10 Best Road Bike Helmets in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Don’t make the foolish mistake of riding a bike without a helmet that has passed all the stringent safety tests. After all, you can never predict the next unfortunate accident that comes your way.

God forbid if you were to meet with an accident, wouldn’t it be better to be safe than sorry?

A good road bike helmet can be the sole difference in determining the severity of your injury. In fact, road helmets are a legal necessity in many countries around the world.

Thankfully, modern cycling helmets, unlike the ones from the past, are lightweight, more comfortable to wear, have a nice fit, offer proper ventilation, and possess aerodynamic features too. In short, you wouldn’t have to compromise on anything to wear a road cycling helmet.

The road bike helmet manufacturers have truly gone above and beyond to make bike helmets convenient to the rider.   

Now, having a plethora of cycling helmets to choose from can be both a blessing and a curse. Of course, it never hurts to have many options on the table but, sometimes, it can be a bit overwhelming too.

To make things easier for you, I have experimented with a handful of positively reviewed road cycling helmets and formulated a list that you can bank on. Without further ado, have a look at some of the best road bike helmets you can get your hands on.  

At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Road Bike Helmets

If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are the road bike helmets that most people buy).

  • Giro Aether MIPS Top Pick
  • Specialized S Works Evade with ANGi Runner-up
  • Bell Z20 MIPS Runner-up

Top 10 Best Road Bike Helmets – Our Reviews:

1. Giro Aether MIPS

The Giro Aether MIPS comes second to none in terms of offering great ventilation with its 11 vents! Additionally, the safety helmet performs well on cold wintry rides too by offering a regulation of constant temperature.

Of course, it provides excellent protection too as it is MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) equipped. The MIPS spherical tech structure languishes between the comfort padding and the EPS, reducing rotational acceleration and harmful forces transmitted to the brain.

I also like the fact that the Giro Aether MIPS looks pleasing to the eyes with its sleek design.

Another aspect of the Giro Aether MIPS road helmet that I’m pleased with is its light weight. Weighing a mere 265 grams, you can wear this helmet for hours on end without straining your neck muscles.

As for the fit, this MIPS helmet is available in three different size options to accommodate heads of every size.

You’ll be impressed with the Roc Loc 5+ Air retention system of the road cycling helmet as it does a phenomenal job of providing a comfortable and secure fit, allowing the head to sit deep into the helmet shell as opposed to having the MIPS helmet high on top of the head, providing little to no security.

Pros

  • One of the best road bike helmets in terms of ventilation provided
  • Lightweight and available in a variety of head shapes and sizes
  • Roc Loc 5+ Air retention system
  • MIPS-equipped to provide extra protection
  • Comfortable and top of the line fit retention system
  • Great for summer rides

Cons

  • Lacks in the aerodynamic department

2. Specialized S Works Evade with ANGi

The Specialized Works Evade has everything working in its favor. Even the famous pro cyclist, Peter Sagan, has donned this helmet en-route to countless victories and podiums.   

What makes the Specialized Works Evade flagship helmet so sought-after you ask? Well, it’s well-ventilated, comfortable to wear, and has an aerodynamic design, thereby boosting performance. Also, the fact that the helmet has both the MIPS and ANGi safety features only add to the charm of the bike helmet.

In case of an accident/impact, Specialized’s trademarked ANGi (Angular and G-Force Indicator) safety feature immediately sends a notification (with the location) to a pre-programmed cell phone number, alerting family members or medical professionals of the incident. This feature is especially useful when the rider loses consciousness and is unable to take care of himself.

Of course, with such high-quality features integrated into the bike helmet, expect to pay a steep price for the Specialized S Works Evade MIPS road helmet.

Before I draw the curtains on this product, I must admit that the helmet, in a bid to become both a road helmet and an aero helmet, is bulkier and heavier than most of the helmets on this list. The heavy weight can put the rider at a disadvantage during all-around training.

However, for time trials, the aero profile of the helmet helps the rider tenfold.

Pros

  • Top of the line MIPS and ANGi safety features integrated into the helmet
  • One of the most aerodynamic helmets around
  • Well-ventilated to keep you cool during hot rides
  • Stays on your head in the event of a crash
  • Meets all the safety standards
  • Similar to the Specialized S Works Prevail

Cons

  • Priced a bit too steeply for my liking
  • Limited color options

3. Bell Z20 MIPS

The Bell Z20 MIPS cycling helmet may cost a bomb, but I feel that the helmet more than justifies its hefty price tag. For starters, the Bell Z20 MIPS offers unmatched comfort and ventilation.

I must also applaud the brand for collaborating with safety pioneers, MIPS. Through their fruitful collaboration, they were able to integrate the MIPS liner into the wind tunnel-optimized shell of the Bell Z20 MIPS without sacrificing the lid’s cooling.

