Looking for the best mountain bike helmets can be a challenge.
If you are struggling to find a helmet that is going to keep you safe, comfortable, and not disrupt aerodynamics then you will love this short guide.
There are plenty of options out there. If you are the keen mountain biker that regularly cycles over tough, complex terrain, chances are your routes are rocky and dangerous.
One false move on the trails can send you flying off the bike and on to the hard ground below.
No matter how talented you are on your mountain bike it is vital that you select something that is going to keep that head of yours protected in case you take a hard fall.
Being prepared for the worst and enjoying the best is essential to having fun and staying safe in your hobby.
In this article, we will be detailing exactly what you should look for in a cycle helmet and reviewing four of the best helmets for mountain biking.
All the helmets featured in this article are open-face (rather than full-faced) and feature a 1-year crash replacement guarantee.
These Bontrager helmets are the best of the best and we have a model for every budget. Enjoy!
What is the Best Helmet for Mountain Biking?
The best mountain bike helmets for one person will be different from another.
The best option for you really depends on your budget, style of riding, and the trails you tend to cycle on.
So, the type of helmet you will select will depend on your desired uses and your budget. However, there are a few things to look out for in a helmet that is transferable no matter the style.
Always look for superior build-quality and protection from your helmet. Even if you are on a low-budget it is important that you buy something that is going to work if the worst does happen.
If you are buying on a budget make sure you don’t buy too cheap. After all, you can’t put a price on the protection of your brain.
Most budget helmets will give you adequate protection. However, the lower your budget the heavier and bulkier the helmet is likely to be. In order to create a lightweight cycling helmet that is fit for mountain biking, high-quality materials and innovative designs will be involved. This ultimately increases costs.
These factors aside, you can still pick up a high-quality light helmet for under $100.
The Bontrager Solstice MIPS Bike Helmet
Our best helmet for the budget mountain biker is the Bontrager Solstice MIPS bike helmet.
The Solstice MIPS helmet is proof you don't have to spend a lot of money to get a great fitting, great looking, and easy-to-use bike helmet. Featuring MIPS, Multi-directional Impact Protection System, it includes a sleek built-in brim with plug ports for a clean look when the additional visor is removed. MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) was developed by brain surgeons and scientist to help reduce rotational forces on the brain caused by angled impacts to the head.
This helmet isn’t mountain bike specific however it is a great allrounder that can certainly be used on the trails.
It weighs only 375 grams and features an aerodynamic design that gives you full skull protection while not slowing you down on the trails.
The Solstice offers a removable peak for aero and sun protection that once removed also reveals a sleek built-in brim that cuts through the wind just as well.
This helmet features MIP (Multi-directional Impact Protection) which protects the entire head from impact. This is an essential feature for the mountain biker to look for.
This MIPS system was developed by brain surgeons and scientists to help reduce rotational forces on the brain when an angled impact is made form a harsh fall.
The Bontrager XXX WaveCel Bike Helmet
On the other end of the price range, we have the Bontrager XXX WaveCel Bike Helmet.
Bontrager XXX WaveCel delivers high-performance protection and the best in aerodynamics and comfort. XXX is the WaveCel helmet of choice for the Trek-Segafredo men's and women's teams. WaveCel is a collapsible cellular structure that lines the inside of the helmet. This Bontrager-exclusive technology disrupts the safety standards the industry has accepted for over 30 years.
This helmet uses WaveCel technology that offers far more protection and much less weight than a traditional foam helmet.
If you haven’t heard of WaveCel technology before, we recommend checking out this study to find out why exactly this new tech is five times safer than traditional foam helmets.
The Bontrager XXX isn’t strictly a mountain bike helmet but if you are riding long mountain trails through open valleys then this helmet will give you ultimate aero as well as all the protection you need.
This helmet weighs only 325 grams and its aerodynamic design allows you to cut through the wind allowing you to ride the trails faster than ever before.
It has excellent moisture-wicking qualities that keep sweat out of your eyes for undistorted vision on those complex stretches of trail. If the worst does happen, this helmet comes with a 1-year crash protection guarantee.
The Bontrager Rally WaveCel Mountain Bike Helmet
Now personally we believe one of the best mountain bike helmets is the Bontrager Rally WaveCel.
