These days there are so many options for helmets out there its hard to sort through the fog of all the technical terms and the large variety of helmets. Below we have selected some of the most outstanding mountain bike helmets with MIPS technology so that you can make an educated decision in purchasing the right helmet for you.
Here we have the best helmets with MIPS in 2020. These helmets have been selected based on performance criteria, such as safety and protection, comfort, breathability, goggle or camera compatibility, and style.
Best Value Helmets with MIPS
These are a selection of great value helmets that offer most of the key features that a great helmet offers, but at a more wallet friendly price!
Fox Racing Speedframe Pro MIPS Review
A good quality helmet for riders who want a helmet they can ride with comfortably all day. Perfect for the trail rider and enduro rider alike, who aren’t phased by the additional weight from the extra protection it provides.
It is hard to be out on the trails without encountering the Fox logo anywhere, its been around for longer than we can remember, and is popular for good reason. The Speedframe Pro is no exception for the Fox line. It provides ample protection for your head, with MIPS, dual-density foam (protecting the head at low and high-speed impacts), and good head coverage.
The fitting system, 360 Fit, has 26 adjustment settings controlled by an easy to use dial at the back of the head, and there are no issues with adjusting while riding. The fit system can also be moved vertically between four separate positions so that the dial can sit at a comfortable position on the rear of the head. The strap system uses the FidLock magnetic buckle, which some riders find fiddly initially, but personally, I think it takes a few clips to get used to, then you won’t be going back to standard buckles after that!
The ventilation of the helmet is superb, and the helmet was clearly designed in and around the MIPS system as there is no obstruction of the vents from MIPS. The only real complaint about the helmet is that it is slightly heavier than more expensive lids. But, it is not particularly noticeable, and in having sufficient ventilation, you won’t be uncomfortable wearing it. For the price you are paying, you would expect much more significant flaws, but here we have the best value helmet on the market in our opinion!
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!
I rode with the Troy Lee Designs A1 for over a year and can honestly say it is one of the most comfortable helmets that I have worn. It fits well around the head with decent coverage on the sides and the rear. It features MIPS, which is built around the padding and does not obstruct the ventilation. The construction is in-mold - the outer shell is molded to the EPS layer- for stronger durability and a very professional look.
The ventilation of the helmet is the weaker point of the design, particularly in the rear of the head it runs a little hot and can be a bit of sweat build up. But if you are riding in a cooler climate or you aren’t a big sweater, this can be an advantage rather than an annoyance. The visor of the helmet is adjustable, though it doesn’t quite go high enough to store goggles beneath, leaving you to store the goggles elsewhere when they aren’t in use.
In all, the helmet looks very good, is extremely comfortable, and has high levels of protection. If you aren’t too phased by the limited ventilation and don’t mind not storing the goggles on the helmet, the A1 is certainly great value for money.
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.
If you are looking for a comfortable helmet, with safety specs as high as top-end mountain bike helmets but for half the price, the Chronicle is certainly one to consider. The coverage of the helmet, on both the sides and the rear, is greater than most, cradling your head for ultimate protection. The Roc Loc fitting system will ensure the helmet doesn’t slip around while you are bouncing down the trails either.
The construction of the helmet is very sturdy, with the straps, the MIPS liner, and the fitting system all firmly secured to the EPS layer. The only weaker aspect of the design is that the hard-outer layer does not wrap completely around the EPS layer, leaving some foam exposed to the elements, which may degrade the foam faster.
The helmet is light, the visor is adjustable, you can store your goggles beneath the visor if you wish to, and it is safe and comfortable. The only issue with the helmet that we have found is that the ventilation is lacking slightly.
The small vents on the front will keep the front and top of your head reasonably cool, but the lack of ventilation does lead to a build-up of heat around the rest of the head. This leaves you a little warm on the hot climbs and long rides, but for the price you pay, it is reasonably minor!
For more on the Chronicle check out the head to head comparison with the Bell 4Forty.
Best MIPS Helmet under $80
If you are looking for a nice, modern-looking helmet, which fits well and will keep your head safe, without any of the bells and whistles, here is your list of the best helmets under $80.
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 Fixture is well designed in that it used the best parts of the more expensive Montaro and Chronicle but cut the extras to give a safe, durable helmet for a low price. It comes in a large range of colors, has 18 vents for nice airflow over the head, and the Roc Loc adjustable fitting system allows the ‘one size fits most’ claim to be true!
A couple of other minor issues- ones you will never notice while actually riding- is that the fitting system is actually under the lid. This requires you to fit the helmet prior to putting it on. The other is that there is that the visor is fixed, so there will be no adjusting the visor to block out that pesky sun while riding through the trees. However, the visor is large enough that it generally will block out the sun, and not large enough that it actually ever obstructs your vision.
