Most bicycle commuters know that wearing a helmet is important, but they also don’t want to feel like they’re wearing a “helmet.”
Let’s face it, most commuter helmets are not exactly stylish. In fact, many of them are downright ugly. And if you don’t like the way a helmet looks, you’re less likely to wear it.
We’ve got good news! We’ve selected commuter bike helmets that come in a variety of cool styles and colors that will make you actually want to wear them. Plus, they are made with safety in mind so you can rest assured knowing your head is protected in the event of an accident.
Let’s get started.
Best Overall: Thousand Heritage Bike Helmet
- Stylish look
- Environmentally friendly
- 7 vents
- Secret pop-lock
Highly-rated by consumers on myriad websites and guides, the Thousand Heritage helmet comes in 7 colors, but it’s the security you receive as a result of choosing this gear over other brands that could win you over.
Choose from small, medium and large options and you get two sets of interior padding that help you get the custom fit you seek. For commuters who have continually had issues with fit, this helmet may end your journey by following the manufacturer’s suggested methods for measuring and using pads to make adjustments.
This gear is extremely lightweight and features a vegan, sweat-free leather strap for folks who don’t buy products made from animals.
The one-handed, magnetic buckle on the safety strap saves your fingers from being pinched, but it’s the anti-theft nature of this product that often seals the deal: An efficient Poplock mechanism secures the helmet to your bike so it’s waiting for you when you return after a long day at work.
Related: Best Commuter Bikes
Runner-up: Giro Register Bike Helmet with MIPS
- State-of-the-art protection
- Excellent MIPS system
- Affordable helmet
- Available in 7 colors
- Giro has a an excellent eputation.
- One size fits all
- Different prices depending on colors
Affordable, popular and pretty sexy-looking, too, this Giro helmet checks all of the right boxes when it comes to construction. The polycarbonate outer shell absorbs impact without sacrificing the ventilation you require for a comfortable ride to work, making it a good best commuter bike helmet choice.
Lightweight and equipped with MIPS technology that mediates the force that can impact the brain should a collision take place, this Giro features “one-handed operation” so you won’t be fumbling around with straps when you find yourself running late.
Universal sizing, 22 helmet vents and designed to be worn by adults looking for a 54-to-61cm fit, this gear follows in the footsteps of earlier Giro helmet iterations designed with the brand’s signature Roc Loc Sport fit system.
Read more: How to Wear a Bike Helmet with Long Hair
Base Camp Bike Helmet with Rear Light
- Value for money
- Rear light could be a lifesaver
- Lightweight but sturdy
- The removable interior padding can be cleaned up.
- Great rear-dial adjustment system
- Not made to fit extra-large heads.
- Consumer complaints include uneven Styrofoam lining
When safety is imperative on your journey to and from work, this adult bike helmet is designed exclusively for commuters and it gets rave reviews for being one of the most affordable helmets on the market.
Manufactured only in matte black, this is no “bells and whistles” gear, but you may not care once you read that it meets U.S. CPSC standards that certify this casual bike helmet as a great way to keep your head safe.
If you usually commute early in the morning or return home late at night, the built-in, detachable rear light makes you more visible to drivers and if you love the idea of a helmet with a rear dial secure fit system, this helmet should make your shortlist.
The chin strap is adjustable, there are 9 air vents and the interior padding is soft and detachable, so it can be aired out and refreshed, making it a great urban bike helmet option.
Retrospec CM-1 Classic
- It weighs a pound, so it stands up to abuse
- Many color options
- Affordable helmet
- Extremelly comfortable
- Not suitable for big heads
- Heavier and bulkier than competitor
- There’s no adjusting mechanism to achieve a perfect fit.
Should you be wary of helmets with small price tags? Not necessarily. This Retrospec product is available in 14 color choices and there are plenty of favorable reviews from people on budgets who are satisfied with this helmet’s performance.
