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The Best Bike Helmets of 2022

Ready to start pedaling? Protect your head with the best bike helmets of 2022.

group of gravel bike helmets
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If you’re reading this article, chances are you don’t need convincing you should get a helmet. (Still on the fence? Get one!) But not all helmets are equal. Just as there’s a range of bikes, helmet designs are unique to the riding conditions.

We’ve tested more than 20 helmets this year while pedaling, gravel-riding, and commuting on everything from short road rides to more rowdy single track to extended tours. Here are our favorite bike helmets for 2022. If you’re looking specifically for a mountain bike helmet, check out our review of the Best Mountain Bike Helmets of 2022.

For more information about bike helmets, check out our buyers guide and FAQ at the end of this article.

The Best Bike Helmets of 2022

Best Overall: Specialized S-Works Prevail II Vent + ANGi MIPS Helmet

S-Works Prevail II Vent with ANGi

Surprise! Specialized did it again and tops yet another cycling list. A cycling industry juggernaut, Specialized knows how to do things right, and its carbon fiber Prevail II Vent ($250) is a fine example.

It’s the perfect marriage of form, function, and lightweight materials that fit like a glove. Fortunately for us, this S-Works model won’t break the bank.

Borrowing from the brand’s already successful Prevail II helmet, the Vent removed seven foam bridges from the helmet’s frame. Specialized replaced the bridges with small rods that maintain structural integrity. It also provides better airflow and ventilation across the head through the 32 vents.

Protecting the noggin from rotational impact, Specialized integrated MIPS technology directly into the padding. Flip the helmet over, and you can push the padding around and see the 360 degrees of directional play. It offers the same brain protection benefits as other versions of MIPS and received five stars from Virginia Tech’s Helmet Rating.

The helmet snugs under the chin with a simple single strap. We find a single strap easier to manipulate than the more popular double-strap mechanism, which often requires taking the helmet off and using both hands to work the webbing. The strap clips together with a traditional buckle and is secured around the cranium with an easy-to-adjust dial.

Adjacent to the dial you’ll notice an inconspicuous black box. Like every notable black box, this one tracks data that can share your location, detects crashes (including rotational impact levels), and alerts loved ones or emergency services that you need help.

The ANGi (Angular and G-Force Indicator) system is free and pairs with your smartphone. Already got a helmet? ANGi is available aftermarket ($50). It’s a no-brainer for, um, your brain.


  • Weight: 274 g (on our scales)
  • Ventilation level: High
  • Strap and buckle system: Standard snap, micro-dial fit adjustment
  • Adjustable visor: No
  • Best use: Road, gravel


  • ANGi alert system
  • Great ventilation
  • Lightweight


  • Less comfortable than other models on this list.

Check Price at Specialized

Best Budget: Lazer Chiru MIPS


The Chiru MIPS helmet ($70) is our best budget pick for mountain bike helmets, and it makes a fine choice for gravel cycling if you don’t mind the mountain-oriented design. It comes in at a lower price point but with high comfort and protection.

The design has lower-skull coverage (the material extends low on the back of the head, slightly behind and in front of the ears), which is optimal for trail rides, but it’s what we’d want for more gnarly gravel rides.

For $70, you’re still buying into the integrated MIPS layer, giving you added protection against the rotational motion that impacts the brain during a slam. And the interior head basket system, called Turnfit Plus, offers a 360-degree customizable and anchored fit.

This is a great option if you often fall between helmet sizes. And the helmet received a five-star safety rating from Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings during a third-party analysis.

Overall, we were impressed with the comfort and coverage. The 335g Chiru is decked with a visor that provides adequate sun blockage. The breathability is OK with 15 large vents that let the air flow well on long, warm climbs — but it’s not too much that it feels chilly on cold rides.

Overall, for the price, this is a great helmet with an agreeable fit without any real drawbacks in its performance.