It has slightly less padding that its upper market models, but this isn’t noticeable when it’s on unless you are super fussy. All in all, the Fixture is a no-nonsense lid and an incredible value for money for any rider about to hit the trails.
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 Convoy is the simplified version of the Smith Venture and Smith Session, with a similar style and safety features, with all of the need-to-haves and less of the nice-to-haves. It does not have the classic Smith Koroyd honeycomb protection and instead has MIPS, which actually makes it a fair bit more breathable. No doubt about it, Smith makes some very nice-looking helmets, and the Convoy is no exception.
Similar to the Fixture, the Convoy also has a fixed visor, which is slightly smaller than the Fixture, making it slightly less obtrusive while riding. It doesn’t have as much rear coverage as most enduro helmets, making it more suitable for trail riding rather than enduro riding. The bottom of the helmet is not fully wrapped by the hard-outer shell, which exposes the EPS foam near the edges, making it more prone to wear near the base of the helmet.
The rear of the helmet is shaped to hold goggles or glasses securely, which is quite an advanced feature on a less expensive model. For the price you pay for the Convoy, you get a quite sophisticated looking helmet with the features you need and the essential safety and fitting systems.
Bontrager Solstice MIPS Review
The Bontrager Solstice is available at REI. Check out the helmet here.
The Bontrager Solstice shows that the less expensive helmets are not necessarily less safe. It has the same safety rating as the Troy Lee Designs A1, and several other helmets triple its price! It is certainly well priced, reasonably lightweight, and has an easy to use retention system to stop it sliding around on your head. The visor is fixed, but it is also removable, so the combination of the removable visor and very impressive ventilation makes it an ideal helmet for the mountain biker who also enjoys heading out road riding too!
The Solstice has a Fidlock buckle, a magnetic clip system, which is well above this helmets pay-grade! The Fidlock buckle has been reported by a few users as difficult to use, but it could just be something to get used to as we have no issues with it. The sizing runs a little small, so it is recommended to go up a size if you are at the upper limit of the sizing range.
The bright colors help you be seen on the road (or while riding to the trails), coming in blue, yellow, and red with a matte finish. For the price, this really is a steal. The Solstice MIPS is a good-looking helmet that is perfect for the trail of typical Bontrager quality, easily coming in under that $80 benchmark.
Best Overall Helmets with MIPS
These helmets have been selected based on a rating system of protection, comfort, value for money, and style. All helmets exceed the minimum standards of protection in the U.S, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Specialized Ambush MIPS ANGI Review
The Specialized Ambush MIPS ANGI is available here at JensonUSA.
The Specialized Ambush has had a big upgrade in recent years, with an optional ANGi ‘safety beacon’ feature being added to the already spec’d out design. The lid sits close to the head, with deep rear coverage and a lot of ventilation. The structural design of the helmet is also quite spectacular. It has an EPS multi-density foam material (distributes the impact around the helmet, rather than to the head) with extra Aramid (a stronger and unbreakable material), which allows for a very lightweight and well-ventilated helmet.
ANGi (Angular and G-Force indicator) is pretty much a safety beacon implanted at the rear of the helmet, which is connected to an app on your phone. If the sensor detects a crash, it will send a countdown to your phone. If you are hurt or injured and cannot stop the countdown, it will send a text to your emergency contacts, alerting them to your location. ANGi really gives the rider and their family peace of mind while out riding solo.
The Ambush has been rated as one of the best-ventilated helmets, which is impressive considering the number of safety features it also presents which often counters the breathability. It is one of the best helmets on the market at the moment in terms of safety, comfort, and ventilation. The Ambush is another all-around helmet, perfect for the cross-country rider through to the enduro rider.
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.
Picture the most basic helmet you can imagine, then demolish it, start again with completely different materials, an out-of-this-world fit, and more safety features than you could imagine. The Smith Forefront helmet is Smith’s top-of-the-line helmet, and they have very much done it justice.
The shell is made of Koroyd Aerocore, which is a straw-like material that increases the crumple zone, which crushes on impact, reducing the energy transferred to the head. The straw-like configuration also allows for better airflow than a typical EPS layer, allowing better ventilation to keep your head cool on the climbs and all-day rides.
The helmet sits around the head, rather than just on top, and has a deep rear coverage making it ideal for all-mountain riding. It has very generously sized vents which contribute to the minimalist weight and excellent ventilation (significant improvements from the original Forefront), giving it that ‘barely there’ impression while riding. Safe to say, though, that it will be there in times where it is most needed, and you can rest assured that your head is in capable hands.
