If you’ve just read our beginner’s guide to mountain biking, you’ll know there’s one piece of kit that’s going to save you time and time again; a good helmet.
And, that’s why we’ve created a 3-minute buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike helmets for the trail.
We’ve split our guide into two simple sections, based on the budget you have:
- Helmets Under $50
- Helmets Under $100
But, we’re not including any cheap MTB helmets in our list of top picks.
Mountain biking helmets are cheap enough as it is, and we don’t see the reason for compromising safety, for the sake of a few dollars.
The Best Mountain Bike Helmets Under $50
If you haven’t heard of Giro, you’ve probably never owned a mountain bike.
The Revel is one of the best-sellers for Giro. Of course, a lot of that comes down to the price. At under $50, it’s an absolute bargain.
The only problem we have with it, is it’s not mountain biking specific.
They’ve tried to go with a one-size fits all approach. So, whilst it’s useful for trail and road riding, it’s not specifically designed for either.
That aside, the ventilation on offer is better than most, and that’s not compromised protection thanks to its incredibly compact design.
Do you ride trails, roads and more? Great.
But, if you focus on trails only, there’s a much better option out there.
THE Industries Arcus
I really like the design of all enduro helmets. And, the design THE Industries have used for their Arcus helmet is certainly enduro inspired.
Weighing just 320g, it’s incredibly light, although you’ll be looking at a few $ more than the Giro.
Breathability is just as good as Giro, thanks to the 17 exhaust vents. And, that’s important if you’re a trail rider that throws in some big climbs; you don’t want to overheat.
The fit at first doesn’t seem perfect. But, there’s a 3-way adjustment on offer so you’ll be able to get that perfect fit in no time.
To compliment the 3-way adjustment, there’s a dial on the back. That’s used for tightening and loosening the helmet.
The Fox Transition helmet looks more like a BMX lid than a MTB helmet. But, I’ve used this for “mild” downhill and trail riding, and it certainly does the trick.
Originally, I just liked the basic look.
But, after using it dozens of times, I’ve become quite fond of it.
Breathability isn’t excellent, but it’s more than enough if your trails are evenly downhill/uphill and there’s not much in the way of heavy climbs.
What I found, was it’s incredibly comfortable.
I was expecting something basic, but it’s not.
At under $50, you’d think protection is compromised, but again, it’s not.
I’ve hit a tree head on at 20mph+ and the impact was distributed evenly, so I jumped straight on the bike and carried on.
It’s a worthy contender for the top spot of the best MTB helmet under $50.
Giro Revel, THE Industries Arcus Or Fox Transition?
I’d ditch the Giro Revel right off the bat. It’s just not focused enough on MTB riding.
My personal experience tells me the Fox Transition is bang on the money. If I had one gripe, it’s that breathability is lacking on big climbs. That certainly wouldn’t put me off buying it again though.
And, as a brand, I’ve never been unhappy with any of the goggles, boots, helmets or clothing I’ve purchased from Fox Racing. Whether it’s MTB or MX kit, their gear is always top notch.
As an overall package and for a cheaper price tag than THE Industries Arcus, I think it’s worthy of the top spot for the best MTB helmet under $50.
After all the trails I’ve rode in my Fox Transition though, I would consider upping my budget slightly.
Not to say this isn’t a great helmet, but I wouldn’t say no to a slight increases in comfort, breathability and adjustment.
- SAFETY - Specially designed with the dirt jump aficionado in mind, The Flight Hardshell helmet is outfitted with the best protection in the game, to keep you safe no matter what. Fox's proprietary Varizorb multi-density EPS core absorbs and disperses impacts, while the ABS exterior is sturdy and durable.
Last update on 2019-01-21
The Best Mountain Bike Helmets Under $100
Fox Racing Flux
At the lower end of the under $100 range, we’ve got the Fox Flux. If you’ve not guessed already, I’m a huge fan of Fox.
It’s more than the transition I currently own, but the design alone is worth that.
More importantly, the breathability aspects of the Fox Flux helmet are what really sets it apart from the transition. You’ll get 20 vents which create a clear path for air to pass through the helmet.
You’ll notice the EPS shell, and that’s going to give a bit more head coverage and protection than the average XC helmet; so, this is perfect for tight and technical trails.
The visor is removable. If you want some extra vision during the dull days, you’ve got it right there at your fingertips.
Giro Chronicle MIPS
If you fancy stretching right up to the $100 mark, you’ve got the option of the Giro Chronicle MIPS.
This is a lid designed for heavy climbs and it feels more breathable than vented.
So, that means you’ll get temperature regulation rather than straight up airflow. That’s going to mean its suitable for all types of trail, hot weather and freezing conditions.
You’ll get the perfect fit here thanks to the dial on the back. You don’t just get adjustment in basic tension, but vertical fit, and this is where it differs from helmets in the lower end of the budget spectrum.
If you own any breathable outdoor sports gear, you’ll know Coolmax is a moisture wicking material. A pretty-good one too.
Whether it’s rain or sweat that’s got you dripping, the Coolmax material allows it to dry quickly, and that keeps you comfortable throughout your ride.
Bell Super 2
The Bell Super 2 is a worthy contender for the top spot, coming in on budget at under $100.
There’s more and more people switching from Giro to Bell. They’ve made good headway in both the MTB and motocross industry.
It’s not a great idea to buy on design alone, but let’s face it, it looks pretty-cool.
And speaking of cool, the ventilation on offer from the Super 2 is nearing on par with the Giro Chronicle. And, nearing is the operative word, it’s just not quite on level-pegging.
It’s comfortable, but the adjustment lacks, where the Giro doesn’t.
There’s comfort foam around the ear and temple. Sounds good? The problem is, it makes wearing glasses of any kind, a bit of a chore.
Fox Racing Flux, Giro Chronicle MIPS Or The Bell Super 2?
Being the cheapskate that I am, unless there’s huge differences in performance for minimal extra cost, I’ll go with a semi-budget option.
OK, so the Flux isn’t a “cheap” MTB helmet. But, the Fox Flux is certainly the helmet I’d be leaning towards.
And, that’s only because I’ve got their $40 lid that has a lot less performance and breathability, and I currently make do. This would be like Christmas for me.
But, if you’re a gear junkie and you only want the best, there’s no doubt the Giro Chronicle is the helmet for you.
- In-mold polycarbonate shell with EPS liner
Last update on 2019-01-22
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