  • Weight: 335 g
  • Ventilation: 15 vents
  • Strap, buckle, and fit adjustment: Standard snap; Turnfit Plus System fit adjustment
  • Visor: Yes, nonadjustable
  • Best use: All-mountain/trail riding


  • Inexpensive
  • Good ventilation
  • Comfortable
  • Virginia Tech five-star protection rating


  • No visor adjustment
  • Heavier and more cumbersome than other helmets
  • Less coverage than other helmets

Check Price at Competitive CyclistCheck Price at Amazon

Best Mountain-Oriented Helmet: Giro Manifest Spherical Helmet

Gravel helmet Giro Manifest Helmet

If your rides pull you off the beaten path, it’s worth investing in more protection. Shell materials drop a little lower, protecting more of your head. And you buy into a visor and often a more secure fit.

Our favorite mountain bike helmet this year comes from Giro. While the brand makes a gravel-specific helmet, the Helios ($250), we fell in love with the fit, feel, and overall protection of its recently released Manifest ($260).

A pure mountain bike helmet, the Manifest is a double-shell helmet with an outer shell that floats over the inner shell through MIPS Spherical Technology. The brand describes it as a “ball-and-socket design,” which is an appropriate description. The outer shell articulates over the inner shell.

The two shells align ports, so ventilation remains generous. Donned on the head, it’s a wonderfully comfortable helmet.

The padding is generous, and the straps drop off the helmet and around the face, giving you a secure fit with no gaps. The straps clip together with a magnetic FIDLOCK clip. It’s a little fidgety at first but intuitive once you figure it out. The system is easy to clip and unclip with gloves on.

This is the most comfortable helmet we tested this season. Weighing 360 g, it’s also the heaviest.


  • Weight: 360 g (on our scales)
  • Ventilation: 19 vents
  • Strap, buckle, and fit adjustment: Magnetic snap; Roc Loc fit adjustment
  • Visor: Yes, adjustable
  • Best use: All-mountain/trail riding


  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Good coverage
  • Excellent ventilation


  • Heavy
  • Visor can be finicky
  • Unintuitive buckle system

Check Price at Competitive Cyclist

Best Style: Bontrager XXX WaveCel


The XXX WaveCel ($300) is Bontrager’s top-shelf road helmet, and we gave it high points for performance, comfort, and style. Core to the XXX is Bontrager’s WaveCel technology. In a crash, the corrugated “waved” core crumples and glides to absorb impact and rotational energy. It’s Bontrager’s alternative to MIPS liners.

Bontrager employs WaveCel tech that has been shown to be five times more effective at protecting the noggin in an accident than traditional foam helmets. While there’s been some controversy around that study, it’s certainly proven to be effective. Even Virginia Tech’s helmet evaluation tests stamped the WaveCel with its highest safety five-star rating.

Safety aside, the XXX is one of the most versatile, user-friendly, and comfortable helmets for road and gravel cycling. The helmet has fantastic contact with most heads.

The lid secures around the back with a quick-adjusting BOA system. It’s easy to dial in a no-slip fit. Dropping over and around the ears, the straps secure under the chin with a traditional buckle. The fit is snug, comfortable, and one of the best we tested this year.

While the honeycomb-like WaveCel structure maintains good airflow, the ventilation is capped by the nine slots. Five run across the top of the head, and four ports allow outflow in the back. Compared to other helmets on the list, this is a conservative number of vents, and the XXX feels hot on warmer rides.

We tested this helmet in Slovenia’s Julian Alps, where the thin air exposed a good amount of solar heat, and we still found the helmet sufficiently cooled the alpine air.

What stole our hearts, though, is the fantastic look. The XXX WaveCell sits around the head, not on top of it, and feels equally good paired with our road kits and backcountry gravel rides. Because cycling is often best appreciated over espressos, this makes the XXX a fantastic helmet both in the saddle as well as on an après ride.


