Best road bike helmets of 2023 - From aero to airy, these are the safest, comfiest helmets around

A line of MET Trenta helmets in UAE Team's black and red Colours sit on a table in the UAE Team's service course
(Image credit: Will Jones)

When choosing the best road bike helmet for you, there will be a number of considerations you'll make. High on anyone's list should be safety - the reason you wear a helmet at all - but attributes such as comfort, weight, aerodynamics, ventilation, and even aesthetics play a key part. 

Every single helmet sold through reputable brands will meet a minimum industry requirement for safety standards for the territory in which it's sold. This means that no matter if you buy a cheap bike helmet or a top-tier race helmet used by the pros, you'll be protected. 

This doesn't mean they're all created equal, though. Unlike the best commuter bike helmets, for example, the best road bike helmets tend be lighter in weight, and often offer more ventilation for better heat management when riding hard. On the whole they're more aerodynamic too, with the best aero helmets typically compromising in other areas to focus on speed. 

More spend usually gets more features too, with most of the top models getting added rotational impact protection such as MIPS. Not sure what that means? Check out our guide to MIPS

Here at Cyclingnews, we've spent years testing helmets from every corner of the market , passing judgement on all of those attributes, added features and more. Check out our pick of the best road bike helmets below or, if you're after a women's-specific helmet, our guide to the best women's bike helmets. At the bottom of the page, we've got a buyer's guide to what to look for when choosing.

Best road bike helmets available

Why you can trust Cyclingnews Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

An front-angle view of a white Specialized Prevail 3 helmet sitting on a wooden bench

(Image credit: Josh Croxton)

1. Specialized S-Works Prevail 3

Best road bike helmet for summer weather and all-out safety

Specifications

Weight: 227g (medium)
Rotational safety: MIPS Node Air
Aero: No
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia Tech score: 8.64

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent ventilation
+
Lightweight
+
MIPS and ANGi additional safety features

Reasons to avoid

-
In-moulding doesn’t offer much coverage

The Specialized Prevail 3 helmet has some significant upgrades to increase ventilation and safety over the Prevail 2. The new design sees woven aramid fibres replacing some of the EPS foam, to create an entire Aircage within the EPS foam. This significantly opens up the front of the helmet to airflow and makes the Prevail 3 the airiest helmet we've tested by far. 

There's also a new 'Node Air' version of MIPS technology which integrates the rotational protection more directly into the helmet's padding. The result is impressive safety results in the tests performed by revered independent helmet testers, Virginia Tech. 

Like all of Specialized's top helmets, the Prevail 3 is compatible with Specialized's ANGi crash detection device that alerts a named contact if you have an accident. 

A front on view of a red and black Giro Aether helmet on a paved surface

(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
Another great helmet for ventilation whilst offering novel MIPS Spherical protection

Specifications

Weight: 266g (medium)
Rotational safety: MIPS Spherical
Aero: No
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia Tech score: 12.51

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent ventilation
+
Runs cooler than Giro's other MIPS helmets

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite a large profile
-
Not as aerodynamic as other helmets

The Giro Aether Spherical 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 Spherical has a dual-layer EPS foam structure, with the two layers able to move independently and enable protection from 'a wide range of impact energies'.

This design not only improves the 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 other Giro helmets, such as the Synthe MIPS.

For more info, read our review of the Giro Aether Spherical.

A front-on view of a red MET Rivale MIPS helmet on a black surface

(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
Best for sleek looks at a lower pricepoint

Specifications

Weight: 240g (medium)
Rotational safety: MIPS
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia Tech score: 12.70

Reasons to buy

+
Good head coverage
+
Decent balance of weight, specs and price

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly limited colour choice

Although it's not the cheapest out there, we rated the MET Rivale MIPS helmet highly for what's a cheaper option than most of the helmets here.  We really liked the sleek looks, which also add to the Rivale's aero credentials, the comfortable fit and the well-designed straps that avoid windflap. There's plenty of ventilation from the 18 ports and no tendency for sweat to drip into the eyes.

We even crash tested it ourselves and can vouch for the MET Rivale MIPS's protective qualities, having it checked out afterwards in MET's lab, as you can read in our full review of the MET Rivale MIPS helmet.

A front-angle view of the POC Ventral Spin helmet, sitting on a wooden table

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
Perfect for aero fans who need a cool head

Specifications

Weight: 248g (medium)
Rotational safety: SPIN
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia Tech score: Not tested

Reasons to buy

+
Very comfortable
+
Aero performance
+
Well ventilated for an aero-first helmet

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulkier than it needs to be
-
Gloss-surface prone to scuffs

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. This stands for Shearing Pad INside, and means the helmet lining pads are constructed from a material that can move laterally to the helmet's outer, reducing the severity of angular impacts hitting the head.

