Cyclists who crash without headgear have worse brain injuries and die more often—so don one of these and keep your head up.
Adam Bible and Brittany Smith 1 / 11
So you don’t want to wear a bike helmet because it’ll muss your hair or make you look like a wuss. Good thinking—you’ll be the handsomest vegetable in the hospital ward, because, according to a landmark University of Arizona study of 6,267 riders with cycling-related traumatic brain injuries, that’s exactly where helmet-haters who crash their bikes end up.
The evidence is overwhelming: Among all the cyclists with head trauma who were studied, almost 75 percent of them had been riding helmetless. Their brain injuries were also more severe. As for the 25 percent who had worn helmets, their brain injuries were 58 percent less likely to be severe, and 59 percent less likely to cause death.
“Wearing a helmet not only protects against severe traumatic brain injury, it also reduces the overall severity of injury and the odds of death,” says study author Bellal Joseph, Ph.D. “It protects against face fractures, too, particularly to the upper face. We definitely recommend wearing a helmet every time you go out on a bike.”
So, in favor of saving face rather than riding topless and losing your head, take a look at our roundup of cycling helmets. From recreation and commute to road and mountain helmets, take your pick.
As important as your bike is while traversing down a mountain, your helmet is equally—if not more—important. The Tactic is unbelievably light and cool with its large, optimized vents, and you can ride with confidence knowing it's equipped with a MIPS (multi-directional impact protection system) and there's extended coverage at the back of the helmet for added protection. It's also supremely comfortable. The molded shell improves strength yet reduces weight, and there's a micro-adjustable dial that makes changing the fit a breeze. The full-size visor is detachable, too. Available in three colors.
Light your way home with Torch's one-of-a-kind polycarbonate commuter helmets. Equipped with 10 LED lights (integrated within shatter-proof lenses right into the helmet) and four different light functions like flash, the Torch makes it easy to maintain visibility in fog, rain, or nighttime conditions. The T2 has up to six hours' worth of battery life (and 36 hours on flash), which you can check via its battery level indicator, and refresh with its rechargeable batteries.
The in-mold construction has two removable sets of itnerior padding and a dial-adjust fit system to offer a customized fit and feel. Plus there are eight air vents to keep you cool. Available in eight colors—from Midnight Edition black to Neon Yellow—so you're pretty much guaranteed to find what you're looking for.
At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), action-sports helmet-industry companies BRG (Bell, Ridell, Giro) Sports and 360fly announced a full line of “smart” helmets to be released come fall. The line will cater to a variety of sports, comprising a full-face street motorcycle helmet (on the market now), an off-road motorcycle helmet, a full-featured snow helmet, and Bell’s most versatile all-mountain helmet.
The award-winning helmet features a detachable chin bar for maximum performance and adaptability. And, like the other three helmets, boasts a 360fly 360o 4K camera. The camera is detachable, allowing it to be utilized independent of the helmet to shoot videos, which are driven by 360fly’s mobile app. You can instantly edit and share your videos to platforms such as Facebook or YouTube; and, like the original 360fly camera, this integrated version is equipped with Bluetooth, built-in Wi-Fi and has up to two hours of battery life.
360fly.com, Price to be announced when released in Fall 2016
bellhelmets.com, $220 (for the Super 2R MIPS-Equipped helmet sans the 360 Fly technology; available in eight colors)
Bern - Morrison
Trading the trails for city streets? The Morrison is perfect for urban riders. Style-wise, the helmet has a tapered, thinner profile and a fit that's lighter in weight yet higher in strength than most in-mold helmets. It's also designed with 16 vents, so there's maximal airflow to keep your head cooler (that being said, wear a hat in the winter). Its performance liner has an adjustable dial allowing for a customized fit, and it's even equipped with moisture control. Available in six colors.
As the name implies, Cannondale's Quick helmet is the perfect answer to your performance needs. Thirty flow-through vents control comfort and maintaining airflow through the helmet. The single-mold polycarbonate shell is bonded to an inner shell for one solid, streamlined design. It also features an adjustable micro dial and pads on either side of your face to customize the fit. It's practical, trustworthy, and incredibly affordable.
Award-winning, lightweight, durable and dent-resistant, the Crane is constructed with all your priorities in mind. No, seriously. It's crafted with two liners; the stiffer outer part protects your noggin from high-energy impacts, while the inner part shields you from low-energy impacts. They work in tandem to stop hits from rattling your head, further improving the helmet's protection. What's more, it has a unique size adjustment system that offers a truly customized fit, because when your head stays snuggly inside the helmet, your safety increases. Available in six colors, some shiny, some matte.
Take to the trails in this bold helmet from Giant. Its ultra-deep internal channels maximize ventilation at high and low speeds, and there are microbial pads fixed within the helmet to prevent odors. The moto-style visor is adjustable to provide extra protection, and removable; as is the integrated goggle strap retainer, which keeps everything in place. You can ride with confidence knowing the shell is supremely tough. Its optimized density is crafted to keep you safe through low- and high-speed impacts. Available in four colors.
Named after an ancient Greek missile weapon, the Ballista road helmet is designed for speed. Its unique shape draws in a significant amount of air, venting and channeling the flow through tunnels, as well as over the head. Antimicrobial pads wick moisture and eliminate odors, and the comfort is next-level. Dividers keep the helmet straps manageable and easy to adjust, and the visor is easy to attach when you need it. Available in four colors.
Lighter? Sleeker? Just damn better? You got it. Giro took all their best helmet features, then optimized them all for the Aeon. For starters, the shape of the helmet reduces weight by 28 percent compared with its predecessor. The visibly massive vents were sculpted with interior channeling for top-notch cooling power. And the comfort is pretty luxurious. Padding, webbing, and reinforcement give you the feel you crave. Available in six colors.
Meet the ultimate racing helmet: the Overtaker. (Fitting name, no?) This helmet from Smith provides maximum ventilation and improved protection where you need it. The multi-directional impact protection system (MIPS) linings are optional, plus there are carbon fiber reinforcements and an integrated skeletal structure that cradles your head. You'll also benefit from the 21 optimized vents, which actually help balance aerodynamics, not hinder it. The fit is adjustable and lightweight to boot. Available in 12 colors; MIPS system technology included in most, but not all.