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The Best Bike Helmets For Commuters

Buying Guides
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Wearing a helmet while riding a pedal bike is not a legal requirement in the UK. Whether it’s even worth wearing one is disputed. That may seem counter-intuitive but we admit the arguments against it have some merit. However, we’ll leave you to dig through that can of worms on your own time and assume that if you’re reading this, you’re down with strapping a hard hat to your noggin in the name of safety.

We’ve picked a selection of helmets to suit all budgets, and you’ll also find our full buyer’s guide with info on what to look out. 

The Best Bike Helmets For Commuters

Buying Guides

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Van Rysel Roadr 500

Best budget bike helmet

Specifications

RRP: £29.99

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Breathable design

Reasons to avoid

-
No MIPS

This budget helmet is lightweight and breathable thanks to the 17 vents it has on the top. Since all helmets have to meet certain safety regulations you won’t find many that cost much less than £30 unless on sale, and we reckon this as good a bargain as you’ll find when seeking a new lid.

Buy from Decathlon (opens in new tab) 


Buying Guides

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Halfords Commuter Helmet

Another great budget helmet

Specifications

RRP: £35

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Integrated back light

Reasons to avoid

-
No MIPS
-
Only one colour

Another cheap and cheerful option that will serve the budget-conscious commuter well on their rides to work. The Halfords Commuter Helmet has a visor to keep the rain off your face and the sun out of your eyes. In addition, the sizeable vents offer a good amount of breathability.

Buy from Halfords (opens in new tab) 


Buying Guides

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Specialized Align II MIPS

Best bike helmet under £50

Specifications

RRP: £45

Reasons to buy

+
Has MIPS
+
Range of colours

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as well ventilated as other options

This well-ventilated helmet is a great option for both commuting and weekend long rides, and it has the MIPS tech that can offer greater protection from rotational impacts. It comes in a range of colours, so you can match it up to your frame as well.

Buy from Evans (opens in new tab) 


Buying Guides

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Endura FS260 Pro Helmet

A highly breathable helmet

Specifications

RRP: £89.99 (red £71.99)

Reasons to buy

+
Large vents to avoid a sweaty head
+
Range of colours

Reasons to avoid

-
No MIPS

This lightweight, highly breathable helmet is ideal for those who want to avoid a sweaty head at all costs on their commute. It’s also easy to adjust the fit of the helmet with one hand while riding if needed. Endura has three hi-vis colourways in stock, while Evans has white or black.

Buy from Endura (opens in new tab) | Buy from Evans (opens in new tab) 


Buying Guides

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Kask Moebius WG11

A stylish helmet with rotational impact protection

Specifications

RRP: £89

Reasons to buy

+
Elegant design
+
WG11 rotational impact protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky

We’re not insulting anyone by pointing out that traditional bike helmets haven’t been designed to look good, but this one has. This Italian brand has put in “elegant lines”, although we found it a bit bulky at 420g and it doesn’t suit long faces (like ours). If you have a fuller face, though, there’s plenty to recommend it like a detachable brim, an inconspicuous reflective panel on the back, front and rear vents so your hair doesn’t get so wet when it rains, and a dial on the back so you can easily adjust the fit. The WG11 also refers to Kask’s own safety standard (opens in new tab) which has been developed to dissipate rotational forces as well as to protect against direct hits.

Livall BH51M Neo

Best smart bike helmet

Specifications

RRP: £129.67

Reasons to buy

+
Front and rear lights
+
Remote control indicators
+
Integrated Bluetooth speakers
+
Fall detection with emergency SOS text

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

The all-singing, all-dancing one. This smart helmet adds front and rear lights as well as indicators operated by a handlebar-mounted remote control. There are also integrated speakers and a mic, which connect to your smartphone over Bluetooth. A built-in sensor triggers a brake light when you decelerate quickly and an SOS feature can also be set up in the partner smartphone app, automatically texting your GPS location to an emergency contact if the helmet detects a fall. If you like the idea of more lights but aren’t keen on the extras, Livall offers more affordable versions with fewer features, as well as in different styles.

Buy from Halfords (opens in new tab) 


Buying Guides

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The last helmet you’ll ever have to buy

Specifications

RRP: £150

Reasons to buy

+
Adjustable fit 
+
Doesn’t need replacing after impact
+
Foldable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not that foldable
-
Heavy and hot
-
Expensive

This one costs a pretty penny, but you can rest assured it’s the last one you’ll ever have to buy thanks to a proprietary material that recovers after an impact – whether that’s dropping it on the floor or being involved in an accident. However, we weren’t convinced by the folding and multi-fit features, and found it somewhat uncomfortable and ever so heavy, but its unique self-sustaining properties certainly make it an option.

