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The Road Helmet Guide

We’ve picked a few of our current favorites, plus outlined the factors you need to consider.

Category

Race

Riders looking for a lightweight and highly ventilated helmet for especially hot conditions or grinding up mountain passes and steep grades will want what we’d consider a race helmet.

Aero

Time trialists and the locomotives among us should choose an aero helmet, which cuts through the wind to help you cover distance more quickly, at the expense of some ventilation.

Performance

Our favorite performance helmets will serve any rider well, delivering most of the features of the class leaders without the shock to the pocketbook.

Crash Technology

Most helmets today are equipped with some type of rotation-based safety technology. Although some brands use their own proprietary rotation-based technologies, the gold standard is MIPS, or Multi-directional Impact Protection System. These systems incorporate a slip layer between the rider’s head and the helmet’s inner shell, which is independently verified to reduce the damaging effects of certain types of impacts. MIPS Spherical, which is offered on a handful of helmets works the same way, but moves the slip layer between an inner and outer shell, which aids in building lower profile helmets with better ventilation. While this type of technology isn’t required, the consensus is that it does make helmets safer.

Key Considerations

Price

Race level helmets represent the very best brands have to offer. That means the newest technologies, unique technical features, premium materials, and carefully styled aesthetics. By contrast, Performance level helmets will have fewer of these premium features, trading them for a more approachable asking price.

Ventilation

More vents means additional cooling, which is desirable throughout most of the season. Keep in mind that today’s aero helmets provide airflow-driven cooling that will keep you cool if you’re covering ground, but tend to get hot when speeds drop, especially when climbing.

Eyewear Storage

Think about how you like to store your glasses. The best helmets now accommodate sunglasses storage, and there are a range of approaches, from elegantly simple vent-based storage, to fairly technical external clips which are typically more secure.

Liners

You’ll find antimicrobial liners on some helmets, which stay fresh for longer between washings. While it’s often considered a premium feature, antimicrobial liners can also be found on better performance level helmets.

Retention Systems

Most helmets have an adjustable retention system to give your head a secure, personalized fit in the helmet’s shell. Although we have no issue with push ratchets, we’ve found that dial adjusters hold their adjustment with less fuss.

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Giro Aether MIPS

Built on progressive Spherical MIPS technology that adds protection and reduces volume, this pro-level lightweight is made for the rider drawn to today’s most advanced technology.

  • MIPS Spherical Technology
  • Roc Loc 5 Plus Retention System for Precise Fit
  • Sunglasses Port for Easy On Bike Storage
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Lazer G1 MIPS

In addition to reducing weight, the minimalist profile of this helmet keeps it light and cool for summer use—which makes it a natural fit for those who tend to run hot in the warmer months, as well as obsessive gram counters.

  • MIPS Technology
  • Pared Down Minimalist Design
  • ARS Dial Adjustable Retention System
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POC Ventral AIR SPIN

Delivering a highly ventilated package with shockingly low aerodynamic drag, this helmet is ideal for riders wanting speed approaching an aero helmet, along with excellent cooling for hot climbs.

  • SPIN Rotation Protection Technology
  • Massive Vents for Outstanding Cooling
  • Dial Activated Retention System
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Bell Z20 Aero MIPS

Packing a stunning amount of technology into a slim package, this is an ideal option for racers with a rounder shaped head demanding maximum speed and enough cooling for all but the hottest days.

  • MIPS Technology
  • Float Fit Race Adjustable Fit System
  • Overbrow Ventilation Fights Fogging Glasses
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Kask Utopia

For those seeking an aero helmet that stays cool when you’re moving, this progressive design takes the ability to draw cooling air while you’re moving, and blends it with stunning aerodynamic speed.

  • HyVent Channels for Cooling Airflow
  • Octofit Adjustable Fit System
  • Fast Drying 3D Dry Padding
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POC Ventral SPIN Raceday

Half way between a modern race and aero helmet, this extremely low-drag lid will keep your head cooler than any other in this category, making it perhaps the best aero helmet today for hot weather use.

  • SPIN Rotation Protection Technology
  • Dial Adjustable Retention System
  • Sculpted Vents Promote Active Cooling at Speed
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Kask Mojito

There’s no mistaking that classic Italian flare. For riders who want their cycling gear to visibly drip with passion, this helmet delivers race-ready features along with Kask’s signature style.

  • Faux Leather Chin Strap
  • Up-N-Down Ratcheting Adjustable Fit System
  • Antimicrobial Liner Keeps Helmet Fresh
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Giro Cinder MIPS

For those wanting a race look on a modest budget, this helmet borrows its looks and features from Giro’s pinnacle offerings, and uses traditional rather than Spherical MIPS to keep the price more accessible.

  • MIPS Technology
  • Generous Ventilation
  • Roc Loc 5 Adjustable Fit System
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Smith Network MIPS

For those wanting feathery lightness along with impressive protective technology, this helmet’s impact-absorbing Koroyd construction adds additional protection to this value-packed all-rounder.

  • Koroyd Impact Absorbing Material
  • MIPS Technology
  • Vaporfit Adjustable Fit System
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