It’s never been more fashionable to hit the road on your bicycle (especially in your designer cycling kit), and deep down we all fancy ourselves as the next Cadel Evans. Getting around on two wheels is certainly fun, but there are risks, so choosing your protection is super important, especially when considering your head. In years gone by, head protection was a second thought for cyclists. But now amateurs and professionals alike are fully aware of the potential risks involved when on the road.
There have been some major shifts recently in terms of technologies, the most significant of which is every cyclist’s favourite new buzzword, MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection Systems). MIPS basically offers resistance against a larger range of potential head injuries. And when we consider that most accidents involving cyclists are out of their control, it’s easy to see why the technology has been welcomed with open arms and adopted by all major headwear manufacturers.
You should also be considering the airflow of a helmet carefully. Airflow can speed you up or slow you down in some cases – it’s also a great way of trying to stay feeling fresh over long distances when the sun is beating down.
There are plenty of other additional variables you can also consider such as weight, strength, and construction, and how they work in conjunction with your cycling glasses. You may also want to look at what type of cycling you’ll be practicing most, for example, endurance, commuting, or time trialing, and choose your headwear accordingly.
Cycling helmets have never been more stylish, effective, or fashionable, so we’ve put together a list of the best brands around so you can clock up those kilometres looking like a real pro.
US bike manufacturer Trek is one of the most highly recognised and successful cycling brands around. They have a major GC team that has been at the front of the peloton at some of the most recognised road races on the UCI calendar since 1975. They provide helmets for a variety of cycling categories, but it’s their Bontranger range that has really started turning heads recently, moisture-wicking helmets with great ventilation and magnetic buckles.
The go-to brand for both amateur and professional cyclists, Giro have been at the top of this game for close to 35 years. Check out just about any road race on TV, from the Tour De France to the Tour Down Under, and a Giro helmet will be adorned by 80% of the Peleton. Their designs are innovative, effective, and above all, they look fantastic.
Mavic are true innovators in the road cycling world, and have helped transform the way we ride over the 100 years they have been in business. Although known for cycling components, shoes, and rims, they also know how to make an excellent helmet.
Their Comete Ultimate MIPS Helmet was developed using a wind tunnel for maximum aerodynamics, and weighs just 215g.
If you’re into your track cycling or fond of a triathlon, chances are you’ll have come across the name Louis Garneau. The Canadian’s road cycling helmets are sleek and elegant, and also great value for money. His Vitesse Helmet is perfect for aerodynamic speed on endurance stints or time trials. It’s lightweight and has 14 air vents, not bad for an aero.
Road cycling headwear was a natural progression for Oakley after their success in sports eyewear and ski helmets. Their Aro range provides models for both road racers and time trialists using innovative shapes incorporating MIPS technology. Their Aro helmets marry Oakley’s expertise in headwear and high-performance lenses and is made to add speed for greater aerodynamic performance.
The reason that Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) have remained so successful is their belief in 'fine margins; the little percentages that make you better than the rest'. All of their riders use headwear from pioneering Italian helmet manufacturer Kask. Their designs are light, highly durable, and will have other cyclists looking at you with a bit of jealousy in their eyes.
Poc was set up in Sweden back in 2005, bursting onto the scene with a quality ski-racing mask. They soon moved into cycling and now produce some of the best aerodynamic helmets that also offer increased airflow and ventilation. Their Ventral Spin AVIP design is one of their most popular models, offering complete crash protection and excellent visibility.
Rapha seems to have risen alongside the recent rise in popularity of single speed bikes and crit racing. The London brand is famed for their classy jerseys, and have finally decided to dip their toe into headwear. The Rapha Helmet, a highly breathable lid with MIPS technology is made to give you confidence during everyday rides, and comes in fluro yellow to heighten your visibility whilst on the road.
Aussie cyclists will have a close affiliation to this brand as they back Australian road cycling team Mitchelton-Scott. Although they’re known for creating stunning bike frames to be used across different disciplines, they also manufacture a tidy range of accessories including head wear. They create a variety of helmet styles, including the Centric Plus Helmet, a great all-rounder whether you’re heading into the city for coffee or riding up a lung-busting ascent.
You may associate Suomy more with Moto GP than road cycling, but their ability to produce high-standard helmets across both disciplines is the same regardless. Their designs are made for long-distance rides, offering complete lightweight comfort when the challenge heats up. They also have a great selecton of mid-price-range helmets that are great value for such a major player.
Californian helmet specialists Bell may have made their name in motor racing, but it hasn’t stopped them from creating excellent performance headwear for road cyclists. Their highly comfortable designs are more affordable than some of the bigger players, but provide the same level of protection thanks to MIPS technology. Their polycarbonate designs also offer supreme ventilation for both roadies and commuters.
Bern is a brand that effortlessly makes both snow and bike equipment. Their designs often carry a signature peak, much like a cap, and are aimed towards the commuter market more than performance. The company has only been around for around for 15 years, but in that time they have established themselves as a quality option for cyclists on a tighter budget.
Lazer helmets come straight out of cycling’s spiritual home Flanders, in Belgium. They’ve been producing quality helmets for every type of bike from road and cyclo-cross to track and mountain for over 100 years. They’re all about staying cool on those long day rides, much like the Belgian classics, highlighted by their Z1 MIPS, which features 31 vents and a polycarbonate shell.
Smith’s love for the mountains has helped them effortlessly make the transition from skiing to cycling. Their range of helmets covers everything from road cycling and endurance to downhill and mountain biking. They are less expensive than a lot of their rivals, but you get real value from their well-designed headwear, along with practical pass-through channels for your sports shades.