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Best cheap road bike helmets for 2019

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Lazer Blade+ MIPS helmet

Lazer Blade+ MIPS helmet
(Image credit: Courtesy)
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Abus Aduro 2.1 helmet

Abus Aduro 2.1 helmet
(Image credit: Courtesy)
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Scott ARX Plus MIPS helmet

Scott ARX Plus MIPS helmet
(Image credit: Courtesy)
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Mavic Aksium Elite helmet

Mavic Aksium Elite helmet
(Image credit: Courtesy)
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Kask Rapido helmet

Kask Rapido helmet
(Image credit: Courtesy)
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Giro Syntax MIPS helmet

Giro Syntax MIPS helmet
(Image credit: Courtesy)
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Catlike Chupito helmet

Catlike Chupito helmet
(Image credit: Courtesy)
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Bontrager Circuit MIPS helmet

Bontrager Circuit MIPS helmet
(Image credit: Courtesy)
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Bell formula LED MIPS helmet

Bell formula LED MIPS helmet
(Image credit: Courtesy)
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Specialized Propero 3 MIPS with ANGi helmet

Specialized Propero 3 MIPS with ANGi helmet
(Image credit: Courtesy)

You don't have to spend big money on a cycling helmet to ensure your head stays cool, comfortable and protected. In fact, despite the weight penalty, budget cycling helmets can be just as accomplished and even better looking than some of the more premium options out there.

What about safety I hear you say? Well, contemporary helmets – budget helmets included – have to conform to stringent industry safety standards, which vary from region to region. (Every cycling helmet sold in the UK must meet the EN1078 standard). Some of the helmets in the list below come standard with MIPS, a rotational slip-plane cradle system, which can significantly reduce brain injuries and concussions caused by crashes.

To make things a little easier for you we've selected 10 of the best budget cycling helmets, each of which offers impressive ventilation, colour combinations and pricing. Our advice? Shop around. Look for a helmet that fits properly, offers good ventilation and aesthetics, and don't be pressured into spending more than your budget allows.

Scroll down to see Cyclingnews’ roundup of the best budget cycling helmets you can buy for 2019.

Best cheap road bike helmets you can buy today

Abus Aduro 2.1

Verdict: Speed, protection and impressive ventilation for under £50

  • Price: Starting at US$59 / £49 / AU$89
  • Weight: 295g, medium
  • Rotational safety: No
  • Sizes: S, M, L
  • Colours: 6

+ Price, ventilation, fit
- No rotational safety

The Abus Aduro 2.1 might be the cheapest here but it's a superbly designed and well put together cycling helmet with an array of colour options to suit all tastes.

Ventilation is taken care of by three inlet and 10 outlet ports connected by flow channels, which have improved both the helmet's cooling and aerodynamic properties.

Other positives include a built-in insect/mosquito net, ponytail compatibility and Abus’ venerable Zoom Ace retention system which allows the user to finely adjust the head cradle for a customisable fit.

Kask Rapido

Verdict: An affordable, performance-built helmet designed for speed

  • Price: Starting at US$100 / £65 / AU$140
  • Weight: 220g, medium
  • Rotational safety: No
  • Sizes: S, M, L
  • Colours: 7

+ Lightweight, ventilation, aerodynamic
- No rotational safety

The Kask Rapido incorporates 24 strategically placed vents to ensure the optimal relationship between cooling and aerodynamic efficiency. As such, the Rapido is very much a race-focused budget helmet with a feathery weight to match, 220g for a medium.

There's also an extensive range of design options to suit most tastes — seven colours which include a selection of bright and neutral hues.

The catch? Well, the Kask Rapido is one of the few helmets here that doesn't utilise a MIPS rotational protection system. It does, however, use MIT technology; a Kask-specific measure which joins the inner polystyrene cap to the outer polycarbonate shell, ensuring better shock absorption in the event of a crash.

Catlike Chupito

Verdict: The Catlike Chupito offers impressive ventilation and protection for riders of all abilities

  • Price: Starting at US$84 / £69 / AU$122
  • Weight: 270g, medium
  • Rotational safety: No
  • Sizes: S, M, L
  • Colours: 4

+ Ventilation, price, LNP protection
- Design may not appeal to everybody

Catlike's distinctive design and ventilation pattern may not appeal to everybody but it does provide a unique alternative to the ubiquitous helmet shapes of its rivals.

The Chupito is one of the Spanish brand's newest additions and although it's an entry-level model, it still boasts a raft of features that make it an appreciably appealing proposition.

The 24 ventilation slats ensure cooling properties of the highest order, while the structure itself has been bolstered to protect the occipital area using the company's Low Nape Protection (LNP) technology.

Mavic Aksium Elite

Verdict: At £70 you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything as accomplished

  • Price: Starting at US$83 / £69 / AU$122
  • Weight: 245g, medium
  • Rotational safety: No
  • Sizes: S, M, L
  • Colours: 6

+ Price, aesthetics, ventilation
- No rotational safety cradle

The Aksium might be Mavic’s entry-level label but don’t let that deter you. In fact, based on aesthetics alone you’d be forgiven for mistaking the Aksium Elite for something far more premium.

Thanks to trickle-down technology, this budget helmet gets the same Ergo Hold SL retention system, Elite Fit cushioning pads and mosquito mesh as some of its pricier stablemates. Ventilation is taken care of by 23 individual slats that have also helped keep weight to a minimum.

