A low profile mountain bike helmet is a slimmer, less bulky-looking helmet. And when you are in search of a new bike helmet, you will want one that sits nicely on your head – not well above it! We have compiled the best low profile mountain bike helmets for your next ride!
Since you can’t search through a store using the ‘low profile’ filter, we have compiled a list for you. We have found the best bicycle helmets that sit low and close to your head, making for a ‘non-bobble head’ look.
You will find that all the helmets listed on this page have MIPS (multi-directional impact system) or another anti-rotational system. This is because here at MTB Gearbox, we believe anti-rotational systems should be made mandatory in every mountain bike helmet.
We have selected a broad range of low-profile bike helmets to suit almost any rider and any budget.
Why Buy a Low Profile MTB Helmet?
Pretty much a low profile mountain bike helmet is about looks and comfort. Having a big bulky bit of foam on your head neither looks, nor feels, good.
A low profile bike helmet is much slimmer. It looks better on your head, and generally sits closer to your head which feels way more natural.
A low profile MTB helmet is certainly not ‘less safe’ than a bulkier helmet. A low profile helmet doesn’t have less foam (hence has the same crumple zone) as a bulkier lid. It is simply shaped differently, or the fit means it sits closer to your head. Hence a low profile helmet is just as safe as a bulkier helmet.
Best Overall Low Profile MTB Helmets
Here are our selection of the very best low profile MTB helmets on the market today!
POC Tectal Race SPIN Review
- Great Ventilation
- A Bit Pricey
The Tectal Race SPIN is POC’s top of the line mountain bike helmet. It does come all kitted out with all the features you would expect from a top end mountain biking helmet. Google and glasses compatibility, an adjustable visor, and POC’s anti-rotational technology- SPIN (Shear Pads INside).
But it also has some features you wouldn’t expect from a trail helmet. The Aramid bridge technology is integrated with the liner to make the shell stronger and more durable.
The Aramid bridge is an incredibly lightweight and strong material that is placed strategically around the helmet as impact protection. It can be found just under the outer shell and will be molded to the foam liner to make a very durable and long lasting lid.
Another feature is the RECCO reflector, which is common in ski helmets to help skiers be found following an avalanche. It works in conjunction with a RECCO detector system which sends out signals to the reflector on the helmet. This helps the rider be found much faster in an accident.
The helmet sits very close to the head. There isn’t a lot of room between the shell and the head. It is designed to be low profile, whilst also providing all the features you need. The Tectal has very good coverage around the head.
There are no real complaints about the POC Tectal Race SPIN. It is aimed at the trail rider who wants as much assurance about their safety as possible. It has all the safety technology on the market at the moment and the RECCO reflector for the worst-case scenario.
The POC Tectal Race SPIN has certainly earned its place in the best low profile mountain bike helmets category.
Smith Forefront 2 Review
The ideal helmet for a safety-conscious rider, wanting to ride in style, comfort, and with peace of mind that their head will be protected in any impact.
- Deep Coverage
- Great Ventilation
- A Bit Pricey
Following in the footsteps of the Forefront, the Forefront 2 is a new and upgraded version. The helmet features an adjustable visor, which is pretty handy for low sun, or low hanging branches. It has a MIPS liner as well as Koroyd technology. This is a major benefit in terms of safety technology and helps considerably with impact protection and reduction in rotational energy.
The Koroyd technology is the green straw-like material that you can see. This technology creates a larger crumple zone to reduce the energy from direct impacts transferred to your head.
The ventilation has largely improved from the older Forefront model. This is due to the Koroyd straws not covering the entirety of the helmet in this model. Instead, it now separates down the front of the helmet, leaving the front vents open. Thus maximizing the airflow over the head. However, the ventilation still isn’t as great as you would expect because the Koroyd technology does cover some of those vents.
In our opinion, the Forefront 2 isn’t massively comfortable. It has pretty minimal padding, but I suppose it does mean less sweat build up! The rest of the helmet is built very sturdily. The chin straps are comfortable, and the visor is very durable.
All around, a very good helmet and sits very close to the head. Comfort and ventilation aren’t as flash as one would hope in purchasing a top of the line helmet. But in terms of safety and performance, it is an exceptional helmet.
The Smith Forefront 2 is one of the best low profile mountain bike helmets on the market today!