This product is an especially good choice if you not only commute to and from work but you also skate and participate in sports where a helmet is recommended to keep you safe.
This helmet offers cooling vents in proportion to the helmet size you order. There are 10 vents on size small, 11 on a size medium and the larger one-size-fits-all model has 24, so you couldn’t stay hot if you tried.
CPSC safety standard tested, this classic product comes with 2 sets of interchangeable interior helmet pads to add to your quest for a perfect fit.
Recommended for a variety of different uses, the CM-1 Classic is constructed of EPS foam beneath the outer shell, so this integrated construction is designed for both safety and aesthetics.
Giro Sutton MIPS Cycling Helmet
- So comfortable, you could forget you’re wearing this helmet
- That visor could be a lifesaver when the sun is low in the sky
- Great MIPS system
- At 1.6-pounds, this helmet is neither too heavy nor too flimsy.
- If you don’t wear a size medium, this product won’t work for you
- Not many online reviews yet
- There have been consumer complaints about packaging used to secure this gear
- Not very good-looking helmet
If you don’t put a price tag on the safety of your brain, this Giro Sutton could have your name written all over it. The Sutton meets the MIPS manufacturing standard so it offers the ultimate protection but since it comes only in black, that could be a deal-breaker.
Further, you can only purchase it in size medium at the moment. The Giro brand is synonymous with quality and excellence, so you’re spending more on MIPS assurances. Constructed with 8 vents to circulate cool air, get a removable, reflective, soft visor that can be an asset when peddling in traffic.
The full-wrap, in-mold polycarbonate shell is fitted with an EPS liner covered in Ultrasuede for a soft, comfortable feel. The back dial makes adjusting this helmet a breeze and gives you a customized fit. If you don’t mind paying a more, you could find helmet nirvana wearing this Giro product.
Bern Summer Lenox EPS Helmet
- If you live in the north, this helmet has been certified for performance in snow.
- The crank dial plus provides a perfect fit
- Excellent for cold and hot weather
- Great selection of colors
- If you’re commuting at odd hours, the bike light could be a lifesaver.
- Good luck figuring out which combination of sizes/colors is available to you.
- Not every commuter wants to wear a baseball-style helmet
If this particular city bike helmet attracts your interest, be advised that while you’ll have your choice of 17 pearlescent and matte colors, not every color is available in every size. In fact, some colors are only available in a single size.
Additionally, if you do find the color in the size you like, the price of that helmet could cost you as much as $120. As a result of this complex sizing/pricing structure, consumers could get lost in the details, but if baseball-style, hard-brim styling captures your imagination and there’s a color you must have, there are compromises to be made.
This helmet isn’t just about aesthetics. The Crank-Fit dial adjustable retention system could get you the most secure fit ever and the moisture control liner keeps riders dry. This helmet comes with replaceable warm and cold weather liners and the PDW bike light makes a nice add-on.
Lumos Smart Bike Helmet
- Noticeable even in bad weather
- A total of 10 white; 38 red and 11 orange LED bulbs
- 30-day trial return policy
- App for both IOS and Android platforms
- One-size-fits-all product
- There’s only one style featuring MIPS construction
- You could run into battery life issues when you can least afford to experience them
- Hasn’t met both CPSC and CE standards for safety
If unique features and the latest technology excite you, sit down because you could be blown away by this high-priced bike helmet that does everything but pump your tires.
Race-sleek design in 5 popular colors makes this durable bike helmet a popular pick, especially for folks who won’t buy a product that hasn’t met both CPSC and CE standards for safety.
When it’s time to turn a corner, tap the proper button on the wireless handlebar remote and your helmet signals the direction you’ll take via flashing lights.
When you brake, 38 LED red lights located at the back of your helmet are activated, notifying anyone behind you that you’re stopping. When light features aren’t being used, the system deactivates itself (a default setting) to save on battery life.
On average, you can expect the battery to last about 6 hours in flashing mode. Keep the lights on continuously and you should stay powered up for about 3 hours.