Available in both men’s and women’s guises, the Aksium Elite helmet really is a quality offering, let down perhaps by the exclusion of MIPS.

Scott ARX Plus

Verdict: Good ventilation and looks make the Scott ARX Plus a seriously impressive and competent cycling helmet

  • Price: Starting at US$96 / £79 / AU$139
  • Weight: 260g, medium
  • Rotational safety: MIPS
  • Sizes: S, M, L
  • Colours: 4

+ Ventilation, aesthetics, fit
- Limited colour combinations

Another example of trickle-down technology, the Scott ARX Plus helmet combines premium aesthetics with the added safety of MIPS slip-plane protection for under £80.

It really is an impressive-looking helmet — a collection of 22 strategically placed vents and four stealthy colour combinations ensure it ticks all the right boxes when it comes to cooling and style.

In terms of fit, the ARX Plus benefits from Scott's MRAS2 retention system that supplies a secure and comfortable fit with three adjustable height positions.

Lazer Blade+

Verdict: A more affordable Lazer Z1

  • Price: Starting at US$109 / £89 / AU$179
  • Weight: 265g, extra small
  • Rotational safety: MIPS
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Colours: 3

+ Fit, lightweight, ventilation
- Retention system may take some getting used to

Like many of the helmets listed here, the Lazer Blade+ also shares many similarities with its high-end siblings, in this case, the Z1. It even benefits from the same colourway options — black, white and yellow.

With 22 vents and internal channelling, you get amazing ventilation for hot days, and Lazer’s Rollsys top-mounted retention system which can accommodate heads of all shapes. The Blade is also compatible with the company's aeroshell, rear LED light and LifeBeam heart-rate monitor.

A nice touch is Lazer's crash replacement program: if your helmet has been involved in an accident it can be replaced at a reduced price for up to three years after the purchase date.

Specialized Propero III with ANGi

Verdict: Like a Specialized Prevail, only cheaper and slightly heavier

  • Price: Starting at US$130 / £95 / AU$200
  • Weight: 315g, medium
  • Rotational safety: MIPS
  • Sizes: S, M, L
  • Colours: 3

+ Aesthetics, ventilation, crash sensor
- Exposed rear EPS foam prone to denting. Weight

At first glance, it's difficult to tell the Specialized Propero III apart from high-end Prevail, what with the similarities they share in ventilation architecture, protection and adjustability.

In fact, it's only when placing them on a scale that the differences between the two come to the fore: the Propero is noticeably heavier at 315g, but just as comfortable as its premium brother.

In terms of safety, the Propero uses a helmet-mounted sensor called ANGi, which measures the forces transmitted to your helmet during a crash and transmits a text alert and GPS coordinates to your emergency contacts.

Learn more about Specialized ANGi here

Bontrager Circuit MIPS

Verdict: A little on the pricier end of the sub-£100 spectrum but a quality option nonetheless

  • Price: Starting at US$149 / £99 / AU$199
  • Weight: 300g, medium
  • Rotational safety: MIPS
  • Sizes: S, M, L
  • Colours: 7

+ Blendr integration, fit, safety
- Weight

The Bontrager Circuit helmet shares a large portion of its aesthetics with the brand's premium Velocis helmet, and it certainly looks the part with seven colour options to choose from.

At 300g the Circuit might be a little on the heavy side but it does utilise MIPS as well as a Boa retention system, which ensures a comfortable fit. The 'in-mold composite skeleton' is claimed to improve not only the helmet's structural integrity but the size of the 16 ventilation slats too, for improved cooling.

It also benefits from Blendr integration mounting points which allow for the easy fitment of GoPro cameras and Bontrager lights.

Bell Formula LED MIPS

Verdict: With MIPS and a built-in 20-lumen LED, the Bell Formula is, on paper, one of the safest budget helmets on the market

  • Price: Starting at US$120 / £99 / AU$174
  • Weight: 351g, medium
  • Rotational safety: MIPS
  • Sizes: S, M, L
  • Colours: 4

+ Ventilation, Float Fit LED, design
- Weight, dull colour palette

Bell has been producing helmets (for all sports) for well over 60 years, so the American-based company knows a thing or two about safety and protecting your head.

Not only does the Bell Formula use MIPS, it also benefits from a bright, 20-lumen rear LED that's incorporated into the fit system for added levels of safety and visibility. The fit system, dubbed Float Fit, uses an easy-to-turn rubber-moulded dial for incremental adjustments.

While exquisitely detailed in terms of texture and design, the Bell Formula LED is let down by its limited-and-uninspiring colour options.

Giro Syntax

Verdict: Stealthy looks combined with a great fit

  • Price: Starting at US$110 / £99 / AU$179
  • Weight: 260g, medium
  • Rotational safety: MIPS
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL
  • Colours: 6

+ Price, quality, fit
- The finishing could be better

The Giro Syntax belies its £100 price point. Offering a host of features usually reserved for helmets twice its value, the Syntax stands head and shoulders above its rivals, particularly in terms of safety with MIPS as standard.

Six colourways are available to match any style or preference. Visually, the Syntax looks aggressive with 25 large vents that provide both an aerodynamic and cooling effect. Like most helmets in the Giro range, it benefits from the Roc Loc/MIPS retention system.

At 260g (medium), the Syntax represents a happy medium as far as weight goes coming in lighter than the more premium Vanquish.

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