  • Weight: 352 g (on our scales)
  • Ventilation: 9 slots
  • Strap, buckle, and fit adjustment: Standard snap and buckle, BOA fit adjustment
  • Visor: No
  • Best use: Road, gravel


  • Extremely comfortable
  • Extra coverage in back
  • High visibility options for road rides
  • Crash replacement guarantee (one year)


  • Expensive
  • Not as breathable due to WaveCel tech
  • Heavy

Check Price at Trek Bikes

Best Ventilation: POC Octal X Spin


As we’d expect from a Swedish company, the Octal X SPIN helmet ($250) brings a stylish, polished, and streamlined design. The perforated shell gives POC’s Octal its distinguishable look. The 20 vent ports spill heat like an open oven.

Connecting the vents, POC’s Aramid bridge technology provides structural bridges to reinforce the helmet while minimizing bulk and weight. Around back, a dial fit system allows you to quickly lock in the diameter. The entire occipital suspension system clocks forward and backward to customize the helmet drop over the brows.

For rotational impact protection, the helmet uses POC’s SPIN (Shearing Pad INside) pads. The SPIN pads are made with a silicone gel-like membrane, which allows the helmet to “spin” on impact.

The helmet has RECCO reflectors, allowing rescuers to quickly locate you if you crash. And should that spill render the helmet unwearable, POC offers a replacement program within the first 2 years after purchase. Just save your receipts and fill out the warranty form.

Fit-wise, we found the Octal’s padding minimal, which detracts from the overall comfort. You feel the helmet against the head more than others.

But weighing in under 300 g (men’s medium), it rides nearly undetected on your head. Given the sheer volume of ports, the Octal is our preferred helmet for cycling in hot climates in the desert southwest or humid Minnesota summers.


  • Weight: 257 g (on our scales)
  • Ventilation: 20
  • Strap, buckle & fit adjustment: Standard snap and buckle, dial fit adjustment
  • Visor: No
  • Best use: Road, gravel


  • Ample ventilation
  • Good coverage
  • Lightweight
  • POC’s crash replacement program (2 years)
  • RECCO reflectors


  • Minimal padding
  • Finicky dial
  • No visor

Check Price at evoCheck Price at Amazon

Best Bike Helmet for Commuting: Lumos Ultra

Best Bike Helmet for Commuting - Lumos Ultra

Are you looking to increase your visibility on the road? Then you need to check out this record-breaking helmet. The Lumos Ultra ($120) comes in at a very reasonable price and brings not just head protection but lights as well.

It has an LED headlight as well as two rear lights that work as turn signals and brake lights. The included control mounts on your handlebar and can easily be used to enable the left and right turn signals. You can also use your Apple Watch to control the turn signals.

We found the nine vents offered adequate breathability on all but the hottest summer days. And we’re happy to report that everything works great even during a torrential downpour.

The click-dial system makes for a comfortable fit, though we did find the fit varies from other major brands. Be sure to refer to the fit guide before purchasing. And while we still recommend using a bike light, this helmet does offer extra visibility while commuting.


  • Weight: 370 g
  • Ventilation: Low/Moderate
  • Strap, buckle, and fit adjustment: Standard snap and buckle, click-dial fit adjustment
  • Visor: No
  • Best use: Commuting


  • Integrated lights
  • High visibility
  • Fast charging (2 hrs., 10-hr. life)
  • Budget-friendly


  • Significantly less ventilation
  • One size fits all may not suit all riders
  • Heavy
  • Still need a dedicated bike light

Check Price at Amazon

Best of the Rest

LEM Motiv Air

LEM Motiv Air Bike Helmet

While many helmets on the market focus on advanced slip layers and proprietary tech to handle a crash, LEM aims to make a more comfortable helmet for the ride itself.

The Motiv Air ($225) hangs its success on two tech innovations: a carbon fiber shell covering the low-density EPS foam. The two work hand-in-hand to carve precious grams out of the helmet’s construction.

The result isn’t revolutionary. The exo-carbon shell looks like a traditional helmet. But it keeps the weight very low. Contributing to the helmet’s welter-weight status are 23 vents stripping the shell.

“As temps climbed into triple digits, the Motiv Air kept me from sweating out of the helmet,” our Denver gear tester noted. “There was plenty of airflow to keep any sweat from beading down my forehead.”

