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The top 10 most comfortable road bike helmets

In this article I’m going to cover the most comfortable road bike helmets. Ranging from affordable to premium you’ll find it here.

To a certain extent comfort is a subjective matter, because not everybody has the same size and/or shaped head. That being said, you can do a lot with the correct size helmet, the padding, and the fit system, with premium ones having both vertical and horizontal adjustment.

All well-known helmet manufacturers will stick with a certain helmet shape for years, and only minimally add or swap features. This is the most cost-effective process to cumulatively innovate on something which has a proven track record.

The difference between the cheapest and most expensive helmets is mostly the crash technology involved, with more expensive helmets having more of it without the addition of weight.

In terms of comfort, various liners, thicker liners, liners made from more expensive antimicrobial material all increase in price. But it’s perfectly normal to have the same experience of (dis)comfort between helmets that differ significantly in price.

Helmet manufacturers always give their fit systems spicey names for sales purposes. It is what it is, yet in general they basically all work the same. So if they put the same type of system in a 150 USD helmet as their top-of-the-line one, and the liner is the same as well, there’s no reason to think the comfort level differs.

A last thing I often see and with which I disagree is that weight is a large factor in comfort. If you take a good look at the weight range of helmets you can clearly see there’s not much difference. And I would lay a wager that when doing a blind test the average individual will be unable to say with absolute certainty which helmet weighs more.

You can find an overview of all the helmets at the end of the article with information next to each other so you can easily compare them and better decide which one is worth your hard-earned cash, if any. Now, without further ado, here’s my list of the most comfortable road bike helmets.

Bell Falcon XR MIPS

Bell Falcon XR MIPS
Bell Falcon XR MIPS
Bell Falcon XR MIPS
Bell Falcon XR MIPS
Bell Falcon XR MIPS
Bell Falcon XR MIPS

The Bell Falcon XR MIPS offers excellent value for money, and is one of the more affordable helmets featuring the latest MIPS evolved crash technology.

For half the price of its more premium siblings, you get both this technology, as well as the similar Float Fit system with Fidlock buckle.

There are multiple colors to choose from, easy eyewear storage, and a quick-drying Ionic+ antimicrobial, washable liner. The same liner used in their most expensive helmets.

A nice touch that’s not included is the optional rear light, which neatly fits in a rear exhaust vent.

Expert Experience

Stu Kerton | Senior Product Reviewer – April 4, 2023

The first thing you’ll notice is that it is weightier than most. On our scales this medium clocked 369g, which is over 130g more than something like the £90 Kask Sintesi(link is external).

That aside, the Falcon is comfortable. The Float Fit cradle system runs right the way around rather than just across the rear and sides like some helmets, so when you use the wheel at the rear to adjust for fit it tightens with an even pressure all the way around your head.

Yes, it’s a bit weighty, but aside from that the Falcoin XR is a quality all-rounder thanks with a good fit and finish. If you are after a comfortable helmet for all kinds of riding then the Bell has most things covered – and the LED is a bonus.

Pros and Cons

Bell XR Spherical

Bell XR Spherical
Bell XR Spherical
Bell XR Spherical
Bell XR Spherical
Bell XR Spherical
Bell XR Spherical

The MIPS Spherical technology is one of the best ways to improve upon the safety of a helmet, and the Bell XR Spherical is the single helmet of the American brand featuring this outstanding technology.

All helmets featuring the MIPS Spherical ball-in-socket crash technology are very expensive, and unfortunately this helmet is no exception to that rule. The Spherical technology split a helmet into two halves that can minimally move independently from each other. Upon impact this slight movement absorbs a significant amount of energy which would otherwise be transferred onto the rider’s head, with all negative consequences associated with it.

Another feature of this helmet is the multi-density EPS layer which progressively absorbs energy as well.

The Float Fit system with Fidlock buckle and Ionic+ liner with antimicrobial silver has proven to be an excellent way to achieve a secure and comfortable fit.

