Here we have featured some of the best budget mountain bike helmets for when you are wanting an inexpensive lid. But in saying this, these helmets are by no means cheap. By this, I mean they aren’t skimping on your safety nor your comfort.
All helmets listed here exceed the US and global safety standards, and meet our standards of comfort, ventilation and safety. See the contents below for a shortcut to the best budget mountain bike helmets.
Considering helmets will save your life in the event of a collision, they are already very inexpensive. It is worth it, in my opinion, to spend a little more on a helmet as it may save your life. On the other hand, helmets are not meant to last forever. Crash once and it needs to go. So we have compiled a list of the top budget helmets for this reason!
We would also recommend checking out our discussion on the difference between cheap and expensive helmets.
Essentials For a Helmet
The more expensive helmets have had more time put into optimizing the safety, comfort and ventilation. But if you aren’t needing a specialized lid, something a little more basic will still protect your head in the case of a collision.
So, what do you need to look for in a mountain bike helmet?
You want a hard shell (the visible plastic on the outside) that won’t separate from the foam layer (typically made of ‘EPS’ foam). This needs to extend further down the rear of the head to stop any injury from a hit to the back of the head.
You will also want a visor that shields your eyes from the sun and rain. And you will want an adjustable fitting system to ensure a snug fit every time.
And, as explained below, an anti-rotational system. The anti-rotational system (such as MIPS) varies between brands but has the intent to reduce the chances of brain injury.
These are so important that we genuinely believe that it should become mandatory in international helmet safety standards. Pretty much a helmet without one of these systems will only protect your brain if you happened to be lifted into the air and dropped on your head at a right angle to the ground. Coming from experience, crashes where you fall directly on the top of your head don’t actually ever happen.
As soon as there is a bit on an angle in the crash, the helmets without this technology will not prevent brain damage. The technology works by providing a slip plane, allowing the helmet to move slightly relative to the head. This absorbs the rotational energy, while the foam shell absorbs the direct energy.
The most common anti-rotational system is called MIPS (Multi-directional Impact System). It features in most of the helmets we have listed here. Others include SPIN, 360 Turbine, Wavecel, and Koroyd. These all act in similar ways preventing the brain from damaging during a collision.
Top 7 Budget Mountain Bike Helmets
Here we have listed the best budget mountain helmets under $110. Prices vary between $60 to $110, but all helmets have an anti-rotational system and exceed the current helmet safety standards.
Giro Fixture MIPS Review
For the rider who wants to look like they spent more, doesn’t mind a fixed visor, but still wants all the other features that come with a more expensive lid.
The Giro Fixture MIPS is an incredible bargain. It features excellent safety features, a fine tuned adjustable fit system, and a very comfortable fit.
The only issue we could find with this helmet was that the visor was not adjustable. You can choose to remove it entirely, but we find that it is in a good position to block the weather elements typically. The visor is also positioned to funnel airflow into the helmet, so it is not an unnecessary accessory.
The Fixture displays excellent ventilation, keeping you cool on those hot rides and climbs. It also has decent coverage around the rear of the head. All in all, a very good helmet, particularly for its price. Not to mention the large variety of colors you can find it in, and modern looking design.
The Giro Fixture certainly deserves its place in the best budget mountain bike helmets category!
Giro Chronicle MIPS Review
A simpler style helmet, which ticks the boxes on all the features you need and some more, while keeping the cost low and the value high.
The Giro Chronicle is a good solid helmet with a nice snug fit. It has a deeper rear coverage, which protects the back of the head slightly more than the Fixture. It has a very good retention system (Giro Roc Loc 5), so you can rest assured it will always fit like a glove.
However, due to the increase in rear coverage, it has less ventilation. This makes it a bit less breathable and hence a bit warmer for climbs and longer rides. To counter this, it does feature Coolmax pads. These are thick and absorbent pads, which can hold a greater amount of sweat to stop it dripping into your eyes. They are also removable, so it helps to clean them every now again.
The other issue is in order to save costs, the hard shell does not quite cover all of the EPS foam layer. This leaves the lower rim of the helmet exposed, which reduces the long-term durability of the helmet.
The visor on the Chronicle is adjustable, allowing goggles to be stored beneath the visor when they aren’t needed. It also features the ever so important MIPS technology.
The Chronicle pretty much has all the same features as a helmet twice its price. So if you don’t mind sacrificing being cool during long climbs, the Chronicle is a pretty incredible option.
For a more in-depth look at the Chronicle, check out the comparison with the Bell 4Forty.