100% Altec Review
- Great Ventilation
- Pads can Create Sweat Points
The Altec is 100%’s first open-face trail helmet. Coming from a background in protection gear, these guys are not inexperienced! The helmet is very airy, with 15 very generously sized vents right the way around the helmet. So I am sure there won’t be any complaint of overheating!
The visor is attached very sturdily and adjusts high enough to stow goggles beneath it. There is even an integrated, back of the lid, sunglass storage system.
Instead of MIPS, 100% has Smartshock technology. This technology is made up of small circular rubberized pads, which act as shock absorbers in a crash. They work similarly to MIPS, as the pads can flex. This allows the outside of the MTB helmet to move slightly relative to the head, reducing the amount of energy transferred to the rider’s head.
The Smartshock pads attach to the padding inside the helmet and sit against the rider’s head. While this does provide an advantage in a crash, they provide small hot spots on the riders head. This is because the air cannot flow over those areas on the head. This may not be too noticeable for many riders, but is something to just be aware of!
The Altec has a very streamlined look to it. It sits flush to the head and certainly doesn’t make the rider look like a bobblehead. The very angular shape helps with this too. It has decent rear coverage but is still a very lightweight mountain biking helmet.
Best Value Low Profile MTB Helmets
Here we have the helmets that have all the great features with a super reasonable price tag.
POC Axion SPIN Review
- Great ventilation
- Not Goggle Compatible
The POC Axion SPIN is the slightly more basic version of the very impressive POC Tectal Race (covered below). Firstly, it is very light. This isn’t due to the large number of vents it offers, nor is it flimsy. It is very sturdy, very safe, and is just constructed using lightweight materials.
The 15 vents allow for excellent ventilation over the head, and the very soft, comfortable padding sits well against the rider’s head. It features POC’s anti-rotational system, SPIN (Shear Pads IN-side), which uses medical-grade silicon and has been rated highly in safety testing.
The POC Axion SPIN also has an adjustable visor, which breaks away on impact, reducing any torque which may be applied to the neck under an awkward crash. Additionally, it has very good rear coverage, which is very important for protecting the back of the head in a collision.
There is not much to complain about this helmet, other than the visor does not go high enough to store goggles beneath the visor, which means carrying the goggles around your neck or handlebars for the climbs. Very good value for money, and looks incredible.
Smith Rover MIPS Review
Made for the trail rider who doesn’t want anything over the top, but still features some of the latest technologies in helmet design for an excellent price.
- Excellent Ventilation
- Great Fitting System
- Large Vents
The Rover is the Forefront 2’s (reviewed below) cheaper sibling, designed to a price point and provides excellent value for money. The most notable feature of the Rover is the strange vents. There is a lot of them, and they are large. The front vents are huge, and despite the fact that air will be gushing through them, there are still over brow air channels keeping your head even cooler.
This helmet is definitely suited to those in a warmer climate or those who sweat more! Even the rear vents are large, which could probably be more of an issue in a crash, as sharp objects can get through to the head much easier.
The Rover features the Koroyd Aerocore- but only in patches. This is why the price is significantly less than the Forefront 2, as the core only covers two measly portions of the helmet. These two areas, on the front sides of the helmet, are placed strategically where the helmet has the most contact with the skull, reducing the damage caused by a crash.
The fitting system is very good to use, easy to change even with gloves on, and comfortable. Personally, I find that the Koroyd straws aren’t particularly comfortable, but given that they cover such a minor part of the helmet, the helmet is still quite comfortable. It is a good looking helmet, meets all the criteria for a decent trail helmet, and is certainly good value for money!
Best Budget Low Profile MTB Helmets
Here are the best helmets for those on a tighter budget, but still want to look good, and stay safe.
Giro Fixture 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.
- Looks Great
- Great value
- Fixed Visor
The Giro Fixture gives you all that you need, no gimmicks and for an incredible price. It comes with MIPS, which protects the rider from brain damage, an EPS foam layer that has good coverage around the head, and a visor.
The visor is fixed, however, it is not long enough to obstruct the rider’s vision but is long enough to prevent the sun or long hanging branches from hindering your eyesight. It is also a removable visor if you prefer riding without one (ie: to use it as a road bike helmet).