Giro Montaro MIPS MTB Helmet
- Meets coveted MIPS standards
- Comes in various sizes plus helmet dial-adjust function for a custom fit
- The anti-microbial, sweat-absorbent interior pads
- The camera/light mount makes night commuting safer
- Interior cooling pads may not stay in place and could fall out during a ride
There’s a lot to be said about this innovative MIPS helmet which sells for around $150 and looks ultra-stylish. Choose between small, medium, large and X-large to get a more precise fit.
The shell is made of the highly-desired in-mold polycarbonate over EPS “Impact” foam and 16 air vents help absorb sweat. The adjustment wheel at the back of the helmet (Giro’s proprietary Roc Loc Air technology) can help customize the fit.
Weighing in at 1.8-pounds, the Montaro MIPS helmet offers not just a stylish silhouette but exceptional cooling power thanks to the helmet’s proprietary hydrophilic, anti-microbial pads. They’re capable of absorbing up to 10-times their weight once saturated with sweat.
Strap grippers on the back of the helmet add to the product’s security and you can lift or lower the visor. The full camera mount integration allows you to photograph your work commute—but more likely, you’ll use it to attach a sturdy light.
Do I need a commuter bike helmet?
If you’d like to get into the nitty-gritty and discover what science has to say about the advisability of wearing safety helmets, read the scholarly study published in Oxford’s “International Journal of Epidemiology” and consider injuries reported throughout the globe by the authors of “Bicycle injuries and helmet use.”
It’s a daunting report that can help you stay safer.
Alternately, cut to the chase by consulting statistics gathered by The National Safety Council (NSC) “Helmets are key when it comes to injury prevention,” say authorities at the nation’s number one safety organization. “One-third of non-fatal bicyclist injuries are to the head.”
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), “a majority of the 80,000 cycling-related head injuries treated in emergency rooms each year are brain injuries.”
If reading some or all of this material doesn’t answer your question about why you need a bike helmet, go straight to the authority most likely to talk some sense into you: call your mom.
Another thing to consider is that in many states in America the bike helmet is obligatory to wear. Here you can check our comprehensive table with all the states.
What to consider when choosing the best commuter bike helmet
Types of bike helmets
According to Helmets.org, these helmet types are the ones you’ll likely encounter when you shop:
a) Road helmets: The grandfather of helmets, this headgear usually has an elongated shape and multiple vents to cool the head.
They’re constructed by layering a thin plastic material over EPS foam. They are used mostly by cyclists who ride road bikes, but occasionally could be used for the commute as well.
b) Commuter helmets, pioneered by Bell, have been around for 15 years. Many an urban bike helmet can be identified by its rounded shape.
While also made of plastic over foam, this helmet may feature mirrors, ear flaps, and blinkers so a rider can signal motorists that they are about to stop or turn.
c) Trail helmets first hit the market around 2016. The overall block shape looks different than the rounded ones and vents angle downward.
Many trail helmets have L shapes when viewed from the side. The front edge should cover the brow line. These are considered “additional coverage” helmets due to the way they’re engineered.
d) Enduro helmets appeared on the market in 2015 in response to a growing need for a product that protected riders committed to “enduro” races featuring downhill courses.
Superior ventilation and lightweight are the hallmarks of these helmets and they often feature chin bar attachments to keep them in place.
f) Specialty helmets. The list is long and includes everything from helmets manufactured exclusively for women to those made for high-impact competitions.
Learn more about them on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) page.
e) Just for kids. “Youth” models are recommended for kids between the ages of 10 and 15 while “child” versions are designed for youngsters ages 5 to 10. “Toddler” helmets are available for little ones under the age of 5. Shoppers discover age-appropriate graphics on many of these products.
Fit and adjustments
Happily, bike helmets come in sizes that range from extra-small (20-inches) to extra large (24.75-inches +) and many of the styles on today’s market are sold as “one size fits all” helmets.
