The Best Bike Helmets of 2023: Staff Picks

Protect your lid with our seven favorite helmet picks

Graham Averill|Updated May 25, 2023

19 reviews with an average rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars
Two people wearing helmets and riding bikes along a paved path

If you’re a cyclist, your bike might be your most prized possession, but your helmet is the single piece of gear you never go without. It’s a purchase you don’t want to take lightly. There are endless bike helmet options, each of them boasting the latest and greatest construction and tech. With so many helmets to choose from, how do you select the one that’s right for you? We asked REI staff and customers for their favorite protective lids. These are their picks for the best bike helmets currently available from the co-op.


Staff Picks

Find quick recommendations below or scroll down for in-depth reviews:

The Thousand Heritage II helmet is one of the most striking helmets on the road with a slick, retro aesthetic. Thousand retained the same cool vibes and features like an easy-to-use magnetic chin strap buckle while adding notable upgrades. The 2.0 version offers better ventilation and internal cooling channels, and the option to integrate a magnetic tail light (sold separately). The interior of the helmet has been redesigned with comfort in mind too, with additional padding to fit more head shapes. And you still get the Thousand-patented PopLock channel, which allows you to lock the helmet to the bike; just pop out the small, round “thsd” logo and pass your U-lock or chain lock through the hole. Buy here.


Bike commuters want a customizable helmet that keeps them cool when navigating pavement, gravel, trails or all the above on their way to work. It’s no wonder then that reviewers love the Smith Signal Mips with its multivented road design. "Great fit—love the ratchet style adjustment and plenty of air flow to keep your head cool," says one customer-reviewer. "The color is definitely an attention getter and welcomed since I do mostly road riding—high visibility is everything." A rotary dial makes it easy to adjust the helmet’s fit. That entire tension system can also move up and down, or forward and backward to further personalize your lid. A plethora of vents channel air to help keep you cool and your glasses fog-free. And there’s a channel that makes it easy to store your glasses. Inside, find a low-friction layer that slides 10 mm to 15 mm in all directions, reducing rotational motion to the brain during impact—this is Mips®. Buy here

The redesigned Giro Fixture II boasts the safety tech of the brand’s leading adult helmets in a smaller version for your mini me. The lid's revised silhouette offers a more streamlined look that integrates Mips®, a protection system designed to reduce rotational forces in a crash. Beyond that, there's plenty more for any caregiver to love. The Fixture II is simple for kiddos to fasten or adjust on their own with one hand; the dial of the patented Roc Loc Sport fit system clicks as it tightens or loosens. It's also ponytail compatible, while quick-dry padding allows your kid to ride comfortably day after day. Reflective decals on the Fixture II help add visibility when your child’s riding streets and sidewalks. Buy here.


Trail and cross-country riders don’t usually need full face protection if they’re riding less-gnarly terrain and prefer comfort and breathability. What they do need is a protective helmet in a lightweight, breathable package. Enter the Smith Convoy, which weighs just 11 ounces thanks to its weight-shaving in-mold construction and ample vents for maximum ventilation. The beauty of bike helmets today is that those weight savings don’t come at the expense of the leading tech. The Convoy features Smith’s fit adjustment system, for example, and Mips, which reduces rotational forces caused by angled impacts to the head. “Adjustment provides a snug, comfortable fit and it is very lightweigt so there is no pressure buildup over a long ride," says one customer.  Not high-tech, but a sweet bonus: the Convoy’s built-in channels that hold your sunglasses when you don’t need ’em. Buy here


While the U.S. hasn’t adopted e-bike specific helmet standards, the Bontrager Charge WaveCel adheres to Dutch standards, known as NTA 8776. That standard certifies helmets to be used at the higher speeds that some e-bikes reach. In addition to user-friendly features, like an easy, magnetic chin strap closure and Boa® tension system that lets you tighten your lid with one hand, the Charge comes equipped with Bontrager WaveCel tech. WaveCel is a collapsible cellular structure that lines the inside of the helmet and works like a crumple zone that absorbs the force of an impact. And the Charge is covered by the Bontrager crash-replacement guarantee, so if you do find yourself in an accident during your first year of owning the helmet, the brand will send you a free replacement. Buy here.


