The best cycling helmets - safe and stylish helmets tested and reviewed
Avoid both injury and aerodynamic drag with our pick of the finest helmets
It goes without saying that protecting your noggin is essential when riding a bike. The risk of head injuries in cycling is high and a good cycling helmet really can make the difference when it comes to the extent of an injury after crashing. In the modern day, all helmets on the market pass standard safety regulations, but there’s some that go the extra mile, with the inclusion of safety systems like MIPS or Kineticore.
But while we can all agree that safety is of paramount importance when it comes to choosing the best cycling helmet for you, we can probably all also agree that we don’t want to wear a helmet that doesn't look nice, is uncomfortable, too hot, or significantly hinders our aerodynamic performance. It's for this reason that there are a number of helmet brands on the market trying to solve these conundrums. A helmet needs to be fast, but breathable, it needs to be comfortable, but also not look bulky, it needs to be safe, but without sacrificing performance.
There’s a whole world of options out there, and the choice can often be a little overwhelming. To save you trawling the internet to find the best helmet for you, we’ve narrowed down our picks of the best lids out there.
In some of our articles you will find links to buy products from various external retailers. These links contain an affiliate code, and it means that Rouleur may receive a small percentage of the money you spend if you choose to buy that product via the link. This does not affect the amount you pay. All products are independently reviewed and selected on our judgement of them, not on whether they offer us affiliate revenue.
HJC Ibex 2.0 Road Cycling Helmet
The HJC Ibex 2.0 helmet is one of the most comfortable out there, giving a ‘barely there’ feel when being used. It’s a bit fiddly to mount your glasses in the helmet when you aren’t wearing them, though.
Although HJC might not be a brand that is well-known as one of the giants of the helmet manufacturing industry, the Ibex 2.0 helmet is a prime example of how it more than holds its own in a competitive market. Designed to provide optimal ventilation without sacrificing aerodynamics, the Ibex 2.0 has a unique shape which made me a little sceptical at first, but, once I put the helmet on, I was pleasantly surprised by how flattering it was. It often takes me a while to get used to the look of a new helmet, but I settled into wearing the Ibex 2.0 quickly, a testament to how comfortable it is, despite the very small amount of padding.
I think this comfort is achieved mostly by the brand’s innovative ‘Selfit’ feature. Rather than a dial-based cradle used by most other brands, the Ibex 2.0 features a sprung load variation that automatically adjusts itself to what HJC thinks is the optimum amount of pressure to keep your helmet from moving around your head.
Now this might not be for everyone, as it means your helmet can’t be adjusted on the move, but I found it extremely comfortable and it ensured that I wasn’t over tightening the helmet when wearing it. The inner cage of the Ibex 2.0 can also be adjusted before putting the helmet on for a further level of customization. The sixteen air vents on the shell mean the helmet is breathable and air flows through it, even in the hottest of temperatures. Add in the light weight of the Ibex 2.0 (225grams for size medium) and this helmet almost ticks all the boxes. My only criticisms are that I found it a little fiddly to put my glasses in the helmet – although they were secure once inserted – and that the HJC Ibex 2.0 doesn’t have any safety features like MIPs or Kineticore. These would be a welcome addition for extra peace of mind, but HJC does say that the Ibex 2.0 has an internal frame integrated into the EPS for crash protection.
- Well ventilated
- Innovative ‘Selfit’ feature
- Could be easier to insert glasses
- No safety features such as MIPS
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Bollé Avio MIPS
As Bollé’s lightest cycling helmet, the Avio MIPS helmet is a great choice if you are looking for an all day summer helmet, but the shape may not be to everyone’s taste.
Bollé may not be widely known for its helmet range, instead specialising in ski glasses and goggles. But last year it launched the Avio MIPS road cycling helmet in time for the 2022 Tour de France and was worn by the B&B Hotels-KTM pro team. Claiming to be the lightest lid in the peloton, weighing just 234g, it got people talking. Trying the helmet for ourselves, you can feel the light weight as soon as you take it out of the box and put it on your head.
