Road cycling helmets are a vital accessory that can not only reduce the risk of injury but are also compulsory for most types of racing.
Over the past few decades, helmets have been developed to reduce weight, offer greater ventilation and improve aerodynamics but all road helmets are essentially a plastic-covered foam shell that sits securely over your head and fastened via a strap under your chin.
In the list below, we take a look at some of the best road bike helmets available to buy in 2019, look at the pros and cons of each one and provide key details.
Scroll down to see Cyclingnews’ best road bike helmets available to buy for 2019.
How to buy the best road bike helmet for you
A helmet will always be a personal choice when it comes to pricing, aesthetics, ventilation and how aero you'd like it to be. The most important factors to consider, however, will always be fit and safety. Ensuring your helmet offers a secure fit should be the priority, and if you can, it is always worth trying on a helmet before purchase.
Thankfully, the days of the practically useless leather 'hairnet’ style helmets are gone and the majority of most modern cycling helmets will have passed the rigorous industry standards of safety testing, which are different for North America, Europe and Australasia. Ensuring the helmet you are purchasing has passed these tests for your region is worth adhering to.
Most modern helmets are constructed from EPS foam that can compress on impact to provide an effective crumple zone, with a polymer outer shell bonded to the foam adding further protection.
In recent years, scientific research and independent laboratory tests have shown helmets that also reduce the rotational forces experienced in a crash can, in turn, reduce the risk of brain injuries or concussions.
‘MIPS’, ‘SPIN’ and ‘WaveCel’ technologies all aim to reduce rotational forces. While SPIN and WaveCel are proprietary for POC and Bontrager helmets, respectively, MIPS is used in an array of brands’ helmets and all of the helmets featured in this list are marked as to whether they feature this technology.
Below are some of the best all-rounder helmets available today. However, if you're looking for a more aerodynamic helmet, take a look at our list of the best aero helmets for cycling, or if you're looking to save some money, check out our best cycling helmet deals.
The best road bike helmets you can buy today
A Grand Tour-winning, Monument-winning iconic helmet
Weight: 251g (medium) | Rotational safety: None | Aero: Yes | Sizes: S, M, L | Used by: Team Ineos | Colours: 19
Launched over five years ago and worn by Team Sky to victory in the biggest races in the sport, the fact that the same design is still being worn by the now named Team Ineos without a design update speaks volumes for this helmet.
One of the first ‘semi-aero’ lids available, the Kask Protone offers decent ventilation in all but the hottest conditions while claiming to retain the benefits of an aero helmet.
At 251g for a size medium, the Kask Protone is fairly competitive in the weight stakes too and the rotating tension dial to the rear should offer a secure fit for a variety of head shapes and sizes.
Specialized S-Works Evade ANGi
Safety, aero, well ventilated, what more do you need?
Weight: 303g (large) | Rotational safety: MIPS | Aero: Yes | Sizes: S, M, L | Used by: Deceuninck-QuickStep, Bora-hansgrohe | Colours: 3 (additional limited-edition colours also available)
Unable to verify aero claims, we’ll have to trust Specialized when it says it’s the fastest road helmet they’ve ever tested and while ventilation can come at a cost to other aero-specific helmets, the Evade feels like you’re wearing a regular road helmet.
Alongside aero and ventilation performance, the S-Works Evade offers extra safety features, too. A unique MIPS system keeps the helmet profile low and doesn’t restrict ventilation plus Specialized’s proprietary ANGi (Angular and G-Force Indicator) system sends an alert to a pre-programmed phone number to notify of an impact and location in the case of unconsciousness.
And if you needed any more persuasion, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has worn an S-Works Evade during two of his World Championship wins, his Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix victories and countless other victories and podiums.
Giro Aether MIPS
Great looks, well ventilated and MIPS-equipped
Weight: 266g (medium) | Rotational safety: MIPS | Aero: No | Sizes: S, M, L | Used by: Dimension Data, Groupama FDJ | Colours: 9
The Giro Aether MIPS offers great ventilation and keeps safety as a priority through its MIPS system. Instead of putting a MIPS lining on the inside of the helmet, as is often the case, the Giro Aether MIPS has a dual layer EPS foam structure, which moves independently and enables protection from ‘a wide range of impact energies’.
This design should not only improve fit but a lack of an additional MIPS lining contributes to the ventilation performance with the brand saying the helmet is two degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the popular Giro Synthe MIPS.
Coming in nine colourways from conservative black or white through to more bold fluoro options, the Giro Aether MIPS should also suit almost all aesthetic preferences.
Lazer Bullet MIPS
WorldTour-level aero lid designed with speed in mind
Weight: 315g (small) | Rotational safety: MIPS | Aero: Yes | Sizes: S, M, L | Used by: Jumbo-Visma | Colours: 3
The second iteration of this all-out aero design from Lazer retains the unique ‘Airslide’ feature, enabling you to easily open up a central slider for improved ventilation and close again when speed is the priority.
The Lazer Bullet MIPS also comes with a Zeiss visor, which is attached by magnetic clips and can be stored to the rear of the helmet when not in use.
