The best road cycling helmets combine head protection, aerodynamics and ventilation.
They can be expensive, but the best budget bike helmets hold their own for less than £100/$100.
Cheaper models might lack crash protection technology (see our buyer’s guide further down this post). However, all helmets must pass stringent testing standards to be approved for sale. Even without extra safety features, your helmet will help protect you in a crash.
We’ve organised this buyer’s guide into the best road cycling helmets at different price levels. You can click the links below to jump to the section you need.
Then scroll down to the bottom for our buyer’s guide to choosing the best road cycling helmet.
- Best road bike helmets under £50
- Best road bike helmets under £100
- Best road bike helmets under £200
- Best road bike helmets under £300
Best road bike helmets under £50
- £65/$95/€98 as tested
- Great value
- All-road versatility
The Cannondale Junction has many of the attributes of premium road bike helmets without the price tag.
Its quality comfort, cooling, protection and low weight make it an outstanding bargain.
Its small, removable peak hints at gravel riding potential and our tester was happy to wear it when venturing off road.
Van Rysel RoadR 500
- £30/$40/€35 as tested
- Great looks for a budget helmet
- Good ventilation from its 14 vents
Looking more expensive than its price tag, the Van Rysel RoadR 500 helmet from Decathlon is comfortable with a race-oriented outline and 14 large vents that do a good job of cooling. The dial adjuster feels a bit cruder than higher-priced helmets, though.
The RoadR comes in two sizes and three colour options. It’s not quite as compact as the Van Rysel Aerofit 900, although that helmet will cost you £10 more.
Giant Relay MIPS
- £45/$50/ €47.50/AU$80 as tested
- Great value for a MIPS helmet
- Decent ventilation
The Giant Relay MIPS is a budget helmet with a 5-star rating in Virginia Tech‘s independent helmet testing. Quality features include in-mould construction and anti-odour padding.
The 17 vents ensure good airflow and the helmet doesn’t feel heavy when riding.
The retention adjuster works well and the MIPS Cinch system is well integrated.
Specialized Align II
- £45/$55/€60/AU$80 as tested
- Includes MIPS in a low-priced helmet
- A little heavy at 374g for a M/L
The Specialized Align II budget helmet provides MIPS protection, good padding, ventilation and fit.
On the flip side, the 374g weight for the size M/L helmet is a little on the high side and could be felt during our test.
Best road bike helmets under £100
Bell Avenue MIPS
- $120/£65 as tested
- Outstanding value
- MIPS tech and user-friendly features
The Bell Avenue MIPS helmet offers crash protection technology at a comparatively affordable price.
Its retention system is easy to adjust and very effective. The polycarbonate shell is well ventilated and reflective.
Its 310g weight is heavier than some other helmets at this price.
Specialized Propero 3 ANGi
- £95/$140/€130/AU$200 as tested
- Both MIPS and ANGi sensor included
- Quality details and high airflow
The Specialized Propero 3 is packed with safety features. It also shares the looks and high airflow of Specialized’s high-end Prevail helmet.
The Propero 3 is pretty lightweight at 305g for a size M. The straps worked well even under high-intensity, sweaty efforts.
Coros Safesound Road
- £93/$100 as tested
- Built-in Bluetooth speakers and rear light
- Incident detection
Corus builds Bluetooth connectivity into the Safesound road helmet, enabling you to listen to music without blocking out sounds from around you. Incident detection alert your emergency contacts via the app.
It’s a comfortable helmet with good ventilation and reasonably low weight.
Endura Xtract II
- £60/€75 as tested
- Great airflow and a quality feel
- No MIPS option
The Endura Xtract II is light at 270g for a large road bike helmet and looks good.
Large front and rear vents and deep channelling to encourage airflow between them. Quality features such as a shell that fully wraps the EPS core and thick, hard-wearing straps make for a helmet that belies its budget price.
Limar Air Stratos
- £80/€100 as tested
- Well made, lightweight budget helmet
- No MIPS option
Although targeted at gravel riders, the Limar Air Stratos is a 240g road bike helmet that works well on the road too.
There’s plenty of padding and adjustability, and the helmet is well finished, belying its low price. But the dial adjuster is a little small. There’s no MIPS in the helmet.
- £70/€80 as tested
- 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 high-quality road helmet, even with the extra protection it offers for off-road duties.
Best road bike helmets under £200
Bontrager Starvos WaveCel
- £100/$100/€110 as tested
- WaveCel construction
- XL helmet available for heads up to 66cm
The Bontrager Starvos WaveCel road bike helmet contains collapsible cellular construction technology, which is claimed to be more effective at impact absorption than EPS.
It’s very airy, adding extra comfort to rides in hot weather. Despite weighing 375g in size large, we didn’t notice the heft in testing.
The Starvos WaveCel is comfortable and adjustable. An extra-large option fit heads from 60cm to 66cm.
Endura Pro SL
- £150/€200 as tested
- Great quality and comfort
- Warm in very hot weather
The Endura Pro SL helmet uses Koroyd impact-protection technology, which is said to help protect your brain from direct and angled impacts. The protection comes in the form of honeycomb-like tubes inside the helmet, and plush padding ensures these don’t lead to an uncomfortable fit.