Buy from Hedkayse (opens in new tab) | Hedkayse ONE review


Buying Guides

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HEXR

A custom-fit helmet made from renewable materials

Specifications

RRP: £299

Reasons to buy

+
Head scan allows a custom fit
+
Renewable materials
+
Breathable design

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

You have to start with the price here, because the HEXR helmet costs an astonishing £299. As you’d expect, that’s down to a combination of some unique and impressive features, but still, £299!

Those features start with a custom fit. You get your head scanned – either in person in London or via the post – to create a helmet that fits your noggin perfectly. The straps of the finished product can be adjusted slightly if you prefer a particularly tight fit or want room for a hat underneath. We’re thinking beanie rather than top.

That flawless fit helps maximise the protection provided by the helmet, which is considerable. HEXR claims the helmet is 26% safer than foam models owing to the hexagonal cell structure, and that cell structure also means it’s breathable so you won’t overheat. The shape of the lid is also highly aerodynamic, if you have racing in mind, and as a final bonus the helmet is made from renewable materials, unlike foam.

Buy from HEXR (opens in new tab) 


  • If safety is a concern, our cycling to work guide has tips on how to stay safe on the road 
  • These winter cycling tips for commuters will also help you ride safely through the darker seasons
  • To spread the word about Cycling UK’s cycle safety webinars, they shared three cycling safety tips for beginners.

Bike Helmet Buyer’s Guide

What safety standards do bike helmets have to meet?

Your first concern when picking a helmet for commuting by bike is that it offers protection for your head should something unfortunate happen. All helmets sold in the UK have to meet safety standards, so you can be sure that wherever you buy a new lid and no matter how much you pay for it, you’re getting one of sufficient quality. Most helmets won’t even list the standards they hit because they all have to meet safety standards, but a common one you might see is BS EN 1078.

What is MIPS?

“MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System,” says Drew Hutchinson of Evans Cycles. “A normal helmet protects your skull, but most impacts are at an angle, so there is a rotational force as well. As your head can’t rotate in the helmet, your brain will spin inside the skull, which is bad! MIPS is a lining inside the helmet that allows your head to rotate slightly and soak up the rotational forces, passing less on to your brain.”

There has been a notable safety development in recent years, which involves adding a slip liner to disperse some of the rotational forces should your head hit something at an angle, rather than straight on. MIPS is the most common system added to helmets, and tends to add £15-£20 to the price based on the promise of increased protection.

“MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. It’s a Swedish invention,” says Drew Hutchinson of Evans Cycles. “A normal helmet protects your skull, but most impacts are at an angle, so there is a rotational force as well. As your head can’t rotate in the helmet, your brain will spin inside the skull, which is bad! MIPS is a lining inside the helmet that allows your head to rotate slightly and soak up the rotational forces, passing less on to your brain. MIPS is something you should look for, and we’re seeing huge rises in sales of helmets featuring it.”

What other features should you look for?

There are a few other features that may persuade cycle commuters to go beyond the basic. You can get a breathable helmet that doesn’t make you too sweaty on your ride to work, and there’s no harm in getting one that makes you more visible to other road users. This starts with reflective details, but you can also get smart helmets with integrated lights, including turning indicators.

Foldable helmets can also be useful for commuters, because you can slip them in a bag or desk drawer once you’ve finished riding. Many foldable helmets are more “squishable” and even the best of them don’t end up that small, but they’re easier to stash somewhere than a regular helmet.

How long do bike helmets last?

Bike helmets tend to be made with a type of foam, like EPS or PU, which has a limited lifespan, and the standard industry advice is that helmets should be replaced every five years if they’re treated well. Partly that’s because the foam degrades over time, especially if exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods (store it in a closet if you can). However, if you drop it on the floor or knock it against a door, the exact spot that took the hit will not offer the same level of protection again and it’s recommended that you replace it.

There is one reason why you might want to spend less – you’re going to have to cough up for another one sooner rather than later. Bike helmets tend to be made with a type of foam, like EPS or PU, which has a limited lifespan, and the standard industry advice is that helmets should be replaced every five years if they’re treated well. Partly that’s because the foam degrades over time, especially if exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods (store it in a closet if you can). 

However, if you drop it on the floor or knock it against a door, the exact spot that took the hit will not offer the same level of protection again and it’s recommended that you replace it. If you’re a bit cack-handed it might be worth finding the cheapest helmet you can and replacing it regularly – or considering a helmet that doesn’t use a sacrificial foam, like the Hedkayse ONE or the HEXR.

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.

With contributions from