Rally WaveCel is a high-style, high-value off-road helmet with trail-specific features and WaveCel, a leading technology in the protection against cycling-related head injuries. WaveCel is a collapsible cellular structure that lines the inside of the helmet. This Bontrager-exclusive technology disrupts the safety standards the industry has accepted for over 30 years.
This helmet sits right in the middle of the Solstice and the XXX when concerning price.
This helmet is mountain bike specific and offers the same WaveCel technology as the XXX for half the price. It is super comfortable, aerodynamic, and protective while offering a design that is more attractive to your typical mountain biker.
The Rally helmet features a fully adjustable visor for most light conditions. This aerodynamic peak/visor serves brilliantly in the low level blinding sunshine that you can find in mountainous environments.
This helmet is a little heavier than the others, coming in at 400 grams.
The design, performance, and looks of this helmet far make up for the extra bit of weight though and weight aside. It is an extremely functional and comfortable helmet.
What is the Safest Mountain Bike Helmet?
The safest and best mountain bike helmets are by far helmets that incorporate WaveCel technology.
WaveCel is a cellular structure that is built to collapse under impact, much similar to a crumple zone on a vehicle.
This technology is five times more effective than the standard foam padding you find in traditional cycling helmets. It offers high-performance protection in a smaller package. Products that feature WaveCel are generally smaller and more aerodynamic than their older counterparts.
The safest helmet that is built specifically for the mountain biker is the Bontrager Rally WaveCel helmet. This is the best of the best in off-road helmets and offers ultimate protection in a sleek open-face design.
There is another option if you want WaveCel tech in your helmet but have a tighter budget though.
The Bontrager Starvos WaveCel cycling helmet offers excellent protection for under $100. It may not be the most beautifully designed helmet, but it is stylish enough to wear confidently on the trails. The protection it offers cannot be matched elsewhere for the price.
Starvos WaveCel is a versatile, high-value cycling helmet for new-to-seasoned riders who want the added protection of WaveCel, a leading technology in the protection against cycling-related head injuries. WaveCel is a collapsible cellular structure that lines the inside of the helmet. This Bontrager-exclusive technology disrupts the safety standards the industry has accepted for over 30 years.
This helmet is extremely comfortable, versatile, and surprisingly only weighs 370 grams.
The Starvos offers moisture-wicking pads that keep the rain away from your eyes. It includes many of the features the more expensive helmets out there feature.
The only thing this bicycle helmet is lacking is a functional peak for sun protection and a built-in brim for good aero. That being said the helmet is compact and is aerodynamic enough for use on mountain trails.
Do I Need a Full-Face Helmet for Mountain Biking?
Full-face helmets and the open-face helmets mentioned in this article both have their place in mountain biking as a sport.
It is no doubt that open-faces are more comfortable and easier to wear all day. But do full-face helmets have a place? Is the chin protection worth it for your everyday mountain biking needs? The answer to that question is yes and no.
Full-face helmets are designed to keep your jaw and cheekbones safe on complex downhill trails and trail jumping.
If you are a downhill rider that loves hitting trails fast through slopes in the forest, then a full-face helmet is an essential piece of safety equipment.
If you are a casual mountain bike rider that prefers exploring mountain trails rather than steaming down off-road courses at 50mph plus, then an open-face is a much better option.
When your trail jumping and downhill riding, chances are you are rolling fast on dangerous trails. If you come off the bike in these situations, it is going to be bad. This is where you need a full-face.
If you are a normal mountain biker that enjoys downhill riding, then you will prefer an open-face helmet. These lighter helmets offer adequate protection, keep you cooler in the heat, and are much more comfortable.
Wearing a full-face helmet all day is not realistic or enjoyable for the casual mountain biker. Therefore, an open-face helmet is a reasonable alternate piece of safety equipment.
Are More Expensive Bike Helmets Safer?
Price isn’t a good way to do determine whether a helmet is safe or not. Sure, you usually get a lot more for the money when you spend a bit more money. However, helmets with a high-protective value can be purchased for under $100.
When you are looking for a helmet don’t buy the cheapest one! Instead, buy something that has a high-protective value, uses high-quality materials, and features innovative up to date safety technology.
We recommend helmets that feature WaveCel technology as it offers a great balance between performance and protective value.
We hope you enjoyed our guide on the best mountain bike helmets! Stay safe and enjoy the trails. Happy riding!