Although commuting might not be criterium or road racing, with slower speeds and less daring urban cornering lines, helmet choice remains significant. There is no question that all commuter cyclists should adhere to the no-helmet-no-ride philosophy. The best commuter helmets can make you more visible to other road users (either via inbuilt lights or a vivid colourway) and crucially, they protect your head in the unfortunate event of a crash.
Requirements on your daily cycling commute differ from a training ride. The intensity of effort is lower and commuters desire to look less like they are out training, and more like they are part of the active transport movement. Subtle design and maximum comfort are necessities for the best commuter helmets, but those two prerequisites don’t have to sacrifice safety.
Although you should be most concerned about safety first and fit second, many commuter helmets are still purchased on the merit of their appearance. Fortunately, the latest generation of commuter helmets is a study in style without comprising either safety or comfort.
Most helmets use a similar EPS foam structure, to absorb crash impact and protect your head from trauma. Where helmet technology has advanced, is reducing the influence of rotational impacts.
Research has delivered results that indicate most crashes see a rider impacting the road surface or pavement at an awkward angle. As your helmet deflects impact, it can trigger a sudden jerking of the head, applying unwanted rotational acceleration to the brain.
To prevent this, the MIPS-liner was developed in Sweden. It is now used as standard fitment by many helmet brands. How does it work? The MIPS system sits inside a helmet’s retention structure and allows for a small amount of slippage. During a crash, a MIPS-liner decelerates those forces that your helmet’s sudden change of position might apply to the head.
Commuters are less in need of many ventilation ports, due to the constant speeds they ride, generating sufficient airflow to keep your head cool.
Urban riders should consider the built environment they are routing through. Concrete and asphalt radiate heat throughout the day, so if you are a dedicated urban commuter, in a heavily built-up area, those summer rides could become a touch hotter than expected. Consider this in your choice of helmet and its ventilation profile.
The same can be said for riders who commute next to a body of water (lake, river or ocean), which can cool morning or evening temperatures dramatically, especially in winter. If you are a committed winter commuter and ride in areas where the winter can be severe, a helmet with more coverage and fewer ventilation ports will keep you warmer.
Giro Camden MIPS
Weight: 355g | Size: S, M, L
Subtle in appearance but structured with exceptional safety in mind, the Camden has generous coverage around the lower aft skull area. It also features the patented Swedish MIPS liner technology to reduce rotational forces if you suffer an awkwardly-angled head strike.
All these features have allowed Giro to achieve the new Speed e-bike safety standard rating for its Camden, which is now the gold standard for the best commuter helmets.
With ten ventilation ports, the Camden will keep you cool on those warm midday commuting routes and its fit is seamless, thanks to Giro’s Roc Loc system. For those dawn and dusk rides, there is an integrated rear light too.
Kali Protectives Saha
Weight: 475g | Size: S/M, L/XL
For commuters who value sustainability and style, this is the helmet for you. The Kali Protectives Saha is made from recycled materials, without the use of solvents. This renewable approach does not ignore safety, with the Saha featuring industry standardised EPS foam to absorb any impact.
There are two options, the Saha, and the Saha Luxe which comes at a $15 premium. With its denim finish and minimalist visor, the Saha Luxe looks like a classic commuter headwear accessory and will carry favour with those who want a helmet that blends with their casual wear.
Airflow management is via eleven vents, sure to keep you cool even on a hot day, whilst waiting for that traffic light to turn green.
Bern Hudson MIPS
Weight: 350g | Size: S, M, L
Bern is a privately owned helmet company which has been perfecting street-inspired riding gear for the last decade and a half.
With its Hudson MIPS, Bern manages to combine form and function, in a mid-priced commuter helmet. The Hudson’s shell is polycarbonate and its structure has generous ventilation ducting, with 13 vents in total.
Protecting you in the case of an impact, is EPS absorbing foam and the acclaimed MIPS liner system. An integrated rear light makes any Hudson MIPS wearer highly visible in low-light conditions and overall helmet comfort is enhanced by a turn dial, to set fit tension.
True to its stylish street-gear roots, the Hudson MIPS has a soft peak visor which is removable.
Weight: 400g | Size: M, M/L, L
This German helmet might not have the hipster styling of some other commuter options, but it boasts impressive specification at a very keen price.
With 13 air vents, the Hyban ensures great thermal comfort in warm riding conditions. It also has a compact visor peak, to shield your eyes from early morning or late afternoon sun glare.
An integrated rear light and some vivid colour options ensure that Hyban wearers are always visible to other road users on their commute. Although not a candidate for any style awards, there is little faulting the safety specification and overall design merit of this Abus commuter helmet.
Bell Annex MIPS
Weight: 350g | Size: S, M, L
An excellent all-weather commuter helmet, the Bell Annex MIPS is outstandingly adjustable.
It tallies a very generous number of vents, fifteen in total, which you can selectively cover in cold conditions. Bell’s Slider function allows you to cover vents when they aren’t needed, which makes the Annex the best commuter helmet for those frosty mornings or chilly evenings, especially if you are riding at speed.
The Annex’s inherent impact safety is excellent, thanks to the presence of a MIPS liner. There is a light-clip at the rear of the helmet, to increase your visibility to other road users when required, although at this price, an integrated light would not have gone amiss.
A modest soft visor adds additional eye protection, to guard your vision against sun glare or light rain.
Weight: 410g | Size: S, M, L
If you desire a stylish commuter helmet with graphic designs to express your individuality, the Thousand’s Heritage is for you.
Thousand offers no less than 16 different colours and designs for its Heritage helmet range, mostly drawing inspiration from the 1950- and 1960s Vespa scooter movement. Beyond the inarguable style factor, there are credible ergonomics too. You won't have to fiddle with the securing mechanism, as it features a magnetic buckle, allowing for single-handed fastening.
Overall fit comfort is assisted by a simple dial fastening system and stylish microfibre straps keep the Thousand Heritage helmet in place. It has a comparatively low vent count, with only seven to facilitate airflow.
Thousand’s industrial designers have added a Pop-Lock system to the Heritage helmet, which allows you to pop open a circular port on the side, allowing a bike lock to thread through. Ideal for those moments when you wish to leave the helmet with your bike, instead of having it on a table, at a meeting.
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