The easiest way to figure out what is the safest bike helmet is to review helmet safety studies. One of the largest studies in the history of cycling helmets came out of Virginia Tech University. Some of the safest helmets in the study are out of the mountain bike variety.
Commuter helmets are a close second. This makes sense because a bike commuter will be riding at higher speeds with more traffic. Accidents are far more likely to take place for a bike commuter than they are for a gravel rider. Finally, the third cycling discipline to crack the top 10 safest helmets are road bike helmets.
A common question in the bike shop is from people looking for e-bike rated helmets. There is no such thing as an e-bike rated helmet. Nor is there a need for one, even with the exploding popularity of e-bikes. Many mountain bikes and road bikes travel at a much higher rate of speed than an e-bike. In order words, you are potentially safer on an e-bike than a road or mountain bike because they are not as fast for top end speed.
Safest Mountain Bike Helmet
The safest helmet in Virginia Tech’s study is the Specialized Tactic 4 MIPS. If you aren’t already familiar, MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. To over simplify the technology, it takes a direct impact and turns it into a glancing blow. The end result is the user being far less likely to end up with a concussion.
The top 16 helmets in the study all had the MIPS technology in them. That is a good indication your next helmet had better have MIPS. If it doesn’t there are alternative technologies that work the same way. Smith has Koroyd helmets and Bontrager has WaveCel. Both of them are a collapsible liner that shifts front to back and side to side.
Above all, you need a helmet that looks good too. If the helmet doesn’t look good you aren’t going to wear it. The safest helmet is the one you remember to wear before riding.
Safest Road Bike Helmet
The safest road bike helmet is also one of the most affordable helmets in the study. The Giant Rev Comp MIPS ranges in price from $60-90 depending on where you shop. Like all other helmets sold in the United States, the Giant Rev Comp MIPS is CPSC certified.
The Shimano Lazer G1 MIPS is the second best road helmet in the study and it comes in with a $240 price tag. Money doesn’t buy better safety in the case of helmets, but the majority of helmets rated in the Top 25 had a price tag north of $100.
In conclusion, find a helmet that looks good, is comfortable and has concussion prevention technology in it. The plain Expanded polystyrene helmets no longer have a place in the cycling industry. The helmet you are willing to wear is always the safest helmet.
You can check out the Virginia Tech helmet ratings here: VTU Helmet Ratings