The dial fit can be a little finicky, and the price is steep for a helmet without proprietary rotational impact protection add-ons. But if weight is your main concern, the Motiv Air is a good choice, especially for cyclists who primarily ride roads and occasionally turn the wheels toward gravel.

Check out our full LEM Motiv Air review.


  • Weight: 220 g
  • Ventilation: 23 vents
  • Strap, buckle, and fit adjustment: Standard snap and buckle, click-dial fit adjustment
  • Visor: No
  • Best use: Road, gravel


  • Lightweight
  • Good ventilation


  • No rotational impact protection
  • Expensive
  • Finicky dial and fit adjustment
Check Price at LEM Helmets

ABUS Moventor

ABUS Moventor helmet

If LEM’s Motiv Air is too much coin or you prefer a more mountain-oriented helmet, we like the fit and feel of ABUS’s Moventor ($100). It’s a no-frills, non-MIPS helmet that sneaks under $100 by a penny.

And you get what you’d expect from a mountain bike helmet: more coverage around the back of the head, a visor, and vents that coordinate with sunglasses. The venting pattern supports ample airflow across the head without compromising structural integrity.

The internal padding isn’t robust, and you feel the helmet more than other helmets on the list. But the occipital cage can be adjusted forward and backward, and it closes around the head with a dial-in back. And at 320 g, it’s a reasonably light helmet for the price.


  • Weight: 320 g (on our scales)
  • Ventilation: 12 vents
  • Strap, buckle, and fit adjustment: Standard snap and buckle, Zoom Ace fit adjustment
  • Visor: Yes
  • Best use: All-mountain/trail


  • Inexpensive
  • Fairly light
  • Good coverage
  • Good ventilation
  • Good adjustability


  • Lacks rotational impact protection
  • Not as comfortable
  • Less robust padding
Check Price at Amazon

Sweet Protection Falconer II MIPS CPSC

Sweet Protection Falconer II MIPS CPSC

Sweet Protection’s Falconer II ($230) is a GearJunkie staff favorite. This helmet combines great ventilation with protective coverage and an aerodynamic design.

You’re buying into MIPS technology that protects against rotational forces found in certain crashes. And you can adjust both the tension and height of the helmet with a handy dial.

The ventilation is ample and wins style points. We also appreciate that this aero helmet has a touch of extra coverage out back.


  • Weight: 285 g
  • Ventilation: High
  • Strap, buckle, and fit adjustment: Standard snap and buckle, Occigrip fit adjustment
  • Visor: No
  • Best use: Road


  • Stylish
  • Good coverage
  • Good adjustability


  • Fit runs small
  • Less coverage than other helmets

Check Price at Sweet Protection

Why You Should Trust Us

Our team is composed of cyclists and outdoor-oriented athletes looking for the best products on the market. Our staff includes professional gear reviewers, former racers, recreational cyclists, folks who bike commute 60 miles a week, and everyone in between — people who care about fit, finish, and function, but at the end of the day want a product they can trust.

Our team spends its time carefully evaluating new products so that you don’t have to, which translates to more time in the saddle for you. We strive to create thorough, comprehensive, and helpful reviews to help you find the best gear for your individual needs.

Gear tester and author Paul Mandell has two decades of experience in the saddle as an itinerant racer and recreational rider. He completed his master’s degree in exercise science and studied the critical power model for cycling.

These days he prefers lift-accessed gravity riding and long adventure rides with plenty of descending. But he still finds time to get out for the occasional gravel grind or singletrack loop in his home base in California’s Eastern Sierra.

Buyers Guide: How to Choose a Gravel Cycling Helmet

Riding Style: Road, Trail, Gravel

The terrain you ride will ultimately dictate the helmet you buy. Before you open your wallet, give some thought to where and how you plan to spend the majority of your time in the saddle. It will point you in the right direction. Below are some considerations to check out before you throw down on a new lid.

Mountain Bike Helmets

Mountain-oriented helmets have more materials that wrap the side and back of the head, protecting the occipital lobe (the bony knob on the back of your head). Steep trails increase the risk of falling backward and onto the back of your head. This makes good occipital coverage like that offered by our favorite mountain bike helmet, the Giro Manifest, that much more important.

