Mountain Bike Helmets – What You Need To Know Before You Buy

Mountain Bike Helmets – What You Need To Know Before You Buy

Choosing which helmet to spend your cash on can quickly become an overwhelming undertaking. So to clean up the confusion, here is an essential guide to mountain bike helmets, what you need to know before you buy, and ten of our top picks.

What to expect while shopping

First and foremost, there are a lot of MTB helmet options available. Brands like Smith, Bontrager, 100%, Oakley, Sweet Protection, and many more make excellent mountain bike helmets. Depending on your riding style, there is a perfect type and style of MTB helmet just for you.

Types of mountain bike helmets

xc-mountain-bike-helmet

Photo by POC

XC Helmet

trail-mountain-bike-helmet

Photo by Fox

Trail Helmet

full-face-mountain-bike-helmet

Photo by Troy Lee Designs

Full Face Helmet

What's the typical cost of mountain bike helmets?

Regarding price, if your mountain biking gear budget is thin, cutting corners on a helmet is not recommended. Good mountain bike helmets cost money. Prepare to spend on average between $100 – $400 roughly depending on riding style, brand, and safety features.

How long do mountain bike helmets generally last?

Mountain bike helmets generally last 3 – 8 years. If you ride a lot as we do, you’ll probably be looking for a replacement at the three-year mark. Many helmet brands recommend replacing them as the foam compounds break down with sweat and normal wear and tear over time. In addition, new helmet technology is constantly evolving– consider this when you’re looking to replace an older helmet. Finally, if you ever crash and hit your noggin, you should replace your helmet before your next ride to ensure it’s safe. Your helmet brand may even offer you a discount code for a crash replacement. The community is HUGE on safety.

Safety systems worth knowing

Before we show you the goods below, here are a few links to learn and read up on the safety technology currently in use. In addition, a few brands have also created their own protection systems.

  • MIPS – Multi-directional Impact Protection System is a popular option for safety features. MIPS technology works by creating a low-friction layer between the helmet’s shell and soft liner, providing extra protection for side-impact crashes. Here’s some safety info about MIPS technology we found.  
  • Spin by POC – The SPIN system looks similar to MIPS, but it’s less complex. SPIN uses specially developed pads placed in critical locations in the helmet to absorb impact. Those pads move in any direction to produce the same effect as MIPS.
  • Smartshock® by 100% – A fully suspended rotational protection system for your brain. The Smartshock suspended rotational system improves protection by immediately compressing and absorbing direct impacts, thus reducing energy transfer to the brain over a wide range of speed and impact types.
  • WaveCel by Bontrager – WaveCel works to divert the impact force away from the head. The cells crumple to absorb impact energy, like the crumple zone of a car. Finally, cells glide to distribute rotational forces. According to a study at the Legacy Research Institute in Portland, Oregon, WaveCel is significantly more effective than MIPS in reducing both linear impact forces and rational forces on the brain.
  • Koroyd by Smith – Similar approach to WaveCel, Koroyd’s welded tubes crumple instantly and consistently on impact, absorbing maximum force in a controlled manner, minimizing energy transferred to your head.

Trail tested and community-approved.

Most of these items have been tested on the trail and bashed around by our editors and riding buddies. Some even tested for over a year, so you know you’ll get a quality review. But, of course, we at Mountainly also read countless reviews, conduct market research, and compile the top products that the MTB community recommends.

10 of our top picks

In no particular order, here are a few of our favorite picks for mountain bike helmets.

Favorite For Downhill/Enduro

Stage Full Face MIPS Helmet

0

Troy Lee Designs Stage helmet is certified for Downhill riding but also loved by many Enduro racers. It’s light and breathable enough to wear over long riding days.

Check price at Amazon

Links may earn us a small commission at no cost to you.

Stage Full Face MIPS Helmet
Favorite Lightweight Helmet

POC Octal X

0

For the roadie turned mountain biker. The Octal X bridges the gap between a lightweight road helmet and solid MTB protection. It’s more minimal and offers better ventilation than most mountain bike helmets on the market. In addition, it includes their Spin protection system.

Check price at Amazon

Links may earn us a small commission at no cost to you.

POC Octal X
Community Favorite

Fox Speedframe Pro MIPS

0

Fox Speedframe Pro is a mountain bike helmet ready for cross-country, enduro, and trail riding styles.

Check price at Amazon

Links may earn us a small commission at no cost to you.

Fox Speedframe Pro MIPS
5-Star Rated

Smith Forefront 2 MIPS

0

High-quality mountain bike helmet with an ultra-comfy fit. The community gives this helmet a 5-star rating for fit, comfortability, and crash protection.

Check price at Amazon

Links may earn us a small commission at no cost to you.

Smith Forefront 2 MIPS
Editor's Choice For Trail Riders

Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet

0

Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet is a lightweight, well-ventilated helmet for mountain biking. Their low-friction technology liner will help keep your noggin safe if you crash on the trail.

Check price at Amazon

Links may earn us a small commission at no cost to you.

Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet
Editor's Choice For Downhill

Smith Mainline Koroyd

0

Made for going big, going fast, or both, the Smith Mainline is the pinnacle, downhill certified enduro bike helmet. Safety innovations like Koroyd™ and MIPS® provide energy-absorbing impact protection, so you have the confidence to get aggressive on the trail.

Check price at Amazon

Links may earn us a small commission at no cost to you.

Smith Mainline Koroyd
Favorite For Pro Riders

100% Aircraft 2 Smartshock®

$400.00 0

Created with world-class performance in mind, the Aircraft 2 is made for serious downhill and enduro riders. It includes Smartshock® protection along with a Patent Pending injection-molded chin bar and Multi-Density EPS foam to keep you safe and extend performance all day long.

Buy Now at 100%
100% Aircraft 2 Smartshock®
Favorite Budget Helmet

100% Altis Mountain Bike Helmet

$100.00 0

New to the 100% lineup, this trail helmet is lower profile and includes their Smartshock® protection system for an affordable cost.

Buy Now at 100%
100% Altis Mountain Bike Helmet
Great Budget Option

Giro Montaro MIPS

0

Its compact shape offers deep, confident coverage, and the Roc Loc Air fit system boosts ventilation while improving fit. Great features for a great price.

Check price at Amazon

Links may earn us a small commission at no cost to you.

Giro Montaro MIPS
Great Budget Option

Bontrager Rally WaveCell

$149.99 0

With WaveCel, a collapsible cellular structure reduces rotational motion to the brain during impact.

Buy Now at Trek
Bontrager Rally WaveCell
  • Share
Avatar for Mountainly

We at Mountainly are spending our days mining the Earth for all of its best, most relevant mountain biking wisdom, trends, and gear so that you can have it all right here at the tips of your fingers.


Conversation
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Get the email for busy mountain bikers.

Discover the best products + gear, and learn about deals from brands you love.