In fact, the Pro SL is very comfortable to wear. It has a cradle with vertical adjustment and a ratchet that enables you to dial in optimum fit.
One thing to bear in mind is we found the helmet was warm in hot weather.
Scott Centric Plus
- £150/$200/€200/AU$300 as tested
- Aero and well vented
- Minimalist MIPS implementation doesn’t get in the way
The new Centric Plus helmet carries on where the original left off with a design that’s been wind-tunnel tested and has large vents for great airflow. There’s easy adjustment and Scott has now added MIPS’ anti-rotation system, integrated into the padding as seen in Specialized’s high-end helmets.
There’s better air circulation over the crown of the head, with additional vents relative to the previous-generation Centric. It’s well finished and weighs an impressively light 272g for a size L.
- £130 as tested
- Very light, comfortable and well ventilated
- Not available with MIPS
The size large StormChaser helmet, the third in Abus’s road line-up after the GameChanger and AirBreaker, is impressively light at 238g.
There’s deep channelling for good ventilation and soft straps, making for plenty of comfort when riding, although the fixed strap anchor points limit adjustability.
Large reflectives at the rear increase visibility and the internal skeleton is designed to help maintain the integrity of the helmet in an accident. There’s not a MIPS option.
Bell Stratus MIPS
- £135/$170 as tested
- Excellent fit and performance
- MIPS liner
At 317g for a size large, the Bell Stratus is not the lightest helmet on the market, but that’s not noticeable when wearing it. Ventilation is fantastic too.
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 choices.
- £125/€149 as tested
- Well made, good looking and lightweight
- Unvented section at the rear can get a bit warm
HJC Velceo is an aerodynamic and fairly light road bike helmet.
The Valeco uses multiple densities of EPS foam, positioned for extra protection in high-stress areas and lower weight in less critical zones.
The solid rear end means the helmet can become a bit sweaty around the nape of the neck.
- £180 as tested
- Very light and good ventilation
- Limited hardshell coverage
The Genesis is Lazer’s pro-level helmet and at 210g it is one of the lightest available too.
There are 22 vents that provide ample ventilation and five levels of vertical adjustment to help find the right fit.
Overall, the build quality is great, but a lack of hardshell coverage at the back means you’ll have to be careful not to dent the exposed foam.
MET Rivale MIPS
- £140/€150 as tested
- Light, airy and comfortable
- Non-removable straps
The MET Rivale MIPS hits a sweet spot between aero efficiency and head-cooling properties.
The Rivale is also comfortable to wear with soft internal pads and soft-touch straps.
Overall, the helmet has a high-quality feel with an exemplary finish and a hard exterior shell that protects the EPS foam.
The presence of MIPS provides a good level of protection.
Oakley ARO3 MIPS
- £153/$185/AU$240 as tested
- Safety and ventilation
- May squeeze larger, rounder heads
The Oakley ARO3 MIPS comes with MIPS for safety and front vents that can hold sunglasses. The rest of the ventilation works well, even at lower speeds in high temperatures.
The Boa 360-degree fit system is easy to adjust and ensures the ARO3 MIPS sits securely.
But the largest 56-60cm size may prove too small for some, so try before buying if your head measures towards the top of the range.
POC Omne Air SPIN
- £140/$150/€160 as tested
- Great fit and safety tech
- Secure and easily adjustable
The POC Omne Air SPIN helmet has a great fit, innovative safety features and effective ventilation.
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.
Rudy Project Nytron
- £153/€200/$325 as tested
- Impressive aero performance
- Lightweight and well finished
Rudy Project Nytron aero helmet meets the WG11 rotational impact protection standard, although it doesn’t incorporate MIPS.
It’s light at 307g for a size L too, and well finished, although the venting only works well and catches the airflow if you ride in a head-down position.
Best road bike helmets under £300
Specialized S-Works Evade 3
- £275/$300/€330 as tested
- Brilliant all-rounder
- Fairly conventional looking
- High price
The S-Works Evade 3 is Specialized’s updated aero helmet and an excellent one at that.
Better ventilation than the outgoing Specialized S-Works Evade, including two front vents to hold sunglasses, augment the Evade 3’s versatility.
What’s more, the S-Works Evade 3 scores highly for safety and looks reasonably conventional despite its aerodynamic credentials.
There’s no getting over the cost though – £275 is a lot of money to fork out for a replacement in the event of a crash.
Giro Eclipse Spherical
- £240/$250/€260/AU$430 as tested
- Unobtrusive MIPS Spherical integration
- Lightweight and well vented for an aero helmet
The Giro Eclipse Spherical uses Giro’s own MIPS Spherical, which integrates a sliding plane between two layers in the shell, making for a neater implementation than the more common liner.
It’s an aero helmet that Giro claims is the slipperiest out there, with a low-profile shape, while 17 vents help keep you cooler than many such lids. It’s not too heavy either at 277g for a medium and the padding incorporates silver to help keep it smelling nicer.
