Here’s our selection of 29 of the best road cycling helmets currently available for 2021. 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.
- Best road bikes: how to choose the right one for you
- Best bike: our buyer’s guide to which bicycle type you should buy
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.
Many helmets are now designed with aerodynamic qualities in mind, too, which has an effect on shape, size and overall looks. For a comprehensive test of aero helmets (by fit and comfort), check out our test of 8 of the best aero helmets on the market.
Once you’ve finished exploring all of the options, keep reading to the end to check out our buyer’s guide to road helmets.
The best road bike helmets in 2021, as rated by our expert testers
5 and 4.5 stars
- Bell Avenue MIPS: $120 / £65
- Specialized S-Works Evade with ANGi: £230 / $250 / €299
- Bell Zephyr MIPS / Z20 MIPS: £200 / $230 / AU$369
- Bontrager Circuit MIPS: £100 / $160 / €150 / AU$200
- Bontrager Velocis MIPS: £165 / $199 / €199 / AU$250
- Bontrager XXX WaveCel Road: £200 / $300
- Giro Foray MIPS: £75 / $85 / AU$99
- Kask Protone: £195 / $199 / AU$269
- Lazer Blade: £60 / $100 / €68
- Mavic Comete Ultimate MIPS: £245 / €270 / $297
- MET Idolo: £50 / €72.49
- MET Rivale HES: £110 / $99 / AU$199.95
- MET Trenta 3K Carbon: £265 / €300
- Oakley ARO5: £199 / $250
- Rudy Project Spectrum: £170 / €179
- Scott Cadence Plus: £170 / $249 / AU$340
- Scott Centric Plus: £145 / $200 / AU$300
- Specialized Airnet: £100 / $150 / AU$199
- Specialized Propero 3 ANGi: £95 / $130 / €140
- Sweet Protection Falconer MIPS: £200 / $260
- Abus GameChanger: £180 / $245 / €220 / AU$340
- Abus AirBreaker: £229 / €250
- Bell Stratus MIPS: £130 / $170
- Giro Vanquish MIPS: £240 / $275 / AU$430
- Kali Therapy: £90 / $100
- Kask Valegro: £170 / $250 / AU$299 (Gloss colours), AU$309 (Matt colours)
- Lazer Century: £130 / €160 / $160
- MET Allroad: £70 / €75
- POC Omne Air SPIN helmet: £140 / €160
5 and 4.5 stars
The following helmets scored 4.5 to 5 stars in our testing.
Bell Avenue MIPS
- $120 / £65
- Outstanding value
- MIPS tech and user-friendly features
There was a time when MIPS technology held a significant premium and was used almost exclusively in the most expensive of helmets. Those times are very much in the past, with Bell’s Avenue MIPS being a perfect example.
Its retention system is easy to adjust and very effective, while the polycarbonate shell features 18 vents to keep things nice and cool as well as reflective highlights to boost visibility.
Its 310g weight is going to be heavier than quite a few helmets at this price, but we think it’s a sound trade-off when you consider just how well this lid performs for its price tag.
Specialized S-Works Evade with ANGi
- £230 / $250 / €299
- Cutting-edge safety features
- Excellent ventilation, weight and claimed aero performance
We found it to be supremely comfortable and well ventilated, and it claims to also be very aerodynamic – one of our tests actually backs this up too.
Adding additional safety features such as MIPS and ANGi to the already stellar S-Works Evade II, makes this easily one of the best helmets on the market.
It’s not cheap, but the subscription charge for the ANGi technology has been scrapped and it feels like a real step forward for helmet technology.
Bell Zephyr MIPS / Z20 MIPS
- £200 / $230 / AU$369
- Brilliant adjustability and airflow
- MIPS protection
For riders who want more comfort than that offered by Bell’s aero-optimised Star, there’s the Zephyr (or the Z20 MIPS as it’s known in the US). It’s a great choice, providing you can stomach the cost.
Being designed in collaboration with safety pioneers MIPS, the Zephyr’s wind tunnel-optimised shell uses the MIPS liner in a way that doesn’t compromise the lid’s cooling.
Bontrager Circuit MIPS
- £100 / $160 / €150 / AU$200
- Compact, traditional looks
- Boa retention system
The Circuit MIPS from Bontrager is a well thought out all-rounder that can satisfy road, gravel and commuter riders alike.
As the name suggests, the Circuit uses a MIPS liner, though its shell remains impressively compact
Its shape might not be to everyone’s tastes, but we particularly liked its Boa dial retention system and the airy nature of its well-ventilated outer.
