The Best Road Bike Helmet In 2020 Reviewed

When it comes to road safety, wearing the right bike helmet absolutely matters. In fact, around 75% of all fatal bicycle crashes involve major head injuries.

So, how will you know if a bike helmet is guaranteed to provide you protection?

In this article, I’m going to discuss the factors that make a bicycle helmet reliable and also comfortable to wear, then point out the best road bike helmet options you can try on.

Read on and get your noggin protected.

Product Review Table

The best road bike helmet is the Giro Aerohead MIPS (5th product in the table below).

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Things To Know Before Buying A Road Bike Helmet

As a biker, it is your duty to give your head the utmost protection it needs. Period. And, of all the bike accessories you have to buy, the bike helmet has to be of the highest quality possible. After all, wearing a well-fitting and shock-dissipating helmet has been proven to reduce the risk of bike-related deaths. You wouldn’t want any compromise in this area.

So, you need to choose a helmet made of durable material and designed with enough padding to cushion your head. Obviously.

But of course, there still are specifics you need to deal with. For instance, you may have to pick between a mountain bike helmet and a road bike helmet. Also, you’d want to take aerodynamics and ventilation into account.

Let’s break that down in the following discussion.

Mountain Bike Helmet Vs Road Bike Helmet

Mountain bike helmets are optimized for, well, mountainous trails. Most often, a mountain bike helmet comes with a removable visor. When worn, the visor helps you go through tricky light conditions while on the ride.

Other than giving you protection for your eyes, mountain bike helmets also help you prepare better for crashes in all directions. In contrast, road cycling crashes happen in the front because of momentum, so the protection for road bike helmets are usually limited to the forehead part. Mountain cycling helmets, however, offer a beefier back and sides.

Now if you prefer road cycling, road bike helmets are the most capable types to give you comfort and ventilation. They’re usually lightweight and have plenty of large air vents to let through better airflow. Just the kind you need when you’re cycling through a hot summer day.

Aerodynamics

If you’re looking forward to becoming a racer or you’re already one, then you need a helmet that will give you maximum aerodynamics.

In the context of cycling, aerodynamics refers to how you overcome the drag or the resistance you feel as you move through the air. Well, technically, you’re not “flying,” but the way your body is positioned — including your head and whatever is covering it — impacts your overall “aerodynamics.” Eventually, this affects your overall speed.

TT helmets are, among others, the best kinds in terms of the aerodynamic factor. TT or Time Trials require a highly efficient airflow to maximize speed. So, TT helmets are what pros wear during triathlons and specifically in TT stages during the Grand Tours.

Such aerodynamic helmets have a design that resembles an airplane: a smooth curve in front slimming toward a pointed end at the back.

If you’re going for the Ironman challenge, you got to wear them. In spite of how weird they might look to non-cyclist spectators.

Note, though, that maximizing aerodynamics means minimizing ventilation — a factor that might matter for leisure rides and all other kinds of rides under the hot sun.

Ventilation

Ventilation is a factor that’s often underrated whenever people are choosing bike helmets. But not by you — you shouldn’t take it lightly if you’re into summertime rides.

Well, a few years back, it was quite impossible to craft a helmet that’s both aerodynamic and well-ventilated. Ventilation came second in priority to aero, especially for athletes.

But these days, manufacturers are no longer limited to crafting helmets solely for athletes. Materials and technology have also improved, making the construction of well-ventilated and safe helmets plausible.

Now, how vented your helmet should be is up to you and your kind of ride. If you’re living in colder areas, you might want to stick with the TT helmet kind that I had mentioned above. You don’t want that extra chilly wind on your head when the colder months come.

If you like cycling up hills under the high sun, you’d want to keep your head cool. A few more vents should matter and prevent you from getting all drained in the heat.

Padding & Comfort

If you’ve been on the road for some time now, you should have realized how essential comfort can be when it comes to efficiency. Increased comfort can make you less distracted and more focused while cycling. So wearing a bike helmet that’s comfortable enough is quite a must.

And to be comfortable, a helmet needs to fit your head right. For that matter, you need to consider both the size and the shape of your head.

Meanwhile, padding translates not just to comfort, but more importantly, safety. 

Some bike helmets use Coolmax padding, which could feel scratchy or silky — depending on who you ask.

More important, though, is padding thickness. A foam that’s one inch thick gives you a longer time to a stop in a very hard impact compared to a foam that’s half an inch thick.

If the foam is less dense, it can give you softer landings on less disastrous falls. And if it’s also thick enough, then you won’t bottom out when hitting a hard one.

If, however, the padding is too thick such that it the helmet looks like a mushroom on your head, then you probably won’t like it either. And manufacturers certainly wouldn’t want to go too thick as the resulting helmets could actually contribute to “rotational” injuries in a skidding impact.