On first impressions the helmet is aesthetically very nice, coming in three shades; white, black and dark grey, but when I tried the helmet on it sat very high upon my head. I think this is partly due to the deep vents that are cut into the helmet and MIPS foam padding on the inside. This may suit people with different head shapes to mine but for me, it didn’t sit quite right. Nevertheless, the click-to-fit system at the back of the helmet does a great job at making it feel secure and comfortable. When wearing the helmet out on the bike, it didn't move thanks to the fitting system and felt secure throughout, and was still easily adjusted with or without gloves when riding.
Something I did notice about the helmet was the amount of ventilation. Bollé has created the Avio with large front vents and small exhaust ports at the back to ensure the air flows through the helmet seamlessly, keeping your head cool during the warmer months. The side Opti-Docks are also great for keeping your road cycling sunglasses secure, so the Avio makes for an excellent helmet when you are out all day on a summer adventure. However, if I was reaching for a helmet to race in or wear during the winter, I probably wouldn’t go for this one.
It's a stylish helmet, but the way it sits on top of the head is quite high despite being designed for a close fit. I would recommend trying the Bollé helmet on first before committing to a purchase to see if you like this shape and style.
- Well ventilated
- Easy to adjust
- Sits high on top of the head
- Not great for all year round
Reviewed by India Paine
Kask Protone Icon
Kask’s redesign of its flagship lid sees improved safety features and a reimagined shell for better ventilation which makes it an ideal choice for hot weather, but the dial-retention system could do with some improvements.
The Kask Protone has almost always been the choice of the riders from the Ineos Grenadiers – Kask’s WorldTour sponsored outfit – and amateur riders alike. The helmet strikes that perfect balance of being aesthetically pleasing while still being breathable and aerodynamic. The updated Protone Icon was released by Kask in 2022, and while it didn’t bring any hugely radical changes outwardly compared to the older iteration – probably a good move from Kask considering the amount of fans of the old design – there are some updates internally that make it safer and more breathable.
I’ve always been a fan of the Kask Protone, I like the small logos and classic style and also appreciate the huge number of colour options – there really is something for everyone. When the Protone Icon was released, I was relieved to not see a big overhaul of the original look – not only due to aesthetics, but also because the spacing of the vents on the shell of the helmets is great for ventilation. This helmet is one of the most lightweight and breathable on the market, ideal for hot weather (the quick-drying CoolMax padding helps with this too). Internally, Kask has improved the helmet’s safety on the Protone Icon, using its own WG11 protocol to create a new inner shell which Kask says stops the helmet from splitting into multiple pieces on impact (luckily, I haven’t had to put this to the test yet.)
When the Octofit+ system works, it works well. It’s easy to put long hair through the back of the helmet and adjust the helmet to get the perfect fit while on the move. However, the rear dial actually broke on the first test helmet I got. The replacement Protone Icon has been fine, but this is something that Kask could look at improving in the future, especially on a helmet which retails for £245 – a premium price point.
- Easy ponytail slot for long hair
- Extremely breathable
- Improved safety features
- Flimsy Octofit+ adjuster
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Giro Eclipse Spherical Helmet
If you’re looking for aero gains without compromising on safety, Giro’s Eclipse Spherical Helmet is a great option, but it might not be the right choice for everyday riding
For a long time, getting aero gains from a helmet had to mean sacrificing other benefits such as aesthetics, safety or breathability. Giro is a brand that’s long tried to solve this conundrum, first releasing its aero road helmet, the Vanquish in 2017, and most recently, the Eclipse Spherical Helmet. With a reduced frontal area and overall smaller profile, Giro says the Spherical helmet gives riders a full minute of savings when travelling at 40 km/h (25 mph) compared to the Vanquish. Giro has achieved the small, compact profile of the Eclipse helmet with a dual-layered construction, nesting the MIPS Spherical architecture with another low friction layer and by using different foam densities. This also means the traditional plastic MIPS layer is moved further away from the head, avoiding any friction or hair snag which can sometimes arise with MIPS.