Bontrager Velocis MIPS
- £165 / $199 / €199 / AU$250
- Good ventilation and claimed aero performance
- Comfortable and easy to use BOA-dial adjuster
The Velocis was redesigned recently and the formerly traditional-looking helmet now sits firmly in the aero lid category.
The helmet is very comfortable and despite its aero-leanings, is still very well ventilated.
There’s a handful of niggles that prevent the helmet being a full five-star performer, but it’s safe to say that the Velocis is very unlikely to disappoint.
Bontrager XXX WaveCel Road
- £200 / $300
- Claimed aero and safety credentials
- Well finished and comfortable
Bontrager launched its WaveCel technology with a blaze of bold claims about potential improvements to safety, but whatever the real world implications, this is an impressive helmet package for road use.
At 355g, it’s not the lightest helmet on the market, but we didn’t really notice that in use, and we love how well finished the helmet is.
It’s also wonderfully comfortable and Bontrager claims it’s very aerodynamic.
Giro Foray MIPS
- £75 / $85 / AU$99
- Great looks, a drag friendly shape and MIPS
- Good fit and adjustability
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 with that you are also getting great reassurance and, along with the super-adjustable Roc Loc 5 cradle, 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.
- £195 / $199 / AU$269
- Superb ventilation and aero performance, delivered by CFD design and wind tunnel testing
- Otto Fit retention system offers 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.
- £60 / $100 / €68
- Value-packed helmet
- ARS adjuster works well
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 perform adjustments one handed.
The helmet can often be found with generous discounts, so it’s worth shopping around for the best deal.
Mavic Comete Ultimate MIPS
- £245 / €270 / $297
- Sharp style
- Good safety credentials
With an RRP of £245 / €270 / $297 it’s certainly not cheap, but Mavic does pack a lot of tech into its Comete Ultimate MIPS helmet to try and justify that price. As well as a MIPS liner, it has a carbon fibre reinforced structure made from EPS-4D foam that’s said to be more effective at absorbing impacts than standard EPS foam.
Ventilation is good and the polycarbonate shell and angular vents give the helmet a very sharp appearance. As you’d expect of any top-end lid, Mavic claims the helmet is aerodynamically efficient too.
- £50 / €72.49
- Lightweight for the money
- Built-in LED rear light
MET’s Idolo is its entry-level road helmet but it borrows many features from its higher-end siblings, notably its Safe-T-E-mid horizontal fit system, which works very well.
That its looks rival some high-end lids is just a bonus.
MET Rivale HES
- £110 / $99 / AU$199.95
- Impressive cooling for an aero helmet
- Great range of adjustment
MET’s Rivale tips the scales at just 257g (for a large) and is said to save 3 watts at 50kph, equating to a claimed second’s advantage over comparable vented helmets at the same pace.
As well as that, it complies with CE and 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.
MET Trenta 3K Carbon
- £265 / €300
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Great fit and adjustability
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.
- £199 / $250
- Very comfortable and light, with good ventilation at speed
- Narrow profile that looks great
Oakley only got into the cycling helmet market relatively recently, but its ARO5 aero lid did not disappoint.
The relatively minimalist helmet uses four large front vents to scoop in air with two smaller vents at the back to exhaust excess heat.
The Boa-dial retention system – which adjusts a soft cord that runs around the circumference of the helmet – is also fairly nifty and we found it to work very well.
Rudy Project Spectrum
- £170 / €179
- High quality construction with distinctive looks
- Aero claims and good ventilation
As seen on the heads of Team Bahrain McLaren riders such as Mark Cavendish and Mikel Landa, Rudy Project’s Spectrum helmet combines good looks and ventilation with claims of good aerodynamic efficiency.
While we so far haven’t been able to test the aero claims, our tester found a lot to like elsewhere: comfortable and well ventilated, and an especially good fit on larger heads (the size large fits up to a 63cm head circumference).
Scott Cadence Plus
- £170 / $249 / AU$340
- Fast and airy, with good claimed aero performance
- MIPS protection and vent bungs are included for winter riding
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.
Scott Centric Plus
- £145 / $200 / AU$300
- Airy yet aero, with normal looks
- Comfortable fit
The Scott Centric Plus does the seemingly impossible, combining aero qualities with excellent ventilation to create a great do-it-all lid in a relatively normal looking package.
