Your first concern when picking out a helmet for commuting by bike should naturally be that it offers protection for your head should something unfortunate happen. The good news on this front is that 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 something of sufficient quality.
But there are a few other features that may persuade cycle commuters to go for something other than the cheapest. You’ll want a breathable helmet that doesn’t make you too sweaty on your ride to work, and there’s certainly no harm in getting one that improves how visible you are to other road users. This starts with reflective details, but you can also get smart helmets with lights in the back that you can use to indicate which way you’re turning.
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 certainly easier to stash somewhere than a regular helmet.
Another feature you’ll probably think long and hard about is MIPS, which tends to add £15 to £20 to the price of a helmet based on the promise of increased protection. Here’s Drew Hutchinson from Evans Cycles with what you need to know about MIPS.
“MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System – a Swedish invention,” says Hutchinson. “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 basically 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 definitely something you should look for and we’re seeing huge rises in sales of helmets featuring it.”
Got all that? Good. Once you’ve considered which features are important to you, you’ll be able to find the right bike helmet for you in our round-up below.
The Best Bike Helmets For Commuters
B’Twin Road R 500
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 | £29.99
We’ve tried several folding helmets and the Morpher stands out for one simple reason – it actually folds, hinging along a central spine, unlike others which just pack down a bit smaller. In its folded state the Morpher will fit into any bag bigger than a purse, and although it’s expensive and not as well-ventilated as a regular helmet, the extra convenience might be worthwhile if you’re sick of carrying a helmet with you once you’ve finished riding.
Buy on Amazon | £109.99 | Morpher review
Livall MTL Bluetooth Enabled Smart Helmet
If visibility is a key concern then the lights on the back of this smart helmet will appeal. You can indicate which way you’re turning using the handlebar controls, while the band of red lights shines at all times. Furthermore, if you are involved in an accident the helmet can detect falls or a sudden lack of movement, and will automatically send an SMS to your emergency contact (set up in the partner app) that includes your location.
Buy from Halfords | £69
Specialized Align MIPS
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. Best of all, the purple-red ombre design is just dynamite.
Buy from Evans Cycles | £45
Bern Watts Urban
If the streamlined look of the helmets above leaves you cold, then maybe the style of the Bern Watts Urban helmet will suit you better. It sacrifices a little in the way of ventilation, but passes both bike and snow safety certifications, so you can use it on the slopes as well as the cycle paths.
Buy from Evans Cycles | £59.99