Well first of all, any bike helmet is better than nothing. I don’t want to admit the number of times I get on a Lime or Jump bicycle without a helmet. I really need to carry on with me. And I do admit, I try to limit a ride like that to less than a mile and stay in a bike lane as much as possible, but still that is so dangerous. Sigh.
But Adam asked me, what’s the best bike helmet. As a maximizer, I couldn’t help but spend a little time on this. First of all the basics:
- If your helmet has ever been in an accident replace it. The styrofoam stuff is designed to last exactly once and most manufacturers will give you a new helmet if you ask them. Giro did that for me when I had an accident.
- It is better to have a “crappy” helmet that fits than one that doesn’t. What does fit mean? Well, this is one reason you want to go to a local bike shop like Element Cycles or Gregg’s Cycles or Montlake Cycles, those folks care and know how to fit someone. The short internet version is that you should find a helmet that isn’t too snug and covers your forehead, don’t wear it all the way back. There is an adjuster usually behind and then a harness inside that tightens. Then you wiggle the helmet from side to side and it shouldn’t move more than say 1cm or 0.5 inches at most
- It should be well ventilated and not too heavy. There is nothing more uncomfortable on a hot day that having a closed helmet. Most road bike helmets have lots of holes and if you are riding on a cold day, then get a little beanie and that keeps you warm. But usually too hot is way worse than too warm.
That being said, if you want the best helmet, they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg (see above), but the very best helmets use some sort of system that helps against spinning accidents. it turns out that you rarely just hit something, normally you hit and your head turns and that turning is really bad for you. There are a couple of proprietary system, but MIPS is a licensed product that adds something to the cost.
It is not clear if it works or not, but on the other hand, it can’t hurt and what’s the price of your brain. Bicycling.com has a good list of top helmets for different uses almost all of these have MIPS
- S-Works Prevail II. It is $250 and has a crash detection feature. If you really crash, then it will use your phone to call someone. I don’t know if this really works or there are false alarms, but my Garmin 520 and 1030 have the same idea. Not bad if you cycle by yourself alot
- Giro Aether. I’ve had this helmet for years mainly because it is super lightweight and aero. Heck saving 30 grams is something 🙂 It is also a MIPS helmet.
- Bontrager Wavecel. There is some controversy about this one, it is a competitor to MIPS liners and Trek swears by it. As a result it is about 52 grams heavier and some tests show it works better.
- Giro Foray. Don’t think you have to spend $250 to get MIPS, this is a pretty good one with MIPS for $60
- Kask Proton. If you are wondering what I’m wearing right now, it doesn’t have MIPS. Yes, I plan to get one, but the Kask is italian made and very aero. Looks cool too.