The build quality of the helmet is excellent and, while not exactly cheap at £145 / $200 / AU$300, in the wider context of the aero lid market it presents reasonable value for money.
- £100 / $150 / AU$199
- Aerodynamic shaping with a hint of retro looks
- Dedicated sunglasses port and 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.
Specialized Propero 3 ANGi
- £95 / $140 / €130
- ANGi Sensor safety tech
- Sharp looks
The Propero 3 ANGi blends impressive features, ride performance and sharp looks inspired by Specialized’s top-end Prevail lid.
We rated the fit as well as the helmet’s ability to keep our heads cool and the 4X DryLite webbing inside that won’t stretch out with sweat or water is another bonus.
MIPS technology boosts safety while Specialized’s own ANGi angular and g-force indicator which connects to your smartphone and automatically calls an emergency contact should it detect you are in an accident. As a bonus, the ANGi system requires no paid subscription.
Sweet Protection Falconer MIPS
- £200 / $260
- Excellent build quality
- Great fit adjustments and ventilation
Sweet Protection is better known for its mountain bike 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.
The following helmets scored 4 stars in our testing.
- £180 / $245 / €220 / AU$340
- Claimed excellent aero performance
- Dedicated sunglasses port and lots of colour options
Abus’s GameChanger is a fairly unique looking helmet but one that impressed the BikeRadar test team.
The firmly aero-centric lid has a slim wind-cheating profile that Abus claims is among the best performing on the market.
The ventilation isn’t as good as some other aero helmets, but the fit and build quality just about make up for this, resulting in a solid four-star performer.
- £229 / €250
- Well ventilated and lightweight
- High quality construction and finish
Based on a similar overall shape as the aero-focused Abus GameChanger, the AirBreaker focuses more on ventilation and cooling, which it does impressively.
Made in Italy, and designed in collaboration with the Movistar professional team, it’s of high-quality construction and is very light at just 229g for a size large.
Abus claims its small overall profile, along with design cues taken from the GameChanger, also confers some aero benefits.
Bell Stratus MIPS
- £130 / $170
- Excellent fit and performance
- MIPS liner
At 317g for a size large, it’s not the lightest helmet on the market, but that’s not noticeable when wearing it. Ventilation is fantastic too, making this a great helmet for those who live in hot climes, or who regularly find themselves overheating on the climbs.
It’s great to see a MIPS liner at this price point and it doesn’t hurt that it looks very smart as well. Plus, if lime green isn’t your favourite colour, there are eight alternative colour choices, so you should be able to find something that suits.
Giro Vanquish MIPS
- £240 / $275 / AU$430
- Comfortable, well ventilated and excellent claimed aerodynamics
- Great build quality
Giro’s Vanquish MIPS is a unique looking aero road helmet that features a built-in visor, which takes the place of your sunglasses.
The visor is undoubtedly divisive, but if you’re to believe Giro, the integration of this into the helmet makes for a super-aero package.
The build quality of the helmet is excellent and we found the fit to be good as well.
- £90 / $100
- Good fit and performance
- Added safety features
Kali’s Therapy helmet offers good fit and performance for the price, as well as Kali’s own take on a MIPS-style safety liner. Like MIPS, Kali claims this system can reduce rotational impact forces, which is claimed to reduce the risk of brain injuries in the event of a crash.
All of this is very impressive in a sub-£100 helmet, so you get a lot of value for money.
- £170 / $250 / AU$299 (Gloss colours), AU$309 (Matt colours)
- Lightweight and well ventilated
- Great adjustability
Developed in cooperation with Team Sky (now Team Ineos), the Kask Valegro is supremely light (201g in a size medium) and airy, while at the same time manages to be very comfortable.
Despite the focus on cutting weight, the Valegro has an artificial leather chinstrap, and the polycarbonate shell still wraps right around under the base of the helmet to protect the foam core from knocks. The OCTO Fit adjustment system is also very good.
It’s no surprise this helmet has become so popular with Team Ineos riders on long, hot days.
- £130 / €160 / $160
- Versatile and comfortable
- Integrated light
Using the same Advanced Turnfit fit system as some of its more premium siblings, the Lazer Century is a comfortable, versatile helmet for anything from general road riding to racing.
The ace up its sleeve is the removable Twistcap cover. It attaches via magnets, and can be mounted in two different orientations (or not at all) to adjust the aerodynamics/ventilation of the helmet.
It also has a rechargeable LED light integrated in to the rear of the helmet, for adding visibility in low light.