The Fixture has 18 vents in total, allowing the air to flow past your head with ease, keeping you cool on those hot climbs or long rides. It is a one size fits all kind of fitting system, which generally raises some red flags. However, with Giro’s excellent Roc Loc adjustment system, it actually does meet the size 54-61cm claim quite easily.
The Giro Fixture looks good and is comfortable, and if you’re not picky about the fixed visor or the one-size-fits-all, it is an excellent trail helmet for one of the best prices seen on the market.
Smith Convoy 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.
- Good Ventilation
- Goggle Compatible
- Low Rear Coverage
- Exposed EPS Foam
Here we have Smith’s ‘budget’ mountain bike helmet. It differs from the top-of-the-line Forefront 2 as it doesn’t have any of the Koroyd technology, nor does it cover the rear of the head as much. It does, however, feature MIPS, effective ventilation (better than many more expensive helmets!), and goggle stowage.
The visor is not adjustable but is long enough to prevent sunlight and branches from affecting your ride, but not long enough to obstruct your vision while riding. The outer polycarbonate shell does not fully wrap around the bottom of the helmet, leaving the foam exposed at the base to damage and general wear.
Other than the fixed visor and the potential of wear of the base of the MTB helmet, there isn’t much to complain about. It is comfortable, very light and very well ventilated. If you can put up with these features (which we certainly could), then it is an excellent purchase.
The Smith Convoy certainly deserves a spot in the best low profile mountain bike category!
Kali Maya 2.0 Review
- Dual Density Foam
- Low-Density Layer Technology
Difficult to Adjust with One hand
To be quite honest, this isn’t really a ‘budget’ mountain bike helmet. It’s not expensive- for sure, but somehow Kali has created a very good helmet, but with a very low price tag. No ‘budget’ helmet would have a dual-density EPS composite fusion liner (which means it has two foam layers, one reducing the energy from high-speed crashes, and one from slower crashes). It is light, has 12 well-placed vents, and is incredibly comfortable.
Instead of MIPS, Kali has a low-density layer to reduce both linear and rotational impacts. The layer works like memory foam and is molded into the EPS liner. In the event of a crash, it cups the skull reducing direct energy to the skull by absorbing the shock. It allows the helmet to rotate around the skull, so the angular energy isn’t transferred to the rider’s head. Kali also offers a lifetime crash replacement policy which is a real bonus!
The Maya 2.0 has an anti-microbial liner and a dual-ratcheting head-band adjustment system. The visor is adjustable and made durable so it stays in place while you are riding. It is an excellently designed low-profile helmet, offering protection and comfort at an incredible price.
Best Full-Face Low Profile MTB Helmets
Here are our top low profile full face/convertible mountain bike helmets. For more convertible helmets, check out our favourites here.
Bell Super 3R Review
Well ventilated, very light, and very comfortable. This is the ideal helmet for the typical rider, not riding the extreme lines at extreme speeds, but wanting more protection than an open-face helmet can provide.
- Well Ventilated
- Not ASTM Downhill Certified
The Bell Super 3R is a convertible mountain bike helmet, designed for a rider who wants to ride up the hills comfortably- with the chin bar detached, but wants a little more protection for the decent- with the chin bar attached.
The benefits of having a removable chin bar are numerous, including having exceptional breathability, lightweight design, and a low profile MTB helmet. You get not only a very good full-face helmet but also a light, well-designed half-shell too.
The Bell Super 3R is one of the lightest convertible MTB helmets out there, but that may be due to the fact that it is not downhill certified. This means it is not suitable for the hardcore downhill or enduro rider, but more suited to a rider who just wants a bit more protection around the face.
The Bell Super 3R does not give you the confidence that a full-face normally provides because it is not bulky. It is very comfortable and has an adjustable visor which allows for goggle stowage. And the fitting dial at the rear of the head allows for easy adjustment even with gloves on.
It is an excellent helmet for the rider who isn’t tackling the expert lines but does feel they need a bit more protection while riding. If you consider you are getting two helmets for the price of one, you can’t really beat the value!
Looking for a well ventilated full face helmet? Check out our selection here.
For more on the Super 3R, check out the head to head comparison with the Super DH. The Super 3R certainly earns its spot in the best low profile mountain bike helmet category!
