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last updated 24 July 2019

Under Construction

Styles: | Tests/Reviews/Ratings: | Test Description Video
Other Reviews/Ratings: | MIPS feature: | Choosing a helmet: | Replacement: | Terms: | Links:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 840 bicyclists were killed in 2016. Half were not wearing helmets. NBC News

There are several styles of helmet.
Note: All of the examples below were in the top half of the 69 helmets tested for concussion protection by Virginia Tech.

There are other types, childrens, full-face (for dare devels), .
Multi-sport - Can be used for skiing, biking, skating.

See Bicycle Helmet Types |, Bike Helmet Buying Guide: Sports & Outdoors
and Helmets for different cycling disciplines explained |, UK

Helmets with Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) are generally safer.

Helmet Ratings Virginia Tech College of Engineering and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Tests 2018

They tested for concussion protection.
Most helmets will protect you from a scull fracture, but concussion protection is more variable.

They used the the STAR protocol originally developed for football helments to estimate the incidence of concussion that a college football player may experience.
Summary: Test Description Video

They tested 30 helmets in 2017 and 39 more in 2018 with scores from 10.5 (best 5 star) to 25.3 (2 stars).
A lower score offers better protection
* Also on Consumer Reports recommended list - Many of the helmets tested by VT were not tested by Consumer Reports and vice-versa.
MIPS - See below
Helmet Cost Style Score
5 star
Lazer Cyclone MIPS * $75.00 Multi-sport 10.5
Bontrager Specter $150.00 Road 10.8
Bontrager Ballista MIPS $200.00 Road 10.9
Troy Lee Designs A1 Classic MIPS $139.00 Mountain 11.7
Bontrager XXX $300.00 Road 11.8
Lazer Z1 MIPS $255.00 Road 12.2
Rudy Project Racemaster MIPS $350.00 Road 12.3
Louis Garneau Raid MIPS $120.00 Mountain 12.3
Bern Union MIPS $110.00 Urban 12.6
Specialized S-Works Prevail II (MIPS) $250.00 Road 12.7
Bell Stratus MIPS $150.00 Road 12.9
Giro Synthe MIPS $270.00 Road 13
Specialized Chamonix MIPS $75.00 Multi-sport 13.1
Bontrager Blaze $300.00 Mountain 13.2
Bontrager Charge $150.00 Urban 13.6
Giro Chronicle MIPS $100.00 Mountain 13.7
- Consumer Reports rated the Bontrager Ballista MIPS a Safety Risk. The chinstrap buckle broke in their simulated crash test of both tested helmets.
Trek Bicycle, the maker of the Bontrager helmet, says it has been "unable to replicate" the results and has not received any consumer reports of buckle failure. They will work with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).
Helmet Cost Style Score
4 star
Smith Route MIPS $105.00 Road 14
Bontrager Circuit MIPS * $90.00 Road 14
SCOTT Arx PLUS (MIPS) * $100.00 Road 14.3
Bontrager Quantum MIPS $100.00 Multi-sport 14.3
Specialized S-Works Evade II (MIPS) $275.00 Road 14.4
Bell Annex MIPS $125.00 Urban 14.5
Specialized Centro MIPS $65.00 Multi-sport 14.8
Specialized S-Works Prevail II $225.00 Road 14.8
Smith Optics Overtake $163.00 Road 15
SCOTT Vivo PLUS (MIPS) $130.00 Mountain 15.4
Catlike Whisper $130.00 Road 15.4
Giro Savant $100.00 Road 15.5
Bell Sixer MIPS $150.00 Mountain 15.6
Cannondale Ryker AM (MIPS) $100.00 Mountain 15.6
Bell Draft MIPS * $60.00 Road 15.6
Specialized Ambush $180.00 Mountain 15.7
POC Octal $200.00 Road 16.1
POC Tectal $190.00 Mountain 16.4
Giro Foray MIPS * $85.00 Road 16.5
Louis Garneau Course $180.00 Road 16.8
Schwinn Intercept $18.00 Multi-sport 16.9
Giro Synthe $250.00 Road 17
Giro Register * $45.00 Multi-sport 17.1
SCOTT Cadence PLUS (MIPS) $250.00 Road 17.2
6D ATB-1T EVO $210.00 Mountain 17.4
Giro Sutton MIPS $100.00 Urban 18.1
Kali Therapy $100.00 Road 18.2
Specialized S-Works Evade II $250.00 Road 18.5
Louis Garneau Le Tour II $50.00 Multi-sport 18.8
Bell Adrenaline $23.00 Multi-sport 18.9
* Also on Consumer Reports recommended list - Many of the helmets in the VT tests were not tested by Consumer Reports and vice-versa.

