If cycling is important to you, that's something you'll want to share with your kids, but keeping them safe will be your number one priority, and the best kids bike helmets are designed to aid with exactly that.
It's a wonderful thing to see them grow with the sport of cycling, in the beginning, it might only involve balance bikes and trailers but as they get bigger and more capable, they go farther, faster, and the need for protection only ever increases.
Extend the timeline long enough and parents hope that their kids are eventually too fast for them to keep up with. You have the opportunity to build a lifelong love for the sport of cycling when kids are young, but imperative to that lifelong love is ensuring your kids remain safe on their bikes, which means the right helmet. Just like an adult helmet, it should be comfortable to wear, offer ample protection, and it should look good.
We've put together a list of the best kids' bike helmets available right now, so keep scrolling down, or jump to the bottom for what you need to know when purchasing a kids bike helmet.
- Best kids’ bikes: How to choose the right children's bike, no matter their age
- Kids' bike deals: The best value deals where stock still exists
Specialized Shuffle Youth LED
A great looking helmet with the latest technology and a great price
Sizes Available: Youth (7-10) - 52-57mm | Colours Available: Satin Redwood, Satin Smoke, Satin Clay/Cast Umber, Satin Cast Blue Metallic Wild | Visor: Clip-On | Price: £50.00 / $55.00 / AU$110 / €49.90
Getting a kid to actually want to wear the helmet is the most important, but often most difficult part of the process. Having a built-in LED makes kids more visible but also more likely they'll wear it, so it's a win for everyone. For older kids who might be off on their own, the Specialized ANGi Crash Sensor is compatible with this helmet for even greater parental peace of mind.
Just a note about sizing on this one. There is actually more than one size available, so if you need a smaller size look for the Shuffle Child LED or the Mio MIPS for the smallest kids.
Poc Pocito Omne SPIN
The all-around POC Omni Air SPIN adult helmet, just smaller and brighter
Sizes Available: XS/48-52CM, S/51-56CM | Colours Available: Fluorescent Orange, Fluorescent Pink, Fluorescent Blue, Fluorescent Yellow/Green | Visor: None | Price: £80.00 / $90.00 / AU$149.99 / €90.00
Poc is a company that obviously gets kids. The Pocito Omne SPIN doesn't talk down to kids - it's not lesser than what adults get. Instead, Poc took their all-around adult helmet, the Omne Air SPIN, and sized it down to fit smaller heads.
It includes the same slip-plane technology, called SPIN, as the adult helmet. The only kid-focused change is colour options have shifted. Young riders have less road presence so bright colours are a welcome addition.
When you buy a helmet for yourself you want the best safety and performance, and Poc understands that you want nothing less for your kids and that's what they offer.
Giro Scamp MIPS
A MIPS options for the smallest kids on two wheels
Sizes Available: XS/45-40CM, S/49-53CM | Colours Available: Blue Splash, Bright Pink/Pearl, Bright Red, Green/Lime Lines, Matte Black, Matte Blue/Lime, Pink Street Sugar Daisies | Visor: Integrated | Price: £34.99 / $60.00 / AU$69.99 / €55.00
You need a helmet at every stage of a child's life on a bike. For the very smallest children, the Giro Scamp MIPS is a great option. When they are so small that they are still on your bike or in a trailer, they still need a helmet, and the same thing goes with kids on balance bikes.
If you make helmets a part of riding a bike from the very earliest years, it won't be an issue in the later years. The Scamp makes it easy to choose MIPS and the integrated visor will help protect their face should they fall.
Nutcase Helmets Tongues Out Gloss w/MIPS (Little Nutty)
Choose a design instead of a colour and whatever direction you go there’s plenty of coverage
Sizes Available: Toddler (48-52cm), Youth (52-56cm) | Colours Available: Sparkling Blue, Sparkling Green, Sparkling Peach | Visor: Integrated | Price: £70.99 / $69.99 / AU$n/a / €n/a
Fashion matters in a helmet. It matters for adults and it matters for kids. Nutcase understands this and offers an option with no compromise on safety but all the style you could ever want. It's a skateboard style for kids who don't like the look of a typical bike helmet. Then, instead of choosing different colours, you choose different designs. The whole helmet gets treated like the canvas for art and the designs change out on a regular basis. With the style, you still get MIPS, a clip-on brim for sun protection, and because it's a skateboard style there's plenty of coverage.
Bontrager Jet WaveCel
A completely different helmet technology built into a really good kids helmet
Sizes Available: Kids (48-52cm) | Colours Available: White/Azure -Gloss, Black/Volt -Matte, Vis Green/Royal -Gloss, Magenta/UltraViolet -Gloss | Visor: Integrated | Price: £69.99 / $89.99 / AU$149.99 / €89.99
Bontrager went all-in on their WaveCel technology being a game-changer. It's a material made up of an open cell structure that looks a little like a bunch of straws held next to each other. It replaces EPS foam in the construction and it does double duty as a replacement for a slip-plane technology as well. By using one technology to handle both problems the helmet avoids any fit issues that can occur because of MIPS. The Jet WaveCel helmet is a great all-around helmet with an uncomplicated design style. The lines are clean and the safety is top-notch.
Bern Nino 2.0 MIPS youth
Great designs available and if your kid rides in the cold swap the liner for a warmer one
Sizes Available: Kids (48-52cm) | Colours Available: White/Azure -Gloss, Black/Volt -Matte, Vis Green/Royal -Gloss, Magenta/UltraViolet -Gloss | Visor: Removable and flippable soft visor | Price: £64.99 / $64.99 / AU$n/a / €n/a
One challenge with skate-style helmets is the weight and lack of ventilation. With the Nino 2.0 Bern has taken a look at exactly those issues. You can still expect the greater coverage of a skate-style helmet but they've lightened it. Using Zipmold+ foam technology allows for a thinner helmet with the same shock-absorbing ability. Thinner is lighter and that's a good thing in a helmet.