Giro have managed to keep the Eclipse Spherical Helmet reasonably breathable considering its aerodynamic profile, but it definitely isn’t as cooling as other helmets such as the S-Works Prevail 3. If aero gains are what you’re after, then Giro’s Eclipse is undoubtedly a good option, but for everyday riding, especially in the warmer months and on long rides, it isn’t the helmet I find myself reaching for due to the lack of airflow. If you dabble in some racing or are heading out to do some shorter efforts, then the Eclipse performs well, and it’s nice to know that no watts are being wasted. The focus on safety is an important feature of the Eclipse too, and makes me feel confident that I’m as protected as possible when riding. I found that the vents on the front of the helmet are difficult to slot glasses in, especially when they have longer arms, another reason why I wouldn’t reach for the Eclipse for a long ride or all-day adventure. When I want to be as aerodynamic and go fast, though, the Eclipse certainly does the job.
- Extremely aerodynamic
- Focus on safety
- Compact inner
- Not as breathable as other helmets
- Hard to slot glasses
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Specialized S-Works Evade 3
With the recently released Evade 3, Specialized aims to keep aerodynamic benefits while also improving ventilation. The narrower shape works for some, but it’s worth trying this helmet on before you buy.
When Specialized launched the Evade 3 this year, it used the strapline “the fastest gets cooler.” With this, the brand was referring to the fact that it had reinvented the Evade 3 from the inside out, using an innovative diffusor system to draw, so they claim, 10% more air through the helmet at a given speed. Specialized also said that with the Evade 3, they were asked by their pro athletes to create a helmet which mirrored the performance of the S-Works Tarmac bike on the road – an all-rounder that was aerodynamic and lightweight.
I’d say that Specialized achieved this goal with the Evade 3. The diffusor at the back of the helmet circulates air incredibly well considering the distinct lack of vents elsewhere on the lid – there are just three large vents at the front of the helmet. You can almost feel the flow of air through the helmet as you are riding and I didn’t feel sweat build up in even the most intense efforts. The new Evade 3 has the same aerodynamic capacities as the previous version, as the focus with the new release was improving the helmet’s airflow to make it more wearable for a range of riding conditions. The pads inside the helmet are quick-drying and don’t hold odour and they stop sweat from dripping off the forehead onto sunglasses. The Evade’s Occipital base adjustment also allowed me to personalise the fit of the helmet for comfort and meant I could adjust the helmet angle to ensure my eyewear stayed in place. The ratchet system at the rear of the helmet feels sturdy and is easy to adjust on the move, while Specialized’s Tri-Fix web splitter meant I could adjust the helmet strap to fit around my ear perfectly.
For me, the Evade 3 was especially comfortable but I am aware of other riders who have struggled with the narrow shape. This is a helmet that is worth trying on before you buy to see which size suits best, especially since you’ll be paying £275 for the S-Works Evade 3.
- Well-ventilated for an aero-focussed helmet
- Looks fast
- Easy to adjust to get the right fit
- Doesn’t fit all head shapes
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Specialized S-Works Prevail 3
Created for the very hottest of days, Specialized’s Prevail 3 is the best it gets in terms of ventilation, though the helmet’s unique look isn’t to everyone’s taste
The S-Works Prevail has been a popular helmet among riders for years as an all-rounder lid that can be used for pretty much any type of riding in any temperature. The Prevail 2 was comfortable, reasonably aerodynamic and looked good. When Specialized released the Prevail 3 this year, the striking, unique look of the helmet certainly turned heads as it was radically different to the previous iteration of the helmet. In the Prevail 3, the brand has removed all the EPS foam bridges normally seen in the body of a helmet which they say eliminates the “air-blocking bridges” from the centre of the helmet. Specialized say that the Prevail is for “riders who value the comfort and thermoregulation benefits that superior ventilation delivers.”
