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The top 7 best rated mountain bike helmets

After reading this article you’ll know what the best rated mountain bike helmets are and why.

I’ve included open face mountain bike helmets and road bike helmets. I did not include full face helmets. With open face mountain bike helmets I’ve covered the trail and enduro MTB discipline. And every professional cross-country racer uses a high-end road bike helmet.

You can’t distinguish the quality of a helmet based on its certification, because they all have a certification. E.g. it doesn’t tell you anything about the helmet’s ability to protect your head in case of a crash.

I did use the Virginia Tech ratings and looked at what type of crash technology was used in helmets that scored the best. The rating is a number which defines the number of concussions resulting from 24 impact tests. A lower number means an impact is less likely to result in a concussion. E.g. lower is better.

The best helmets score just below 10, and the worst far above twenty. It means that for this list I’ve only chosen those helmets with a score of 10 or lower. Out of almost 200 helmets there are only a handful that obtain such a good rating.

They’re all premium and high-quality helmets offering either MIPS technology, reinforced polycarbonate shells, multi-density EPS liners, other proprietary impact resistant technology, or a combination of any one of these.

If you value safety above all else, you owe it to yourself to pick one of these best rated mountain bike helmets and ride with confidence.

Troy Lee Designs A2

Troy Lee Designs A2
Troy Lee Designs A2
Troy Lee Designs A2
Troy Lee Designs A2
Troy Lee Designs A2
Troy Lee Designs A2

The Troy Lee Designs A2 is one of the most affordable, high quality, open-faced mountain bike helmets worth your money.

It offers superb comfort and fit, with an anti-bacterial X-Static Pure Silver padding. The padding sits within a dual-density EPS liner. The polycarbonate shell wraps around the edges to further protect the rather delicate EPS.

The decade-old design has been updated to feature the MIPS technology. Safety is further enhanced with the bolt-on breakaway visor, and 3-point fit system.

Part of the popularity of the A2 can be attributed to the comfort it provides. Both with the excellent fit and its ability to keep your head cool when you try and get the most out of your ride. 2 vents on the side extend far into the front. Together with elongated vents on top they suck in cool air, which can exit through a number of vents located at the back.

It’s a great looking helmet, available in many colors, with a perfect track record in crash protection, for a price below many of the top-of-the-line offerings from its competitors. An unbeatable proposition when it comes to mountain bike helmets.

Expert Experience

Will Brett-Atkin | Contributor – August 31, 2020

The A2 helmet has plenty of airflow and boasts 25% more than the Troy Lee A1 helmet. However, I wouldn’t say it’s an industry leader as I do find I sweat more with this helmet than I have with others on the market.

In summary, the Troy Lee A2 Mips mountain bike helmet is a great look, extremely comfortable helmet that offers industry-leading protection. However, it is an expensive lid and with only a small amount of peak adjustment, it is hard to store your goggles enduro style.

Pros and Cons

Bluegrass Rogue Core MIPS

Bluegrass Rogue Core MIPS
Bluegrass Rogue Core MIPS
Bluegrass Rogue Core MIPS
Bluegrass Rogue Core MIPS
Bluegrass Rogue Core MIPS
fallback

The Bluegrass Rogue Core MIPS is a distinctive-looking open face mountain bike helmet for trail and enduro riding with quite a name.

Its unique visor is a non-indexed fully adjustable one that leaves enough room for large goggles to be fitted underneath. Sunglasses are supposed to be stored in the visor instead of eyewear ports. It remains to be seen if this works for all types of glasses out there.

Each helmet manufacturer uses fancy names for their fit system, so with this helmet you get the Safe-T system. The name notwithstanding, it’s the same we see with other premium helmets, offering indexed customizability both vertical and horizontal.

The helmet has the average weight for a mountain bike helmet of 350 grams, and you can achieve a snug fit without any pressure points.

The Rogue Core has one of the best crash ratings on the market and I feel it’s because of lack of marketing that this helmet doesn’t really get the attention it deserves.

Expert Experience

Ross Demain | Contributor – May 16, 2023

As with pretty much all helmets I’ve got, I’ve run the rogue Core MIPS with the visor slightly up to get it out of my vision and it’s stayed where I put it, with no moving or wobbling about. Storing glasses on the visor isn’t simple as some storage systems but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty straightforward. The glasses have also stayed put while climbing and contouring although they can be a little rattley if you want to keep them there for descending.

Pros and Cons

Fox Racing Dropframe Pro

Fox Racing Dropframe Pro
Fox Racing Dropframe Pro
Fox Racing Dropframe Pro
Fox Racing Dropframe Pro
Fox Racing Dropframe Pro
Fox Racing Dropframe Pro

The design of the Fox Racing Dropframe Pro is certainly unique, and a hit-or-miss design-wise depending on the person you speak to.

Design arguments aside, what you can’t deny is the added amount of crash protection you get with this helmet, there’s simply more of it.

The shell is made from a mix of thermoplastic, polycarbonate, and polyamide instead of your regular polycarbonate. The liner is a dual-density EPS for added energy absorption versus a regular EPS liner.

