When looking for a helmet which looks nice and feels comfortable, you are probably looking for something that is low profile.
While you can’t search through a store using the ‘low profile’ filter (would be very helpful if they did make this a filter though!), we have found some of the best helmets which sit low and close to your head, making for a comfortable ‘non-bobble head’ look.
You will find that all the helmets listed on this page have something along the lines of MIPS 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.
Which are the best low-profile helmets?
We have selected a broad range of low-profile helmets to suit almost any rider and any budget.
Here are our selection of the very best low profile 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 helmet, and it does come all kitted out with all the features you would expect from a top of the line 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, such as the use of Aramid bridge technology that is integrated with the liner to enhance the structural technology.
The Aramid bridge is an incredibly lightweight and strong material which is placed strategically around the helmet, just under the outer shell and molded to the foam liner to make a very durable helmet.
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 helmet, helping 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, and the fitting system is really just for fine-tuning the feel. It is designed to be low profile, whilst also providing all the features you need, and 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.
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, a MIPS liner as well as Koroyd technology (which looks like a bunch of cut straws and creates a larger crumple zone to reduce the energy from direct impacts).
The ventilation, which was a limiting factor in the older version, has been improved 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, maximizing the airflow over the head.
Due to the Koroyd technology still covering the rest of the head, however, the ventilation is not as good as you would expect given the many very large vents.
In our opinion, the Forefront 2 isn’t massively comfortable. When you compare it to a cheaper helmet without the Koroyd straws, such as the Bell Sixer or the Giro Chronicle, it is a bit hard fitting and not the soft feel you would expect from a top of the line helmet. However, it does lead to less sweat build-up I suppose! The rest of the helmet is very sturdily built, the chin straps are designed to be 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.
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, 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 which is made up of small circular rubberized pads, which act as shock absorbers in a crash. They also work similar to MIPS, as the pads can flex, allowing the helmet to move slightly, reducing the amount of energy transferred to the rider’s head. These attach to the padding inside the helmet and sit against the rider’s head. This provides an advantage in a crash- which is what they are made for, but for climbing, they provide small hot spots, as the air cannot flow over those areas on the head. This may not be too noticeable for many riders, but we are sure there must be a better design for 100% to come up with here!
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 very lightweight.
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.
It also has an adjustable visor, which breaks away on impact, reducing any torque which may be applied to the neck under an awkward crash. It has very good rear coverage, which is very important for protection of the back of the head in 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 handle bars 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 damaged caused in 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!
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, and EPS foam layer which 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 hindering your eyesight.
It has 18 vents, allowing the air to flow through the helmet with ease, keeping you cool on those hot climbs or long rides. It is a one size fits all kind of helmet, 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 Fixture looks good and is comfortable, and if you’re not picky about the fixed visor or the one size fit 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’ 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, features 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 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 limited durability of the base of the 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.
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’ 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, and 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 moulded into the EPS liner. In the event of a crash, it cups the skull reducing direct energy to the skull by absorbing the shock, and 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 to it stays in place while you are riding. It is an excellently designed low-profile helmet, offering protection and comfort at an incredible price.
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 helmet, designed for a rider who wants to ride up the hills with a breathable helmet- with the chin bar detached, but wants a little more protection for the decent- with the chin bar attached.
The benefits of having a detachable helmet are numerous, including having exceptional breathability, lightweight design, and a low profile 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 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 and super low profile. It is very comfortable, 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, and considering 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.
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. It 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 and is instead aimed at trail riders wanting more protection without the added weight of riding with a certified downhill helmet.
The Super Air is possibly one of the most comfortable helmets on the market at the moment, using 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 and the helmet features a sweat guide, which pulls moisture away from the brow pad, so sweat doesn’t get into the eyewear.
Ventilation is excellent, with 18 vents on the shell, 8 chin bar vents and 4 over brow ports you aren’t likely to be complaining about the heat!
Again, this is another viable helmet for someone looking for a low profile helmet that provides more protection than an open face, without the surplus weight which isn’t wanted on a casual ride. 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!
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 helmet in the lightweight, low profile full-face helmet category.
Unlike both the Super 3R and the Super Air, the Stage is fully ASTM downhill certified, and actually exceeds the requirements. It features MIPS anti-rotational technology, and a dual-density EPS and EPP foam shell to reduce both high energy and low energy impacts.
The Stage has the controversial Fidlock buckle 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 optimized fit using cheek pads and a washable X-static liner, so you can fit the helmet to your face as needed.
The Troy Lee Designs Stage helmet is a sleek looking, low profile helmet designed for enduro or downhill riders wanting a lighter, more breathable helmet than a typical full-face provides, whilst also exceeding downhill certification requirements.
The performance of the helmet is excellent, with great comfort, weight and ventilation- it feels a little thinner than many downhill helmets, but it is certainly not flimsy!
What is an anti-rotational system?
An anti-rotational system is a technology which sits inside the 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 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 helmet, so it is certainly a worthwhile investment for you or your kids! Technology that you should be looking out for include- MIPS, Turbine 360, Wavecel, SPIN, Koroyd and several more.
Finding a low-profile helmet that looks good and performs well is a challenge. The terrain you are riding on and your budget will ultimately determine which helmet you will need, but the list above does help in guiding you to the right low-profile helmet for you.