Additionally, I must also wax lyrical about the Z20’s aerodynamic shape. Designed to pierce through air with minimal drag, this MIPS helmet will improve your cycling performance as never before.

I’m also a big fan of the brow pad sweat catching system on the Bell Z20 MIPS bicycle helmet. Irrespective of how much you sweat, with this aero helmet over your head, no more will your sweat drip from your head into your eyes to cause irritation.   

However, like all products, the Bell Z20 MIPS cycling helmet has its flaws too. For example, I found the strap material quite flimsy and the glasses port simply not up-to-par.

Pros

  • Comfortable/adjustable fit retention system
  • Aerodynamic and well-ventilated at the same time with its 10 air-vent channels
  • MIPS liner safety tech feature with two layers of EPS foam shell
  • Best-suited for cyclocross and gravel bike rides
  • High-end brow pad sweat catching system

Cons

  • The strap material is flimsy and too long for my liking
  • Glasses port not up-to-standard

4. Bontrager XXX WaveCel Safety Helmet

The Bontrager XXX WaveCel is as advanced as they come.

According to the manufacturer, the collapsible WaveCel cell walls crumple, glide, tear, and flex to disperse the energy from an impact, thereby protecting riders from concussions. Not only does this safety helmet protect a rider from a direct impact, but it also offers protection against twists, turns, and angled impacts.

The Bontrager XXX WaveCel is not only renowned for its safety performance, but it also helps improve cycling performance with its aero-specific design. Plus, the fact that the XXX WaveCel Helmet has a deep fit, going low on your brow and temples instead of simply sitting on the top of the head, also appeals to the masses.

I’m also a big fan of the internal padding on the helmet. In addition to providing comfortable cushioning, it also wicks sweat well.

However, I’ll be the first to admit that the XXX WaveCel Aero Helmets weigh heavier than your standard road bike helmet. Though the airflow in the helmet isn’t up there with the best, it’s still sufficient enough to prevent you from burning up.  

All in all, the Bontrager XXX WaveCel Aero Helmet, with its revolutionary WaveCel tech, is definitely worth the splurge.

Pros

  • Comfortable cushioning
  • Excellent safety features protect road cyclists from concussions
  • Aero-specific design to improve performance
  • Sits deep to provide a secure fit
  • Good retention system

Cons

  • Weighs a bit too heavy for my liking
  • Not as well-ventilated as I would´ve liked

5. Kask Protone

The Kask Protone excels in a variety of departments. It has an eye-catching design, offers formidable comfort and excellent ventilation, delivers good aero performance, and is available at a competitive price.

Comparatively lighter than some of the other helmets on the list, I’m also a huge admirer of its skull-hugging compact profile. The helmet sits deep, providing your head a secure and protective fit.

The Kask Protone also benefits tremendously from its Octo retention fit system (rotating tension dial), allowing riders to adjust the helmet as per their requirement. It’s also worth noting that the helmet features 3D dry padding with a multi-layer open cell construction for added comfort.

Moreover, to ensure good air-flow and ventilation, the manufacturers have placed 8 vents and 6 large exit ports on the helmet.

I also like the fact that the Kask Protone bicycle helmets are available in various sizes and colors. To be precise, you have the option of choosing from 19 different color options!  

If you’re looking for a helmet that has managed to strike the perfect balance between providing ample ventilation and good aero performance at the same time, go for the Kask Protone road bike helmet without any hesitation.  

Pros

  • Outstanding ventilation and aero performance
  • Otto retention fit system provides a wide range of adjustment options
  • Available in a variety of colors and sizes
  • Best road bike helmet in terms of visual appeal
  • Meets all the safety standards

Cons

  • The Protone helmets don’t come equipped with MIPS or any rotational safety tech

6. MET Trenta 3K Carbon Safety Helmet

Created to mark the 30th anniversary of the Italian brand, MET, the MET Trenta 3K Carbon Helmets more than live up to the hype.

One look at the MET Trenta 3K Carbon and you’ll be taken away by the design of the helmet; the helmet looks like the hybrid of an aero lid and a conventional vented helmet. In addition to being a head-turner, the safety helmet also has an excellent fit and sleek profile.

What about the safety aspects of the MET Trenta 3K Carbon you ask? Well, constructed of carbon fiber to reduce the volume of EPS foam in the helmet without compromising on the helmet´s ability to absorb energy, this lightweight helmet does a brilliant job of providing proper head protection.

Additionally, the low, smaller profile also helps boost the aerodynamic performance of the MET Trenta 3K Carbon. Plus, since the helmet is one of the lightest around, it’s capable of keeping your head fresh without fatiguing your neck muscles even after a long day’s ride.