Bell Sixer MIPS Review
A great choice for any style of rider, whether you’re a safety-conscious commuter or an enduro rider, the sixer has enough protection and ventilation to keep everyone happy.
Bell is a very reputable brand with over 50 years worth of experience in designing safe, ventilated, and comfortable helmets for all types of riders. The Bell Sixer has been a popular lid for riders for several years now, and for a good reason. It is a very robust helmet with a modern design, and Bell’s very experienced team is behind it. The Sixer features MIPS as well as a progressively layered foam which works by dispersing the force laterally within the layer, rather than towards the head. This dispersion of energy reduces the energy translated through to the skull, protecting your head just that bit more.
An incredible 26 vents which lead to great ventilation, although we thought this might be more a disadvantage as rocks and branches could get through in a crash. And despite all the vents, the helmet is still a relatively heavy helmet compared to many of its competition.
It does come in a huge range of colors, sits close to the head, and has plenty of coverage to maximize the rider’s safety. The Sixer is a very good all-round helmet, perfect for the majority of riders.
Best Full-Face Helmet with MIPS
We have included this section for completeness, however, many of the downhill helmets tend to have their own technologies rather than using MIPS. In saying this, the three helmets listed here are still three of the most well ventilated, lightweight, and comfortable designs on the market, which meet and exceed downhill protection standards.
Troy Lee Designs Stage 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.
Troy Lee Designs has targeted the lightweight, well-ventilated portion of the market. The protection features of the helmet, while still better than most, isn’t quite as good as the Fox Racing Rampage. This is only due to the slim, lightweight construction, which detracts from the confidence while riding gnarly downhill sections. The chin bar is impressively thin, which is great for ventilation but feels a little sketchy on the rocky descents. But this is all just a feeling some riders get- the Stage is fully certified for downhill riding and features the ever-important MIPS liner.
In terms of features, the visor has a huge range of adjustment, allowing goggles to sit below the visor easily and shield your eyes from the sun when needed. It comes with a helmet bag in the box, spare visor, and various sizes of extra padding, so you can bulk out the helmet in areas you need and slim down in tighter areas. This is quite a cool feature, as you can make the helmet fit extremely comfortably, given there is no sizing retention system, and if you ride with the Stage goggles, there will not be any unwanted movement of the helmet on your head. The FidLock buckle is featured on the Stage, which has had a few comments from riders about it being fiddly to do up, but we have had no issues with the system, and in fact, we have loved using it this past year. Again, it is likely just something you get used to.
The Stage feels more like an enduro helmet, with its ‘barely there’ feel, hearing is unobstructed, breathing is easy, but with the full protection of the chin bar and whole head covering. Gone are the days of bulky full-face helmets, the Stage is a game-changer in showing that a slim, super light helmet can enter the downhill game.
Bell Super DH MIPS Review
Bringing together the best of both worlds, a detachable chin bar makes for an easy climb and a safe descent. For the price of one, you get a top-of-the-line open face helmet and a fully certified downhill helmet that is comfortable, durable, and easy to use.
Bell has designed the helmet that is the best of both worlds. It is a very safe, comfortable downhill helmet with a detachable chin bar to create an open-faced enduro helmet. We ride with this helmet on an almost daily basis and find that being able to use the open face helmet for a pedal lap, then transferring to a full face for bike park laps, is one of the biggest benefits found in a helmet. Especially for the hot days pedaling out to the bike park, then being able to easily attach the chin bar to the helmet on the chair lift and having a full face for decent is invaluable.
The system is very easy to work. It has a clip system at the rear and sides of the helmet, which would never come undone riding or in a crash but is very easy to change from full face to open face, and vice-versa. Over the past year, there has been no signs of wear on the system, or anywhere on the helmet for that matter (except for the inevitable wearing on the padding from large amounts of use).
In terms of features, the Super DH has a large, adjustable visor that is goggle compatible. It has the FidLock magnetic buckle, which we find works better than a standard plastic buckle, particularly with gloves on. Ventilation is great when using the helmet in either mode, and the design is extremely comfortable with a retention system to ensure a great fit each time.
We would say that this is one of the best value on the market, considering you get two very high standard helmets in one purchase.
Fox Proframe MIPS Review
Perfect for the rider who just wants a good, solid, traditional style downhill helmet, which is comfortable, well ventilated, and sure to keep your head protected following an impact.
