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There are plenty of good reasons to jump on your bike, whether you are commuting to work, hitting a new trail, getting ready for your next race, or just cruising around town with friends or with kids. But to protect yourself—even if you are not going far—don’t forget to wear a helmet while you ride.
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.
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 50 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)
Freetown Lumiere (unavailable)
This CR Best Buy is rated Excellent for impact absorption and ease of use, and Very Good for ventilation. It comes with a built-in LED light and has MIPS technology to mitigate the effects of rotational impacts. It comes in one size but has a dial to help adjust how snug it is.
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’s rated Excellent 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 is rated Excellent for impact absorption and ease of use, and Good for ventilation. It is relatively light and comes with MIPS technology, designed to mitigate the effects of rotational impacts.
Best Bike Helmets for Adults (Skate-Style/Urban)
This helmet is rated Excellent for impact absorption and ease of use, and comes with MIPS technology. It’s of moderate weight, and like many helmets of this style, which offer more coverage, it doesn’t have great ventilation. But it does have a one-year warranty and a detachable visor, and comes with additional padding to customize fit. It also has a dial to help adjust the fit, and it lets you adjust the length of the retention strap.
This helmet is rated Excellent 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 one-year warranty, and its reasonable price makes it a CR Best Buy.
Best Bike Helmets for Kids
This inexpensive helmet earns an Excellent rating for impact absorption and ease of use, and a Very Good rating for ventilation. It comes in one size and is not as adjustable as some other helmets in this category, but it does have a buckle that's meant to help prevent pinching.
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 one-year warranty.
This helmet gets top marks for impact absorption and comes with a one-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.
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 one-year warranty.
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