The bike helmet is among the essential safety accessories you need to buy when you start cycling. But what if you have a maximum budget of $100 for your helmet. We’ve got you covered. We’ve spent more than 20 hours researching, reading product pages, and speaking to customers to find the very best bike helmets under $100.
Our recommendation for most people is Thousand Heritage Bike Helmet – a very well-thought-out urban helmet with a sleek design and amazing secret pop-lock.
-Best for Most People-
- Comes in sizes S, M, and L
- Choice of 7 colors
- Unisex styling
- Designed for urban city riders.
Backed by an anti-theft guarantee from the manufacturer, riders who have had their helmets stolen in the past count this among this product’s best features. The secret pop-lock gives you access to the hidden channel behind the logo so you’re the only one who can pop your U-lock or chain lock, and one-handed magnetic fastening prevents finger pinches while the dial-fit system makes helmet adjustments effortless.
All 7 vents on this helmet feed into internal channeling that keeps your head cool, no matter how hard you pedal. The low-profile, built-in visor helps offset sun rays, and no animals were harmed in the manufacture of this bike helmet since the straps (depending upon color) are made of either vegan leather or nylon. Get extra assurances courtesy of CPSC and EN1078 certifications.
-Best for Mountain Biking-
- 5 sleek, solid colors
- Available in S/M or M/L
- Designed for recreational or mountain bikers
- LockDown dividers make straps easy to adjust and clean.
A single wrong move could land you in the hospital with a brain injury, which is why this bike helmet is such a treasure. It reduces rotational motion that leads to cranial injury, but the low-friction layer that lines the interior slides 10 to 15mm in all directions, so your head stays put. The lining is soft, comfortable, moisture-wicking, and washable.
Use just one hand to fasten the Fidlock magnetic buckle that customizes this helmet’s fit. The removable, built-in visor offers you two coverage options, and recessed internal channels funnel air throughout the helmet, so riders stay cool and comfortable. The Bontrager Crash Replacement Guarantee promises a free replacement within the first year of purchase if you suffer a crash that damages this helmet.
-Best for Road Cycling-
- Comes in 5 sizes (XS, S, M, L, and XL)
- Choose from black, white, or radioactive yellow
- One-hand adjustment system
- Popular with both men and women.
A versatile, high-value choice for riders of all skill levels, the interior fittings of this helmet collapse upon impact to reduce rotational motion in the event of an accident. What’s behind this performance? Starvos WaveCel technology has been tested and given a 5-star rating by Virginia Tech, the independent testing facility that identifies products that best reduce concussion risks.
Make helmet adjustments on the fly using the one-handed Headmaster fit system that impacts both interior height and circumference, and when time comes to launder the moisture-wicking interior pads, toss them into the washer. This cycling helmet also features lock-down dividers that help maintain helmet strap cleanliness.
-Stylish and Safe-
- Comes in 10 trendy colors
- Choose from 3 sizes (S, M and L)
- A favorite of fashion-forward men and women
- Comes with a a Crash Replacement Guarantee.
Must you compromise on style to avail yourself of MIPS technology? Not if you invest in best-in-class brain protection at a price that won’t clean out your wallet. Stay cool thanks to 11 contoured vents, and enjoy peace of mind knowing that the interior liner can slide 10 to 15mm in all directions to reduce brain motion if you crash.
The injection-molded ABS shell is composed of EPS foam, and the heat-sealed, 3-piece pad set and dial-adjustable cradle tailor this helmet to your head for a snug fit. Use the No-pinch Fidlock® magnetic snap-and-go closure when you’re ready to ride wearing a helmet that earned CPSC 16 CFR 1203 and ASTM F1492 certification standards. 360-degree reflectivity for night rides keeps you safe from traffic, too.
Nutcase makes some of the most stylish and safe helmets on the market. You can check our Nutcase helmets overview article if you want to learn more.
-Best Lightweight Helmet-
- Designed for both men and women
- Ribbed EPS liner and EZ-fit interior system for comfort
- 15-percent lighter than previous version
- Recommended for recreational cycling and snow sports.
Whether your year-round activity is limited to biking or you love snow sports, the Bern Macon 2.0 is the company’s latest safety innovation in the area of lower-head impact protection at a weight that won’t remind you that you’re wearing a helmet. Bearing the MIPS designation, this helmet’s ribbed liner slides between 10 and 15 mm in all directions to reduce brain rotational motion should an accident occur.
Compression-molded pads and an adjustable strap divider deliver a snug, comfortable fit. Injection-molded construction and ABS material used to construct the shell make this one tough piece of headgear. What feature do most cyclists like most? The 12 air vents cool their heads, no matter how fast they’re moving.