Expert Experience

George Hill | Road.cc podcast host – Jan 3, 2023

The helmet pads strike a good balance between plushness and not being absorbent – so they don’t end up stinking after a few rides or letting sweat drop down your face after a long ride. They also keep the helmet from knocking against your head on rough gravel rides.

The helmet straps run through the inner shell and connect to the outer shell, which means there is an entire shell between the anchor points and your head. This adds comfort and creates a seamless look, with the straps almost just disappearing into the helmet.

Pros and Cons

Bell Z20 MIPS

Bell Z20 MIPS
Bell Z20 MIPS
Bell Z20 MIPS
Bell Z20 MIPS
Bell Z20 MIPS
fallback

The Bell Z20 MIPS is a helmet that offers excellent crash protection with a great fit.

At 310 grams it’s not exactly a lightweight. On the other hand, they’ve included the latest MIPS Evolve crash technology with multi-density EPS liner.

The Float Fit Race fit system allows for multiple ways to get to the ultimate fit for your head, cleverly integrating it with the MIPS technology. Both the vertical height, circumference, and even padding width is adjustable.

Furthermore the EPS liner has a multi-density structure, which allows for progressively stronger impact absorption.

A great helmet, with a great overall value.

Expert Experience

Nick BruckBauer | Contributor – May 7, 2020

The Bell Z20 MIPS stands out from the pack with its class-leading comfort and ventilation that comes in a modern and stylish package, earning it one of our highest honors. With a MIPS liner that is built into the adjustable headband retention system, and the perfect location and amount of padding, the Z20 is one of the most comfortable helmets in our lineup. The numerous large vents provide excellent ventilation, and the modern, sleek design completes the high-end look. The Z20 is ideal for any type of road cyclist looking for the ultimate in protection, comfort, ventilation, and style.

Pros and Cons

Smith Persist

Smith Persist
Smith Persist
Smith Persist
Smith Persist
Smith Persist
Smith Persist

The Smith Persist is a good-looking and affordable road bike helmet with MIPS technology.

The in-mold shell neatly wraps around the edges of the helmet, giving it a premium look-and-feel.

I’m not sure whether or not I’m willing to pay the more premium price, because it shares all other features with the Signal, which is significantly less expensive.

The helmet does offer MIPS technology, and even though it cannot be vertically adjusted, the VaporFit dial system in combination with a plush liner does the job of providing you with a nice fit.

The Smith Persist does everything really well, yet doesn’t excel in anything when compared to true premium offerings. Which, I guess, is the hallmark of a solid mid-tier contender.

Expert Experience

Luke Hollomon | Contributor – May 9, 2023

Smith markets the Persist as a gravel helmet, but we found that it’s a good performer across all disciplines. The padding is comfortable, it adjusts to fit almost any shaped head, and the head retention dial is easy to turn, even with thick gloves on. The ventilation is good, though not exceptional, but it’s made up for by the impressive style and durability given by the full wrap of polycarbonate protecting the EPS foam. Its weight is competitive with the best bike helmets costing over twice as much. If you’re looking for a durable, comfortable, attractive helmet to use across multiple disciplines or even just on the road, the Smith Persist provides great features at a lower price.

Pros and Cons

Smith Signal

Smith Signal
Smith Signal
Smith Signal
Smith Signal
Smith Signal
Smith Signal

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.

Expert Experience

Shaun Audane | Technical writer – August 11, 2020

Though closer to what I’d describe as a ‘commu-tour’ (commuting/touring) model, the Signal has performed rather well on my off-road exclusions, too, offering reasonable protection against brambles.

Its shape is also fairly conducive to mounting lights and lightweight cameras. I found my TomTom Bandit a touch on the weighty side but the Go-Pro (and its emulators) were a better bet.

Pros and Cons

Giro Aether Spherical

Giro Aether Spherical
Giro Aether Spherical
Giro Aether Spherical
Giro Aether Spherical
Giro Aether Spherical
Giro Aether Spherical

The Giro Aether Spherical is arguably a better value-for-money proposition than the far more expensive Aries Spherical.

