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Best road bike helmets: Our favourite helmets ridden and rated

Best road bike helmets
(Image credit: MET)

Choosing the best road bike helmet for the type of riding you do will vastly transform your cycling experience, but it's not necessarily as easy as it seems. First of all, there are various helmet types that are tailored to different types of riding: some are designed for hot climates with maximal ventilation, others for maximum aerodynamics, and some offer integrated technology to increase safety. 

Next, and most important of all, you need to get the right size when choosing the best road bike helmet for your head. It might sound obvious, but it's harder than you might think to know what a good-fitting helmet feels like - that is until you find one. An ill-fitting helmet will undoubtedly reduce comfort, may negate the proper function of the ventilation and aerodynamic performance of the helmet, and will likely reduce the safety of the helmet in the event of a crash, so do everything within your power to get this right. Try some on, measure your head, and don't be afraid to send it back if you bought the wrong size online. 

Of course, in many countries, helmets are not a legal necessity, but there's no denying they can prove a vital accessory that can significantly reduce the risk of injury. There's a reason they're compulsory for most types of racing. 

In the most simple form, road bike helmets are essentially a plastic-covered foam shell that sits securely on your head, fastened in place via a strap under your chin and an adjustable ratchet behind the head. However, over the past few decades, helmets have been developed to reduce weight, offer greater ventilation, improve aerodynamics, and most importantly, increase rider safety. So much so that even the cheap bike helmets of today offer great performance, and given they all need to meet a set criteria, you can be sure that all of the best road bike helmets will protect your head in the event of an accident. 

In the list below, we take a look at some of the best road bike helmets available today, look at the pros and cons of each one, and provide key details. If you're not sure what to look for, then you can skip ahead to our guide to how to choose the best road bike helmet.

Alternatively, if you prioritise aerodynamics, we have a separate guide to the best aero helmets, and we've got a guide to the best women's bike helmets too.

Best road bike helmets

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Giro Aether MIPS helmet

(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Giro Aether MIPS helmet

(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Giro Aether MIPS AURA arch

(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

A great looking MIPS-equipped helmet that is well ventilated

Specifications
Weight: 266g (medium)
Rotational safety: MIPS
Aero: No
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: 11
RRP: £269.99 / $300 / €289.99 / AU$399.99
Reasons to buy
+Excellent ventilation
Reasons to avoid
-Not as aerodynamic as other helmets

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 other Giro helmets, such as the Synthe MIPS.

Coming in 11 colourways from conservative black or white through to more bold fluoro options, the Giro Aether MIPS should also suit almost all aesthetic preferences.

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

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POC Ventral SLIP helmet

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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POC Ventral SLIP helmet

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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POC Ventral SLIP helmet

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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POC Ventral SLIP helmet

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

POC Ventral SPIN exploits the Venturi effect with outstanding ventilation and aero helmet pedigree, regardless of your riding preferences

Specifications
Weight: 248g (medium)
Rotational safety: SPIN
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: 9
RRP: £270.00 / $290 / €299.95 / AU$350
Reasons to buy
+Very comfortable+Aero performance+Well ventilated
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. 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.

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

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POC Ventral Tempus SPIN

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
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POC Ventral Tempus SPIN

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
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POC Ventral Tempus SPIN

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
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POC Ventral Tempus SPIN

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
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POC Ventral Tempus SPIN

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

By far the best road bike helmet for riding in the rain

Specifications
Weight: 311g (medium)
Rotational safety: SPIN
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: 2
RRP: £230.00 / $260.00 / €259.90 / AU$TBC
Reasons to buy
+Two colours include 'AVIP orange' for added visibility in dull conditions+Easyto clean+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 borne 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.

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Specialized S-Works Prevail II with ANGi

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Specialized S-Works Prevail II with ANGi

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Specialized S-Works Prevail II with ANGi

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Specialized S-Works Prevail II with ANGi

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Specialized S-Works Prevail II with ANGi

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Lightweight, ‘fit and forget’ road helmet that’s equipped with MIPS and ANGi crash detection

Specifications
Weight: 227g (medium)
Rotational safety: MIPS
Aero: No
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: 8 (country dependent)
RRP: £220.00 / $250 / €279.9 / AU$375
Reasons to buy
+Excellent ventilation+Lightweight+MIPS and ANGi additional safety features
Reasons to avoid
-In-moulding doesn’t offer much coverage

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 reduced volume and lower-sitting design improved aerodynamics over its predecessor. Where the Prevail II exceeds is the design considerations Specialized has made to make the helmet safer. Like most top-end road bike helmets the Prevail has MIPS, however it's a Specialized exclusive SL version that has been designed to avoid any obstruction to the ventilation. Safety features don't stop there as Specialized has also developed a crash detection device called ANGi. This small unit is attached to the retention system and will notify an emergency contact should it detect a significant impact or rotational force.