Giro Helios Spherical
- £230/€250/$250 as tested
- MIPS Spherical helmet geared to gravel riders
- Comfortable and light, with good venting performance
Like the Giro Eclipse Spherical helmet, the Helios Spherical uses Giro’s neat MIPS implementation. Geared to gravel riding, the Helios Spherical takes less account of aerodynamics than Giro’s more road-oriented lids.
It’s a compact helmet with a fairly round interior shape, minimal padding and 28 vents to keep you cool. We found it really comfortable, with the padding well placed and good ventilation. The 303g weight of the size L helmet is reasonable too.
MET Trenta 3K Carbon MIPS
- £280/$336/€330/AU$463 as tested
- Great airflow and ventilation
- Very light for a helmet with MIPS
MET’s top-of-the-range Trenta 3K Carbon has MIPS Air built in to protect you, while minimising weight. In a size L (58 to 61cm), it’s 265g.
It has a striking wave-shaped rear profile, made up of the two exhaust vents, and a wind-tunnel backed Kammtail for an aero benefit. The ventilation is a key element of the helmet.
The hardshell doesn’t wrap fully around the underside, which won’t affect how it rides but may impact its longevity.
Giro Aries Spherical
- £290/$300/€320/AU$500 as tested
- Wonderfully ventilated
- Vastly expensive
The Giro Aries Spherical scored full marks in Virginia Tech Lab’s safety testing and at the time of its release was the highest-scoring helmet.
Its excellent protection features, including MIPS, don’t add much weight though. Our large test sample weighed a mere 310g.
The Giro Aries Spherical will keep your head cool on the most sultry summer rides while remaining comfortable. But you’ll have to pay a lot for it.
Lazer Vento Kineticore
- £250/$300/€269/AU$439 as tested
- Comfortable, with good ventilation for an aero helmet
- Kineticore impact protection adds a crumple zone inside the helmet
Lazer’s top-of-the-range Vento Kineticore aero road helmet is well ventilated and good looking.
According to Lazer, it is also 2.3 per cent more aerodynamic than its predecessor, with a 12 per cent improvement in cooling efficiency. While it’s hard to verify the aero bonus, we could easily believe the cooling benefit – feeling a stream of air coming through the helmet top when riding.
The Vento gets five stars from Virginia Tech, achieved by the use of ‘Kineticore’. This is an EPS block-based protection against both direct and rotational impact – providing a shear layer with specific crumple zones.
It weighs 290g, but doesn’t feel heavy or bulky to wear. A comfortable fit and easy adjustment mean its weight doesn’t impact on experience. Rubber docking points for glasses are also featured and work well.
MET Manta MIPS
- £220/AU$388/€250 as tested
- Lightweight and great fit
- Not as well ventilated as non-aero helmets
With the Manta, MET looked to turn the aero helmet on its head, keeping the weight low and ventilation high.
At 272.6g for a size large, it is indeed a light helmet considering its watt-saving design. It’s relatively aerated too, but it still won’t keep your head as cool as many non-aero lids.
When it comes to safety, the helmet is fitted with MIPS.
The fit of the helmet is excellent and there’s a host of great details, such as a magnetic Fidlock clasp.
The only downside to this helmet is the high price tag.
Specialized S-Works Prevail 3
- £275/$300/€330/AU$475 as tested
- Great ventilation with 25 vents
- Padding stays dry however much you sweat
The third iteration of the Specialized S-Works Prevail helmet retains the original’s great ventilation and low weight (258g for a size M). Rather than the usual EPS foam bridges between the ribs, there’s an aramid cage, which leads to huge vents for great airflow on hot and hilly rides.
MIPS doesn’t impede airflow because Specialized uses the Air Node version that’s integrated into the internal padding, which stays impressively dry, even over the brow, on hot days. Fit is great and highly adjustable. You can fit Specialized’s ANGi crash alert system, although it’s an extra.
We’ve also recently tested the slightly cheaper S-Works Prevail II Vent helmet, which has much of the Prevail 3’s lightweight airy design in common.
Trek Ballista MIPS
- £260/$300/€300/AU$300 as tested
- Comfortable with secure glasses storage
- Can feel stuffy on hot days
Trek’s flagship aero helmet is excellent on all but the hottest days, with good ventilation and aerodynamic claims.
The Ballista has an aggressively aero-optimised design that also provides high levels of comfort and safety credentials with the inclusion of MIPS technology.
While its looks may divide opinion, the vents on the Ballista do a good job of cooling when in motion, but suffer at slow speed and on especially hot days.
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 made to fit slightly differently, 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) to adjust the fit, but the vertical adjustment range (i.e. how high or low the rear adjustment supports sit on your head) will vary between helmets, so 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 made 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 use 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 must conform to the EN 1078 European Standard (and therefore have a CE mark). In the US, they must be CPSC-certified.
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 are claimed 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 looking for and have now trickled down to quite inexpensive lids.
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 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 that important.
Only a few brands actively promote their helmets’ ability to hold your sunglasses in the front vents, but this feature can be a real bonus.
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 incredibly fast in the wind tunnel if you don’t want to wear it because it makes your head boil.