POC Octal Raceday$270 1 of 10
While the loud colors and unique shape of the POC Octal will inspire either love or hate, no one will argue its incredible fit and ability to keep you cool in extreme summer temps.
The shape of the Octal is quite functional too, sitting lower on the head and dipping behind the ears to provide more overall head coverage than its competitors—a detail the company claims makes it among the best at protecting your noggin in an accident. The lone negative is the Octal's incompatibility with some brands of sunglasses.
Bontrager Starvos MIPS$94 2 of 10
If you're looking for a performance-minded helmet on a budget, the MIPS equipped Starvos from Bontrager checks all the boxes. It's well-vented, relatively light and comfortable enough to forget about on the bike.
The Starvos also comes with a one-year crash protection warranty, which insures your purchase should you be involved in a crash. For those in the market for a helmet under $100, this one should be at the top of your list.
Louis Garneau Heros RTR$229 3 of 10
The Heros RTR is one of the few helmets that has managed to utilize MIPS technology without covering up vents that help cool the head.
The helmet is also very comfortable and includes invisible reflective sections that can't be seen in daylight but become highly reflective in the headlamps of cars. And the smart Spiderlock system allows you to dial in fit vertically and laterally, making it easier to fit a variety of head shapes.
Giant Rail$130 4 of 10
Wearing sunglasses with full-coverage helmets that drop behind the ears can be tricky. And, while the new Giant Rail does provide a good deal of protection toward the back of the head, its shape makes wearing sunglasses far easier—a detail that's hard to appreciate until you find out your favorite shades don't work well with your new helmet.
With large vents and deep internal channels that allow air to move over the head and out of the helmet, the Rail is sure to keep you cool while out on the trail. Our one complaint is the helmet's visor, which gets in the way with some helmet mounts for lights and cameras due to its inability to be raised or lowered. Overall, though, the Rail is a race-ready helmet at entry-level pricing.
Specialized Airnet$150 5 of 10
Like the lace up Giro Empire cycling shoe, the Airnet combines old school style with the latest cycling technology. The simple, retro hairnet design is the same basic shape as the Specialized Evade, which is the company's fastest aero road helmet. According to Specialized, the Airnet tests faster than most full-aero helmets on the market, which makes it just as attractive to urban commuters as it does competitive criterium racers. Add up all that versatility and function, and a price point of $150 will start to sound like a steal.
Scott Vivo Plus$99 6 of 10
The Vivo Plus is a full-coverage mountain bike helmet that has a lot of value. Even the upgrade to a MIPS-equipped version only bumps the price to $130, which is nearly half of what you'll pay for comparative models. While it lacks flashy details, you won't find any major complaints either.
The MRAS2 fit system also allows for micro adjustments, has larger air vents for hot days on the trail and its sturdy build can take a beating. For $99, you can't beat it.
Specialized S-Works Prevail II$200 7 of 10
Specialized is finally releasing the much-anticipated update of their popular Prevail helmet after going through the last phases of testing at this year's Tour de France. And while we were big fans of the original Prevail as a lightweight, race-day option, the Prevail II is not the same helmet—it's a much-improved upgrade.
Adopting a lower profile that feels sleeker and less boxy, this new model is lighter (190 grams), has more vents (35), uses a stronger skeleton and is shaped with a more rounded frontal area for improved aerodynamics. Add in the fact that all these updates come without a jump in price, and you've got a top-of-the-line racing helmet that costs much less than most options in its category.
Kask Protone$300 8 of 10
No matter what they may claim, most aero road lids will get hot during the warmer months. One of the lone exceptions is the Kask Protone, which contains massive eight air vents in the front of the helmet that do an excellent job of letting air in to cool the head.
While we can't vouch for whether or not the solid top and rear portions of the helmet give any aerodynamic advantage, it certainly feels fast, and the decrease in wind noise is proof that the helmet's geometry is beneficial. The Protone is also highly adjustable and extremely comfortable for a helmet built with speed as a top priority.
Martone V2$195 9 of 10
For urban cyclists, the stylish Martone V2 is a dream helmet loaded with features. You can cover the 14 air vents that keep you cool during the summer with a rain cape when the weather turns nasty.
The detachable visor also proves handy in both sunny and wet weather conditions and is easy to clean. And for anyone who hates lugging around a big helmet during the day, the V2 is also collapsible, which makes packing it down to store in a backpack or locker much easier to manage.