Read more: How to Wear a Bike Helmet with Long Hair
-Best for Women-
Giro Vasona MIPS Women’s Helmet
- New for the 2021 market
- Engineered in Giro’s helmet test lab
- Features MIPS to redirect crash energy
- Universal sizing for “out of the box” fit.
This Giro Vasona helmet has met and passed so many rigorous tests during development, it even complied with US CPSC Safety Standards applicable to bike riders as young as age 5. Featuring the MIPS technology system shoppers seek in safety gear, Giro didn’t compromise on a proper ventilation system, installing 22 vents for cooling comfort.
It’s easy to adjust the position and tension of the strap to achieve a comfortable fit, and while this particular helmet only comes in white, you might not care when you manipulate the fit system that requires turning the dial until the helmet feels snug. No worries about strength and durability. This product’s in-mold polycarbonate shell has an EPS liner that counters shocks if they occur so riders can get back on the road.
-Lightweight, Safe and Affordable-
Kask Rapido Road Cycling Helmet
- 8 stylish color choices
- Comes in sizes M and L
- Weighs just 3 pounds
- Classic Italian styling
You don’t have to speak Italian to appreciate this Kask Rapido Helmet. It may be the company’s entry-level model, but Kask didn’t skimp on extras or features. Stay cool, courtesy of the 24 air-channeling vents that dispose of heat as quickly as a rider can work up a sweat. The color and size you choose determines the price you pay, but this helmet maxes out at our declared limit of $100.
Would you expect anything less than continental styling, given the nation producing these safety helmets? Of course not – but you get plenty of safety features too. The EPS foam core is permanently bonded to the helmet’s polycarbonate shell to double down on product durability. Use the click wheel adjustment system secure a perfect fit and hold.
- 7 solid or multi-color options
- Sizes S and M
- Designed for men and women
- Ready for road cycling
This MIPS helmet is loaded with the features road, and mixed-surface riders seek. The hard body outer shell extends into the helmet’s interior so cleverly, wearers enjoy enhanced durability without annoying bulk. Even the wind tunnel ventilation system is unique. It combines active vents embedded in the shell with internal exhaust channels, so as hot air is forced out, cool air replaces it.
The fit system is composed of an adjustable dial that controls tension and for/aft tilt, and only one hand is required to make adjustments. In-mold manufacture produces a tough polycarbonate outer shell with an impact-absorbing foam liner. This fusion results in better ventilation while fully protecting a rider’s head via the low-friction interior layer that slides between 10 and 15mm to combat brain motion should impact occur.
The nonprofit Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute has plenty to say about ventilation, a huge helmet marketing theme since 1997. Experts at the Institute conclude that while “rounder shells and less dense foam are virtues in a crash, we don’t recommend hyper-vented helmets unless you can’t live without the added ventilation.”
The safest helmets on today’s market are those made by thinning the helmet out and increasing vent size rather than adding to the number of vents. “More money will buy you more vents, but not necessarily more safety,” say Institute researchers. If you insist on lots of vents, make sure the helmet meets CPSC standards and take out your wallet. More vents equal higher prices, as a general rule.
Proper Size and Fit
How important are size and fit? It could be the difference between feeling comfortable enough to wear it all the time and refusing to put it on because it hurts. To achieve the first objective, follow our tips. You can thank us later!
Try on several helmets. Helmets usually come in sizes S, M, and L — or you can wrap a tape measure around your head at a location ½-inch above your eyebrows and use that number to choose a size.
Place the helmet on your head. Use the sizing dial or other sizing feature to tighten the fit so it doesn’t wobble or slip.
Check the position of the helmet. It should not be tilted back. The front edge should sit about one inch above your eyebrows to fully protect your forehead.
Secure the chinstrap. It should form a “V” under your ears. Adjust for comfort. Slide your finger between your chin and the strap or yawn, opening your mouth wide. If the helmet and your head make contact, you’ve done the job properly.
Safety Standards Explained
The number of safety standards and certifications associated with bike riding can be hard to decipher, but shoppers can count on CPSC certification if you are seeking an authority, say Chris Foster and Susan Lacke who wrote the definitive guide for Triathlete.com.
Read more: Bike Helmet Laws in America
The two cited 10 helmet standards when they authored their 2020 article and isolated 4 certifications to look for when you choose a helmet:
1) CPSC/ CPSC 1203; as issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
2) EN-1078/ CE EN 1078; considered the European cycling standard
3) ASTM F1952 is the acknowledged downhill mountain biking standard
4) SNELL B-95-rated helmets are engineered for “harder hits from greater heights.”
You may wish to read this Consumer Reports article before making your final helmet decision. It offers additional information that could help you when it’s time to choose. After all, you can’t be too conscientious when it comes to protecting your brain.