Specialized has achieved the trifecta of helmet goals with the Prevail II making it a serious contender as one of the best road helmets available. The zero fiddling, ‘fit and forget’ comfort means that whether you are racing or racking up the miles you are never distracted or uncomfortable and the ventilation is also superb. Combine that with the low weight and forward-thinking safety features make the Prevail an excellent choice.

There are two iterations of the Prevail II helmet: the Prevail II and the Prevail II Vent, which promises greater airflow. We've already put both to the test, so find out more in our reviews of the Specialized S-Works Prevail II and Specialized S-Works Prevail II Vent helmets.

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Side view of the POC Omne Air Spin helmet

(Image credit: Nick Odantzis)
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Rear view of the POC Omne Air Spin helmet

(Image credit: Nick Odantzis)
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Close up of the large frontal ventilation ports on the POC Omne Air Spin helmet

(Image credit: Nick Odantzis)
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A pair of Koo sunglasses fitted into the eyewear slots on the POC Omne Air Spin helmet

(Image credit: Nick Odantzis)
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Close up of the interior pads on the POC Omne Air Spin helmet

(Image credit: Nick Odantzis)

A brilliant road bike helmet — now even better thanks to a sprinkling of Rapha

Specifications
Weight: 305g
Rotational Safety: SPIN
Aero: No
Sizes: Small, medium, large (regular fit), small, medium (wide fit)
Colours: Off-White, Carbon Grey, Navy
RRP: £140.00 / $150.00 / €160.00 / AU$249.00
Reasons to buy
+Great fit, no matter your head shape+Rapha-exclusive two-tone colour ways are stunning+Cradle adjustment is simple and effective+Fairly lightweight+Good ventilation+Two different widths available
Reasons to avoid
-No padding underneath the strap connector

Taking the already brilliant POC Omne Air SPIN helmet and adding a dash of Rapha, this is definitely high up on our list for anyone wanting a good quality, safe road helmet with all the style to match.

Sizing is something to shout about here, as on top of the regular small, medium and large sizes you'd expect to get from the POC Omne Air SPIN, as part of the collaboration with Rapha, this helmet is also available in two extra 'wide fit' sizes. This could be great news for those who struggle with helmet fit and find most to feel too narrow at the sides.

The POC Omne Air SPIN Rapha 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. 

Check out our review of the POC Omne Air Spin Rapha for more.

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Lazer Century MIPS helmet review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Lazer Century MIPS helmet review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Lazer Century MIPS helmet review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Lazer Century MIPS helmet review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Lazer Century MIPS helmet review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Lazer Century MIPS helmet review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Highly rated for safety and adjustable ventilation

Specifications
Weight: 285g (small without light or Twistcap)
Rotational safety: MIPS
Aero: No
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: 5
RRP: £130.00 / $180 / €180 / AU$279.99
Reasons to buy
+Safety is exceptional+Twist Cap offers easy on the fly adjustment to ventilation and aerodynamics+Comfortable fit and easy to use retention dial
Reasons to avoid
-In-moulding could be neater-The rear light is poorly executed-Fairly heavy

The Lazer Century MIPS has bragging rights when it comes to safety. The industry's best-known independent testing facility, Virginia Tech, previously rated this helmet the safest road helmet, and since it's test has only been bettered by Lazer's G1 helmet. To quote Virginia Tech, the testing "evaluates a helmet's ability to reduce linear acceleration and rotational velocity of the head resulting from a range of impacts a cyclist might experience."

In addition, this well-ventilated road bike helmet offers Twistcap, a removable cover that allows a switch between greater aero efficiency and increased ventilation, though this is still by no means an aero helmet the ease of switching makes the Twistcapp very usable for fine-tuning ventilation mid-ride. 

For more info, read our Lazer Century MIPS helmet review.

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Kask Protone helmet review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Kask Protone helmet review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Kask Protone helmet review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Kask Protone helmet review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Kask Protone helmet review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Kask Protone helmet review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

A Grand Tour-winning, Monument-winning iconic road bike helmet

Specifications
Weight: 215g (medium)
Rotational safety: Kask WG11
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: 11
RRP: £199.95 / $299.95 / €295 / AU$359
Reasons to buy
+Semi-aero design offers ample ventilation with speed advantages
Reasons to avoid
-No additional rotational safety technology

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’ road bike helmets available, the Kask Protone 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 should offer 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

Find out more with our Kask Protone helmet review.

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MET Trenta 3K Carbon

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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MET Trenta 3K Carbon

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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MET Trenta 3K Carbon

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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MET Trenta 3K Carbon

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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MET Trenta 3K Carbon

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Striking the balance between aero and ventilation

Specifications
Weight: 228g (medium)
Rotational safety: No
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: 4
RRP: £270.00 / $300 / €300 / AU$450
Reasons to buy
+Superb ventilation+Secure and even head retention+Carbon structure is claimed to improve safety
Reasons to avoid
-No MIPS version available-Better in moulding coverage to protect vulnerable areas of the helmet

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.