Anyway, some padding materials allow you to wick sweat away from the head. And that’s another cooling effect. On the other hand, a more efficient padding design lets you remove it from the helmet and wash it or even replace it.

MIPS vs Non-MIPS

Some helmets carry a yellow MIPS tag on them. MIPS actually stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. So, when a bike helmet has a MIPS label, it means the headgear imitates your brain’s own protection system.

More specifically, a MIPS helmet is designed such that it minimizes the rotational violence on your head in case you meet an angled impact. This is made possible by having two layers of headgear instead of one. They slip against each other when on impact, rotating slightly in order to reduce the destructive forces.

Thus, a MIPS helmet could protect you from having a concussion or other brain injuries.

Because of the added sophistication and protection, a MIPS version of a helmet is usually priced higher than its non-MIPS variant. If you’re more into advanced and riskier rides, then you might want to choose a MIPS helmet. Despite the more premium price.

Meanwhile, other manufacturers have developed their own safety systems similar to MIPS. One such technology is called the SPIN — and I’ll talk more about it in one of the helmets I’m featuring below.

Material

Before we get to the list of the road bike helmets, let’s go over the helmet materials a bit. Bike helmets have three distinct parts, namely the shell, the liner, and the strap.

Shell

The shell (or outer shell) is the outermost part of the helmet — the one that gets in contact with a rock or the ground in case of accidents. Thus, this part needs to be durable.

Since you’re carrying the helmet around your head, it also needs to be lightweight. The shell bears most of the weight a bike helmet has, so the shell material also needs to be less dense aside from being just tough.

Luckily, most of the helmets you’ll see today are already made of a polycarbonate shell. Polycarbonate is a kind of high-performance, lightweight plastic that possesses a unique balance of toughness, heat and electrical resistance, and stability.

Liner

While hidden beneath the shell, the liner is probably the more important part of a bike helmet. It’s the foam layer, and it manages the forces of the crash.

Bike helmet liners are mostly made of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam. It’s a crushable foam that’s also used in automobile bumpers for energy management during impacts.

Although the EPS foam is the most preferred liner material as it’s rather cheap to produce, there are other crushable foams out there that have similar characteristics. These include the EPP (Expanded PolyPropylene), the EPU (Expanded PolyPropylene), the E-PLA (Expanded Polylactic Acid), the Re-Up, and the Cellulose Foams — some of which have been carefully developed by specific companies to introduce to their impact-protective products.

Strap

While polycarbonate and EPS are pretty much the standards for the shell and the foam liner, respectively, manufacturers are exercising more freedom with the straps. Well, most straps are made of nylon and polypropylene, but others use leather.

Now, if there’s any part of a bike helmet that’s most vulnerable, it would be the straps. Not because they’d be most at risk of getting hit during impacts, but because they’re not as much a priority as the other two basic parts — material-wise.

For purposes of adjustability — well, that’s where the priority most lies. But not really into getting the straps rigid and invincible.

Still, you’d want to look for straps that are adjustable to give you a better fit with your helmet. After all, comfort matters, and so is getting the shell firmly into position.

A Review Of The Best Road Bike Helmets

Finally, it’s time to take a good look at the best bike helmets that can keep your noggin safe on the road.

1. Giro Syntax Bike Helmet with MIPS

Key Features

  • Shell: In-Mold Polycarbonate
  • Liner: EPS
  • CoolFit Anti-Microbial Padding
  • Featherweight Webbing
  • Slimline Buckle
  • Full hardbody wrap
  • Highly-adjustable Roc Loc 5 Air MIPS System

If you like a well-ventilated helmet that strives to balance comfort and safety, you might like the Giro Syntax MIPS bike helmet. This headgear isn’t shy about including plenty of vents. But it makes sure it hedges the risks of head injuries by incorporating MIPS technology with it.

And for something already with MIPS in its price range, I could say it offers value for money.

With a MIPS system that lets you customize how the helmet feels and fits, the Syntax can provide your head even greater stability.

Speaking about stability, its outer shell’s polycarbonate has been fused permanently to its EPS foam liner. This simply means an added durability minus the bulk.

Apart from that, the Giro Syntax sits around your head and not just over it, thanks to its “full hardbody wrap” design. It’s rather slim-looking too, which is quite an aesthetic advantage that goes well with the color options available.

You’d probably appreciate that this Giro helmet is available in different sizes, including XL.