I would say that the Prevail 3 is the coolest helmet I’ve tried. It’s perhaps unsurprising when looking at the helmet, those big gaps in the body inevitably give more space for air to come in and through the helmet. Specialized claims that the new design on the Prevail 3 increases the surface area of ventilation by 24.5% compared to the S-Works Prevail 2 Vent helmet. While the “AirCage” technology increases airflow, it also has safety benefits that are validated by its 5 star Virginia Tech rating. This gives complete peace of mind while riding that the helmet is offering the best protection possible, and kudos should be given to Specialized for managing to improve the safety benefits of the Prevail while also maintaining a sleek and lightweight look and feel to the lid. Like the Evade 3, the Prevail 3 also features MIPS air node technology and the Tri-Fix web splitter and Occipital Base Adjustment to improve fit and comfort.
The only criticism I can give the Prevail 3 is based purely on aesthetics – it does have a bigger, bulkier shape than helmets like the Kask Protone Icon which sit much closer to the head. In the full white colour, this look can be a little bit intense, but this all comes down to personal preference.
- Ventilation and airflow
- Unique shape and look
- Almost too ventilated for winter riding
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Lazer G1 Genesis MIPS
As Lazer’s top-of-the-range racing helmet, Lazer’s Genesis MIPS helmet is one of the best options for a lid that can do it all. If you struggle with finding a helmet that allows the perfect fit, this is a good choice
Released in late 2019, the Lazer G1 Genesis MIPS was named as Lazer’s lightest and safest helmet to date. Lazer is a brand that has long placed a focus on safety in helmets, even recently releasing KinetiCore, their own internal safety system. The Lazer G1 Genesis helmet sticks with MIPS as its safety system, though, and has various innovations that help make it an extremely comfortable and breathable helmet. Add in the fact that it’s made in a simple style that is wearable and understated, and the Lazer G1 Genesis helmet is likely one of the best on our list for a helmet that’s suitable to wear all the time, be it for racing, commuting, bike-packing or anything else.
My favourite feature of this helmet is the wire-based Roll-Sys retention system. Rather than a ratchet at the rear of the helmet, the Genesis features the adjustment at the top, which means that the helmet is tightened around the head from all angles, relieving the risk of any pressure building up in one area which can happen with a traditional retention system. This makes Lazer’s Genesis especially comfortable when it comes to getting the perfect fit. The Genesis isn’t the most aerodynamic helmet on our list, but this is somewhat remedied by the fact it comes with an aero shell (also useful in inclement weather.) While it’s great to have the MIPS layer as peace of mind that you’re well protected, the plastic layer did occasionally get my hair caught in it when taking it on and off, so this is something to keep in mind if you’re a rider with longer hair. While the top retention system has benefits when it comes to comfort, it can get in the way of mounting some shorter armed sunglasses. Overall, though, the Lazer Genesis G1 is breathable, comfortable and is the helmet I often reach for when I know I’m going to have a long day out on the road.
- Super lightweight
- Comes with an aeroshell
- Top-mounted fit system for easy adjustment
- MIPS layer can be uncomfortable
- Fit system can interfere with some sunglasses
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Giro Aries Spherical
This is the number one ranked helmet for safety by Virginia Tech; but it doesn’t sacrifice style or performance to achieve these safety standards
The Giro Aries Spherical helmet is Giro’s newest, most recent premium road offering, said to be 5% lighter and 2.3% cooler than the Giro Aether. Aerodynamics haven’t been forgotten in Giro’s newest release either, with the reduced frontal area and chamfered edges on the Aries reducing aerodynamic drag by 4% compared to the Aether. There are some brand new features to the Aries too, such as Giro’s DryCore sweat management system and grippy rubber pads where eyewear is stashed in order to stop sunglasses from slipping out of the helmet, as well as Giro’s Roc Loc 5+ adjustable retention system. Above all, safety is the biggest talking point of the Giro Aries Spherical, as it is ranked number one in safety standards by Virginia Tech.
