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How to shop for a bike helmet, according to a cycling expert

Plus several comfortable options to wear on your next ride.
Mother and daughter riding bikes with helmets, through a scenic outdoor path
Getty Images

When it comes to wearing a bicycle helmet, the myriad excuses for deciding not to don the protective headgear run the gamut. “They look silly on me.” “They’re itchy.” “I don’t want hat hair!”

Sarah Clark Stuart, executive director for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, can’t exactly relate, especially as someone who considers wearing a helmet as second nature, akin to putting on a seat belt in a car.

“My rationale is that I wear my helmet as a defensive measure," she told Shop TODAY. "Humans make mistakes and [are] sometimes distracted, careless or reckless. When motorists make mistakes, they can be severe, and I want to protect myself in case I get into a crash. Bicyclists can make mistakes too, and I want to protect myself in the very small likelihood I run into a bicyclist, or for that matter, a curb or a light pole.”

However, simply wearing a helmet isn’t enough. Stuart says it’s important to make sure you’re wearing the right helmet for a particular activity or sport. There’s also a proper way to wear one.

“The helmet should sit level on your head and low on your forehead — one or two finger-widths above your eyebrow. The side straps have a slider on both straps; one should form a “V” shape under, and slightly in front of, the ears. The chin strap should be one [or] two finger-widths from the chin.”

Thanks to bike shops and popular helmet brands today (plus the stratospheric rise in bike riding during the past year), there’s no shortage of sleek-looking headgear for riders, from first-time cyclists to experienced mountain bikers, to choose from.

To shop this article by category, simply click on either link below:

Bike helmets for adults

Heritage Bike & Skate Helmet

This helmet’s sleek vintage look might have been inspired by the style of the ‘50s and ‘60s, but its one-handed magnetic fastener, integrated dial-fit system and Secret PopLock are some of the most modern helmet adjustments you’ll find on the market.

Specialized Tactic III

Specialized’s Tactic III is designed with trail riders in mind. Anything can happen when you’re racing downhill, so keep yourself protected with a helmet that is fully MIPS-equipped, ANGi crash sensor–ready and built with extra rear coverage.

Smith Signal Helmet

In addition to providing all-around brain protection, this Smith helmet raises comfort to an entirely new level. We’re talking sweat-wicking interior lining, a 270-degree VaporFit adjustment and 21 vents for maximum airflow. We’ll take one in each of the seven available colors, please.

Cigna Bike Helmet

Put your mind at ease knowing your fellow cycling friends have a Sunrimoon helmet keeping them safe during their evening rides. This lightweight head protection features a reflective strap and LED safety lights, in addition to a removable visor for when the sun becomes too harsh during the day.

Giro Fixture MIPS Adult Dirt Cycling Helmet

This high-performance helmet is perfect for those who prefer a more intense riding experience. Cycle confidently wearing one of these Universal Fit helmets, with one-handed operation adjustment capabilities and an impact-absorbing liner to help cushion falls and prevent injury.

Bontrager Starvos WaveCel Cycling Helmet

Helmet safety is important, but who says it can’t be stylish at the same time? Underneath a gorgeous shell, this TREK cycling helmet is built with WaveCel advanced technology, which has received a five-star rating in head protection from Virginia Tech.

Bike helmets for kids

Scamp MIPS Helmet

Learning to ride a bike shouldn’t be a traumatic experience! Cushion all of those first-time falls with the Scamp MIPS Helmet, made with a pinch-guard buckle and available in several fun colors for your child to choose from!

Lazer Gekko MIPS Helmet

Say goodbye to bumps on the head! This Consumer Products Safety Commission–certified helmet is made to fit any child-sized head (ages five and up), with an outer shell that extends on the sides and rear to prevent rotational brain injury.

Eight Ball Kids’ Helmet

Keep even the most active kiddos from unnecessary injury with this dual-certified bike helmet. The durable ABS outer shell, inner foaming pads and built-in ventilation create a triple threat in protection and comfort. Less boo-boos, more fun!

Retrospec: Scout Kids’ Bike Helmet

Nothing’s better than a bike ride on a warm, sunny day, especially when your helmet has 14 air vents to keep your little one from overheating. The detachable and washable protective pads might be a close second.

Niño/Niña Canvas Helmet

Creative minds deserve to have their noggins protected by creative headgear! Your kid will be the coolest bike rider, skateboarder or roller skater on the block wearing one of these coloring book helmets — which they can customize and design themselves!

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