The Nino 2.0 is also worth a look if your child is out in the cold on their bike, as Bern has accessory liners available to help keep kids warmer without needing an extra hat.
Abus Smiley 2.1 MIPS
An integrated light on a helmet with sizing for the smallest riders
Sizes Available: Small (45-50cm), Medium (50-55cm) | Colours Available: Sparkling Blue, Sparkling Green, Sparkling Peach | Visor: Integrated | Price: £34.99 / $n/a / AU$n/a / €31.99
The Abus Smiley 2.1 MIPS is another option for the smallest riders around. Going down to as small as 45cm means you can make sure your little one has protection right from the beginning. There are a few features that set the Abus apart from others on the market. The colours available are already bright but there is even more visibility with the integrated light in the buckle. For kids that ride in the rain, you can choose between two different helmet cover designs. The buckle isn't the magnetic variety but there is still pinch protection in the form of a foam buffer.
Closca Kids Folding Helmet
A folding kids helmet for those that must have the most packable option
Sizes Available: Small (54-56cm), Medium (57-59cm) | Colours Available: Leaf, Carrot | Visor: Swappable clip-on soft visor | Price: £n/a / $140.00 / AU$n/a / €99.90
Closca is a high design folding helmet. It's the choice for the situations where you need a helmet that folds down but you also want a great looking helmet. For kids, Closca offers the same great design but with unique colours, stickers packaged with the helmet, and in their two smallest sizes. That means all the features of the adult helmets are still there.
You get an NFC chip for storing emergency information in an easy-to-read format as well as choices of visors. There is no specific slip-plane technology, however as the helmet moves in ways a non-folding helmet can't, Closca claims "the impact is optimally dissipated thanks to micro-movements that are better distributed over the entire surface." It's impossible to know if that is as good but if you must have a folding helmet, Closca offers an option.
How to choose the best kids bike helmet
Do you need MIPS?
Helmets are really good at keeping you from a head injury in the event of a crash. At one point in time, saying that would have been a big deal, but at this point in time, it's kind of the baseline requirement. Any helmet on the market should meet a variety of minimum requirements in order for sale in a particular country. But it turns out there's a lot more to keeping you safe than that baseline.
When an impact occurs at an angle, which it almost always does, if your head stops moving very abruptly it can cause your brain to move or stretch within your skull. Your child can experience a traumatic brain injury, more often referred to as a concussion, from the brain moving inside the skull. The current thinking is that the best way to solve this is to allow for some movement between the helmet and the skull.
MIPS is a brand name that stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. It is one brand's solution to the problem and the technology is licensed by various helmet brands, but there are other solutions to the same problem with other brand names applied. On this list, there is MIPS, Poc's SPIN technology, and Bontrager's Wavecel technology represented but there are others as well.
If you are purchasing a helmet for your child, or for you, it should have some form of technology designed to allow for angular rotation. It is not a guarantee that the wearer has complete protection against concussion, but right now, the general consensus of research suggests that this type of technology is helpful.
While it's not an exact science, the thing that makes it a must-have inclusion is that so many manufacturers have made it easily accessible. Across every segment of helmets, including the best kids helmets, you can find the technology at virtually every price point. There are so many choices and no downsides which makes the choice to have it on the helmet you buy your child an easy one.
Do you need a visor?
A visor on a helmet is both a fashion choice and a functional choice. If your child has a very upright bike, a visor makes sense to help keep the sun out of their eyes. Bikes that keep the head lower mean that a visor will get in the way of visibility. In practical terms that means road bike helmets don't have visors and mountain bike helmets sometimes do. If the bike your child has, as well as the style you and your child are going for, match up with a visor then they are helpful depending on the design.
Pay attention to the buckle
The short of it is that a good buckle is worth shopping for. No parent wants to hurt their child and it's easy to pinch skin with the wrong buckle. When you help a child buckle their helmet you are often above them making the area under their chin difficult to see. Even if you get down on a knee it can be hard to judge where the buckle is in comparison to the skin. Not only that but it's a sensitive area and skin pinched in the buckle is no fun for anyone, let alone a child!
As a parent, you'll take precautions to make sure you don't catch your kid's skin in the buckle. That might mean lots of extra time being careful but it can also mean making the strap looser so that it's less of an issue. A strap that's too loose means the helmet is less effective. Instead, look for a buckle that makes life easier with some kind of no catch system.
Make sure the fit is right
Everybody buys clothes big and lets their kids grow into them. According to kid's bike manufacturer Isla Bikes, a kids' bike typically lasts for three years but is only optimally sized for one. The first year they are too small for the bike and the last year the bike is too small for them. Only during the middle year does the bike fit a child perfectly. All that is to say everything your kid owns only fits for a short time but a helmet has to be right all the time. Don't buy a helmet too big and let them grow into it. Also, don't let it stick around too long when it's too small.
The helmet should sit low on a child's head in the front and should be stable once properly adjusted. If it sits too far back or flops around, it's not the right size. It should also be comfortable so if it’s too tight, it’s not the right helmet. There's a good amount of adjustability in a helmet so you should be able to find one that will last for a while but never buy one that doesn't fit. A helmet that doesn't fit isn't safe.
Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minute details of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer is probably yes.
Weight: 137 lb.
Rides: Look 795 Blade RS, Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Priority Continuum Onyx
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.