The Best New Helmets to Buy Right Now
Giro Silo$50 1 of 17
Expanded polystyrene foam (more frequently called EPS) doesn't have a very good reputation regarding environmental concerns; yet it's the most commonly used material in bike helmets. For 2016, Giro has an alternative, greener material—expanded polylactic acid, or E-PLA—debuting in its new Silo commuter helmet.
E-PLA, made from plant biomass—in this case corn—compresses to absorb impacts just like EPS does. In addition to E-PLA, the Giro Silo features bamboo fiber webbing for the straps, meaning you can compost it or turn it into one super-cool flower pot.
More: 7 Weird Things that Happen to Your Body While Riding
Lazer Z1 MIPS$30 2 of 17
Lazer's popular flagship Z1 helmet is now offered with MIPS technology for 2016. MIPS—Multi-directional Impact Protection System—is designed to reduce rotational forces on the brain that result from angled impacts to the head. The Z1 MIPS retains all of the standard version's features, such as 31 airy vents and a Rollsys retention system, and is still lightweight. A wide variety of accessories is offered for the Z1 MIPS including a lock, cooling pad, tail light, and LifeBEAM heart rate monitor; but our favorite this time of year is the aero cover. This plastic cover snaps on, limiting airflow for extra warmth, but offers just enough ventilation to keep from getting sweaty. When paired with a headband, the aero cover just might be the ultimate winter protection for your head.
Bell Annex$125 3 of 17
Commuters looking for the ultimate helmet might just find it in Bell's new Annex. Not only does it have a MIPS liner, but the Annex also features an adjustable venting system that Bell calls the Active Aero System. Simply sliding a lever opens the helmet's top vents for warm-weather use or closes them when it gets chilly. The Annex is offered with a face shield, too, boosting the cost to $175. Simply flipping down the face shield can block all bugs, rain, and tear-inducing cold air. Both versions of the Annex come with a free year of ICEdot emergency notification, involving an online profile linked to a sticker on the helmet for emergency responders. A removable soft visor and integrated rear light mount round out this impressive package.
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Closca Fuga$140 4 of 17
In the "Why didn't I think of that" category, you'll find the folding Closca Fuga helmet. It's similar to the Brooks Carerra folding helmet in that it gets smaller for easier storage, but the Closca collapses from the top down instead of sideways. According to Closca, this reduces the Fuga's volume by over 50 percent. Spaces in between the rings allow for ventilation on hot days. Even though it folds, this helmet still passes all CPSC and EN1078 standards. These complex helmet are offered in two simple colors: black and white.
Vittoria VH-IKON$250 5 of 17
Vittoria's latest helmet, the VH-IKON, is an aero design with very futuristic styling. Even though it's designed to slip through the air, there are 10 vents to keep cooling air flowing over your head. This Italian-made helmet passes all CPSC and CE standards and is offered in black or white, in two sizes: S/M or L. Expect this helmet to arrive in shops as soon as mid-December.
Bolle The One6 of 17
Bolle's entrance into the helmet market may come as a surprise to some, but the eyewear maker has been producing snow sports helmets for years, so it's not a huge leap. The Bolle One is designed to adapt to different conditions via a modular system. Detachable airfoils boost aerodynamics for racing or increase warmth for winter riding. Interchangeable liners offer even more cold weather protection. A visor adds mountain bike styling and protection, while a taillight mount makes The One commuter friendly. Strategically shaped and placed forward vents play nice with eyewear for easy storage on sweaty climbs.
Specialized Airnet$150 7 of 17
Although simple in its styling with throwback hairnet looks, the new Specialized Airnet helmet is actually a surprisingly technical piece of gear. Specialized developed the Airnet using the baseline shapes of the Specialized Evade aero helmet, so naturally it retains some of that wind-cheating DNA. According to Specialized, it is not only more aero than its own Prevail, but also tests better than most of its competitors' full-aero designs. Generous vents and deep internal channeling means it keeps its cool, too. The Airnet is offered with MIPS for an additional $25.
Bontrager Ballista$175 8 of 17
Bontrager's first aero road helmet first showed up atop Trek Factory Racing Team athletes at this year's Tour de France. Now, it's also available to mere mortals who want to trim a few seconds off the clock. Not only does the Ballista feature large vents and deep internal channeling for cooling, but it also has channeled pads designed to direct any sweat that forms away from your eyes. A size small weighs 258 grams (claimed); the Ballista is offered in black, white/silver, visibility yellow, and in a Trek Factory Racing replica design.