Alongside MIPS, Lazer also has the option of an integrated rear light, 'LifeBeam’ technology – which measures heart rate without the need for a chest strap – and a laser inclination sensor to keep you in the most aero position possible while riding.
Specialized S-Works Prevail ANGi
Full ventilated helmet with additional safety features
Weight: N/A | Rotational safety: MIPS | Aero: No | Sizes: S, M, L | Used by: Deceuninck-QuickStep, Bora-hansgrohe | Colours: 4 (plus limited editions)
Specialized developed its second iteration of the highly-ventilated Prevail with direct feedback from pro riders, which at the time included the likes of Alberto Contador who knows a thing or two about racing in hot mountain stages.
Although the Prevail is by no means an aero helmet, a lower-sitting design improved aerodynamics over its predecessor, plus the additional safety features of MIPS and ANGi are welcomed.
Like the S-Works Evade, there is a limited colour choice compared to other helmets on the market but with frequently added limited edition designs, there should be something out there for most.
MET Trenta 3K Carbon
Striking the balance between aero and ventilation
Weight: 228g (medium) | Rotational safety: No | Aero: Yes | Sizes: S, M, L | Used by: UAE Team Emirates | Colours: 4
Using carbon fibre in the construction of the Trenta 3K Carbon, MET says it was able to reduce the amount of EPS without ‘affecting the capacity of the helmet to absorb energy’. The reduction in size also contributes to a low profile when worn and is a key aspect in the aerodynamic performance of the helmet.
Other brands often focus on out-and-out aerodynamics or maximum ventilation and rarely strikes the balance between the two well. MET achieves this through a semi-aero helmet that is as at home in a bunch sprint as it is in the high mountains.
The MET Trenta 3K Carbon also fits brilliantly but is let down by the lack of a MIPS option in an era where most pro-level helmets include the technology as standard.
POC Ventral SPIN
Well ventilated aero-specific helmet with divisive aesthetics
Weight: 248g (medium) | Rotational safety: SPIN | Aero: Yes | Sizes: S, M, L | Used by: EF Education First | Colours: 9
POC’s helmets have always divided opinions in terms of looks but when it comes to comfort, ventilation and a focus on safety, the brand has often been industry leading.
The POC Ventral was the first to implement the brand’s SPIN technology. The helmet lining pads are constructed from a material which can roll and shear to reduce rotational impacts.
Like other aero helmets, POC uses the Venturi design theory to improve airflow and ventilation over and inside the helmet, respectively. A fore and aft sliding spar, combined with a rotating dial also ensure an excellent fit.
The brand also sticks to its AVIP (attention, visibility, interaction, protection) mantra by offering the helmet in an array of eye-catching colours.
Scott Cadence Plus
Plenty of ventilation from a properly aero helmet
Weight: 353g (large) | Rotational safety: MIPS | Aero: Yes | Sizes: S, M, L | Used by: Mitchelton-Scott | Colours: 2
Scott says the Cadence Plus is one of the fastest and aerodynamic helmets in its class. Combine this with MIPS, a great fit and the additional option of blocking the front vents with bungs if the temperatures are cold, and you’ve got a top-level aero lid.
X-Static pads lining the helmet feature anti-microbial and anti-odour technology to keep things fresh on the inside but the Cadence Plus is let down slightly by its weight and a limited colour choice.
Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates also used the helmet last season during his Vuelta a Espana victory.
Highly ventilated helmet available in an array of colours
Weight: 220g (medium) | Rotational safety: No | Aero: No | Sizes: S, M, L | Used by: Movistar Team | Colours: 10
Developed in conjunction with Movistar Team and worn by Alejandro Valverde to his world championships road race victory, the Abus Airbreaker is a lightweight, well-ventilated helmet, offered in 10 different colour options.
The padding system is kept in place through two plastic screws, enabling the pads to be removed for cleaning, plus the absence of multiple velcro pads likely contributes to the low weight.
The Airbreaker is a completely different design to the aero-specific Abus Gamechanger, but there are a few cues, alongside the obvious quality in construction shared between the two helmets.
It’s just a shame Abus didn’t integrate MIPS into the helmet.
Bontrager XXX WaveCel
If the lab tests are comparable to real life impacts, WaveCel could change helmet safety standards forever
Weight: 352g (medium) | Rotational safety: WaveCel | Aero: Yes | Sizes: S, M, L | Used by: Trek-Segafredo | Colours: 5
Bontrager launched its WaveCel range of helmets in early 2019, claiming the ‘most advanced helmet technology ever designed’.
Initially, you would be forgiven for thinking this is a bold claim but if Bontrager’s independent laboratory tests stack up in real-world crash scenarios, the helmets are 48x more effective at reducing concussions than standard EPS foam – genuinely groundbreaking.
WaveCel looks to reduce the impact of rotational forces experienced in certain crash scenarios as per MIPS and SPIN technology. The WaveCel cell walls crumple, glide and tear and work in conjunction with a reduced amount of EPS foam and the outer shell.
The aero-specific Bontrager XXX WaveCel tops the brand’s WaveCel range and has been worn by Trek-Segafredo’s riders this season.
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