That’s because it boasts the exact same crash technology in a slightly different package. MIPS Spherical crash technology to reduce rotational impact forces, a multi-density EPS liner, and a reinforced polycarbonate shell. All are the same.

The Roc Loc 5 Air fit system is also featured, ensuring a great fit of the helmet with multiple ways to adjust the padding, vertical height and circumference. To keep you cool, air is ingeniously guided along your head.

There are many colors to choose from to fit the rest of your outfit or your bike. All in all a no-brainer if you value safety and are willing to spend the money on a premium helmet such as this one.

Expert Experience

Nick BruckBauer | Contributor – October 2, 2019

The Giro Aether is a very elegant-looking helmet with a uniquely designed built-in MIPS liner, excellent ventilation, and one of the highest list prices in our lineup. Giro’s unique Spherical design houses the MIPS liner between different layers of the EPS foam shell, rather than directly against the rider’s head, allowing for the placement of internal airflow channels in the foam liner that add to the already excellent ventilation. Riders willing to shell out a bunch of cash for high-end features and a fancy design will love this model, but those looking for better value can likely find something with similar or better performance and comfort at a lower price.

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 Eclipse Spherical

Giro Eclipse Spherical
Giro Eclipse Spherical
Giro Eclipse Spherical
Giro Eclipse Spherical
Giro Eclipse Spherical
Giro Eclipse Spherical

The Giro Eclipse Spherical is a helmet meant for aero-fanatics.

Offering the same crash-protection technology as the Giro Aries Spherical. That means this one also has the MIPS Spherical ball-in-socket helmet setup, with the multi-density EPS liner, and the Aura II polycarbonate reinforcement.

The weight difference is negligible, you get the same Roc Loc 5 Air fit system, this time without the DryCore silicone pads that wick sweat away from your brow and to the sides of your helmet.

Giro claims the helmet is best-in-class in the aero department and offers some data to back this up. Whether or not that’s true I don’t know. The helmet certainly looks the part.

Expert Experience

Nick Cox | Contributor – August 08, 2022

Overall, I really enjoyed using the Giro Eclipse. The only issue I had was that the helmet sometimes clashed with my sunglasses. I needed to adjust the arms of my Oakley Jawbreakers to their shorter length to avoid any contact, and my Oakley Sutro and Encoders both clashed a little. The Mips technology is reassuring, and though the aerodynamic claims are impossible to verify, it passed the toughest of tests on cooling.

Pros and Cons

POC Octal MIPS

POC Octal MIPS
POC Octal MIPS
POC Octal MIPS
POC Octal MIPS
POC Octal MIPS
POC Octal MIPS

I will not hide the fact that I’m a fan of the Swedish brand, and with the POC Octal MIPS they’ve created another fantastic-looking product to their already impressive lineup.

Always striving to cram their products with the best technology the Octal MIPS features the Integra version of this crash technology, which means the slip plane is customized to the specifics of this helmet. The helmet has a unibody build for enhanced structural integrity in case of a crash.

It’s touted as being extremely lightweight, with a stripped down EPS liner and fit system, but it isn’t really. 270 grams sits just below the average for a premium bike helmet such as this one, and if you really want the lightest helmet you have to look somewhere else.

Personally, I feel again that this helmet is the best-looking of the whole bunch, but am acutely aware of the subjectivity of that statement. And I have read a number of comments from people being less favorable about its above-average width. Nonetheless is the craftsmanship of this helmet undeniable, and it has a safety rating to match.

Expert Experience

Nick BruckBauer | Contributor – May 7, 2020

The POC Octal is a well-built, extremely lightweight helmet with excellent ventilation that has a very distinct Swedish design. This lid provides solid crash protection with its thick EPS foam liner, but falls short of our top awards with lower rankings in our comfort and adjustability metrics with minimal padding and a simple and lightweight adjustment system. While there are other helmets out there with more creature comforts and better adjustability to fit a wider range of heads, riders looking for extreme ventilation in a lightweight package with a classic Swedish design will appreciate the Octal.