The helmet wraps around the ears, providing more coverage without getting in the way of your field of vision. And it also comes with the MIPS crash technology, something almost every high-end helmet currently has.

At 460 grams it’s about a hundred grams heavier than your standard open face mountain bike helmet, but that added weight is something you won’t notice while riding.

One thing to keep in mind is that the visor is fixed into place, which might impair your vision on very steep descends.

Because the helmet covers a much greater area, Fox decided to ditch the adjustment wheel normally used to create the desired fit. Instead Fox achieves a comfortable fit by providing a padding fit kit with two different sets of padding. Together with the Fidlock buckle it does a great job in keeping the helmet in place.

In terms of heat management, more coverage also means more heat buildup. If you’re using this helmet for a lot of ascending, it’s noticeably warmer. On the other hand, slow climbing is not really the intended use of this helmet.

The Fox Racing Dropframe Pro is a perfect choice for those who’re seeking for more protection, without wanting to ride with a full face helmet. And it fulfills this role outstandingly, offering better crash protection than any other standard open face mountain bike helmet.

Expert Experience

Zach Wick | Review Editor – April 23, 2020

The Dropframe is a full-coverage trail helmet that aims to please those of us who spend most of our time on high-speed, chunky, descents but still like to pedal back to the top. Billed by Fox as an enduro/trail helmet, this model provides nearly the same coverage as a full-face helmet without the chin bar. It doesn’t offer any fit adjustment other than two sets of pads with different thicknesses, however, and the sizing is a little bit on the small end when compared to the rest of the helmets in our test. After a few weeks smashing down the most technical trails, we discovered that we appreciated the extra coverage this helmet provides, but it left us wanting for better ventilation when the trail turned back uphill.

Pros and Cons

Giro Aries Spherical

Giro Aries Spherical
Giro Aries Spherical
Giro Aries Spherical
Giro Aries Spherical
Giro Aries Spherical
Giro Aries Spherical

The Giro Aries Spherical is one of the safest if not the safest helmet within its category. It also has the highest suggested retail price at 300 USD. On its product page Giro boasts the helmet having the lowest Virginia Tech helmet rating (lower is better), and you have to if you charge this price.

So what exactly do you get for the money? This is one of a couple of helmets offering the MIPS Spherical technology, which reduces rotational damage with a ball-in-socket helmet setup. Furthermore the polycarbonate shell is reinforced with twin bridges on each side, alongside a roll-cage-like reinforced band. It all makes for an incredibly strong helmet that doesn’t weigh more than your average similar helmet.

It has silicon beads so sweat doesn’t drip into your eyes, or runs down your glasses, which is a feature far more useful than you might think.

The helmet is tightened on your head with the Roc Loc 5 Air fit system, something featured in all of their premium models. And something that does a great job of keeping the lightweight lid in place.

Expert Experience

Suvi Loponen | Technical writer – July 07, 2023

The Giro Aries Spherical is the company’s latest pro-level helmet, featuring its Spherical Technology system, a unique ball-and-socket design that adds more safety on top of Mips. As well as ranking as one of the safest helmets out there, the Aries is also one of the lightest helmets on the market, and the abundant vents definitely make it one of the coolest I’ve used. It does, however, come at a high price.

Pros and Cons

Giro Merit Spherical

Giro Merit Spherical
Giro Merit Spherical
Giro Merit Spherical
Giro Merit Spherical
Giro Merit Spherical
Giro Merit Spherical

The Giro Merit Spherical offers superb crash protection in a fantastic open face mountain bike helmet.

There are multiple crash technologies ensuring this helmet sits at the top of the range in terms of protecting. As do many other helmets it offers MIPS technology. The Merit uses MIPS Air which is the lightest variant.

Furthermore it offers Spherical technology, commonly referred to as a ball-and-socket setup where the inside of the helmet can move independent from its outer shell. A dual-density EPS liner is the last piece of tech to ensure maximum crash protection.

The entire package is still very light at 360 grams. Other great features are the bolt-on adjustable visor and the multi-point Roc Loc adjustment system.

The only downside I can think of is that you have to pay a lot of money for all that tech.

Expert Experience

Robin Weaver | Technical editor-in-chief – June 1, 2022

I’m a big fan of the new Merit helmet. Okay, it might not be quite as airy as the pricier Manifest, and doesn’t feature all the same bells and whistles either, but that’s fine by me because it’s still a top performer that’s supremely comfortable. It’s also light and airy enough to leave on all day. The price is still high, but there’s a lot of safety tech here, which feels like a plus to have – if you can afford it.

Pros and Cons

Lazer G1 MIPS

Lazer G1 MIPS
Lazer G1 MIPS
Lazer G1 MIPS
Lazer G1 MIPS
Lazer G1 MIPS
Lazer G1 MIPS

The Lazer G1 MIPS is marketed as one of the lightest helmets in its category. And to be fair it is.

Yet I want to put the 235 grams of this helmet in perspective, because the average road bike helmet weighs 280 grams. That’s 45 grams heavier and something you will not notice while riding.

On the other hand, things like ventilation and fit are far more important things with respect to comfort than a couple of grams less. And luckily this helmet performs exceptionally well in that area. You get 2 different sets of padding to fully customize the fit.

