In no circumstance would we ever recommend heading out on your bike without a helmet – It’s just not worth the risk. And, although safety is a priority, it doesn’t require you to break the bank. In this post we are going to cover our top picks for the best budget road bike helmets under £100.
In the UK it’s not law to wear a road bike helmet, but all helmets that are sold have to conform to specific safety standards. So no matter what the price point of a budget road bike helmet is, it will always meet the minimum requirements needed to keep you protected.
The difference in price typically comes from different materials used in the construction – lighter is often more expensive, better comfort and premium aero designs to help you reduce your race times.
As the cycling market becomes more competitive, tech that has been used exclusively for premium helmet models has started trickling down to the lower budget models. So budget road bike helmets can not only be safe, but also perform very well on the road.
Best Budget Road Bike Helmets
Our top pick for the best road bike helmet under 10 is the Specialized Echelon 2, it has a sleek and fast-looking design that presents a compact look on the rider's head. And with increased ventilation and an ergonomic design you're guaranteed an exceptional fit, tremendous comfort and ample ventilation. Whether you are road cycling on your commute, or heading out on semi-competitive rides the Echelon will serve you well.
- Easy-adjust Headset SL II fit system with six height positions and micro-adjustable dial.
- 4th Dimension Cooling System optimises ventilation.
- Composite matrix internal reinforcement allows larger vents for greater cooling.
- Tri-Fix web splitter for improved comfort and ease of strap adjustments.
- Reflective decals for increased visibility to motorists in low-light conditions.
- Fit system is ANGi crash sensor ready.
The Bells Forumla road cycling helmet is regarded as one of the best 'all-rounders' for the price. It has great visibility in low-light conditions and an incorporated bright 20-lumen rear LED into the fit system. MIPS is designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts. By integrating the MIPS slip plane into the retention system the Formula helmet has reduced complexity and weight for a compact better ventilated helmet that fits more closely to the head.
- Integrated MIPS
- Fusion In-Mold polycarbonate shell
- Float Fit LED
- Sweat Guide pad
- Rechargeable LED lighted dial
The Foray is one of Giros' top sellign budget road cycling helmets. It features a premium similar to their higher prices Synthe range, and still offers many premium features such as durable in-mold construction and the Roc Loc 5-way fitting system. The helmet is lightweight, and has many ventilation ports to keep you cool. It is available in three Super Fit sizes so that you can get a helmet that looks, fits and feels like it was made for you.
- Coolmax padding
- Streamlined design
- In-Mold polycarbonate shell with EPS liner
- Roc Loc 5 fit system
- 21 vents
- In-Mold polycarbonate shell with EPS liner
- Roc Loc 5 fitting system
The Blade + helmet from Lazer combines great looks with good performance for recreational riders looking for an edge in road cycling. Its narrow shape combined with the Advanced Rollsys® retention system provides an excellent fit and great adjustability. It has 22 vents to keep you cool and the weight is kept down to help you speed down the road in comfort. The Blade+ comes with a bottom shell to provide a clean finish and additional impact protection.
- Fit System – Advanced Rollsys® Retention System
- Construction - In-mold
- Weight - 230g (S)
- Sizes - XS, SM, MD, LG, XL
- Ventilation - 22 vents
Kask have become well known within the road cycling world as some of the higher-end product manufacturers, and through sponsoring team Ineos. However, they have started to launch more affordable road cycling helmets which still offer much of the premium performance as their other models. The Kask Rapido was designed using the same in-moulding construction methods as Kask's premium road helmets to guarantee a maximum level of performance is delivered at all times. The Rapido ensures safety throughout your ride thanks to a combination of internal foam and a hard polycarbonate shell.
The Rapido's 24 large air vents have been carefully arranged by Kask to optimise both aerodynamics and air flow.
- Expanded polystyrene shell that optimises crash impacts
- 100% Italy made
- In-moulding innovative construction that guarantees the maximum safety level thanks to its polycarbonate shell and rear part
- Ventilation is achieved by means of 24 large air vents, arranged to optimise aerodynamics
If you are looking for an affordable road cycling helmet, that offers great comfort and safety then the METs Vinci is an excellent choice. It combines comfort, safety and performance, perfect for longer weekend rides. The lightweight and ergonomic design is comfortable, and the ventilation ports keep your head cool on hotter days. Additional performance features include internal sir channeling with tandem exhaust ports to help air flow better through the helmet and improve your aerodynamic profile.
As with other helmets on our list, the Vinci includes MIPS protection, and enables the helmet to slide relative to your head redirecting any potential damaging rotational movement upon impact. The helmet has low light reflective features, although it does not come with built in LED lights like other models we have reviewed.
- In-mould polycarbonate shell with EPS liner with MIPS-C2 technology
- Safe-T DUO fit system
- Reflective rear stickers
- Internal air-channeling
MET's Strale road bike helmet combines an ultra-modern design, what is stylish, safe and comfortable. The design isn't as high-end as what you would find on a dedicated aero bike helmet, but if you are a recreational rider, or commuter the Strale is perfect for the job. As with the MET Vinci model, this helmet also features first class air ventilation with tandem exhausts to help channel air through the helmet.