See Complete results of VT tests
These were all listed as road or urban helmets by Virginia Tech, but the Louis Garneau Raid and Bontrager Quantum were really mountain bike helmets.

The Bontrager Ballista is designed for racers with a lot of aerodynamic testing and they claim with only 3 vents in front they get better ventilation than their competitors. Of course when you're going 30 MPH you don't need as many vents.
see YouTube.

Top Mountain Bike helmets:

Louis Garneau Raid MIPS.

The Specalized Chamonix is listed as a road helmet but has goog side and back coverage and a visor, so can be used as both.
Specialized Chamonix MIPS

Consumer Reports Review 2016 42 Helmets reviewed. Scores ranged from 88 to 22.
Recomended helmets are listed below.

Manufacturer -model
CR rating
Impact absorption
Fit adjustments
Ease of use
Scott Arx Plus Road $ 92 88 * 5 4 5 5
Cannondale CAAD MIPS Road $ 80 85 * 5 4 3 5
Giro Register MIPS Road $ 65 85 * 5 5 3 5
Bontrager Circuit MIPS Road $150 83 * 5 4 5 5
Giro Register Road $ 45 83 5 5 3 5
Bell Draft MIPS Road $ 60 82 5 4 4 5
Bell Muni Road $ 65 82 5 5 3 5
Zefal Light-Up Road $ 30 79
Bell Traverse MIPS Road $ 65 79
Giro Isode Road $ 40 79
Cannondale Teramo Road $115 78
Giro Revel MIPS Road $ 65 78
Bell Traverse Road $ 45 78
Giro Foray Road $ 65 77
Giro Trinity Road $ 40 76
Livall Bling BH60 Road $100 75
Coros LINX Road $175 75
Lazer Cyclone Road $ 50 75
Giro Revel Road $ 45 74
Schwinn Intercept Adult Road $ 22 74
Cannonda leQuick Road $ 40 73
Giro Bishop Road $ 45 72
Zefal Pro 24 Road $ 25 71 4 3 4 5
CR Rating - Consumer Reports 2016

                  Scott Arx Plus

Both ratings selected a small subset of all the models available.
Giro has over 40 models and Bell has over 20.

2 Mountain Bike Helmets:
Comparison of the 2 mountain bike helmets in the top 20% of the Virginia Tech Concussion tests.
VT will be doing more testing on Mountain Bike helmets in the future.
Specs on a medium helmet.
Louis Garneau Raid Bontrager Quantum
VT Rating/Rank 5/2 4/6
Cross Section
Weight 11.1 oz 12.9 oz
Outside (M)
# vents 14 14 Review na 5/10
SingleTracks Review na 4.2/5
Fit-Adjustment Spiderlock(R) Pro MTB: Easy one-handed adjustment Headmaster II
Straps: Tri-Glide PRO adjustment: Keeps your straps tangle-free
Padding: X-Static(R) XT2T: quick-drying antimicrobial material Moisture wicking pads
Certifications: CPSC-ASTM-CEN CPSC
Availability: Dicks Sporting Goods Online $100Trek Bicycle Superstore $60
I liked the more rounded shape of the Bontrager for a side sliding fall it wouldn't catch and twist your neck. (Probably an unlikely type of bicycle fall).
I couldn't find any stores in the Sacramento which carried the Garneau.

Other Reviews/Ratings:
Mountain Bike Helmets Reviews | SINGLETRACKS.COM
Bicycle Helmet Ratings Overview | Consumer Reports 2016 see above
Bicycle Helmet Ratings - Virginia Tech College of Engineering Tests 2018 see above
Helmet Reviews |
Mountain Bike Helmets Reviews | SINGLETRACKS.COM
Helmets and Protection Reviews - BikeRadar USA 9 Best Bike Helmets for Commuters 2018 | NYmag
Urban & Commuter Bike Helmets | evo

The $270 POC Octal helmet comes with an imbedded iceDOT crash sensor.
After a crash, it detects the impact and pings your phone, which starts a user-defined countdown. If you don't turn the alarm off (theoretically because you're unresponsive and hurt), then it notifies your predetermined emergency contacts, and provides them with your GPS coordinates.
See POC Octal Protects Your Head with New Technology and ICEdot Crash Sensor - Cyclocross Magazine Stand alone ICEdot $87 at Amazon.