Unlike your classic dial at the base of your skull you actually modify the fit with a wheel on top of the helmet. This non-indexed dial draws the helmet tight around your head around the entirety of its circumference.

Although it does a fantastic job of creating a superb fit, the two strings underneath the helmet look rather delicate. And I’m familiar with fit systems breaking with helmets being stuffed into bags. So that’s something you might want to keep in mind if you’re not the type of person who’s really careful with her/his material.

In terms of safety it offers MIPS technology and sits just behind Giro’s Aries Spherical, so its most important feature is taken care of. And a helmet cover is included to marginally increase aerodynamic properties or protect you from the rain.

Expert Experience

Brandon Bilyeu | Professional cyclist – January 13, 2020

The marketing of this helmet as superlight might only appeal to a small subset of cyclists, but the reality is that this is a great, no compromises helmet that just happens to be lightweight too. The Lazer G1 shines in fit, comfort, and ventilation. Extra safety is available with the MIPS version and extra aero performance with the Aeroshell. It is by no means cheap, but for a top of the line helmet in today’s market it is a relative value.

Pros and Cons

Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS

Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS
Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS
Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS
Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS
Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS
Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS

The Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS has one of the best Virginia Tech crash test ratings.

It’s the only helmet I know of that offers a polycarbonate shell made up of multiple pieces with variable thickness. And it seems to improve its impact resistance.

Naturally for a helmet with the premium category, you get MIPS technology as well to reduce and dissipate rotational impact energy.

To get the right fit the helmet offers both vertical and horizontal adjustment, with two sets of padding with different thickness. The vertical adjuster sits at the back, which means adjusting it lowers the back part of the helmet.

It’s extended coverage means it runs a little hotter than your average road bike helmet you might use for XC and light trail riding. But the weight of 325 grams is still light enough to make you forget it’s there while riding and setup correctly.

The helmet now includes an adjustable visor which let’s you easily fit glasses underneath it.

Expert Experience

Lydia Tanner | Contributor – June 29, 2020

The Trailblazer instantly felt lighter and more attached to my head, if that makes sense. Like, if I put it on and do the Breakfast Club dance, it moves with me instead of lagging. On the trail, that means the visor hasn’t blocked my vision once, and I never have to re-adjust it to get the fit I want. We all have different skulls and will naturally have brands that work best for us. In fact, I was handed this assignment after another tester didn’t find the Trailblazer suited his skull. But I think it’s worth noting that even within the Sweet Line, the fit on the Trailblazer felt much more natural, for my head at least.

Pros and Cons

Specifications rated mountain bike helmets

Name
Price
Technology
Shell
Liner
Visor
Fit
weight (gr)
eyewear port
rating
Troy Lee Designs A2
170 USD
MIPS
polycarbonate
dual density EPS
bolt-on breakaway
3-point dial fit
350
yes
9.99
Bluegrass Rogue Core MIPS
170 EUR
MIPS
polycarbonate
EPS
adjustable
Safe-T Heta w. Fidlock buckle
350
yes
9.95
Fox Racing Dropframe Pro
200 USD
MIPS
thermoplastic
polycarbonate
polyamide
dual density EPS
integrated
custom padding w. Fidlock buckle
460
8.85
Giro Aries Spherical
300 USD
MIPS Air/Spherical/Aura II
polycarbonate
Progressive Layering 3-layer EPS
none
Roc Loc 5 Air
275
yes
8.4
Giro Merit Spherical
220 USD
MIPS Air/Spherical/Hardbody
polycarbonate
dual density EPS
bolt-on adjustable
Roc Loc 5 Air
360
yes
9.90
Lazer G1 MIPS
250 USD
MIPS
polycarbonate
EPS
none
ARS
235
9.23
Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS
200 EUR
MIPS
4-piece variable thickness
polycarbonate
EPS
adjustable
Occigrip
325
yes
8.69

Sources

Will Brett-Atkin, Troy Lee Designs MIPS A2 Review, One Track Mind Magazine, August 31, 2020
Ross Demain, Bluegrass Rogue Core MIPS Helmet Review, Singletrack World, May 16, 2023
Zach Wick, Fox Racing Dropframe Review, Outdoorgearlab, April 23, 2020
Suvi Loponen, Giro Aries Spherical Helmet, Road.cc, July 07, 2023
Robin Weaver, Giro Merit Spherical helmet review, Bikeradar, June 1, 2022
Brandon Bilyeu, Lazer G1 Helmet Review, Road Bike Rider, January 13, 2020
Lydia Tanner, Tested: Sweet Protection Trailblazer, Bike Mag, June 29, 2020
bio vanseijen

Johan van Seijen

Founder Restoration.bike

Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His cycling career has seen him at the starting line of classics such as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege. Realizing his racing capacity would fall short of what was needed he obtained a MS from the University of Amsterdam in engineering. His love for cycling changed into riding in an amateur capacity with his local cycling club TFC Weesp as a roadie and supporting MTB Noordwest as a mountain biker. He repairs, restores, and builds bicycles and shares his knowledge on YouTube, Facebook and this website. 

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