Pros and Cons

POC Ventral Air MIPS

POC Ventral Air MIPS
POC Ventral Air MIPS
POC Ventral Air MIPS
POC Ventral Air MIPS
POC Ventral Air MIPS
POC Ventral Air MIPS

The POC Ventral Air MIPS is a premium road bike helmet from the Swedish brand.

POC offers cleanly designed products crammed with the best technology within its specific product category. In the case of the Ventral AIR, it offers the MIPS Integra technology within a unibody shell. It’s a custom fit slip plane for a helmet with excellent structural integrity.

In terms of comfort they offer their rather finicky adjustable 360-degree fit system. However, once set up it proves a solid fit, no hot spots, and great ventilation.

The helmet has been wind-tunnel tested. I don’t have any comparison data between helmets, but it speaks volumes about POC’s approach towards road bike helmet design.

The helmet is known for its ability to keep your head cool during the hottest summer rides.

Expert Experience

Ryan Baker | Review Editor – May 9, 2023

The POC Ventral Air MIPS lands on the awards podium with a Top Pick Award, earning very high marks in every category. This prize contender should be highly considered by any rider looking to cool their head on a hot day and those tired of neck strain from lowering performing competitors. Our testers were wowed by its unique design but it may not be the style for everyone. The big recessed air channels reduce noise and move air efficiently keeping our heads dry even during record heat in the summer sun.

Pros and Cons

Specifications most comfortable road bike helmets

Name
Price
Technology
Shell
Liner
Visor
Fit
weight (gr)
eyewear port
rating
Bell Falcon XR MIPS
120 USD
MIPS Evolve
polycarbonate
EPS
none
Float Fit w. Fidlock buckle
310
yes
Bell XR Spherical
225 USD
MIPS Spherical
polycarbonate
Progressive Layering 3-layer EPS
none
Float Fit w. Fidlock buckle
285
yes
Bell Z20 MIPS
200 USD
MIPS Evolve
polycarbonate
Progressive Layering 3-layer EPS
none
Float Fit Race
310
11.23
Smith Persist
120 USD
MIPS
polycarbonate
EPS
none
VaporFit
300
yes
Smith Signal
85 USD
MIPS
polycarbonate
EPS
none
VaporFit
300
yes
15.49
Giro Aether Spherical
225 USD
MIPS Air/Spherical/Aura II
polycarbonate
Progressive Layering 3-layer EPS
none
Roc Loc 5 Air
280
yes
12.51
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 Eclipse Spherical
250 USD
MIPS Air/Spherical/Aura II
polycarbonate
Progressive Layering 3-layer EPS
none
Roc Loc 5 Air
270
11.2
POC Octal MIPS
200 EUR
MIPS Integra/Unibody
polycarbonate
EPS
none
lightweight system
270
yes
10.59
POC Ventral Air MIPS
260 EUR
MIPS Integra/Unibody
polycarbonate
EPS
none
adjustable 360-degree fit
295

Sources

Stu Kerton, Bell Falcon XR LED MIPS Road Helmet, Road.cc, April 4, 2023
George Hill, Bell XR Spherical Road Helmet, Road.cc, Jan 3, 2023
Nick BruckBauer, Bell Z20 MIPS Review, Outdoorgearlab, May 7, 2020
Luke Hollomon, Smith Persist MIPS Review, Outdoorgearlab, May 9, 2023
Shaun Audane, Smith Signal MIPS helmet, Road.cc, August 11, 2020
Nick BruckBauer, Giro Aether MIPS Review, Outdoorgearlab, October 2, 2019
Suvi Loponen, Giro Aries Spherical Helmet, Road.cc, July 07, 2023
Nick Cox, Giro Eclipse Spherical Road Helmet, Road.cc, August 08, 2022
Nick BruckBauer, POC Octal Review, Outdoorgearlab, May 7, 2020
Ryan Baker, POC Ventral Air MIPS Review, Outdoorgearlab, May 9, 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. 

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