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.

Read our in-depth review of the POC Ventral SPIN for more info.

An front-angle view of a grey Lazer Vento kineticore helmet sitting on a wooden bench

(Image credit: Josh Croxton)
Best road bike helmet for all-weather aerodynamics, comfort and convenience

Specifications

Weight: 286g (medium)
Rotational safety: Yes
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S/ M, L
Virginia Tech score: 13.70

Reasons to buy

+
Sophisticated adjustment system
+
Plenty of warm-weather comfort

Reasons to avoid

-
Sunglass slots are a bit too widely spaced
-
Optional rear light points a bit too far upwards

Lazer's new take on rotational impact protection is KinetiCore, which uses EPS foam blocks on the inside of the shell that deform or snap off in the event of a crash. It replaces a MIPS liner and the Vento KinetiCore has been given a five star rating by the Virginia Tech helmet testing lab. 

The Vento is one of the first Lazer helmets to use the tech and has been designed along with the Jumbo-Visma pro team, with Lazer saying it's lighter, faster and better ventilated than its older Bullet design. 

There's a new cradle adjustment system called Scrollsys that, when we covered it in our Lazer Vento KinetiCore review, we concluded it's easier to use, even with winter gloves. It's not as airy as the Prevail, for example, but for an aero helmet, we were never uncomfortably hot on even the hottest of climbs. 

A blue Poc omne air spin on a white road bike helmet background

(Image credit: POC)
The best option for style gurus, and the cheapest here

Specifications

Weight: 305g
Rotational Safety: SPIN
Aero: No
Sizes: Small, medium, large (regular fit), small, medium (wide fit)
Virginia Tech score: Not tested

Reasons to buy

+
Cradle adjustment is simple and effective
+
Two different widths available for improved fit

Reasons to avoid

-
No padding underneath the strap connector

The POC Omne Air SPIN helmet is definitely high up on our list for anyone wanting a good quality, safe and stylish road helmet, with POC's large-vent style but at a less premium price.

The Omne Air SPIN helmet is extremely comfortable to wear, has great ventilation, but could also see you through the cold winter days with some extra layering, and comes complete with POC's SPIN rotational safety technology - an alternative to the more common MIPS. 

We reviewed the now-discontinued POC Omne Air Spin Rapha-edition, but you get the same tech in the standard helmet - just not with the Rapha logo on its side - and the helmet is available just in the standard S, M, L size options.

An front-angle view of a white Kask Protone Icon helmet sitting on a wooden bench

(Image credit: Josh Croxton)

7. Kask Protone Icon

An updated version of the airy, semi-aero classic

Specifications

Weight: 215g (medium)
Rotational safety: Kask WG11
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia Tech score: Not tested

Reasons to buy

+
Semi-aero design offers ample ventilation with speed advantages
+
The chin strap avoids flap

Reasons to avoid

-
No additional rotational safety technology
-
No sunglass ports

The Kask Protone Icon is an update to one of the first ‘semi-aero’ road bike helmets available. It offers decent ventilation in all but the hottest conditions while claiming to retain the benefits of an aero helmet. At 215g for a size medium, the Kask Protone is fairly competitive in the weight stakes too and the rotating tension dial to the rear offers a secure fit for a variety of head shapes and sizes.

While there's no inclusion of a separate rotational-impact protection liner, the Protone (like all products in the Kask range) has recently undergone (and passed) the 'KASK WG11 rotational impact test' - more info on which can be found here (opens in new tab)

The new Protone Icon has an internal structure that's allowed Kask to increase the vent size slightly. There's also a new cradle at the rear and a new, larger forehead pad. 

A front angle view of a grey MET Trenta 3K Carbon helmet on a wooden bench

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
Great option for both aero and venting

Specifications

Weight: 228g (medium)
Rotational safety: No
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia Tech score: 13.97

Reasons to buy

+
Superb ventilation
+
Secure and even head retention
+
Carbon internal structure is claimed to improve safety

Reasons to avoid

-
No MIPS version available
-
In moulding coverage doesn't protect vulnerable areas of the helmet well

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 strike 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 road bike helmets include the technology as standard.

Read our MET Trenta 3K Carbon review to find out more.

