In this article I’ll be giving you my top picks for the best budget MIPS road bike helmets.
MIPS is shorthand for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, which is a low-friction layer located between the EPS and inner helmet liner that reduces rotational impact forces.
The Swedish technology was already invented in 1996, yet has only in recent years taken the bicycle helmet industry by storm, and has basically become a safety standard. As such the MIPS technology has transcended being just a feature and moved into the area of being a marketing and sales attribute.
Although initially wanting to sell all kinds of helmets themselves, MIPS settled into being a licensed technology being incorporated into almost all leading bicycle helmet brands. Some big brands have ditched their own proprietary technology to reduce rotational impact energy and opted for the incorporation of MIPS.
Helmets which have the best safety rating according to the Virginia Tech crash tests incorporate MIPS. Yet we have to be careful to unequivocally equate helmet safety with the incorporation of MIPS technology. Nonetheless you can safely assume its ubiquitousness is at least a very good indicator of its ability to increase helmet safety.
So it makes sense to want a helmet that features this technology, while being somewhat affordable. The average road bike helmet price of all the helmets I’ve looked at was 180 USD. For this list I’ve looked at road bike helmets from big brand names that feature MIPS, but don’t cost more than 100 USD.
The list features helmet’s designated for female riders, yet there’s no anatomical difference between men and women when it comes to helmets. It means both men and women can use all the helmets shown here, provided you choose the correct size.
Let’s see which helmets made it onto my overview of the best budget MIPS road bike helmets.
Bell Avenue MIPS
The Bell Avenue MIPS is the cheapest road bike helmet featuring the MIPS technology I could find.
Being the cheapest within a certain category is always a good thing from a budget perspective. The biggest question then remains, how well does it score in other areas. It’s 3 times less than the average price for a road bike helmet, so something has got to give. But the sacrifices have been minor in comparison.
The MIPS technology included is the latest Evolve variant. This is the same technology featured in the Bell Z20 MIPS, which is one of Bell’s top-of-the-line models.
It’s not a light helmet at 340 grams (the average road bike helmet weighs 280 grams). So for each dollar less than the average price you add about a single gram. It means the helmet’s construction is somewhat less sophisticated. Adding strength to its structural integrity has simply been done by adding more material.
To keep the price as low as it is, the helmet also doesn’t wrap its polycarbonate shell around the lower edges, leaving the EPS liner exposed to scuffs and scratches. Otherwise the overall helmet design looks just as good as more premium variants.
The helmet features the ErgoFit system to tighten it. It’s the entry level fit system, which means it’s heavier yet works with a dial at the base of the head, just like a huge number of other fit systems. And both the shape, liner, and fit system ensure a comfortable feeling when wearing the helmet, so no issues there.
All in all, you can honestly state that this is one of the best value-for-money road bike helmets. Good looks, in a comfortable package, for an excellent price makes you forget that it’s somewhat heavier than other options.
Giro Isode MIPS
The Giro Isode MIPS is the brand’s most affordable entry into road racing helmets featuring MIPS technology.
It’s a fairly standard helmet at 285 grams, with an EPS liner and polycarbonate shell. The entry-level Roc Loc Sport fit system does a great job of keeping the helmet in place.
With so many helmets to choose from and prices as far removed from each other as one helmet costing multiples of another, it’s difficult to make a helmet distinctive enough to warrant a certain price.
This helmet doesn’t have any of the features more expensive helmets do, yet is a great option to obtain a helmet for entry-level, recreational cyclists. It’s not the lightest, not the best-ventilated, and probably not the most comfortable because of its standard liner and basic fit system, but it’s hard to argue with the price. Especially since design-wise it looks just as great as many other options.
Giro Women's Agilis MIPS
The Giro Women’s Agilis MIPS is exactly the same as the non-women’s version. The only difference is the color options.
It has the same design, shape, weight, number of vents, and Roc Loc 5 fit system. And since the colors don’t necessarily strike me as characteristically feminine (e.g. pink), the moniker “women’s” is nothing more than marketing for what is indeed one of the best mid-level helmets on the market.
Giro Agilis MIPS
The Giro Agilis MIPS is a mid-tier road bike helmet for a reasonable enough price.
The biggest difference between this helmet and the much cheaper Isode MIPS is the number of vents and fit system.
This helmet is markedly different from the Isode by incorporating 32 instead of 22 vents. The number of vents isn’t necessarily indicative of its cooling characteristics, but in this case the Agilis indeed does a better job of controlling airflow and keeping your head cool.
Furthermore it offers the hardbody polycarbonate reinforced shell besides the MIPS Evolve technology. And it has the lighter Roc Loc 5 fit system keeping the weight of this helmet around 300 grams for a medium. The padding is anti-microbial as well.
It makes for an incredibly comfortable helmet for a price half that of its more premium counterparts. It seems that for the top-of-the-line safety features like MIPS Spherical and dual-density EPS liners you also have to pay top dollar. Although this kind of makes sense, there’s no denying that the Agiliis offers a tremendous value-for-money package.
The shell wraps the edges of the entire helmet, making it more sturdy and resistant to liner damage and comes it a number of excellent color combinations. It’s one of my favorite mid-tier helmets, where you get almost all of the features you need for a decent price.
Giro Women's Ember MIPS
The Giro Women’s Ember MIPS is up there with the Agilis version, offering the same technology in a different looking design.
The helmet includes the MIPS technology, weighs about the same as the Agilis, has the same price, the same antimicrobial liner, and the same Roc Loc 5 fit system for both vertical and horizontal adjustment.
This helmet features a webbing called roll-cage, which strengthens the helmet’s EPS liner when impacted. That could be the same technology as the Hardbody roll-cage reinforcement found in the similarly priced Giro Agilis. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any information on the subject, and both helmets haven’t been rated, so I couldn’t say whether one trumps the other in terms of safety either.
The helmet looks great, with subtle color combinations and both gloss and matt finishes on the polycarbonate shell. If you ask me.
The Smith Signal is a nice-looking and affordable helmet. Smith describes this helmet as a commuter helmet. I have no idea why, since it features almost the same shape, same liner, and same fit system as the Persist.
It could simply be the price, which doesn’t break the bank. The reason is that this is not an in-molded helmet where the EPS liner and polycarbonate shell are fused together in the same mold. In terms of safety this doesn’t matter. In terms of ventilation and cost it does.
The helmet does feature an exposed EPS liner sticking underneath the shell. Besides the fact that this doesn’t look great, the delicate EPS might nick more easily. I never had to throw away a helmet because of it though.
It’s one of the most affordable road bike helmets (or commuter) that feature MIPS. And because it has the same weight, VaporFit dial system, AirEvac 21 vents, and eyewear port as the Persist, it’s one of the best choices for budget-minded cyclists.
Specifications budget MIPS road bike helmets
Buy at Amazon
Bell Avenue MIPS
Giro Isode MIPS
Roc Loc Sport
Giro Women’s Agilis MIPS
Roc Loc 5 w. Slimline buckle
Giro Agilis MIPS
Roc Loc 5 w. Slimline buckle
Giro Women’s Ember MIPS
Roc Loc 5
Johan van Seijen
Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His passion for cycling in general, and restoring older bikes turned into a website to share his knowledge with a broader audience. Starting out on his father’s road bike and riding classics as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege he has shifted his attention to trail, XC, and gravel riding since. No matter how much he loves writing about everything related to cycling, nothing beats actually using his ever-expanding bicycle collection.
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