Mountain bike helmets often come with a visor similar to the one found on the Chiru MIPS helmet, which provides shade as riders move in and out of the direct sun. A visor also brings a little extra protection from brushy limbs that tend to stretch out over unmaintained roads.

Gravel Helmets

Riders who pedal more road and smooth gravel will appreciate the aerodynamic qualities of a sleeker helmet. With less drag, a streamlined helmet will cut through the wind (though not as much as good ergonomics).

Riders may choose to go with helmets that offer more coverage like the Chiru MIPS, or a more road-oriented helmet with better ventilation like the POC Octal X SPIN helmet.

Ultimately, riders should look closely at the terrain they ride most often, and factor their favorite rides and trails into choosing a helmet that will best suit their needs. Check out our FAQ for more on gravel-specific helmets.

Road Helmets

More vents and racier styling can also mean less weight. There’s less material to weigh you down. But less surface also means less material in contact with your head. In a fall, this can focus impact forces on a single point, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI).

Helmets like the Specialized Prevail II Vent do an excellent job of combining good coverage, excellent ventilation, and the newest safety technologies to provide an excellent helmet for road cyclists looking to maximize safety, style, and comfort.

Commuter Helmets

Commuter helmets occupy a bit of a middle ground in the helmet world. While weight may not be the top priority, coverage, visibility, and comfort certainly are. You might not be shredding the gnar on your way to work (or maybe you are?), but cars and pedestrians are omnipresent hazards that warrant a good helmet regardless of your riding style.

Helmets like the Lumos Ultra offer a suite of sweet features that will increase riders’ visibility in the dark or in stormy weather. Good coverage and excellent safety ratings like those found on Sweet Protection’s Falconer II helmet offer commuter cyclists extra peace of mind, as well as style points in the office and around town. Even if your commute is short and mellow, a good helmet is an excellent and necessary investment.


Because cycling is a highly aerobic sport, good ventilation is a necessary component of any helmet to help manage heat. Helmets with perforated ventilation holes allow fresh air to pour over the head, cooling you as you exert more energy.

Well-designed ventilation, like that of the POC Octal X Spin, is a godsend in hot and humid environments, though riders should be mindful of eschewing good coverage for good ventilation if they are riding aggressively.

man riding bike with gravel helmet


The best helmet is one you don’t notice. Because you’ll be wearing it every mile in the saddle, look for a helmet that fits your head. Compromising on fit can be dangerous, increasing your exposure to injury in an accident or fall.

A helmet should fit snugly, but not too tightly, and never cause pressure points or hot spots. A good-fitting helmet should be snug around the head even before clipping the straps.

Look for a helmet that sits level on your head without tilting forward or backward and that touches your skull all around without any gaps. The straps should feel snug but not strained while you ride. It shouldn’t move more than an inch in any direction. If you can pull, twist, or slip it off, try another helmet.

Most helmets have a range of measurements — small, medium, large, and extra-large — that have some wiggle room for folks who are between sizes. Not all brands fit the same. For example, we found that Bern and Specialized tend to run larger.

Once you decide on the style, it’s time to try a few on. And this is where your local bike shop is a huge asset. You’ll want to actually try on several helmets to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

If you do decide to buy a helmet online, start by measuring your head. Take a tailor’s tape measure and wrap it around the dome of your head — the widest circumference of the skull, just above the brow.

Microadjustment features, like a dial-fit system and chinstraps, tighten behind the head and under the chin to fine-tune the fit, minimizing movement. In recent years, this feature has become almost ubiquitous, and all of our top picks (with the exception of ABUS’s Moventor) feature this technology, usually in a proprietary design. Of note is XXX WaveCel’s BOA fit adjustment system; however, most systems function similarly.


Innovations in crash protection like MIPS (multidirectional impact protection system) have been shown to reduce rotational forces on the brain in a crash. Helmets with this kind of protection may cost a little more, but they provide confident protection in a lightweight package.