Bell Super Air Spherical Review
- Well Ventilated
- Very Lightweight
- Not ASTM Downhill Certified
The Bell Super Air is another convertible helmet, similar to the Super 3R. It is not downhill certified, similar to the Super 3R, despite featuring the MIPS Spherical technology. This is one of our favorite technologies on the market, given how simple yet effective this system is.
MIPS Spherical basically works as a Ball and Socket, where the outer EPS foam layer rotates around the inner EPP (expanded polypropylene) layer during a crash. Effectively it works to reduce the impact forces, protecting the brain, whilst improving the ventilation and style of the helmet.
The lack of downhill certification arises due to its lack of burliness. It is instead aimed at trail riders wanting more protection than a half-shell without the added weight of a full face.
The Super Air is possibly one of the most comfortable helmets on the market at the moment. It uses the same Float Fit system found in the Super 3R, creating no pressure points on the head. The three-point visor rises enough to accommodate goggles or glasses while riding. The Super Air features a sweat guide, which pulls moisture away from the brow so sweat doesn’t get in your eyewear.
Ventilation through the Bell Super Air is excellent. With 18 air vents on the shell, 8 chin bar vents and 4 over brow ports you aren’t likely to be complaining about the heat!
The Super Air R is very protective yet doesn’t have the surplus weight that you don’t really want on a casual ride. The performance of the Bell Super Air is undeniably good, and if a little more protection on the trails is what you want, then it is the perfect helmet for you! For a full review on the Bell Super Air R, see here.
Troy Lee Designs Stage MIPS Review
With goggle compatibility, a super-light frame, and incredibly breathable- the Stage has certainly got a lot to offer both enduro and the casual downhill riders.
- Great Ventilation
- Extra Padding for Perfect Fit
- Low Profile Design Feels Flimsy
The Troy Lee Designs Stage is another MTB lid in the lightweight full-face, best low profile mountain bike helmet category.
Unlike both the Super 3R and the Super Air, the Stage is fully ASTM downhill certified. And actually exceeds these requirements. It features MIPS anti-rotational technology, and a dual-density EPS and EPP foam shell. Having this dual density shell reduces both high energy and low energy impacts.
The Stage has the controversial Fidlock buckle on the chin strap which many riders have claimed is difficult to use. Having used the Fidlock buckle for over a year, we can certainly say you get used to it very quickly. It is very simple to use, and the magnetic buckle system is definitely an advantage on a helmet!
The Stage creates a helmet with an optimized fit. It uses interchangeable cheek pads so you can fit it to your face. And the pads are X-static, which reduces sweat and odor build up.
The Troy Lee Designs Stage lid is a sleek-looking, low profile mountain bike helmet designed for enduro riders. Or, alternatively, downhill riders who want a lighter, more breathable option than a typical full face provides. The stage is impressive as it also exceeds downhill certification requirements.
The performance of the Stage is excellent, with great comfort, weight and ventilation. It may feel a little thinner than many downhill helmets, but it is certainly not flimsy!
What is an anti-rotational system?
An anti-rotational impact system is a technology that sits inside the mountain bike helmet, reducing the chances of the rider getting brain damage following an angled impact. It works by allowing the outer shell of the helmet to rotate slightly along a slip plane, while the rest of the helmet stays close to your head. By allowing the outer polycarbonate shell to move, there is less rotational energy transferred to the rider’s head. Hence this reduces the chances of brain damage.
Without an anti-rotational system, the energy will be transferred directly to the rider’s head, allowing the brain to move within the skull, potentially causing brain damage. So, you can see why we would not recommend riding without this technology!
Additionally, the price of the technology doesn’t actually add that much more to the bike helmet, so it is certainly a worthwhile investment for you or your kids! Technology that you should be looking out for includes – MIPS, Turbine 360, Wavecel, SPIN, Koroyd and several more.
The mountain bike helmets mentioned above are some of the best low profile mountain bike helmets on the market currently. All helmets are safe, and are excellent quality lids that will last you years.
The mountain bike helmet you choose will depend ultimately on your budget and the terrain you typically ride on.
Our personal favorites would be the POC Tectal SPIN given the ‘no-expense-spared’ type design. And the Troy Lee Designs Stage gives you a very sturdy full face mountain bike helmet, that looks good and is super comfortable.