Kask Rex9 of 17
Kask may be best known for its road line thanks to its sponsorship of Team Sky, but the Italian helmet maker is about to get dirty with an all-new mountain bike design called Rex. This trail-inspired helmet features extended coverage and an internal frame for extra protection. A multi-position ratcheting visor is quickly adjustable on the fly, which helps with goggle storage. An integrated camera or light mount on top of the Rex makes extending or capturing your ride a snap. Twenty vents help you keep your cool while an eco-leather chinstrap adds a luxurious touch. The Rex will be available by February in white, red, lime, or light blue.
Poc Tectal Race$210 10 of 17
Poc's Tectal Race helmet features increased coverage and protection compared to its Trabec, but also boasts one more feature that just might save your bacon when things go wrong. Integrated into the Tectal Race is a Recco reflector designed to aid search and rescue in pinning down your exact location. One square kilometer can be searched in 3 to 4 minutes. This technology is currently being used with success in finding avalanche victims, and while it's not expected to fully integrate into all rescue helicopters until 2017, it's still good to know that the Tectal will be ready for the system when it's fully operational. Claimed weight is 340 grams. A standard Tectal model will also be offered without Recco for $190.
Limar 555$75 11 of 17
Limar is known for featherlight helmets like the 215-gram Ultralight, but not everyone can afford the corresponding price tag. Limar's solution is its new 555 helmet, which weighs in at a respectable 260 grams yet costs just $75. It comes with 15 large vents and a height-adjustable, four-position retention system. Other nice touches are its antibacterial pads and bug-resistant netting covering the front vents. The 555 will be offered in two sizes—medium and large— and in three color schemes: white/silver/titanium, black/white/blue, and the red/white/blue shown.
Louis Garneau Heros MIPS RTR12 of 17
Louis Garneau's RTR (Reclaim the Road) line was designed to increase visibility and safety. Its new Héros MIPS RTR helmet features a highly reflective, color-matched glass bead print lower shell that's nearly invisible during the day. The MIPS liner also makes its first appearance in Louis Garneau's helmet line for 2016 in the Héros for extra protection from angled impacts and the rotational forces they create on the brain. An all-new Spiderlock 4D retention system adds vertical adjustments via a secondary dial for simple one-handed operation, while new Tri-Guide Pro side strap adjustment buckles keep the straps flat and still offer adjustments for a fine-tuned fit.
Kali Tava$250 13 of 17
Kali enters the aero road helmet market with its all-new Tava. In addition to its shape, part of the Tava's wind-cheating magic results from its smaller overall size. This low volume was achieved by use of Kali's Composite Fusion Squared dual-density foam with inward- and outward-facing, energy-dissipating cones. Bumper Fit 2.0 armor gel pads located between the foam and pads are claimed to reduce low-G impacts by 12 percent, and rotational forces by as much as 30 percent. Kali's testing has shown that the Tava saves 25 seconds over a 50km race when the wind is at a 5-degree angle to the rider. Translation: Go fast, stay safe.
Scott Vivo Plus MIPS$149 14 of 17
Scott's latest full-coverage mountain bike helmet comes with extended protection and a MIPS liner. Scott's MRAS2 fit system allows micro adjustments with just one hand via its rotary system. Those wanting something a little simpler and more affordable should check out the standard version of the Vivo Plus, which costs just $99 and does not come with MIPS.
Troy Lee Designs A1$139 15 of 17
The Troy Lee Designs A1 helmet is a few seasons old already, but it's still a favorite thanks to awesome styling and a super comfortable fit. The biggest change for 2016 is the addition of four new colors, arriving at the end of February. The three Drone styles will cost $139 while the Yellow Reflex costs a bit more at $165.
Martone Cycling Helmet V2$195 16 of 17
Martone's take on the collapsible urban cycling helmet is impressively stylish and just as functional. The helmet passes CPSC safety standards and is made of an ABS plastic outer shell with EPS foam inner, and quickly folds down to just 8-1/4" by 4-1/3" by 6-1/4" for easy storage in a bag or backpack. Fourteen vents offer cooling airflow on hot days while a detachable visor offers sun protection. When the skies darken, a removable rain cape prevents water from sneaking through the puzzle-like shell.