The primary function of any helmet is head protection. They come in all shapes and sizes to get the job done. Choosing the right one for you, your budget and your riding style will ensure you are riding protected with a happy noggin out on the road and trails.
Giro Chronicle MIPS
Of all the helmets here, the Giro Chronicle vies with the Bontrager Velocis for most discrete application of MIPS (multi-directional impact protection system). The protection system sits nicely against the expanded polystyrene liner, which is moulded to a polycarbonate shell. Fourteen vents let in air to keep you cool on the trail. You snug the helmet to your head with the Roc Loc 5 fit system. It features a subtle dial at the back, which is a bit tricky to set. But once you have the Chronicle sitting properly on your head, it’s quite comfortable thanks largely to the Coolmax pads, which wick away sweat, too.
POC Octal X
It’s hard to see the difference between the Octal X and POC’s flagship Octal. They both have the big chunky vents that are the company’s signature. But, look closely and you’ll see that the Octal X, the cross country and gravel-road oriented helmet, has more shell material covering the EPS liner compared with the Octal. With the POC helmets, the company says the shell boosts the safety properties of the lid; thus, more shell is better. Under the shell, there’s an aramid (think Kevlar) bridge moulded to the foam liner. This aramid bridge, a technology POC first used on the trail-oriented Trabec, bolsters the structure of the helmet and helps to keep objects from breaking through.
Mavic Cosmic Pro
The Cosmic Pro has a cool look with a checkered gradient across the top of the helmet. At the back, the Ergo Hold SL retention system makes it easy to set the helmet’s fit. Sweat is managed by 37.5 pads, technology you might have seen in hockey equipment or mattresses. The pads have small particles embedded in their fabrics that grab and release water vapour. At the front, there’s memory foam, which helps with fit. It works well, but the helmet design is best suited for a round oval-shape head, as opposed to a long oval–shape head. A medium Cosmic Pro weighs 230 g.
Scott Centric Plus
It’s a road helmet and a mountain bike helmet? Yes. The riders on Orica-Scott use it, as does multiple cross country world champion Nino Schurter. Scott says the helmet’s ventilation system actually keeps your head cooler than riding without a helmet. Another cool feature is the Halo system with its fast and simple adjustability. You usually set a retention system’s position at the back of your head by pulling a plastic pin out of a hole in the helmet’s EPS layer, choosing a new hole and then snapping the pin into place once more, a bit like adjusting a snapback. With the Halo system, you can slide the adjustment dial into position at the back of your head easily so it sits comfortably.
Smith Forefront MTB
The Smith Forefront MTB helmet is designed for all-mountain riding. It has the honeycomb Koroyd construction that adds protection and ventilation. Those honeycomb tubes work in conjunction with the AirEvac vent, just above your brow. The vent lets air, which in turn slurps more air through the tubes. An adjustable and removable visor works to keep the sun out of your eyes. A mount lets you attach a light to see the trail better, or an action camera so others can see where you’ve ridden. Inside, there’s a MIPS layer for extra protection.
Bontrager Velocis MIPS
Bontrager relaunched the Velocis at the end of June. The new lid uses a true Boa dial to set the fit from the back. The MIPS layer is another new addition to the Velocis that addresses rotational forces from a crash, which can have damaging effects on the brain. It’s also nicely subtle: clear in colour instead of the bright yellow of early versions of MIPS. To manage sun, the helmet comes with the NeoVisor; think of it as just the brim of a cap that you can attach when you need it. Should you crash, Bontrager has you covered even after the helmet has done its job. The company will replace the Velocis if you go down within the first year of owning it.
MET says its aero lid will save you 10 watts at 50 km/h, which will also save you five seconds at that speed. As you’re riding fast, air will pass in the helmet’s seven intake vents and out the six exhaust vents, a process that will cool you down without increasing drag. Where the helmet meets your forehead, DualGel padding smushes nicely against your skin. DualGel is a double-density polyurethane pad that helps with fit and keeping sweat away from your eyes. The Manta weighs 200 g in size medium.
The Lazer Z1 is a stalwart of the peloton, providing excellent protection to road riders. It has a novel retentions system: instead of a dial at back of the head for snugging the fit, there’s a screw-based mechanism on the top of the helmet. The Z1 is constructed via an in-mould process, so the outer shell and the expanded polystyrene (EPS) liner are fused together in one mould. The construction method allows Lazer to make a light helmet (190 g in size small) with 31 vents. You can add an Aero Shell cover to keep out wind and rain.
Louis Garneau Asset
The Asset is a great entry-level helmet. While its price is inviting, so are its top looks. It features 14 vents for moving a cooling breeze across your dome. The Spiderlock Solo IV retention system keeps the helmet in place, while the pads inside are antimicrobial and dry quickly. At 255 g, the helmet is heavier than super light lids, but is still competitive. It’s a prime helmet for all riders.
Bollé One MTB
The Bollé One MTB is part of the glasses company’s One helmet line that debuted roughly two years ago. As with all the Ones, the One MTB has many peripheral features that go beyond crash-protection for your noggin. There’s a QR code on the back you can program so another rider with a smartphone can scan it to find out who your emergency contact is. The helmet comes with two liners for summer and winter. If you find yourself on the road at night, an LED rear light pops in nicely into the back.