The Aries is incredibly comfortable with minimal padding that’s placed just where you need it most – at the very top of the helmet and around the front where the DryCore sweat management system is. A simple retention system can be dialled up for a tight fit against the head, but it never feels like there are any pressure points and it has space for a ponytail to slot through too, a bonus for those with longer hair. The conventional buckle on the Aries is easy to use and adjust – I never had any problems with it causing discomfort or friction on my skin, and a long strap means that it will fit a wide range of face and head shapes.
The Aries provides good, low coverage on the rear of the helmet and sits close to the head, all while still weighing only 265 grams in a size medium. The grippers to help keep sunglasses secure when stored in the helmet is a nice idea, but I still felt like my glasses lacked a bit of security when riding along (though this could differ depending on the model and shape of the glasses.) When it comes to ventilation, I found the helmet to be breathable enough even when on long climbs, I didn’t feel any sweat building up on my eyebrows or forehead when riding in sunny temperatures of around 15 degrees, but this means it is especially cold to wear in the winter months.
Costing £289.99, the Giro Aries Spherical is one of the most expensive helmets on the market, but this is a price point that is similar to that of other premium road helmets like the Kask Protone Icon and Specialized S-Works Prevail. There are certainly cheaper options out there, but, given the Virginia Tech rating, there is no disputing that the Aries Spherical is the safest of them all.
Reviewed by: Rachel Jary
The Elemento is well-ventilated, aerodynamic and features advanced safety features, but it comes at a hefty price.
Kask helmets are synonymous with performance, safety and design, with iconic helmets such as the Italian brand’s Protone and Utopia helmets being some of the most popular for amateur and professional cyclists. However, each helmet has always been better at one element and not so much at the other – the Protone is well-ventilated, and the Utopia is aerodynamic. But neither helmet is excellent at both. Instead of updating the brand’s current helmet ranges, like they did in previous years, Kask wanted to make something new and launched its Elemento helmet – designed for those who want to perform at elite levels.
I’ve always been a fan of Kask, I like the brand’s stylish designs and colour ranges, and the Elemento is no different. Similar to the Protone, the helmet is sleek in its design, with simple branding at the front and back of the helmet. While the colour I reviewed was more traditional, the range has a range of bolder colours, including beetle green, oxford blue, red and silver – catering to many people’s styles. The shape is also compact, sitting nicely on your head, and with the helmet’s overall weight of 260 grams, I almost forgot I had a helmet on when riding. Complemented by the brand’s Octofit+ adjustment system, the Elemento fitted securely and comfortably on my head.
Kask has removed the brand’s leather-look strap from the Elemento and has replaced it with its “Pro” lightweight chinstrap. I actually preferred this over the leather-look strap as it was easier to adjust and didn’t hang loose, as I have found with other Kask helmets.
Thankfully, I have not crashed in the Elemento, so I can’t quite review the new safety features the helmet boasts, but Kask has said the helmet has advanced safety features thanks to the brand's ground-breaking ‘Fluid Carbon 12’ and ‘Multipod’ technology. Using its own WG11 protocol, the Multipod technology, which is found on the inside of the helmet, is 3D-printed and is said to better withstand linear and rotational impact due to the structure being able to slide and compress upon impact. And the Fluid Carbon 12 material is capable of absorbing more energy from an impact than traditional materials, according to Kask.
The new technology is said to allow more air to flow through the helmet, and this is something I noticed when testing. I could really feel the air going through the front and out the back of the helmet, keeping my head cool during hard efforts. I can imagine in the height of summer, whether just out for a ride or during a race, this would be a key feature that would stop you from overheating and, therefore, push that bit further.
I am not a high-performing athlete, but rather a Sunday cafe ride type of rider, so I don’t think I would spend the £335 that this helmet costs and would probably opt for one of the brand’s more reasonably priced helmets. But if you are performance-obsessed and looking to be at the front of the peloton, the Elemento really does have the full package – safe, aerodynamic, ventilated and stylish.
- Sleek design
- Well ventilated
- Secure fit
Reviewed by India Paine