The Smith Persist 2 hits all the roadie highlights in a light, well-ventilated package. Comfort matters when you’re laying down the hammer, and reviewers rave about the Persist’s adjustability, soft lining and AirEvac™ ventilation system, which pulls hot air away from your brow when you’re working hard. The brand also improved on its trademark dial adjuster that allows you to customize the fit to your head. “This is the first helmet that has properly fit me,” one customer commented. “It’s snug and very comfortable for long rides.” And the latest version adds zonal Koroyd®, cylinders that are designed to absorb more energy on impact than traditional materials. Combine that with Mips protection that helps reduce rotational impact forces in the event of a crash, and this helmet is ready for your next road ride. Buy here


Full-face helmets offer maximum protection, making them a logical pick for riders who crave speed. These helmets provide added protection in the back of the head, sides and chin, and help protect your face and mouth in the event of a crash. The Mainline from Smith is a top-of-the-line mountain biking helmet designed for superior comfort and impact protection. The helmet is built from Koroyd®, an ultra-light material made up of tiny tubes that are designed to collapse instantly and evenly, absorbing more energy on impact. The Mainline also incorporates Mips®, a low friction layer inside the helmet that helps add protect against rotational motion transferred to the brain. (A few reviewers complain about noise issues while wearting the helmet; however, some suggest that it goes away once you fine-tune the fit with multiple face pad kits). As for comfort, 21 vents and the Smith AirEvac ventilation system moves air through the helmet to enhance breathability. "I rode several hours of x-country and downhill trails without it becoming hot," adds another reviewer. Buy here.


Shop All Bike Helmets 

Buying Advice  

All helmets sold in the U.S. must meet specific safety standards for impact protection. Make sure you wear a helmet that is appropriate for the riding you do, fits properly and is also worn correctly. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for fit, use and care of your lid, including when to replace the helmet (always after an accident even if there isn’t any visible damage). For more information on helmet design, read The Complicated Story Behind Bike Helmet Safety.  

But buying a helmet isn’t only about meeting minimum safety standards. There are a few key aspects to consider when it’s time to shop for a lid.  

Know what kind of riding you want to do.  

There’s isn’t a law that says commuters can’t wear mountain bike helmets and roadies can’t wear commuter helmets. (Remember, any helmet is safer than no helmet.) But manufacturers do design each helmet with an intended purpose—a commuter helmet may have features you may appreciate when biking to work (built-in lights, for example) and road helmets will have features that roadies appreciate (weight savings, plenty of vents, aerodynamic shape). Narrow your search to match the helmet with your type of riding.  

Make sure the helmet fits.  

The most expensive helmet loaded with the latest safety tech won’t do much good if it doesn’t fit your head properly (or isn’t worn properly). Use a flexible tape measure to find your head circumference, wrapping it around your head one inch above your eyebrows, then match that circumference to the helmet size guidelines (learn more in our guide to How to Choose a Bike Helmet). Once you figure out your size, head to your local REI store to try on a variety of helmets—most manufacturers have linings, pads and tension systems that are unique to their helmets. Sample a bunch to find the one that’s most comfortable to you. And look for features such as removable pads or a tension system that allow you to easily adjust and customize the lid’s fit. 

Consider the features that would enhance your ride.  

Helmets come with a suite of bonus features designed to make riding more comfortable, safe and enjoyable. If visibility is important, prioritize a helmet that allows you to mount bike lights to it. And know that it’s OK if aesthetics are high on your priority list. The safest helmet is the one you want to wear; if you look good in your helmet, you’re more likely to put it on.  



We asked our team of REI employees to share their favorite bike helmets. They reported back with their top picks for bike commuting, road cycling, mountain biking and more. From there, we vetted their recommendations against verified online customer reviewers. These are the top picks.

Remember: Safety is your responsibility. No internet article or video can replace proper instruction and experience—this article is intended solely as supplemental information. Be sure you’re practiced in proper techniques and safety requirements before you engage in any outdoor activity. 


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