Here’s our selection of 28 of the best road cycling helmets currently available for 2019. We’ve made sure to include choices for a wide range of budgets, from entry-level helmets right the way through to top-end options for racers.
For most, fit, ventilation and comfort matter over all else — all of the helmets listed here are tested to stringent safety standards and ensuring that a helmet fits well will also ensure it can do its job keeping you safe in the event of a crash.
Good fit and adjustability thanks to the Roc Loc 5 cradle and four internal pads
The exposed EPS base isn’t to all tastes
The Giro Foray MIPS pays more than a nod to Giro’s range-topping Synthe aero helmet, with a smooth, rounded compact shell and truncated rear to maintain efficiency in all head positions.
The in-mould construction means that the polycarbonate outer shell is fused to the EPS core for strength, but it doesn’t extend to the underside.
Its MIPS system adds to the cost, but for that, you are also getting great reassurance, and along with the super-adjustable Roc Loc 5 cradle is an excellent fit. Four internal pads keep things comfortable and five pronounced internal channels ventilate the majority of the head very well at all speeds, making this model an attractive, safe and great-value choice.
The Synthe was one of the first do-it-all road helmets with an aero leaning to hit the market, and some years after its launch it still impresses.
It’s got great ventilation at all speeds thanks to a surprisingly open architecture, with lots of forward-facing ports, some deep internal channels, big vents and clean, unobstructed paths. Plus it’s light; seriously light at just 209g for a size small.
Subtly sculpted curves based on CFD design and wind tunnel testing for aero performance
Otto Fit retention system offers a huge adjustment range
The Protone is claimed to be designed to maintain aerodynamics and airflow in any common riding position, and however you move your head, it remains consistently quiet.
Its skull-hugging compact profile is the result of extensive wind tunnel testing and it’s certainly less bulky than some. Ventilation is superb thanks to eight forward-looking vents and six large exit ports, and the Octo Fit retention system offers a huge adjustment range to keep everything secure and comfy.
The Lazer Blade is a value-packed lightweight helmet that is available in a range of colours.
Like many of Lazer’s helmets — including its range-topping Z1 — the Blade uses its ARS adjuster, which sees the adjuster barrel fitted to the top of the helmet. This is said to make it easier to make adjustments one handed.
The helmet can often be found with generous discounts, so it’s worth shopping around for the best deal.
Good fit, good looks, great weight and a great price
The chin strap material is a little heavy and stiff
An excellent budget road helmet
The Lazer Tonic is an excellent budget road helmet that looks and feels like a much more expensive lid. At 230g for a medium, it weighs the same as helmets more than twice as expensive, such as the Specialized S-Works Prevail or the Bontrager Velocis.
Internal channelling on the Tonic keeps air moving across the head, and probably reduces the weight a little, too. Ventilation is very good for a helmet at this price point; not as airy as something like the Prevail but much better than helmets in its class.
As with most helmets in this category, the Tonic is available in three sizes, but unlike some other brands, the Tonic comes in a whopping seven styles, from the more muted (white, black, black/blue and this white titanium) to see-me-now hi-vis options (flash yellow and flash orange).
MET’s Rivale tips the scales at just 257g (for a large) and is said to save 3w at 50kph, equating to a second’s advantage over comparable vented helmets at the same pace. As well as that, it complies with CE as well as the tougher Australian AS and American USPC standards.
The Rivale’s shape is more rounded than most aero helmets. The internal padding is minimal yet well placed and the micro-adjust dial offers plenty of tensioning to keep it securely on your head.
We especially loved the 4cm vertical adjustment in the retaining cradle, which enables you to position the helmet in just the right spot.
The Trenta (that’s 30 in Italian) was created to celebrate 30 years of Italian brand MET.
With no fewer than 19 vents the Trenta’s shell is somewhere between that of an aero lid and a traditional vented helmet. Not only does it look great, but its excellent fit and slim profile quickly won us over. It’s light too, we weighed our pre-production sample at 228g for a size medium.
The Trenta is also compatible with MET’s clever clip-on light, which pumps out plenty of lumens where they matter yet doesn’t interrupt the helmet’s function or adjustments.
The Cadence Plus is Scott’s aero road helmet solution. Its polycarbonate shell completely covers the vulnerable EPS core, apart from inside the vents, and its smooth, elongated shape and mostly enclosed shell look purposeful.
The occipital cradle of Scott’s Halo Fit System has three heights, and circumference adjustment is via a rotary dial. A clever separator keeps the straps far apart so they don’t clash with your ears, all helping to make the Cadence Plus one of the best fitting and most secure helmets we’ve tried recently.