Smith Convoy MIPS Review
A well ventilated and comfortable helmet for the trail rider who doesn’t hit the technical lines in the park, but just wants protection for the day-to-day trail riding.
The Smith Convoy MIPS is a good competitor for the Giro Fixture (above), with similar rear coverage and non-adjustable visors. Both the Fixture and the Convoy have lightweight, and very good-looking designs. The Convoy just tops the Fixture in that it has a slightly more comfortable fit and easier to use the adjustable fitting system, but keeping in mind that the Fixture is a little cheaper, they are both very competitive options.
Consider checking out our comparison between the Convoy and the Giro Fixture if you are interested.
The Convoy is Smith’s more basic option, but in saying this, you still get a high-quality helmet with MIPS, good ventilation and a lightweight design. You don’t get the premium Smith soft touch and highly absorbent padding, but if you don’t need the frills, this is an excellent helmet.
The Smith Convoy has more than earned it’s position in the best budget mountain bike helmets category!
Troy Lee Design A1 MIPS Review
This helmet is rated one of the most comfortable helmets on the market. However, ventilation is poor and so is best suited for riding in cooler climates or if you don't mind a hothead.
Rated one of the most comfortable helmets on the market, the A1 is a budget-friendly helmet that also exceeds safety requirements. It features MIPS, an adjustable visor, thick padding, and an incredible sizing system to make it barely noticeable on your head.
Unfortunately, it becomes noticeable once you begin a long steep climb. Here you will likely notice it is a slightly warmer helmet than most. The ventilation isn’t great if you are climbing in rather warm weather, but if you ride in a cooler climate, you’ll likely be thankful for the additional warmth.
In all honesty, having ridden with the helmet for several years, the lack of ventilation isn’t particularly noticeable but the comfort of the helmet is! I haven’t yet found a helmet more comfortable than the A1.
So if you aren’t too bothered by the additional limited ventilation of the A1, you will be hard-pressed to find reasons not to purchase this helmet!
Bell Nomad MIPS Review
Despite being one of the lower-priced options we have presented here, this helmet sacrifices little in terms of durability, comfort, and safety. The Nomad is Bell’s less advanced model, following the highly successful Sixer, 4Fourty, and Spark in the MIPS range.
The Nomad still features MIPS, plenty of rear coverage, an in-mold polycarbonate shell (increases durability), and an Ergo-Fit adjustment system. It does have the fixed visor, which we are seen on many of the base model helmets, but often really isn’t an issue for most riders.
This helmet is good for the casual riders who don’t want anything too serious but still want their helmet to be comfortable and lightweight for a good day out on the trails. The Bell Nomad is another helmet paving the way in the best budget mountain bike helmets category!
Fox Speedframe MIPS Review
One of the better-looking helmets on the market and ticks the box on all the essential features. In our opinion the best budget helmet on the market for trail and enduro riders.
The Speedframe helmet by Fox is a very cool design, developed with input from Fox sponsored riders. It is well ventilated, features a MIPS liner, and has a removable, washable liner. You can adjust the Speedframe to ensure it fits right, and you can store goggles beneath the visor if you need. It also comes in several very nice colors!
The Speedframe has a very light and sleek looking design and no real complaints from us. It does without the frills of the fully-featured model, the Speedframe Pro. However, it still has more than you need, and it is not very often you get such a good price for a Fox model!
Made for the trail rider as well as the enduro rider, this is a do it all kind of helmet that keeps your head safe while shredding the trails.
Lazer Coyote MIPS Review
The Lazer Coyote is the no-frills, trail, and enduro focused helmet that is great value for money. For the low price, you not only get the MIPS system, you also get a high level of coverage around the rear of the head. This keeps your head pretty well protected during a collision. The Coyote has a large adjustable fit system allowing you to get perfect sizing.
The Coyote is similar to the Giro Fixture in that it features a fixed visor. For some, this may be a deal-breaker, but we have no real complaints about having a fixed visor ourselves. The visor is large, so it blocks the sun and keeps out the pesky low hanging branches with ease.
It has great ventilation and is very comfortable. It is ideal for the rider wanting an all-around decent helmet!
You don’t necessarily need to spend a heap of money in order to get a well-performing, stylish, and safe helmet. The few things when selecting a helmet you need to look out for is the MIPS system (or similar), the fit, and the durability of the helmet.
A well fitting, comfortable helmet will make riding so much more enjoyable. A safe helmet will keep you at ease, knowing that if you come off, you are in good hands. I would always advise picking a helmet with a well known brand and good ratings.
If you want more information on how to choose a helmet, see the following articles