A side-on view of a white Limar Air Pro helmet on a wooden log in a gardem

(Image credit: Limar Air Pro)
A great option for those wanting something a bit different

Specifications

Weight: 268g (medium)
Rotational safety: MIPS and non-MIPS available
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia Tech score: Not tested

Reasons to buy

+
Well-vented
+
Comfortable
+
Novel use of carbon fibre

Reasons to avoid

-
High price
-
Oval head form may not suit everyone

The Limar Air Pro was designed in collaboration with the Astana cycling team to serve as an open, well-vented helmet that still performed well in the wind tunnel. 

Limar has moulded what are essentially twin carbon wings into the helmet that run horizontally across the shell, serving a dual purpose of adding structure and strength and cleaning up the airflow through the helmet. In a similar claim to MET, with its Trenta 3K, the brand says the carbon fibre allowed it to use less EPS foam and still pass the relevant safety standards.

With the carbon-fibre wings creating the helmet's structure, longitudinal EPS foam ribs form the rest of the shell creating deep channels that run the entire length. The majority of these channels have an unobstructed path, pulling oodles of air through the helmet at high and low speed. 

Learn more with our Limar Air Pro helmet review.

A front-angle view of a black S-works Evade 3 helmet sitting on a wooden bench

(Image credit: Josh Croxton)
A comfortable, high-performing aero all-rounder

Specifications

Weight: 303g (large)
Rotational safety: MIPS Node Air
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia Tech score: 10.93

Reasons to buy

+
Full aero lid with decent ventilation
+
MIPS and additional safety through ANGi

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly weighty by comparison to others here
-
Limited colour choice

Another helmet from Specialized that's recently had an upgrade to its third edition, the Evade 3 aero helmet has increased ventilation by 10% over its predecessor and Specialized says that comes without any loss in aerodynamics thanks to a rear 'diffuser'.

There's the same easy-to-operate fit adjustment and ANGi crash detection compatibility, but Specialized has incorporated MIPS Node Air into the new helmet for better integration of the sliding plane tech and better ventilation.

Check out our review of the S-Works Evade helmet if you need some more details.

A front-angle view of a white Abus Airbreaker helmet, on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Peter Haworth)
Perfect for fans of unfussy styling

Specifications

Weight: 220g (medium)
Rotational safety: No
Aero: No
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia Tech score: Not tested

Reasons to buy

+
Great ventilation
+
Wide choice of colours

Reasons to avoid

-
Not aero
-
No rotational safety

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.

Check out our review of the Abus Airbreaker for more.

A top-down view of the POC Ventral Tempus SPIN helmet on a woodchip floor

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
A helmet designed specifically for the rain

Specifications

Weight: 311g (medium)
Rotational safety: SPIN
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia Tech score: Not tested

Reasons to buy

+
Two colours include 'AVIP orange' for added visibility in dull conditions
+
Replaceable padding

Reasons to avoid

-
Designed for a very specific niche
-
Reasonably weighty in comparison to others on this list
-
Rear cradle is difficult to move vertically

This unique helmet from POC is born out of a specific UCI rule that prevents riders from adding a removable aero shell to their helmets. With the desire to do so still there when the rain came down, POC created the Ventral Tempus SPIN, fixing the shell into place and thus creating a helmet designed specifically for rainy weather. 

With that, it sits in a very specific niche and isn't the most versatile of helmets, but it provides a five-star performance at the job it was designed to do. 

It also benefits from SPIN (Shearing Pad INside) which is POC's rotational impact protection, as well as the option to choose AVIP Orange (Attention, Visibility, Interaction and Protection) which will provide extra safety during the sorts of grey and dreary conditions that the helmet's designed for. 

Ultimately, it's a helmet designed to excel at a specific purpose and it does just that. It won't be right for everyone, but for those who ride in the rain on a regular basis, it's definitely one to consider. 

Read the full review for more on the POC Ventral Tempus Spin helmet.

How to choose the best road bike helmet

A helmet will always be a personal choice when it comes to pricing, aesthetics and ventilation vs aero needs. 

The most important factors to consider, however, should always be fit and safety. The best road bike helmets will often have additional features that are claimed to add to safety and they'll often have been independently tested by Virginia Tech or other independent testing bodies. The best-known system is MIPS - read our guide to MIPS for more - but brands are increasingly developing their own safety enhancements, as we describe below.

How do I find the most comfortable road bike helmet?

No helmet is going to be effective if it doesn't fit well, so getting the right size helmet and one that's easy to adjust is paramount. Fortunately, most helmets have plenty of adjustment built in, with a rear cradle that can be moved up and down to fit well over the rear of your head and usually with a dial adjuster to fine-tune the helmet to the circumference of your head, although there are alternative systems like Lazer's Scrollsys.