Pros

  • With MIPS feature
  • Well-ventilated
  • Lightweight
  • Fits comfortably and securely
  • Great dual-adjustment retention system
  • Rear has reflectors
  • Excellent for a midrange budget
  • Stunning color and design
  • Well-balanced and proportional-looking

Cons

  • The strap may not be of the highest quality
  • The clip may feel cheap

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Kask Protone Limited Edition Helmet

Key Features

  • Outer Shell: Polycarbonate
  • Inner Cap: Polystyrene
  • Padding: Removable and washable CoolMax fabrics
  • Strap: Leather
  • High visibility strip at the back
  • Multi In-Molding Technology (MIT)

The Kask Protone helmet boasts of an aerodynamic design that still incorporates large vents. It’s marketed as having one of the lowest drag coefficients among vented helmets in the market, meaning it can boost your speed even if it’s not a TT helmet.

While the cooling vents can be satisfying to some users, the Protone might feel a little different to you if you’re living in a warmer region. The design just isn’t the most efficient in terms of providing tunneling for airflow inside the helmet.

So, in that sense, you might love the Protone for purposes of speeding up without looking like you’re too serious about racing. And if you’re not so much into uphill cycling climbs in the summer.

Meanwhile, the Protone doesn’t feature MIPS, but it incorporates MIT or Multi In-Molding Technology to help with shock absorption. The polycarbonate outer shell joins with the inner polystyrene cap, and it covers the top, base ring, and back.

Overall, the Protone can work as an everyday road helmet with an added aerodynamic factor.

Pros

  • Looks great
  • Breathes well
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Allows fitting adjustment
  • Includes a reflective strip at the rear
  • Aero design but with large vents
  • Can work with colder weather

Cons

  • The chin strap may not be the easiest to adjust
  • Lacks tunneling for airflow inside
  • May not be suitable for warmer climates
  • The matte finish may peel off later
  • No MIPS
  • Could be a little expensive for what it offers

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. POC Omne Air SPIN Bike Helmet

Key Features

  • Shell: Polycarbonate
  • Liner: Optimized-density EPS
  • Padding: Silicone
  • SPIN (Shearing Pad Inside) Protection System
  • Design: Slim Profile; for Commuting and Road Cycling
  • 360° Size-Adjustment System for a better fit
  • Adjustable Precision Straps

If you’ve known POC for its premium helmets, you might be surprised to see an entry-level type in the form of the Omne Air.

It’s a bike helmet for everyone, with a design that’s optimized for commuting and road cycling.

Indeed, it allows cool air to flow through and feels lightweight. It’s got a stylish design to it, as you’d expect from POC.

As for safety, the Omne Air features POC’s SPIN — a competing technology to the more familiar MIPS. SPIN (Shearing Pad Inside) offers to protect your head from oblique impacts. While MIPS is made of plastic, SPIN is composed of silicone pads. These pads even replace the foam pads in other kinds of helmets.

The Omne Air also features the handy 360-degree adjustment system by POC. It’s a fit dial in the back of the helmet. It can adjust the tension from both the front and the back so that the gear fits securely around your head.

Curiously, POC typically runs small, so a large-sized Omne Air SPIN may be too large for some heads. In the same vein, a medium-sized one may feel too small. But if you’re lucky enough, your chosen size should fit nicely with the shape of your head — plus some dialing for a tighter fit. 

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Fits great
  • Excellent ventilation
  • Great for typical hot days
  • Feels comfortable
  • Stylish design
  • Adjustment dial turns smoothly
  • SPIN technology gives added protection

Cons

  • Doesn’t include spare pads
  • Straps around the ears are not adjustable
  • The large size may feel too big and the medium size may feel too small

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Schwinn Thrasher Lightweight Microshell Bicycle Helmet

Key Features

  • Three-piece microshell
  • 20 top air vents; 21 flow vents
  • Adjustable side straps
  • With detachable visor
  • Schwinn 360° Comfort with a dial-adjustable fit system
  • Full-range padding

The Schwinn Thrasher uses a dial fit system similar to the one in POC’s Omne Air. It also offers 360° adjustability so you can customize the helmet’s fit to your head. You can even adjust it on the fly.

With 21 flow vents, the Thrasher does feel cool. It has heat-sealed pads that can add comfort as well as durability.

In fact, many users report surviving through crashes and head-on collisions while wearing this helmet. They probably owe it to the helmet’s comfortable fit — which helps it stay on your head and keep it fully covered. And of course, to the foam padding, which feels thick and solid enough to take a beating.

The Thrasher also has a snap-on visor that can protect your eyes from glare, dust, and other tiny particles. And yep, it’s removable. So if you don’t really like it, you can choose not to use it.