However, I must admit that the absence of MIPS tech on the MET Trenta 3K Carbon Helmets is a huge letdown. As far as I’m concerned, having MIPS tech is the gold standard for pro-level road bike helmets.

Pros

  • Lightweight and has a comfortable fit
  • Outstanding ventilation
  • Even and secure head retention
  • Keeps your head fresh and helps you save energy
  • Available in a variety of sizes and color combos

Cons

  • The Trenta helmets are not MIPS equipped

7. Abus AirBreaker

What is it about the Abus AirBreaker that makes it so popular among serious cyclists? Well, stick around for a while and you’ll soon find out.

Developed in collaboration with the reputed Movistar team, Immediate Media, the Abus AirBreaker is renowned for its ventilation and cooling features. Similar in shape to the Abus GameChanger, the AirBreaker has a durable construction and is as lightweight as they come, weighing just abound 229 g.

Plus, the fact that the helmet comes in 10 different color options is also an added plus.

I must say that I´m particularly a big fan of the helmet´s padding system.

The pads on the helmet are simply kept in place by a couple of removable plastic screws. Remove these screws and you can clean the pads as thoroughly as humanly possible.

Additionally, it also helps that the safety straps can be easily removed for a hand wash.

However, I am a bit disappointed that the Abus AirBreaker road helmets aren’t MIPS-equipped.

All in all, the Abus AirBreaker road helmet is best-suited for those looking for a low-volume, well-ventilated, lightweight, low-profile helmet.

Pros

  • Though lightweight, the AirBreaker helmets have a durable construction
  • Properly ventilated to offer riders a cool riding session
  • Wide array of color options
  • Best road bike helmet in terms of having a low profile
  • Tested and ranked highly by Virginia Tech

Cons

  • Doesn’t have an aerodynamic design
  • No rotational safety feature
  • Priced a bit too steeply for my liking

8. Bell Stratus MIPS

Weighing about 317 grams, the Bell Stratus MIPS is not the lightest helmet around. However, I can assure you that you’ll overlook the extra weight when you learn about its features.  

Designed to offer excellent all-around road performance, the Bell Stratus MIPS has a lot working in its favor.

First and foremost, it is stunning to look at. Secondly, it fits superbly.

Next, you should know that the helmet offers excellent ventilation with its “Overbrow Ventilation” system, proving to be particularly useful for those who ride in hot climates.

Now, if those features weren’t enough, the helmet is also MIPS-equipped, having a tech structure that does a phenomenal job of reducing rotational acceleration and harmful forces transmitted to the brain.

I’m also a huge admirer of the adjustable No-Twist Tri-Glides; irrespective of how hard you ride the bike, the helmet straps will lie flat and stay in place.

I also like the fact that the MIPS helmet is available in a variety of color and size options. So, if you search long enough, you should be able to find a Bell Stratus MIPS helmet that suits your style.

Pros

  • Outstanding fit and performance
  • The Bell Stratus helmet comes with  MIPS technology structure
  • Suitable for both male and female riders
  • Best road bike helmet in terms of all-around road performance

Cons

  • Sizing guides aren’t accurate
  • Doesn’t come with replacement pads
  • A bit too heavy for my preference

9. Kask Valegro Safety Helmet

Another Kask helmet makes it to the list purely on merit. This time, I’ll be putting the spotlight on the Kask Valegro.

Developed with the inputs provided by Team INEOS, the Kask Valegro has all the features you’d expect in a top-quality helmet. It is lightweight, properly ventilated, and comfortable beyond belief.

In a bid to keep the foam core secure from knocks, Kask has smartly installed a polycarbonate shell right towards the helmet´s base. To state the Kask Valegro is ventilated well enough would be an understatement; after all, it has a whopping 37 air vents!

I must also admit that I’m a fan of the helmet´s Octo Fit adjustment system that helps you maintain a secure fit. To make things easier and more convenient for you, the makers have also made the occipital pads adjustable, allowing any asymmetry.

I think it’s also worth mentioning that the straps that fit around your ears are connected by a high-quality eco-leather chin strap. The chin strap looks tidy and doesn’t dig in, and it improves the aesthetic appeal of the helmet a great deal.

Pros

  • Highly adjustable
  • Properly ventilated and lightweight
  • Comfortable fit
  • Polycarbonate layer covers the top of the helmet nicely
  • One of the best road bike helmets around
  • Similar to the Kask Utopia

Cons

  • Since the Kask Valegro helmet has narrow pads, try to see if it fits you before you splash the cash
  • Some may find the faux leather chin strap a bit too stiff for their liking
  • The lack of adjustability on the strap may repel some

10. Giro Synthe MIPS

Last but not least, we have the Giro Synthe MIPS. This helmet can give any premium road bike helmet a run for their money.