If you take your riding safety seriously, the closer you come to a custom fit, the more confident you can feel that your head is protected.
To ascertain your unique head measurement, position a tape measure, ribbon or string around your head about an inch above your brow line.
Match that measurement to the product labels on helmets. If, no matter what you do, you still can’t get a good fit, consult a professional to figure out your best approach to picking a helmet.
Helmet adjustments are obviously a matter of individual taste, but there’s a wide gap between one that feels snug and one that is uncomfortably tight.
Try on as many as you can, move them around on your head and if you find the one you’re wearing shifts 1-inch or more, reach behind and twist the adjustment wheel until you get a snug fit.
Buckle the chin strap after placing it around both ears. Now, pretend you’re at a dental appointment and open your mouth as widely as you can.
If your head doesn’t move to the top of the helmet, it’s still too loose. Repeat the wheel adjustment move until you’re satisfied.
For additional tips, check out this YouTube video tutorial:
It’s been five years since writer Wes Siler devoted his column on the Gizmodo.com website to announcing new materials used to keep people safe while riding their bikes.
Siler tracked the history of materials used to construct helmets starting with “the adoption of Styrofoam impact absorption in the 1960s.”
Today’s materials absorb 30-percent more energy and among the most innovative new ones on the market are made with a trademarked honeycomb-like polycarbonate material over impact-mediating foam via the co-polymer extrusion process.
Unlike Styrofoam, this combination provides a safer experience and helmet wearers enjoy more ventilation.
If you’re interested in knowing whether the brand of commuter helmet you’re considering also provides Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) protection, visit the MIPS Protection website to find a list of brands employing this technology so you have a safer, more enjoyable commute.
According to these folks reporting on weights, the average helmet weighs 550 grams or 19.4 ounces.
Can you find helmets that weigh more or less?
Of course, you can. But this makes a great benchmark. If you happen upon one that weighs less than 19.4-ounces and you’re nervous that it could be too light, listen to your gut.
Best Bike Helmet Brands
The list is long, but some brands always stand out from the crowd when evaluated for safety, fit, comfort and performance.
A fairly recent appraisal of outstanding bicycle helmets conducted by “Popular Mechanics” magazine gives you a terrific overview of top performers, so if the brand you choose is on it (or the aforementioned MIPS site), you’re going to feel confident every time you commute to work.
We turn to Bicycling.com for their take on helmet cost because they’ve covered the map in terms of pricing. “Go to your local bike shop, and you’ll see helmets prices from $40 to $300 plus.
Swing by Walmart or Dicks, or browse on Amazon, and you’ll find bike helmets for as little as $9,” writes Berne Broudy for Bicycling.com.
If you’re confused, a visit to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute can help match your budget to your need for safety and security.
Other Factors to Consider
Everything about the investment you make in a helmet for commuting can disappear if you don’t treat your helmet like precious safety headgear.
This means applying due diligence when it comes to caring for it (follow the manufacturer’s instruction), stowing the helmet in a cool place so bubbles don’t develop on parts and weaken the structure.
Further, know when it’s time to replace your gear. What’s the average lifespan of a helmet? Experts say commuters should think about retiring their helmets after 5 years of service, but remember that pollution, UV light, the environment, wear-and-tear and accidents can cut short the life of your helmet.
A final word about safety
You can buy the best helmet on the planet but if you don’t exercise caution while commuting to and from your place of work, it may not matter what’s on your head.
According to “Forbes” magazine writer Niall McCarthy, the U.S. isn’t like Denmark and the Netherlands where daily commutes by bike are as safe as driving a car.
As long as you keep your wits about you and remain vigilant, says McCarthy, “America’s cities are actually surprisingly safe for cyclists who accounted for only 2.3 percent of total traffic deaths in 2015. In the Netherlands, that share is 25 percent.” Now that’s a statistical comparison you will want to keep in mind every time you don your helmet and set off for the office!
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