Impressive aerodynamics are maintained, offering a road helmet which is great value for the money and an exceptionally safe and innovative design.
- In-mould outer shell construction and shock absorbing polystyrene inner shell
- Anti-pinch chin-strap buckle
- Safe-T Duo fit for horizontal and vertical adjustment
- Internal air-channeling
What to look for in the best budget road bike helmet
You don’t just want to pick the first bike helmet you see and assume it’s going to fit you and your riding style perfectly. Although they might all look the same, there is subtle differences between models and price points that you need to be aware of.
You should take a lot of interest in the fit and size of the helmet. After all, you might be potentially wearing this helmet for hours on end whilst riding, so making sure it’s comfortable whilst still offering you the right level of protection in a collision is very important.
Budget road bike helmet fit
Arguably the trickiest part of any helmet purchase to get right is the fit. And, whilst there aren’t many high-street cycle suppliers anymore, purchasing online is often the only option, which makes the decision even harder.
Everyone’s head is a slightly different shape, so most road bike helmet manufacturers offer adjustment in circumference and height, and padding inside the helmet offers extra support and gives a bit of leeway for different head sizes.
If you are in a shop, try the helmet on, pay attention to any areas that are pressing sharply into your head. Whilst, they might not feel too uncomfortable initially, remember you are going to be wearing the helmet for long periods of time. Adjust, and retry if you do feel uncomfortable.
If you are shopping online, read the sizing charts/guides. They will offer good advice on the sizing option that is right for you. Look for additional features such as adjustability and internal padding. If you are still stuck on what to choose, reviews are your best friend. YouTube videos are a great way to get 3rd party feedback on a model you might like.
Air Vents & Circulation
Ensuring you have adequate air circulation inside your helmet is a big plus for riding on hot days. As a general rule of thumb, more vents means better cooling. But, also look out for features such as internal channeling, which helps air flow over your head and improves aerodynamic performance.
Aero helmets tend to work in the other way, they want air to flow smoothly over the top of the helmet, and not through it to help reduce drag. As a recreational rider or someone who just commutes to work, this isn’t important, and you’ll struggle to find a road bike helmet under £100 that incorporates an aero design.
Consider your riding style, if you are wanting purely comfort, more vents is probably better. But, if you are trying to slash your personal best riding times, a more enclosed option will perform slightly better.
Adjutabilty is your friend when it comes to creating a comfortable and tight fit on your head. You usually see adjustability around the circumference of your head, called a retention or fit system. Most brands use a dial adjuster at the helmet’s rear, but Lazer puts their adjuster on the top of the helmet shell.
You can alsmot alway adjust the straps for a better fit under your chin and ears. The two side straps should meet under your ears, and the chin strap closed shut via a plastic snap catch.
Check your brand’s guidelines to see if they offer crash replacement. You shouldn’t wear a helmet again if you have been involved in a serious collision as you might compromise some of the safety aspects of the helmet.
Crash replacement programmes usually allow you to pick up the same, or similar helmet at a reduced price.
Budget road cycling helmet weight
Helmet weight can vary greatly from brand to brand, and especially between price points. With some higher end Carbon models costing hundreds of pounds.
If you are a recreational rider, you probably won’t notice much difference, or benefit from the performance improvements of a lighter helmet. In fact, you might prefer the stability and comfort you can get from bulkier helmets with more padding.
MIPS will usually add a few grams to the overall weight of a helmet, but the safety benefits of MIPS are well worth the trade off in additional weight.
Road Cycling Helmet FAQs
What is MIPS?
MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, developed by engineers in Sweden. It provides a smooth inner layer that is loosely connected inside the helmet’s shell. It slides in the event of a crash and takes some of the shock and stress out of the impact that would have otherwise affected your head.
Helmets that have MIPS consistently outperform those that don’t during independent helmet crash tests. But, the tech will add cost and weight to your helmet. Although, the additional weight and cost of the helmet is worth it in our opinion due to the safety benefits it provides.
Do bike helmets expire?
Bike helmets don’t have a specific expiry date, and if they are kept in good condition can last you many years. It is, however, recommended that you always get a new road bike helmet after a crash, as you will compromise it’s safety features. And, every 4-6 years to make benefit of new safety tech that emerges.
Are more expensive bike helmets safer?
Yes, and no. All cycling helmets have to pass a safety standard before they are allowed for sale in the UK. Therefore a £20 and a £300 helmet will both offer a certain level of protection. However, more expensive helmets might have additional features that can further improve protection such as MIPS, better internal padding and more durable material construction.
Is it a legal requirement to wear a cycling helmet in the UK?
There’s no law in the UK which compels cyclists of any age to wear a helmet. However, it’s obviously dangerous to cycle without one, and the Highway Code suggests all cyclists wear a safe and well-fitting helmet regardless of what the law says.