingly good ventilation for a helmet of this style, earning a Very Good rating. It comes with a 1-year warranty, and its reasonable price makes it a CR Best Buy.
This helmet earns Excellent ratings for impact absorption and ease of use, and it comes with MIPS technology. It’s on the heavier side and gets a Very Good score for ventilation, which is pretty impressive for a helmet this style. It comes in two sizes and has a convenient magnetic buckle and built-in LED lights.
Best Bike Helmets for Kids
This CR Best Buy gets top marks for impact absorption, ventilation, and ease of use. It has an easy-to-adjust strap for its retention system, a pinch prevention system, and a convenient magnetic buckle. It comes with a 1-year warranty.
This helmet gets top marks for impact absorption and comes with a 1-year warranty. Its low price and impressive performance make it a CR Best Buy. A dial makes it easy to adjust the fit, and reflective stickers improve nighttime visibility. Plus, a bonus for parents: The padding is washable.
Uvex Quatro Junior (out of stock)
This helmet gets top marks for impact absorption and comes packed with cool features: a button to release the buckle with one hand, a dial to adjust the fit, and reflective elements to increase nighttime visibility. Our testers found that the ventilation on this helmet is not as good as on other top picks, so it might not be the best choice for muggy summer days. It comes with a 1-year warranty.
This helmet earns an Excellent rating for impact absorption, and Very Good scores for ventilation, ease of use, and fit adjustments. It comes in two sizes and is on the lighter side. It includes SPIN technology to mitigate rotational impacts.
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