The price for a top-flight MIPS-equipped helmet is also good.
Aerodynamic shaping combined with a hint of retro looks
Dedicated sunglasses port
Comfortable Merino-wool padding
Specialized has taken its ultra-aerodynamic S-Works Evade lid as the template for the Airnet, although it still has touches of the old leather ‘hairnet’ helmets (hence the name) worn by racers from the 1970s.
Beneath the shell is a heavily channelled EPS core that offers far more ventilation than your usual aero lid. The large base vents at the temple also feature textured grippers to hold your glasses when you’re not wearing them.
The shell contributes to its 325g weight, but provides extra protection from accidental damage, while inside the padding is made from Merino wool for super-soft comfort.
The Mindset adjusting cradle comfortably accommodates most head shapes
Horizontal brow vents are good for glasses storage
It may have been around for a long time, but the Specialized S-Works Prevail helmet still delivers on all fronts: styling, comfort and ventilation are all superb. It manages to look both chunky and supremely vented at the same time.
Specialized’s rear Mindset adjusting cradle offers five height positions, well-placed pads and a rotary dial. Older Specialized helmets used to be quite narrow, but now accommodate rounder heads very well with no squeezing or pinching.
The straps are fixed by clasps at each side, but are ideally positioned to let the pliable chinstrap do its job.
Sweet Protection is better known for its MTB protection, but its Falconer road helmet absolutely deserves a place on this list.
The build quality of the helmet is superb, the fit adjustments feel great and the MIPS liner — which is cut to spec for the helmet — doesn’t impede airflow in any way, making for a very airy feeling helmet.
Removable cover to prioritise aero or cooling options
MIPS version available
Comfortable and cool with distinctive looks
With its sweeping, almost conventional shape, and 22 sizeable vents, the Z Alpha looks very open for an aero helmet. The snap-on front cover is said to provide the biggest aero gains at over 40kph. It only hides the central four vents, but has a slot to channel some air through.
It’s superbly comfortable and secure, and despite the MIPS system touching much of your scalp, manages to stay cool. Two central internal channels, plus the gap between the MIPS cradle and EPS shell, ensure good air movement even with the cover installed.
The Z Alpha is less specific than some aero lids and all the better for it, with great ventilation and classy looks. You can opt to have MIPS or not, but a little extra outlay for enhanced head protection is a no-brainer in our book.
If you’re imitating the pros, you’ll be delighted to realise that Kask’s Rapido features the distinctive sleek looks found on its higher-end helmets, which were made famous by Team Sky.
The Italian-made helmet has 24 vents, which are located to supposedly improve aerodynamics. That the helmet is available in a number of different colours is a welcome change from the usual monochrome options too.
Bulky construction is due to extra protection for your most vulnerable areas
Single vent is enough to provide ample cooling on all but the hottest days
Plenty of fit adjustability
Although 268g (for the large) hardly makes the Octal Aero a heavyweight, it’s a substantial helmet size-wise. Its bulk is attributable to the extra-thick EPS at the temples and rear of the head — your most vulnerable areas.
This lid’s aero emphasis means ventilation is reduced to a single central vent, which is helped by internal channels that begin at the brow. In normal conditions, it’s very comfortable, with a constant flow of air across the head and no obvious hot spots, but it probably wouldn’t be our first choice for a summer Alpine assault.
Fit is controlled by a minimal system with five height settings, a wide occipital (back and lower part of the skull) cradle and rotary dial, and superbly adjustable straps.
Addition of MIPS adds extra protection with minimal weight increase
Enough adjustment to find a comfortable fit
Well vented and padded front keeps the sweat out of your eyes
Adding MIPS increases the weight — the large now weighs 282g — but the increase is just 20g more than the standard ARX. And frankly, low weight is not the first thing we look for when it comes to safety.
The ARX Plus is particularly impressive at the front, where its large internal channels and a well-vented brow prevent the build up of sweat. Vertical adjustment may be limited to three press-studs offering 20mm of adjustability, but it proved perfectly adequate in practice. The small rear dial offers true micro-adjustment, which helps get a precise fit.
Despite having 22 vents in total, the extended rear gets warm on rides in the heat, and lacking any padding means moisture collects around the nape of your neck, but that’s the only downside on what is an otherwise impressive performer.
Jack has been riding and fettling bikes for his whole life. Always in search of the hippest new niche in cycling, Jack is a self-confessed gravel dork and thinks nothing of bivouacking on a beach after work. Also fond of his tandem, Cecil, cup and cone bearings, skids and tan wall tyres.