The road is a dangerous place for a cyclist. Potholes, cars, other cyclists and all matter of road debris can easily turn a spirited Sunday morning ride into a trip to the hospital. A helmet can help to mitigate the chances of lasting injuries and, many times, can be the difference between life and death in the event of a crash. But just because it’s a bike helmet doesn’t mean you have to look dorky. Our criteria for the best road bike helmets of 2017 is first and foremost safety, but second to that is style — you don’t want to look like a square at the mid-ride coffee stop.
Specialized Airnet MIPS
At $170 for a helmet with MIPS (the Swedish rotational force reducing technology), the Airnet is a steal. It looks great, offers plenty of ventilation and even has built-in merino wool pads to help with moisture management and help to limit any unsavory smells.
Smith Overtake MIPS
The Overtake has a pretty unique technological feature comparison to other road bike helmets: It’s called Koroyd, and it’s essentially a honeycomb shell on the inside of the helmet that is designed to crumple on impact. Koroyd and the MIPS liner make the Overtake one of the top helmets on the market, safety-wise.
Bell Z20 Ghost
Available this August, the Z20 is Bell’s most advanced road helmet ever. Like other helmets on this list, it has MIPS built in. The Z20 also features variable EPS foam densities. This helps give you more padding where you need it and less where you don’t — helping keep weight and bulk down.
POC Octal AVIP MIPS
Stockholm-based POC was founded on the principal of safety, so it’s no surprise to see the Octal AVIP MIPS as one of this year’s top helmets. The AVIP version of the Octal comes in three hi-vis colorways to keep you visible on the road. It also offers plenty of ventilation to keep your head cooled while keeping weight at an ultra-light 195 grams. Best of all? The minimalist Scandinavian design principles.
Giro Synthe MIPS
The Synthe MIPS is one of the most popular cycling helmets on the market, and for good reason. It has great ventilation, low-profile styling and an integrated MIPS liner. But what the Synthe really has going for it over other helmets on this list is the sunglass perch that actually works. As simple as that sounds, they are few and far between on most helmets.
It’s endorsed and worn by professional cycling’s Team Sky, so you know it’s good. In all seriousness, the Protone combines a little bit of aero and a little bit of ventilation for a helmet that’s equal parts speed and style. While it doesn’t feature MIPS, it does have a durable and lightweight polycarbonate shell to protect your head in the worst-case scenario.