Coming in slightly heavier than the Troy Lee Designs Stage, the Fox Proframe is still a very lightweight helmet. It is quite impressive that it does so closely compare with the Stage given that it has a bit more substance and protection to it. The Fox Proframe is a fairly simple, few frills kind of helmet. It features MIPS, a solid design, and great ventilation.
Similar to the Stage, the Proframe does not have an adjustable sizing system, but rather has extra padding which you can play around with to get the most comfortable fit. The ventilation on the helmet is not quite that of the Stage nor the Super DH, but it is not bad compared to most other downhill helmets. The visor is fixed, which doesn’t allow for goggles to be stored beneath the visor while climbing, but it is long enough to prevent the sun from inhibiting your vision on the way down. It does feature the FidLock buckle as does both the Super DH and Stage, and the straps are padded and kept well away from irritating your face.
The Fox Proframe does not have many of the fancy features that the Super DH nor the Stage feature, but it does use well-researched safety technology and design to provide a good solid helmet to keep you safe on the downhills. Lighter weight and more breathable than many downhill helmets, the Fox Proframe is definitely worth considering for your next full face.
Everything You Need To Know About MIPS
MIPS has well and truly taken over the market in terms of anti-rotational systems, with other competitors such as SPIN, Wavecel, and Turbine 360 being used in specific brands of helmets rather than across the board. Below, we have explained MIPS in simple terms to give you a better understanding of what you are purchasing, why you need MIPS, and why it is so popular.
What is MIPS on a bike helmet?
MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, which reduces rotational forces that can arise from certain impacts. The idea is to reduce the rotational violence transferred to the brain by rotating the shell of the helmet on impact while keeping the head still. This works as the liner stays close to the head, the slip plane allows the outer shell to rotate, reducing the impact to your head.
Do Bike Helmets need MIPS?
A standard EPS helmet is designed to prevent skull fracture by absorbing linear impacts. However, somewhat recently, researchers have realized that while direct-impacts cause brain trauma, rotational forces also play an important role in severe brain damage.
A helmet without MIPS will only protect your head from direct linear impacts, which happens if you fall at a 90-degree angle to the surface, headfirst, with no horizontal movement. When you come off your bike, you will almost always hit the ground at an angle that generates rotational forces as well as a shock from the collision. The angular crash causes the brain to move within the skull, potentially leading to severe brain damage.
The use of MIPS reduces the amount of rotational force experienced by the rider. This is achieved by using a low-friction layer, which allows the helmet to move around half an inch in any direction, which increases the duration of the crash, lowering the impact felt by the brain. It is a very clever technology, which has been in the making for the past 24 years, with several thousands of tests to perfect the technology. So, yes, helmets do need MIPS if you are wanting to increase your safety while riding.
Are MIPS Helmets better?
Without a doubt, yes, a helmet with MIPS will be better in a crash than a helmet without MIPS. Personally, I would never head out on a technical trail without a helmet with some sort of anti-rotational system.
However, if you are asking if MIPS is better than other anti-rotational systems, the answer is much less clear. Other companies have developed their own systems, such as WaveCel, Turbine by Leatt, SPIN by Poc, Koroyd, SHRED, which all claim to be just as good or better than MIPS. Since all the studies into which is better are funded and completed by each of these companies, it is okay to be skeptical about the validity of the studies. Regardless, it is unlikely the companies are putting so much time and money into developing technologies that just don’t work. The safety rating of a helmet depends on not only the rotational system, but also the shape of the helmet, materials used, and the fit of the helmet on the riders’ head. Therefore defining which of anti-rotational systems is better becomes quite difficult, and no clear winner has arisen yet.
Are more expensive bike helmets safer?
Not necessarily. A more expensive helmet generally correlates to more time being spent on the design, and also better materials. You can have a very safe, simply designed helmet that costs very little compared to a very lightweight, aerodynamic helmet with considerable ‘extras,’ which is just as safe and costs significantly more.A study conducted by Virginia Tech University in 2020 found that helmets with a five-star rating (on a zero to five scale) cost between $300 and $55 and one helmet with three stars still cost $180. In saying this, there were no helmets over $150 that did not receive 4 or 5 stars. You can check out the full study here.
When choosing a helmet, it is important to consider what you require from it. Do you need a top of the line helmet which will keep you well ventilated, very lightweight but for a higher cost? Or would a simpler helmet, with all the basic functions, do you just as good? It all depends on how much time you spend out riding, the style of riding, and the terrain.
If you are spending a good deal of time out riding and climbing hills as we do, spending a little more on the breathability and comfort makes riding that much more enjoyable. But if you are just heading out for an hour or three a week, something a little simpler will still keep you safe, and you likely won’t even notice the lack of high-end features. For more help in choosing a helmet, see our other articles: