Search
Close this search box.
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, when you buy through our links, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

The top 10 best open face mountain bike helmets

With this article I’m going to give you an overview of the very best open face mountain bike helmets.

And with very best I mean that any one of these helmets offers the most protection in case of a crash, and are generally meant for both trail and enduro riding.

Very best also means very best in extracting money from your wallet, because the average suggested retail price of these beauties is above 200 USD.

Each entry includes the MIPS technology, which is a thin liner suspended in the helmet with elastomers that allows for a modicum of helmet movement upon impact, reducing the amount of rotational energy which is transferred to the head. It seems that as far as helmets are concerned you either join the MIPS bandwagon, or you’re out of the game in terms of credibility as a premium helmet manufacturer.

Other notable technologies is the Spherical reinforcement, e.g. a roll-cage for helmets, breakaway visors, and other forms of reinforcing the helmet. You can find a table overview of all technologies used at the end of the article.

For now, let’s see what I deemed worthy to go on my list of the best open face mountain bike helmets.

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

Troy Lee Designs A1

Troy Lee Designs A1
Troy Lee Designs A1
Troy Lee Designs A1
Troy Lee Designs A1
Troy Lee Designs A1
fallback

The Troy Lee Designs A1 takes everything from its more premium brother the A2, but is offered with a standard EPS liner instead.

Furthermore it comes with a regular padding not the X-Static one.

This shaves a couple of dollars from the price, which means you still get a great-fitting, comfortable helmet that excels in the area it should excel in, which is safety and crash protection.

Expert Experience

Alissa B | Site Owner – January 11, 2023

The A1 Classic MIPS helmet combines confidence-inspiring extended coverage and MIPS technology, well-designed features, and all-day comfort in a quality helmet that’s durable enough for the long haul. I’ve put mine through the wringer with 9000 miles including extra-long days, extreme heat and cold, and months of non-stop daily wear. I’m still happy to put it on for my next ride, whether that’s at my local trails or across a faraway country.

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

Fox Racing Speedframe Pro

Fox Racing Speedframe Pro
Fox Racing Speedframe Pro
Fox Racing Speedframe Pro
Fox Racing Speedframe Pro
Fox Racing Speedframe Pro
Fox Racing Speedframe Pro

The Fox Racing Speedframe is the same helmet as the Pro version in everything but a small number of features.

The Speedframe Pro is one of the best helmets in terms of safety, and the standard Speedframe inherits many of its safety features except for the multi-density EPS liner.

The helmet is known for having an excellent fit, and you can fit a pair of goggles underneath the 3-point adjustable visor, as well as stash your glasses.

A good fit without pressure points, and a huge number strategically placed vents funneling air into and over your scalp keeps the heat buildup at bay. The air flow is especially noticeable when you pick up speed.

To keep the price down when compared to the Pro version, there’s a cheaper liner and the Fidlock snap buckle is missing from the straps, in an otherwise similar 360 degrees fit system.

It’s a great-looking mountain bike helmet, available in many colors and 3 sizes to choose from.

Expert Experience

Drew Rohde | Editor in Chief – August 25, 2020

If you are in the market for a lightweight trail helmet, the Fox Speedframe should be on your list. At 394 grams, this helmet offers a more aggressive and stylish look than other XC-lids on the market with some nice coverage and a comfortable fit. Features like a Fidlock Snap buckle, MIPS protection and removable XT2 liner pads further add to the value you get from the Speedframe helmet. In all honesty, I always thought of Fox as more of a marketing and lifestyle brand than a protection brand, but they have really stepped up their helmet game in recent years. I have total faith in the Fox Speedframe and although I hope to never need to test the Varisorb EPS’s protective qualities, I’m sure it will do its job when I need it to.

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

Giro Manifest Spherical

Giro Manifest Spherical
Giro Manifest Spherical
Giro Manifest Spherical
Giro Manifest Spherical
Giro Manifest Spherical
Giro Manifest Spherical

The Giro Manifest Spherical offers the airiness of a road bike helmet in an open face mountain bike helmet package.

The general notion of this helmet is that Giro played around with the design of the helmet to ensure maximum air flow. With 19 air vents it seems to do the trick creating probably the best mountain bike helmet for hot summer rides.

In terms of protection it offers the same as the already very expensive Giro Merit Spherical, but tops it off with an added ring of polycarbonate called the Auro Arch, which serves as a kind of roll-cage for your head.

So it means you also get the MIPS Air technology, the Spherical ball-and-socket setup for the EPS liner, which has a dual-density characteristic.

The Manifest is not only one of the safest helmets on the market, it’s also one of the best-ventilated. A total of 19 huge vents in a relative low-weight package ensure maximum air flow and a reduced risk of heat building up. When you don’t do prolonged stretches of slow climbing the chances of the helmet feeling hot and uncomfortable is near zero.

Does that kind of tech win awards in the safety department? Yes it does. Does that kind of tech win awards in how fast it’ll drain your wallet? It does that equally impressive, being the most expensive helmet of its specific category.

Expert Experience

Matt Miller | Managing editor – August 29, 2020

I will say that the Giro Manifest is one of the comfier helmets I’ve worn in a while. Everyone’s head is different, but the Manifest feels like it wraps around my entire head, without any noticeable pressure points. Whether this has anything to do with the use of the MIPS Spherical over the plastic liner, I can’t say for sure, but I don’t mind it on my head at all.

Other features like AURA keep the air flow up inside the helmet while ensuring a level of safety. It is hard to ignore the price tag on the Manifest, however.

Pros and Cons

Bell Super Air Spherical

Bell Super Air Spherical
Bell Super Air Spherical
Bell Super Air Spherical
Bell Super Air Spherical
Bell Super Air Spherical
Bell Super Air Spherical

The Bell Super Air Spherical is their top-of-the-line open face mountain bike helmet.

It has everything you’d expect from a helmet manufacturer’s flagship product. MIPS Spherical ball-in-socket liner, a reinforced polycarbonate shell, and multi-density EPS liner.

The helmet offers generous covers, an adjustable visor, smart ventilation, and is slightly heavier than the average helmet at 410 grams.

The helmet offers room for both glasses and goggles, and has a special slot for a GoPro mount.

I love the overbrow ventilation and sweat guide padding to prevent sweat from dripping onto my glasses, which is an incredible nuisance when riding.

The Super Air sits at the top of how much you can spend on a half shell mountain bike helmet. Its features do justify the cost in comparison.

Expert Experience

Luke Marshall | Technical writer – May 2, 2023

The MIPS Spherical tech and its dual-density EPS foam are particularly impressive, and it’s more vented than the Koroyd system used in the Smith helmet. The Bell has plusher padding, while both have adjustable retention systems and peaks.

The Super Air Spherical has build quality and comfort that are second to none. The price is terribly high, but the Flex Spherical MIPS design makes the helmet feel safer.

Pros and Cons

Bell Sixer MIPS

Bell Sixer MIPS
Bell Sixer MIPS
Bell Sixer MIPS
Bell Sixer MIPS
Bell Sixer MIPS
Bell Sixer MIPS

One tier below the Super Air sits the Bell Sixer MIPS.

In terms of value-for-money it’s significantly less expensive, while only sacrificing the full-face optional chin bar and Spherical technology.

It doesn’t mean this helmet is not expensive, it’s just that the Super Air is really expensive. But what you do get for that type of money is the same solid design and MIPS Evolve protection underneath a reinforced polycarbonate shell. This helmet also features the progressive EPS 3-part layering.

One of the things I especially like about this helmet is the 3-point adjustable visor. The ratcheting mechanism lets you easily click the visor in the right position. You can store your eyewear at the front or back.

For an open faced mountain bike helmet it’s really well ventilated. I don’t know exactly how this Dual-flow Ventilation system works, but it does, and that’s what matters.

The Float Fit system lets you adjust, tighten or loosen the fit with a dial, and includes 4 positions for vertical adjustment as well.

