So, you’ve seen the incredible trails and parts of the world that mountain bikers get to explore, and you are keen to join in? You’ve found the bike, the kit, and socks to match, but you just aren’t sure how to select a helmet. Keep reading for the best mountain bike helmets for beginners.
The first thing you should know is that there are a few different styles of helmets, all offering different levels of protection, ventilation and aerodynamics. The style of helmet obviously depends on your style of riding. If you are planning on riding up hills often, you will want a helmet with plenty of ventilation. If you are planning on sending it off rock drops and steep descents, you will have to sacrifice a little ventilation for some more protection.
One thing you need to remember is that a helmet is there to save your life. For it to do its job effectively, it needs to fit correctly and be the right helmet for the type of terrain, or there is less point in wearing it.
Is a more expensive helmet better?
A more expensive helmet is has a higher price for two reasons;
- More time has been put into the design and/or
- The materials are lighter, more aero, or safer
For a beginner, a more expensive helmet is not necessary. The helmets we have recommended can usually be found for under or around $100 USD. A cheap helmet- which may be appealing for a beginner- is made of cheaper materials which will degrade much faster, the construction is not as durable, and a cheaper helmet will not have an anti-rotational system (which we will explain in a second), which we see as necessary for any rider.
In the scheme of things, a helmet is very inexpensive, considering it could save your life.
What is an anti-rotational system?
An anti-rotational system reduces the forces of an angular impact transferred to the rider’s head. It works by having a slip plane that allows the helmet to move without twisting the head, reducing the chances of brain damage or concussions. Common systems to look out for are MIPS, SPIN, Turbine 360, and WaveCel.
Personally, I do not ride the trails with a helmet that doesn’t have an anti-rotational system. The additional protection that MIPS or any other protection system provides is well worth the extra investment for me.
Best MTB Helmets for Beginners
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 is our number one choice for a beginner’s helmet. The price is low, but the value is high. With good coverage, MIPS anti-rotational protection, a decent-sized visor, and Giro’s Roc Loc adjustment system, you have everything you need in this helmet.
The main disadvantage of it is that the visor is not adjustable. Many riders won’t be bothered by it as the visor is a decent size to block the sun and low branches. But you cannot fit goggles beneath the visor if needed.
If you want some more information on the Giro Fixture, check out the comparison between the Fixture and the Smith Convoy. The Giro Fixture has definitely earned its position in the best mountain bike helmets for beginners category!
Giro Chronicle MIPS Review
The Giro Chronicle is a classic helmet, known for its extended rear coverage and exceptional value for money. The deeper coverage means more of the head is protected, especially towards the rear of the head and above the ears. This style cradles your head, giving you the ultimate protection as well as comfort.
The Chronicle features MIPS, an adjustable visor, and goggle storage (beneath the visor if desired). It is designed to be a mid-range helmet, although it has many of the features of the top-of-the-line helmets but at a price much closer to the budget helmets.
Bontrager Solstice MIPS Review
The Solstice is an inexpensive mountain bike helmet that is designed well to allow for great airflow, style and practicality. Even at its low price, you still get MIPS, a great retention system, and it comes in a number of bright colors to help you be seen while out riding.
The visor is not adjustable but can be taken off if you chose not to use it at times. The internal padding is soft, comfortable and moisture-wicking. Additionally, Bontrager offers a replacement guarantee if the helmet is involved in a crash in the first year of ownership.
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 is another beginner helmet, a good looking, comfortable helmet but without anything too fancy.
The Convoy comes with MIPS, great ventilation and a comfortable fit. The only downfall to the helmet is the lack of adjustability of the visor, which again may not be an issue for the majority of beginner riders. Additionally, the EPS foam layer is exposed (no plastic covering it), which means the durability of the helmet is hindered slightly.
Other than that, the helmet is of exceptional quality, and any rider can rest assured their head will be well protected. The Smith Convoy has certainly earned it’s position in the best mountain bike helmets for beginners!
For a similar helmet that looks even better, check out our review on the Smith Venture which offers a few more benefits over the Convoy.
Troy Lee Designs A1 MIPS Review
An incredibly comfortable lid, which looks good and manages to be safe all at the same time. Runs a little hot around the rear of the head, but that’s not an issue while you’re shredding the downhills!
The Troy Lee Designs A1 is well known for being exceptionally comfortable. The padding and shape of the helmet have meant that the A1 has got a reputation for being comfortable for most riders. The padding is lined with silver, which acts to reduce the microbial buildup (effectively just stops the helmet from smelling)
The A1 isn’t really a bottom of the line helmet but is a cheaper top of the line helmet with all the features you need. It features MIPS, an adjustable visor, and decent coverage. The A1 is a super popular helmet amongst riders as you do get a lot of value from the helmet. It is well constructed and uses in-mold technology. This technology molds the EPS foam to the outer polycarbonate shell. In doing so, it increases the strength and durability of the MTB helmet without adding any further weight.
What to consider when purchasing a helmet
Firstly, there are a few types of helmets that are available for different types of riding. There are open face, full face, and convertible helmets. An open face have slightly more coverage than a road helmet, and are well ventilated and lightweight.
A full-face has chin protection and more coverage over the ears and around the back of the head. Downhill and enduro riders tend to use downhill helmets. They aren’t particularly useful for climbing though, as they can get a bit warm. See here for more well-ventilated full-face helmets.
A convertible helmet is a full-face helmet where the chin bar is removable. This makes it easier to climb hills and keep the rider a little cooler when needed. A convertible helmet is the ideal helmet if you believe you might get into downhill a little later down the track. But the downside is that they are a little pricier than a standard open face helmet. Check out these convertible helmets if you think this might be handy for you.
First and foremost, you should be looking at a helmet that is going to protect your head to the best of its abilities. There is little to no point in wearing a helmet that just isn’t going to protect your head. So what to look for?
- Coverage- you want as much coverage as possible to limit the amount of surface area of your head being exposed.
- Anti-rotational system- to reduce the energy transferred to your head in an angular crash
- EPS or EPP foam- stands for expanded polystyrene and expanded polypropylene, respectively.
- In-mold- this is a method of construction that binds the outer plastic shell to the foam layer. This improves durability and strength without adding any weight to the helmet.
You really don’t want to be sweating profusely in a group ride up a casual hill. So you want a helmet that allows air to flow over your head, keeping you cool. Look for things such as
- Internal channeling- allows air to pass right through the helmet to make sure there is no buildup of heat
- Over brow vents- allows air to enter the front of the helmet to cool you down
- The number of vents doesn’t tend to matter much- the size and the structure matters more
You don’t often notice how comfortable a helmet is until you try on one that is super uncomfortable. But there are also some helmets that just seem to work. The padding is nice and thick and the fitting retention system works precisely. And there are no pressure points against the head at all.
Other Relevant Posts
The helmets listed above are the best mountain bike helmets for beginners, but if you want some more helmet information check out these posts below.