Here’s our selection of 25 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.
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 2019, as rated by our expert testers
Specialized S-Works Evade with ANGi: £230 / $250 / €299
Bell Zephyr MIPS / Z20 MIPS: £200 / $230 / AU$369
Bontrager Velocis MIPS: £165 / $199 / €199 / AU$250
Bontrager XXX WaveCel Road: £200 / $300
Giro Foray MIPS: £75 / $85 / AU$99
Giro Synthe: £200 / $225 / AU$299
Kask Protone: £195 / $199 / AU$269
Lazer Blade: £60 / $100 / €68
MET Idolo: £50 / €72.49
MET Rivale HES: £110 / $99 / AU$139
MET Trenta 3K Carbon: £265 / €300
Oakley ARO5: £199 / $250
Scott Cadence Plus: £170 / $249 / AU$340
Scott Centric Plus: £145 / $200 / AU$300
Specialized Airnet: £100 / $150 / AU$199
Specialized Propero 3: £75 / $110 / AU$150
Sweet Protection Falconer MIPS: £200 / $260
Abus GameChanger: £180 / $245 / €220 / AU$340
Abus AirBreaker: £229 / €250
Bollé Messenger Premium: £89 / €96
B’Twin RoadR 500: £30
Endura Xtract: £53
Giro Vanquish MIPS: £240 / $275 / AU$430
Kask Valegro: £170 / $250 / AU$299 (Gloss colours), AU$309 (Matt colours)
Lazer Century: £130 / €160 / $160
Specialized S-Works Evade with ANGi
The Specialized S-Works Evade with ANGi is a cutting-edge helmet in every sense. Immediate Media
- £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 recent 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, and there is an annual subscription charge for the ANGi technology, but it feels like a real step forward for helmet technology.
Bell Zephyr MIPS / Z20 MIPS
Bell’s Zephyr MIPS is a great option for those who specifically want MIPS tech. Immediate Media
- £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 its 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 Velocis MIPS
The Velocis was recently updated. Immediate Media
- £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
The Bontrager XXX WaveCel is a well-finished, high-quality, high-tech aero helmet. Immediate Media
- £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
Giro’s Foray MIPS helmet has great looks, a drag-friendly shape and MIPS. Immediate Media
- £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 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.
Giro says its Synthe is its most aerodynamically efficient road helmet — but it’s also very well ventilated at both fast and slow speeds, light and comfortable. Immediate Media
- £200 / $225 / AU$299
- Lightweight, aero and well ventilated
- Sunglasses port
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.
The Kask Protone helmet delivers formidable comfort, performance and looks — but at a price. Immediate Media
- £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.
The Blade can often be found with a healthy discount, so shop around. Immediate Media
- £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.
The Idolo is MET’s entry-level road lid. Immediate Media
- £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
MET’s Rivale HES. Immediate Media
- £110 / $99 / AU$139
- 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 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.
MET Trenta 3K Carbon
MET’s Trenta 3K Carbon is one of our favourite road helmets. Immediate Media
- £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.
Oakley is a relative newcomer to the helmet market. Immediate Media
- £199 / $250
- Very comfortable and light, with good ventilation at speed
- Narrow profile that looks great
Oakley only recently got into the cycling helmet market but its ARO5 aero lid does 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.
Scott Cadence Plus
Scott Cadence Plus is a fast, airy and comfy aero road helmet. Immediate Media
- £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
The Scott Centric combines many favourable qualities to create a great all-round lid. Immediate Media
- £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 also presents reasonable value for money.
Specialized’s Airnet. Immediate Media
- £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
The Propero is a great mid-level lid. Immediate Media
- £75 / $110 / AU$150
- Based on the much-loved Prevail, but much cheaper
- Comfortable fit and great adjustability
Specialized’s Propero 3 is based on its much-loved Prevail and it shares many of its features, most notably the cavernous Mega Mouthport front vent.
The fit adjustments are also really easy to use and feel very high quality. We also think it looks great, which counts for something.
Sweet Protection Falconer MIPS
Sweet Protection is better known for its mountain bike kit. Immediate Media
- £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 Gamechanger has a very slim profile. Immediate Media
- £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, making the helmet a solid four-star performer.
The Abus AirBreaker is a lightweight, well-ventilated helmet developed in collaboration with the Movistar team. Immediate Media
- £229 / €250
- Well ventilated and lightweight
- High quality construction and finish
Based on a similar overall shape as the aero-focussed Abus GameChanger, the AirBreaker focuses more on ventilation and cooling, which it does very 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.
Bollé Messenger Premium
The Bollé Messenger Premium brings great commuter style with ventilation and adjustability. Immediate Media
- £89 / €96
- Clever design with good ventilation
- Generous shape
A pure commuter’s helmet, the Bollé Messenger Premium impresses with a clever design and plenty of smart touches.
While it looks like a fully enclosed helmet, well placed vents and channels ensure it remains well ventilated. The outer shell also extends all around the foam core, preventing it from accidental damage that can so often befall commuter helmets – when chucking them into lockers or bags, or leaving them strapped to your bike when stopped.
Reflective details throughout, plus an integrated rear light and winter under-cap top off a fine package.
B’Twin RoadR 500
The Rapido is based on Kask’s high-end helmets. Immediate Media
- Bargain basement price is hard to beat
- Decent fit, ventilation and finish for the money
Decathlon’s house brand B’Twin is well known for turning out high-quality and highly-affordable kit.
The RoadR 500 helmet is no exception. It’s a touch heavy, but at £30 it’s pretty hard to beat in the ‘value for money’ stakes.
The Xtract is another great budget option BikeRadar / Immediate Media
- Affordable option
- Built-in rechargeable rear light
The Xtract is Endura’s entry-level all-rounder helmet. It’s not the lightest at 300g, but it’s decidedly affordable at just £53 (international pricing TBC).
Despite the modest price, the helmet also includes a neat USB-chargeable LED light in the rear.
Giro Vanquish MIPS
The integrated visor on the Vanquish is… divisive BikeRadar / Immediate Media
- £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.
The Kask Valegro has quickly become the helmet of choice for Team Ineos riders on hot days. Immediate Media
- £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 managing 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.
The Lazer Century is a versatile road helmet with a clever system for adjusting the ventilation and aerodynamics. Immediate Media
- £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.
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.a
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 obviously 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-focussed 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.