Expert Experience

Zach Wick | Review Editor – April 23, 2020

he Bell Sixer MIPS hung tough with our favorite helmets in testing despite its mid-pack price tag. With a durable, protective construction and all of the necessary features for a top-level, modern mountain biking helmet, the only thing that dragged this helmet down our rankings slightly was its above-average weight. For everyday trail riders, though, we don’t think a few extra grams makes or breaks a helmet. Riders will love the secure harness with plenty of vertical and circumferential adjustment, sweat-mitigating brow padding, and indexed, four-position adjustable visor. In the unavoidable case that your head hits something it’s not supposed to, the multi-density, high-coverage EPS shell and MIPS rotational impact system should provide plenty of protection to keep you safe.

Pros and Cons

POC Kortal Race MIPS

POC Kortal Race MIPS
POC Kortal Race MIPS
POC Kortal Race MIPS
POC Kortal Race MIPS
POC Kortal Race MIPS
fallback

The POC Kortal Race MIPS is a trail and enduro open face mountain bike helmet offering above-average coverage and protection in a very premium package.

The Swedish company has made an exquisite-looking helmet with a Halo’s Master Chief blocky design. But rather than fighting the flood, you’ll be tackling the trail with one the most unique entries in the open face mountain bike helmet lineup.

With almost every helmet manufacturer choosing to integrate MIPS technology into their premium offerings, POC decided to ditch their otherwise excellent SPIN crash protection in favor of the newest MIPS Integra version. It means the MIPS system is customized for the specific helmet, which should improve its effectiveness in decreasing rotational impact damage.

Something they call an aramid bridge is part of the helmet, which sounded very much like the Kevlar breaker used in tires to make them more puncture resistant. Aramid, which is the non-brand name of Kevlar, is not meant to protect the tube in this case, but to protect your head. It’s not known for being inexpensive and neither is this helmet.

They also included a NFC medical ID, and Recco reflector. To me that means you’re either one of the most hardcore lone-wolf riders out there, or a tad too much. The stuff is usually reserved for people who’re being rescued unconsciously from underneath an avalanche.

Neatly placed dual slits in the front of the helmet keep your brow cool. This is the most important area to keep cool because much more than simply being a nuisance, sweat buildup can trickle over your glasses or into your eyes. Goggle straps don’t cover the ventilation holes and the helmet is designed in such a way that it does an excellent job of moving air into, over, and out the back of the helmet.

The 3-position adjustable visor sits quite high so you’ll have no trouble propping your glasses underneath them. On the other hand, when confronted with a low-sitting sun, you might still get blinded.

It’s a tad heavier because of the amount of coverage it provides, and fits snugly around your head with the 360 Fit system.

Expert Experience

Jeremy Benson | Product reviewer – April 15, 2021

POC pulled out all the stops to make the new Kortal Race MIPS one of the most protective helmets on the market. It has a deep fit and the most head coverage of any traditional half-shell model we’ve tested. Inside, it features MIPS Integra, a new, low-profile rotational impact protection system that doesn’t impede the airflow in this very well-ventilated helmet. A 360-degree fit adjustment system and well-designed straps ensure a secure fit, although we found it to be a touch narrower than some other models. The 3-position adjustable visor is designed to work with goggles and breakaway in the event of an impact. Aramid bridges, a Recco reflector, and an NFC medical id chip round out the features of this impressive helmet. Compare it to top competitors in our review of the best mountain bike helmets.

Pros and Cons

POC Tectal Race MIPS

POC Tectal Race MIPS
POC Tectal Race MIPS
POC Tectal Race MIPS
POC Tectal Race MIPS
POC Tectal Race MIPS
POC Tectal Race MIPS

The white/orange version of the POC Tectal Race MIPS has the honor of being my personal favorite bike helmet design-wise. But what’s more important than how I feel about design is whether or not it does the job it was designed for. And as with many POC products, it does.

Similar to its bigger brother, the Kortal Race, it offers the MIPS Integra version of this crash technology, aimed at the reduction of energy transfer caused by rotational forces during an impact.