MIPS feature:

One newer offering in helmet technology is the Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS). This thin, low-friction liner inside the helmet allows the outer shell to slide a few millimeters across the skull on impact, reducing rotational force and the amount of energy transferred to the head. Rotational force is thought to be a factor in concussions.

MIPS is based on reality

Conventional helmets are tested by dropping them vertically onto a flat surface. MIPS has evolved through study and testing in Sweden since 1996 by some of the world's leading researchers and brain surgeons, based on reality. In reality when you fall, your head more often hits the ground at an angle, creating a rotational motion that leads to strain in the brain.
With MIPS, the helmet can absorb and redirect a portion of that rotational motion, offering you better protection.

Mimicking the brain

The secret behind MIPS' patented technology comes from the human brain. The brain is surrounded by a low-friction cushion of cerebrospinal fluid. MIPS mimics the brain's own way of protecting itself by giving the MIPS-equipped helmet its own low-friction layer between the helmet and the head. The MIPS low-friction layer can absorb a portion of the motion created by an angled impact by enabling the helmet to slide relative to the head on impact. The combination of the brain's own protection and MIPS therefore offers one of the highest levels of protection from rotational motion currently on the market.

In Consumer Reports tests of two pairs of the same brand and model helmets--one MIPS, one not--the MIPS helmets reduced rotational force up to 43 percent compared with the non-MIPs helmets.

The MIPS solution | MIPS AB |

Choosing a helmet:
Fit is crucial. Bike Helmet Buying Guide | Consumer Reports
Adjustment is important:
General Rule: April Beard, Bontrager's product manager for helmets, explains: "It really depends on how good of care you take of the helmet. There is no evidence that the EPS liner will deteriorate from age, but there are things such as solvents, chemicals, environmental exposure (e.g. high heat), that can degrade the performance of the helmet."

Paul Caswell, the senior brand manager for Giro and Bell helmets agrees: The more the helmet is used the more it will deteriorate, so one rule for all does not work here, but three years is a good guide."

Snell, who tests helmets says, "The five-year replacement recommendation is based on a consensus by both helmet manufacturers and the Snell Foundation. Glues, resins and other materials used in helmet production can affect liner materials."

Check for damage and wear:
Strongher says, "Press carefully over the shell of the helmet to see if there is any movement. In some helmets there will be no movement and in others a little movement, You should look for any area where there is a variation in movement compared to the rest of the helmet. An area of greater movement indicates damage to the foam under the shell.

Check Straps/buckles/clips and fasteners for wear and tear"

Preventive care:
There are also preventive measures you can take to increase the lift of a helmet. Drastic changes in temperature and excessive exposure to UV light can degrade EPS foam, causing it to harden and become brittle. Don't store your helmet in your car and keep it out of direct sunlight when not in use.
Human sweat can be quite corrosive and will break down EPS foam over time so washing your helmet on a regular basis can also help.

When should I replace my bicycle helmet? (How to inspect for ware or damage) | Strongher - Women in Cycling - Netherlands
When should you replace your bicycle helmet? |

ASTM - American Society for Testing and Materials
CEN - European Committee for Standardization (Comite Europeen de Normalisation) (weaker than CPSC)
CPSC Consumer Product Safety Commission - US
EPS - Expanded Polystyrene - Impact absorbing foam in helmets. iceDOT crash sensor
IIHS - Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
MIPS - Multi-directional Impact Protection System
MTB - Mountain bike
NHTSA - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
RTR - Reclaim The Road (Louis Garneau)

Helmet Ratings Virginia Tech College of Engineering and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Tests 2018 NBC News
How to Choose a Bike Helmet: Sizing Guide - REI Expert Advice
and Best Bike Helmet Buying Guide - Consumer Reports
Bicycle Helmet Standards |