The Best Bike Helmets Whether You're a Serious Cyclist or Occasional Rider

The most important bike accessory is the one that protects your brain.

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Jamie L. Forrest

There's no more important bike accessory than a helmet, but choosing one isn't easy. Apart from finding one that fits, you need to choose a helmet that fits your needs. You can spend plenty on a lightweight, aerodynamic helmet, but that may be overdoing things if you're just riding your bike to work. Here are ten options to consider across different budgets, performance, and style.

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Best for Safety: Bontrager Specter Wavecel Road Helmet
Bontrager
Bontrager trekbikes.com
$149.99

For decades, bike helmets have used simple foam to protect your precious noggin. Then came advanced safety systems like the protection layer. With a new line of helmets for 2019, Bontrager introduced Wavecel, a copolymer that it claims will drastically reduce the risk of concussion. The Wavecel material looks like a fluorescent plastic honeycomb. The material will flex, crumple, or glide when hit with the force of impact, guiding the rotation energy away from the wearer's skull. 

Bontrager (the helmet brand by Trek bicycles) put this material into four model: The traditional Specter model, the XXX Road model for serious cyclists, the Blaze MTB for mountain bikers, and an all-new urban model called the Charge Wavecel Commuter.

Best for Serious Cyclists: Giro Aether MIPS Road Helmet
Giro
Giro amazon.com

If you're really serious about cycling, you're probably looking at higher-end helmets that promise great aerodynamics in addition to solid protection. Our friends at Bicycling named the Aether as one of their top choices for better ventilation and aerodynamic performance over Giro's previous model, the Synthe. 

Best for Style: Nutcase Bike Helmet
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Nutcase

If you do more bike commuting in the city than racing, you may find Nutcase’s street helmet more to your liking than other more aerodynamic options. At $70, it’s fairly affordable, and it’s available in a slew of different colors and patterns, from basic grey and black to the stars and stripes and Union Jack. The helmet also comes with a removable visor, and it’s certified for skateboard use as well if you like to leave your bike at home and skate instead some days.

For Mountain Biking: Bontrager Blaze WaveCel
Bontrager
Bontrager trekbikes.com
$299.99

Bontrager introduced its breakthrough Wavecel material into four models for 2019. The Blaze, the brand's current mountain biking helmet, is one of them. 

Wavecel helmets won a perfect five stars in Virginia Tech's helmet testing, making it a great choice for anybody tackling a treacherous mountain biking trail. 

Best for City Riders: Bern Allston
Bern
Bern rei.com
$39.93

If you're not a fan of traditional-style bike helmets, consider a more commuter-focused helmet like Bern's. What you lose in aerodynamics you gain in versatility. 

Last year we chose the Bern , a great all-season helmet. This year's choice, the Allston, is Bern's best city helmet, featuring 16 vents to make sure your head stays cool.

Best for Being Connected: Specialized Prevail II With ANGi
Specialized
Specialized specialized.com
$250.00

For most everyday cyclists, their main concerns with a helmet are simply something that's safe and comfortable (and doesn't look ridiculous on their head). The good news is that you don't have to spend a bundle to meet all of those criteria. Bicycling singled out the Specialized Prevail II, which has a feature called ANGi, a tiny sensor that can tell your phone to send out an emergency message if you've been in a crash.

Best for Comfort: Bell Zephyr MIPS
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Bell

It may cost more than some people’s bikes, but serious cyclists looking to get the most performance and protection from their helmet aren’t likely to be disappointed with Bell’s Zephyr MIPS. The helmet was singled out by for an Editor’s Choice award, something largely due to its fully-integrated MIPS liner that doesn’t compromise on comfort or airflow while offering all the protection you could ask for.

Best on a Budget: Schwinn Thrasher
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A cheap helmet isn't necessarily a bad helmet. The $25 Schwinn Thrasher (sometimes available even less) with its comfort and decent ventilation, and there's no shortage of positive customer reviews that attest to its great bang for the buck. As The Sweethome notes, however, while the helmet doesn't compromise on safety, it does definitely look like an inexpensive helmet, and it's one size fits all (but fully adjustable), which means it'll look big on some heads and small on others.

Best for Flexibility: Bell Annex
Amazon
Bell amazon.com
$79.95

Anyone looking for versatility and style in a helmet may want to add Bell's Annex to their shopping list. As , not only does the helmet have an easily-adjustable venting system, but it comes with a range of other customizations, including an optional face shield, a removable visor, and rear mount for a safety light. However, these options will add to the cost of what is already a somewhat pricey helmet.

Best for Aerodynamics: Smith Optics Podium TT
Smith
Smith amazon.com

If money is seriously no object and you need something great in aerodynamics and high performance,  not only delivers in functionality but also style. Equipped with adjustable fit system, an airflow design for maximum aerodynamics, and lots of unique color options, the Podium TT is a helmet that can't help but make a cyclist stand out.It's most standout feature from the rest of the helmets on this list is its visor, crafted by Smith, that can be attached to the helmet by strong magnets. If you need something for intense cycling competitions, this could be the helmet you're looking for. 

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