It also features the aramid reinforcement attached to the EPS liner, otherwise known as Kevlar.

And where it ditches the NFC chip, it still has the Recco Reflector should you find yourself flying off the trail and ending somewhere in the ravine.

The ventilation is similar to that of the Kortal Race, with the exception of the dual slits, which are missing in this model. Yet, the helmet offers the same fantastic air flow into the helmet.

The helmet offers a snug fit, but it is still highly ventilated offering great air flow capability. It has a standard helmet weight of around 365 grams.

Expert Experience

Ty Rutherford | Contributor – July 10 2023

This is by no means a cheap helmet. However, the tech and protection on offer do go someway to justifying the expense. At this high end of the market, another option to consider would be the classic Troy Lee Designs A3. The A3 is the same price, is also impressively comfortable and the pads manage to deal with sweat better.

The lack of a magnetic buckle and the poor sweat management is a shame but these are small issues on an otherwise excellent helmet.

Pros and Cons

Specifications open face 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
Troy Lee Designs A1
145 USD
MIPS
polycarbonate
EPS
bolt-on breakaway
3-point dial fit
393
yes
11.65
Fox Racing Dropframe Pro
200 USD
MIPS
thermoplastic
polycarbonate
polyamide
dual density EPS
integrated
custom padding w. Fidlock buckle
460
8.85
Fox Racing Speedframe Pro
190 USD
MIPS
polycarbonate
dual density EPS
3-position adjustable
360° Fit System w. Fidlock buckle
380
yes
10.84
Giro Merit Spherical
220 USD
MIPS Air/Spherical/Hardbody
polycarbonate
dual density EPS
bolt-on adjustable
Roc Loc 5 Air
360
yes
9.90
Giro Manifest Spherical
260 USD
MIPS/Spherical/Hardbody/Aura Arch
polycarbonate
dual density EPS
bolt-on adjustable
Roc Loc 5 Trail w. Fidlock buckle
340
yes
12.20
Bell Super Air Spherical
235 USD
MIPS Air/Spherical
polycarbonate
Progressive Layering 3-layer EPS
adjustable
Float Fit
410
Bell Sixer MIPS
170 USD
MIPS Evolve
polycarbonate
Progressive Layering 3-layer EPS
4-position adjustable
Float Fit Race
395
15.56
POC Kortal Race MIPS
250 EUR
MIPS Integra/Aramid bridge
polycarbonate
EPS
3-position adjustable
adjustable 360-degree fit
407
yes
POC Tectal Race MIPS
230 EUR
MIPS Integra/Aramid bridge
polycarbonate
EPS
adjustable
adjustable 360-degree fit
365
yes

Sources

Will Brett-Atkin, Troy Lee Designs MIPS A2 Review, One Track Mind Magazine, August 31, 2020
Zach Wick, Fox Racing Dropframe Review, Outdoorgearlab, April 23, 2020
Drew Rohde, Fox Speedframe Pro Helmet Review, The Loam Wolf, August 25, 2020
Robin Weaver, Giro Merit Spherical helmet review, Bikeradar, June 1, 2022
Luke Marshall, Bell Super Air Spherical helmet review, Bikeradar, May 2, 2023
Zach Wick, Bell Sixer MIPS Review, Outdoorgearlab, April 23, 2020
Jeremy Benson, POC Kortal Race MIPS Review, Outdoorgearlab, April 15, 2021
Ty Rutherford, POC Tectal Race Mips helmet review, Off.road.cc, July 10 2023
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. 

You might also like

budget mountain bike helmets
mountain bike helmets

The top 6 best budget mountain bike helmets

In this article I’m going to cover the best budget mountain bike helmets. With dozens of brands and hundreds of possible options to choose from, this was not an easily article to write.

Another facto

Read More »
female mountain bike helmets
mountain bike helmets

The top 10 best female mountain bike helmets

With this blog I’ll share my top picks for the best female mountain bike helmets.

Let me start by saying there really is no such thing as a femail mountain bike helmet. Apart from the fact that on av

Read More »