Pros

  • Excellent at protecting your head during crashes
  • Fits great with the adjustment dial
  • Straps allow for adjustment around the ear
  • Adequate padding
  • Feels comfortable
  • Lots of vents for cooling
  • Lightweight
  • Foam pads are removable for easier cleaning
  • Attractive design
  • Plenty of color options available
  • The design is also suitable for women wearing ponytails
  • Some sizes include a rear LED light
  • Affordable

Cons

  • The visor isn’t as durable as can be
  • No reflective strap on the lower rear of the helmet (although some sizes have a rear LED light)
  • The plastic veneers on the top may have only been glued on loosely and could fall off

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. Giro Aerohead MIPS Aero Helmet (Top Pick)

Key Features

  • Shell: In-mold polycarbonate
  • Liner: EPS
  • 4 Wind Tunnel vents featuring internal channeling
  • Ventilation over the brows
  • Wraparound eyeshield
  • Magnetic lens anchor attachment

You were probably waiting for me to review a TT helmet, so here it goes — the Giro Aerohead. It’s quite unique though, as it’s designed to cater not only to aerodynamics and speed but also to cooling power.

But how did Giro pull that off? Well, it made use of a “Wind Tunnel” ventilation coupled with internal channeling. Sure, the overall design still looks like a typical helmet for time trialists, but the little holes work well without compromising a speedy ride. The wind would hardly enter the helmet to drag you down and yet it feels very well-ventilated.

It incorporates MIPS, too, which is totally great for added safety.

There’s also a unique kind of wraparound eye shield. It’s supposed to unblock your field of view while keeping your eyes from glare. It’s attached with a magnetic anchor, so the shield is pretty secure while still allowing you to flip it up if you prefer not to use it.

Well, I just love the fact that this integrated visor can give you an unobstructed view. And unlike when you’re wearing glasses, the “eye shield” doesn’t fog up or allow sweat drips. Well, it might fog up a little in cold weather.

Other than the above perks, the Giro Aerohead is — more importantly — an aero helmet. This means it can help you ride faster while spending less energy. Many users have tried it Ironman challenges, so most likely you can try doing that, too.

Pros

  • Protects well from accidents
  • Wrap-around visor provides more than 180° of clear viewing
  • Nice-looking artwork and colors
  • Can help you ride faster
  • The fit is spot on with the adjustable dial and straps
  • Feels lightweight
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Suitable for time trial races
  • Great ventilation for an aero helmet
  • Can still feel comfortable when worn with a headband
  • Can keep your head safe, cool, and dry

Cons

  • Not the very best for very hot and humid environments

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6. Bell Stratus MIPS Adult Road Bike Helmet

Key Features

  • Shell: In-mold polycarbonate
  • Liner: EPS foam
  • MIPS-equipped
  • Has a lightweight fit system with a dial for adjustments
  • Quick-adjust fasteners
  • Sweat Guide pad can pull moisture away from your brow pad
  • Over-brow ventilation

Just by looking at the Bell Stratus, you could already expect how cool it would feel to ride with it on. Well, it can feel so comfortable that it’s possible you won’t even notice you’re wearing it while on the ride. So, if ventilation and comfort are the two most important factors for you, you might prefer this bike helmet.

The Stratus has got a pretty standard polycarbonate shell that’s been molded to the EPS foam liner. The process has created a much sturdier helmet.

Like some of the previous helmets on our list, this one also has an adjustable dial.

The Stratus is also MIPS-equipped, so even though it has quite an open design, it does offer considerable protection.

Just one thing that’s not been perfected in this helmet is the strap quality, which might deteriorate after some use or after a challenging encounter on the road.

Simply said, the Bell Stratus is great for leisure rides in the summer, and if you aren’t really about racing.

Pros

  • Superb ventilation
  • Straps are hardly noticeable
  • The suspension system is spot on
  • Comfortable to wear
  • MIPS system adds security
  • Sleek-looking
  • Suitable for rides under the hot sun
  • Very lightweight
  • Fits oval-shaped heads well
  • Adjustable dial for fitting is easy to turn
  • Value for money

Cons

  • There may be some sizing discrepancies with the added MIPS system
  • The straps and buckle may not be of the highest quality

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Top Choice Among Riders

Alright, those were all our top choices. But if we were to declare a winner, I think it should be the one that appeals to — and protects the heads of — most road riders. And that goes to the Giro Aerohead.

Well, I was actually torn between it and the Schwinn Thrasher, as the latter has also proven its toughness against many accidents. But I also want the best of both worlds when considering aerodynamics and ventilation.

Interestingly, the Giro Aerohead has stricken the balance between these two features, while also incorporating the MIPS system that should take care of any impact. So toughness is there, and so is speed, and so is comfort.

Add to that the perks of having a wraparound eyeshield that gives you an unobstructed view while cycling, and you’ll probably have the best time while on the ride.

So, whether you’re a racer or a casual cyclist, I bet you’ll love the Aerohead. But if you have other preferences from our list above, I totally respect that.

After all, you, rider, are now able to define what’s best for your noggin.

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Perry
Perry
Hello, my names Perry and I've been a freelance writer for the past 5 years and a cycling enthusiastic since I can remember. I love the road, but my main passion is mountain biking.