In a crash, a bicyclist can experience an angled impact which causes rotational motion. When you hit the ground, the brain will continue to travel through space until it hits the skull.

In addition to the impact force, the sheer force can pull brain tissue, causing trauma. While CPSC certification guidelines account for vertical free fall, they don’t address angular collision.

MIPS is a Swedish-based company that specializes in helmet safety and brain protection. It specializes in a polycarbonate plastic layer that allows the head to shift 10-15 mm relative to the helmet, slowing the rotational motion on the brain.

The evidence certainly shows MIPS reduces brain trauma when you hit the ground at an angle. Good marketing has awarded MIPS gold in the headspace. Check out more about MIPS here.

But other brands have poked at the problem with their own solutions. Bontrager uses WaveCel, Kali developed its Low-Density Layer, and POC has SPIN. All of them work to reduce rotational impact force.

To be clear, all bicycle helmets are built with a layer of stiff foam materials that crushes, expands, or collapses to absorb energy in a crash. To measure their impact protection, helmets sold in the U.S. must meet the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) bicycle helmet standard. Your best bet is to look for the CPSC sticker label inside the liner, certifying that the helmet meets safety standards.

Is MIPS the best? As Vibram is to outsoles, MIPS is to helmets. As a consumer, expect to pay a little extra for the yellow sticker in coin (and in weight).


How much should I spend on a bike helmet?

The helmets in our guide range from $65 to $300. Recreational bike helmets with basic impact protection are adequate for casual, mellow rides and will sit on the lower end of the price scale.

Expect to pay more for helmets that provide above-and-beyond accessories like chin guards, proprietary clips, and rotational motion impact reduction. For $70, you can’t go wrong with the Chiru MIPS helmet, but keep in mind that at that price point, you are skipping out on some extra safety features like MIPS.

The further you ride, the more you might want to consider extra protective features. A helmet is like buying an insurance plan. Yes, they are expensive, but we can guarantee it’s cheaper than a hospital bill.

I already have a road or mountain bike helmet. Do I need a special helmet for gravel cycling?

Gravel sits at the crossroads of road and mountain biking. Depending on the terrain you ride, you can use the cycling helmet you have.

Road bike helmets are generally more aerodynamic and lighter. Stylistically, they look different.

Most mountain bike helmets have extended coverage on the back of the head, which is important if you fall backward. They usually have an integrated visor that shields the eyes from the sun and brush.

If you primarily mountain bike and are dabbling with gravel, you can save a few bucks and use your mountain bike helmet. Be sure to check out the Giro Manifest if you’re looking for a rock-solid dirt and gravel-oriented lid. If you’re coming to gravel from the road and want to tackle more remote roads and maybe dabble with singletrack, we’d err toward safety and recommend buying up for more protection.

Regardless, all bicycle helmets in the U.S. are CPSC-certified whether they’re designed for road or trail rides. You can safely wear a road or mountain-oriented helmet.

Helmets are sport-specific, designed to mitigate specific risks. Mountain bike helmets are not verified to protect a climber or mountaineer in an accident and vice versa.

How long will my helmet last?

Keep track of your helmet’s age. Over time, exposure to environmental factors like sunlight or extreme cold, moisture, and sweat will diminish the lifespan of the helmet. So will repeated small impacts, such as dropping the helmet at the trailhead or tumbling around the back of the rig on the commute home.

The CPSC recommends replacing your helmet every 5-10 years, depending on the frequency of use, storage conditions, and overall care. But each manufacturer’s guideline is different.

For example, Sweet Protection recommends replacing your helmet every 3 years. Check with your helmet’s brand and mark your calendar.

If you need to retire a helmet, it’s one gear item you shouldn’t donate at the local thrift shop. You can check with the manufacturer to see if they will properly dispose of it for you.

Some brands, like POC, have a crash replacement policy. The Octal X SPIN helmet is one such example. You’ll need to register your helmet, and they may want to see the damage. If they approve your claim, they’ll often award a discount toward your next helmet purchase.

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