Usually, there are three helmet sizes to choose from, so you can zero in on the one that is likely to fit you based on the circumference of your head. Some helmets only come in two sizes though, while others have four which may include an Asian fit.

Different helmet manufacturers make differently shaped helmets, so some designs may fit you better front to back and side to side than others. There's no substitute for trying a helmet on, and brands are obliged to let you send back a helmet if you buy online and find that it doesn't work for you.

Ensuring your helmet offers a secure fit should be the priority, and while there's no substitute for try-before-you-buy, it can be possible by using manufacturers' size guides and a fabric measuring tape to check the size of your head.

It's also worth checking the padding, how much there is and where it's placed, although even minimal padding may be adequate and too much padding may restrict airflow through the shell.

What type of helmet is best for me?

The best road bike helmets come in different guises. Some prioritise ventilation while others put aerodynamics at the top of the list. 

The answer to this question will very much depend on what sort of riding you do and what you consider to be most important. If you primarily ride in hot conditions, then a highly ventilated helmet will be best, so look for something with plenty of large vents up front. 

If you want to go fast more than anything, or you live in an area where overheating is a rarity, then the benefits of an aero helmet will outweigh the costs of reduced ventilation. If this is you, look at helmets with a more closed-off front and a sleeker more aerodynamic shape. Be sure to check out our guide to the best aero helmets too. 

Of course, safety will be a priority for all of us, but some will hold it in higher regard than others. For each helmet in this guide, we've outlined whether or not its design includes consideration of rotational impact protection, such as the aforementioned MIPS. 

Are all road bike helmets safe?

All modern cycling helmets will have passed the rigorous industry standards of safety testing, which are different for North America, Europe and Australasia. All of the helmets we feature on Cyclingnews will be from reputable brands that ensure these criteria are met, but it's always worth ensuring the helmet you are purchasing has passed the required tests for your region.

Beyond the simple pass/fail certification, those standards do nothing to tell us whether one helmet is safer than another. Luckily, there are a select few independent testing facilities - Virginia Tech is the most prominent - that strive to provide such comparisons. However, you can stack the odds in your favour with added safety technology such as rotational impact planes.

What does the Virginia Tech score mean?

As mentioned, Virginia Tech is a laboratory doing excellent work to test the safety of helmets from various sports so that people like us can make informed decisions on which helmet will provide the most protection in the event of a crash. 

A full explainer of the rating system can be found at the Virginia Tech website, but to summarise it simply, a lower score means better protection. Anything lower than 14.00 is considered a five-star performance, but the best tested currently sits at a score of 8.40.

They've not tested every helmet recommended on this list, but we've included the ratings for those they have in our list of recommended helmets above. 

What helmet safety features should I look for?

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. 

With independent testing facilities taking it upon themselves to quantify safety and verify manufacturers' claims, the safety of the helmet is no longer something we are forced to blindly trust. With that, brands are now putting additional resources into the research and development of helmet safety, rather than just the ventilation, aerodynamics and weight, so that they can boast to be the 'safest' in their marketing. 

To that end, brands are incorporating technologies such as ‘MIPS’, 'Kineticore, ‘SPIN’ and ‘WaveCel’, all of which aim to reduce rotational forces. While Kineticore, SPIN and WaveCel are proprietary to Lazer, 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.

How do we test the best road bike helmets?

Here at Cyclingnews we spend a lot of time riding our bikes, both as part of the job and in our spare time. Each review is based at its heart on plenty of hands-on time with the product, wearing each helmet in all weathers and at different intensities to see how it performs in the real world.

We use our experience to see how they measure up in terms of comfort, noise and speed. We see if they play nicely with caps and sunglasses, or whether they make us a sweaty mess at the top of every hill. 

Obviously, we cannot test the safety of each helmet, as deliberately crashing would be a futile waste of time and resources, so in this case, we take the manufacturers' claims and those of third-party testing organisations such as Virginia Tech at face value.

Josh Croxton
Tech Editor

As the Tech Editor here at Cyclingnews, Josh leads on content relating to all-things tech, including bikes, kit and components in order to cover product launches and curate our world-class buying guides, reviews and deals. Alongside this, his love for WorldTour racing and eagle eyes mean he's often breaking tech stories from the pro peloton too. 


On the bike, 30-year-old Josh has been riding and racing since his early teens. He started out racing cross country when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s and has never looked back. He's always training for the next big event and is keen to get his hands on the newest tech to help. He enjoys a good long ride on road or gravel, but he's most alive when he's elbow-to-elbow in a local criterium.