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Scott Cadence Plus

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Scott Cadence Plus review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Scott Cadence Plus review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Scott Cadence Plus review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Scott Cadence Plus review

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Plenty of ventilation from a properly aero helmet

Specifications
Weight: 353g (large)
Rotational safety: MIPS
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: 2
RRP: £169.99 / $229.99 / €239.9 / AU$299.95
Reasons to buy
+Large vents improve airflow in hotter temperatures+Plus bungs can be inserted in cooler weather
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy-Very limited colour choice

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.

Find out more with our Scott Cadence Plus review.

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Limar Air Pro

(Image credit: Limar Air Pro)
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Limar Air Pro

(Image credit: Limar Air Pro)
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Limar Air Pro

(Image credit: Limar Air Pro)

An open aero helmet enhanced with lightweight carbon-fibre framework

Specifications
Weight: 268g (medium)
Rotational safety: MIPS and non-MIPS available
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: 10
RRP: £230.00 / $269 / €259.99 / AU$359
Reasons to buy
+Well-vented+Comfortable+Novel use of carbon fibre
Reasons to avoid
-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

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Specialized S-Works Evade II with ANGi helmet review

The S-Works Evade II is Specialized's aero road helmet (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Specialized S-Works Evade II with ANGi helmet review

Its sleek and elongated profile is distinctly aero indesign (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Specialized S-Works Evade II with ANGi helmet review

The narrowed rear forms a slight tear-drop shape with the exhaust vents built in (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Specialized S-Works Evade II with ANGi helmet review

These vents allow hot air to exit the helmet (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Safety, aero, well ventilated, what more do you need?

Specifications
Weight: 303g (large)
Rotational safety: MIPS
Aero: Yes
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: 3 (additional limited-edition colours also available)
RRP: £250.00 / $275 / €319.9 / AU$475
Reasons to buy
+Full aero lid with decent ventilation+MIPS and additional safety
Reasons to avoid
-Fairly weighty-Limited colour choice

We're unable to verify aero claims, so 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 bike helmet.

Alongside aero and ventilation performance, the S-Works Evade offers extra safety features, too. A new MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) liner adds additional safety without restricting ventilation, and 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 lost consciousness.

Read our review of the Specialized S-Works Evade to learn what earned it a place on this list 

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Abus Airbreaker helmet review

(Image credit: Peter Haworth)
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Abus Airbreaker helmet review

(Image credit: Peter Haworth)
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Abus Airbreaker helmet review

(Image credit: Peter Haworth)
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Abus Airbreaker helmet review

(Image credit: Peter Haworth)

A well-vented, low-volume, lightweight helmet that goes about its business without much fanfare

Specifications
Weight: 220g (medium)
Rotational safety: No
Aero: No
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: 10
RRP: £229.99 / $355 / €310 / AU$450
Reasons to buy
+Great ventilation+Choice of colours
Reasons to avoid
-Not aero-No rotational safety

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.

Check out our review of the Abus Airbreaker for more.

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, will always be fit and safety. 

How do I get the right fit on my road bike helmet?

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.

Most helmets come in multiple sizes, often supported by a hat size or head circumference guide, and manufacturers may tackle things slightly differently, but the main requirement is to ensure you know the circumference of your head and compare this to the quoted size of the helmet. 

What type of helmet is best for me?

There are various types of road bike helmet. For example, some prioritise ventilation while others put aerodynamics at the top of the priority 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 and don't care much for your average speed, 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. 

Of course, safety will be a priority to all of us, but some will hold it in a higher regard than others. For each helmet in this guide, we've outlined whether or not its design includes a consideration to rotational impact protection, which we've explained in more detail a little further below. 

Are all road bike helmets safe?

Thankfully, the days of the practically useless leather 'hairnet’ style helmets are gone, and most modern helmets are constructed from EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam that can compress on impact to provide an effective crumple zone, with a polymer outer shell bonded to the foam adding further protection.

The majority of 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 set criteria, it's likely that some helmets are safer than others, and there are a select few independent testing facilities - Virginia Tech is the most prominent - that strive to provide a fair rating system. However, you can stack the odds in your favour with added safety technology such as rotational impact planes, as we'll explain below. 

What other 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’, ‘SPIN’ and ‘WaveCel’, all of which 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.

Our article 'What are MIPS helmets' explains everything about the market leader in this segment. 

Josh Croxton

Josh has been with us as Senior Tech Writer since the summer of 2019 and throughout that time he's covered everything from buyer's guides and deals to the latest tech news and reviews. On the bike, Josh has been riding and racing for over 15 years. He started out racing cross country in his teens back when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s, racing at a local and national level for Team Tor 2000. He's always keen to get his hands on the newest tech, and while he enjoys a good long road race, he's much more at home in a local criterium.