A quick glance at the Giro Synthe MIPS and you’ll most likely think that this helmet is one for race days. However, after you wear it, you’ll soon discover that the Giro Synthe MIPS helmets need to be worn every day, irrespective of the occasion, merely for the comfort they provide.

With its Roc Loc Air fit retention system adjusting to heads of every size and 26 vents that guarantee proper ventilation, it’s tough to look past the Giro Synthe.

As for its safety features, the Giro Synthe comes MIPS-equipped to offer optimum protection to the head. Plus, despite having a MIPS insert, the Synthe only weighs around 268 grams.

According to the manufacturers, the Synthe has gone through extensive wind tunnel testing to be as aerodynamic as possible. How true is this statement you ask?

Well, I don’t have a wind tunnel to conduct the test, but I can assure you that the Synthe bears a close resemblance to the best aero helmets in the business.

Also, bear in mind that though the Synthe is suitable for both mountain biking and road biking, it’s better suited for road biking as it doesn’t come equipped with a visor.  

Pros

  • 26 vents to offer optimum ventilation
  • Roc Loc Air fit system with 2-way tuning
  • Has a dedicated port to secure sunglasses
  • Suitable for both male and female riders
  • One of the best road bike helmets around
  • Plenty of safety attributes

Cons

  • Be careful with the fit
  • Only comes with a single set of thin pads

Things to Consider When Buying Road Bike Helmets or Mountain Bike Helmets

Retention Fit System

A good road bike helmet is one that stays on your head in the event of a crash. Now, for a helmet to stay in place, it must have a good fit on your head and an excellent retention fit system.

Most road bike helmets worth considering usually deploy a dial retention system to secure/adjust the fit. However, I think you should also take into consideration the vertical adjustment range of a helmet.

Additionally, you should also pay attention to the straps of the helmet. As long as they’re comfortable and adjustable, you’re good to go.

Construction Material

If you examine carefully, you’ll see that most road bike helmets these days have EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam. This structure is usually covered by Carbon fiber or hard polycarbonate shell to keep the foam core secure from knocks.

If you spend more on the helmet, you’ll also find a MIPS spherical tech structure languishing between the comfort padding and the EPS, reducing rotational acceleration and harmful forces transmitted to the brain.

If your bike helmet has all the designs I explained above, you can consider it safe for purchase.

Safety Features

You should only consider those road bike helmets that have passed stringent safety tests. Helmets sold in the EU should have a CE mark while road bike helmets manufactured in the United States must be CPSC-certified.

Safety tech such as MIPS (rotational liners) and Bontrager’s trademarked WaveCel continues to lead the way in regards to making bike helmets more safe and secure. These safety innovations have been found to reduce rotational acceleration and harmful forces transmitted to the brain, substantially decreasing the chances of a serious brain injury.

So, be on the lookout for these safety features as you shop.

Ventilation

The best road bike helmets are usually well-ventilated. Such helmets excel at dissipating heat, allowing you to have a cool ride, irrespective of the weather condition.

The more air vents in a helmet, the better it is.

Aerodynamics

You’d have to make a choice between an aero helmet and a well-ventilated helmet.

You see, ventilation holes need to be closed shut to increase aerodynamic efficiency. If you want to ride faster, you’d have to compromise on ventilation.

Also, for proper ventilation, you may notice a dip in cycling performance because of a lack of aero profile in a properly ventilated helmet. Regrettably, you can’t have the cake and eat it too.

Additional Features

Wouldn’t you agree that having a helmet with a dedicated port to secure sunglasses or helmet lights is a wonderful feature?

Well, as far as I’m concerned, it certainly is. Be on the lookout for such additional features on helmets and your riding experience will be better than before.  

Moreover, when choosing a helmet, consider the riding environment you intend to use it for. For instance, it wouldn’t help if you rode in a cold climate with a helmet full of ventilation holes, would it?

Read Also: 7 Best Bike Helmet Lights – Reviews & Top Picks

Conclusion

Now that we’ve reached the end of the article, I hope you’ve gotten better at distinguishing quality road bike helmets and mountain bike helmets from the plethora of cycle helmets available. To choose a helmet properly, you must look at its construction material, aero profile, ventilation system, safety attributes, and retention fit system.

As long as you have these departments covered, you´ll end up with a worthy helmet.

If you’re still confused and would like me to point you in a specific direction, I would recommend the Specialized S Works Evade. This safety helmet has both the innovative MIPS and ANGi safety features integrated into it, is aerodynamic beyond belief, and properly ventilated to keep you cool during hot rides.  

Though it can be heavy on the wallet, the Specialized Works Evade more than justifies its hefty price tag. If you’re looking for other suggestions, the MIPS helmet from Smith Trace is also great and nearly made it to this list.