- £70 / €75
- Gravel-specific design
- Integrated light and sun visor
The MET Allroad is designed for gravel riders, but if you like your road or commuting lid to have a bit of mountain bike style then don’t let the marketing get in your way.
The adjustable retention system also integrates a rear light and is compatible with ponytails.
The Allroad is very comfortable and breathes well, just like a quality road helmet, even with the extra protection it offers for off-road duties.
POC Omne Air SPIN
- £140 / $160
- Great fit and safety tech
- Secure and easily adjustable
We found the POC Omne Air SPIN helmet to have a great fit and were impressed with its innovative safety features and effective ventilation.
POC’s SPIN (Shearing Pad INside) pads have a silicone gel-like membrane within them that are designed to reduce rotational forces being transferred to the brain in the event of a crash.
The rotary dial retention system acts on a band encircling the head for great security, and adjusts between four vertical positions. It’s a stylish looking lid too.
What to look for when buying a road bike helmet
Fit and retention systems
First and foremost, in the event of a crash, a helmet has to stay on your head to be effective. Just like shoes, helmets from different brands are all made to fit subtly different shaped lasts, so it’s important to try before you buy.
Most helmets use a dial based retention system (e.g. Giro’s Roc Loc 5 or Kask’s Octo Fit systems) to adjust the fit, but the vertical adjustment range (i.e. how high or low the rear adjustment supports sit on your head) will also vary between helmets, so again this is something to look out for.
Adjustable and comfortable straps are also incredibly important – you need to be able to wear them with a fairly snug fit against your chin for maximum effectiveness.
Most cycle helmets are primarily from expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. This skeleton is then covered, to varying degrees, in a hard polycarbonate shell (and sometimes a dash of carbon fibre) to add strength and protect the EPS foam from accidental bumps and scratches.
This basic design has been in place for decades now, but other manufacturing techniques and materials are beginning to filter through, such as 3D-printed Polyamide 11 or other ‘proprietary polymer materials’.
Naturally, manufacturers claim these designs offer benefits over traditional cycle helmets, but whether those benefits are realised in real life remains to be seen.
While we won’t comment on the overall efficacy of helmets in general, it’s worth noting that all helmets sold in the EU should conform to the EN 1078 European Standard (and therefore have a CE mark), or be CPSC-certified in the US.
Every helmet on this list does just that, if not more, and should at least offer your head some protection against bumps and scratches if you fall off your bike while out riding.
Recently, we’ve seen a substantial increase in additional safety technologies such as rotational liners (e.g. MIPS) and Bontrager’s proprietary WaveCel material. These innovations claim to offer increased protection from head and brain injuries by reducing rotational forces or simply by using materials that are better able to absorb certain shocks.
There is some independent safety testing of cycle helmets, but these things are obviously harder to test outside of the lab, where there are so many variables at play. On balance, these extra safety features are almost certainly worth having, but they tend to come on helmets with a higher price tag.
For fast road riding, especially in hot weather, ventilation is key. A well designed system of vents and channels in the internal structure of a helmet can help to draw air over your head and dissipate heat.
As might be obvious, putting holes in a helmet to increase ventilation is likely to lead to reduced weight and, potentially, robustness. So to make up for that, airy helmets often need more external reinforcement, or are constructed with pricier materials, to ensure they still meet safety and durability standards.
The aero brush touches everything these days, increasing costs and making all your current kit feel outdated, but with helmets it probably does make sense. The potential watt savings to be made with aero helmets shouldn’t be overlooked, if you’re concerned with riding fast.
There are compromises of course: increasing aerodynamic efficiency usually means closing off ventilation holes or putting up with funky shaped lids that, frankly, have looks that sometimes border on the ridiculous. But then again, if your main concern is simply to ride faster, perhaps looks aren’t actually that important.
Only a few brands actively promote their helmet’s ability to hold your sunglasses in the front vents, but this feature can be a real bonus.
Obviously helmet brands that also make sunglasses tend to do better in this regard, but make sure to take your sunglasses with you when you’re shopping for a new helmet so you can check the hold.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but it is worth considering what kind of riding the helmets you like the look of are designed for.
Let’s say you like classic looking helmets with lots of vent holes; if you live somewhere cold, maybe you’d be better off with a more aero-focused helmet with less ventilation and holes for water to seep through.
Likewise, the opposite could be true if you live somewhere hot; there’s no use having a helmet that’s super-fast in the wind tunnel if you don’t want to wear it because it makes your head boil.