Mountain biking is downright fun and enjoyable apart from the fact that it’s a great way to go to new places for your next adventure.
However, there lies a certain degree of danger because you’re just riding on two wheels and relying mostly on your weight and balancing skills.
That is why helmets are a vital part of mountain biking. You need to wear one every time you go riding.
But you can get lost with all the many choices out there, knowing that different brands, types, and designs are available.
That is what this article is about. Because here, we are going to show you the safest mountain biking helmets in the market today. We’ll also be discussing their respective pros, cons, and individual features for you to get a better grasp of the ideal helmets.
If you want to just focus on safety above anything else, then what you need is a helmet that will provide maximum coverage not only on your head but also throughout your face.
And what better way to do that than by getting a full-face helmet.
Full-face mountain bike helmets are specifically designed for downhill mountain biking. But these are growing in popularity these days and even made it towards extreme enduro riding especially on races.
These provide the best level of protection because they protect the entirety of your head including your top and rear portions. They also have a chin guard which protects your face and jaw against crashes.
Most premium full-face helmets today have flexible chin guards so that they won’t break upon impact.
Nonetheless, wearing these full-face helmets also have its own disadvantages. One of which is its heavyweight and lack of ventilation. Not having enough of these can then cause certain troubles and add up risks.
This is why you also need to weigh things out and prioritize which areas you want to focus on when choosing the right helmet.
What is MIPS?
MIPS is a new technology that has become a standard feature on most mountain bike helmets.
MIPS is an acronym for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. This is a technology that features a slip-plane design inside the helmet.
What it does is that it lowers down the rotational forces that impact your head when you crash or experience impact. The slip-plane system of this MIPS sticks to the interior lining of the helmet and moves inside it.
In simpler words, the MIPS slip-plane system allows the helmet to move upon impact, instead of your head, which is far more dangerous and puts you more at risk.
This then means that your head and neck are less likely to move upon impact because the MIPS feature inside the interior of your helmet does it for you.
In other words, mountain bike helmets with MIPS technology absorb the impact better compared to other helmets that don’t have MIPS.
Is it safe to wear a half shell helmet for downhill mountain biking?
Yes, it is safe to wear a half-shell helmet even if you are into downhill mountain biking. However, there lies a certain amount of risk because your face and jaw are exposed to the elements.
There is no protection that covers them which is why your face can hit or crash on something.
But then again, that’s not really a big problem if you are just into leisure biking on downhill trails.
Downhill mountain biking doesn’t have to be very extreme because there are already a lot of light enduro trails now where you don’t have to wear full-face helmets if you want to be comfortable on your ride.
You also don’t need to wear a full-face helmet if there are no jumps, drops, or tricky technical sections on the trail you are riding on. Half shells also work well as long as you are confident enough with your skills and you know you won’t crash.
But then again, wearing a full-face helmet is the way to go if you really want to protect yourself and be as safe as possible, even if that means compromising comfort and breathability for the sake of safety.
Can you wear full-face helmet for cross-country mountain biking?
Yes, of course, you can. But you will just look funny because you don’t really need to wear a full-face if you are into cross-country riding. You see, cross-country mountain biking is more about covering long distances.
This is why you need to stay as light as possible with maximum focus on comfort, breathability, and aerodynamics. Full-face helmets don’t have any of these elements as they are bulky, a bit heavy, and aren’t that aerodynamic.
They will just drag you down and make you exert more effort which then lowers your chances of reaching long distances while maintaining the right speeds.
So, if you’d like to become a proper mountain biker, we suggest that you don’t wear a full-face helmet for XC riding. Also, don’t worry because cross-country trails don’t have very difficult technical and steep sections.
What are the safest helmets for each MTB discipline?
Fox Flux is one of the best and safest helmets if you are into cross-country biking. This is an XC helmet that combines features that are useful for long-distance riding and going through tricky trail sections.
It features a Varizorb multi-density EPS liner that allows utmost breathability and comfort that is ideal for epic rides.
It also has a 300-degree retention system and an adjustable visor for easy adjustability. And the best thing about this is that it has the MIPS impact protection system, which makes it better at absorbing impacts if ever you crash.
It is light, breathable, and very aerodynamic thanks to its sleek shape and lightweight but durable material construction.
Fox Speedframe Pro
The Fox Speedframe Pro is a trail mountain bike helmet that combines the portability and lightweight nature of cross-country helmets and the durability and protection that enduro helmets have.
This trail helmet comes with the now-standard MIPS technology for maximum protection on trails, similar to the Troy Lee Designs a2 MIPS.
This has a 360-degree system, as well as a Fidlock SNAP mountain bike helmet buckle feature which provides your buckles with magnetic strapping instead of the more common buckle snapping capability of many low-budget mountain bike helmet.
Troy Lee Designs Stage
The Troy Lee Designs Stage is one of the best mountain bike helmets for enduro because of its comfort and safety features.
This helmet is made specifically for enduro riding and focuses mainly on comfort and ventilation thanks to its multiple air vents that allow air to flow through your head when riding.
But what sets this apart, aside from the fact that it also has MIPS technology is that it also has a detachable chin guard.
This means that it can become a half-shell helmet whenever you like, which is handy when climbing uphills, which is why many consider it the best mountain bike helmet for trail riders when it comes to helmet safety. You can then connect the chin guard back when you’re ready to shred downhills.
Fox Rampage Pro
Then there is the Fox Rampage Pro which is the safest mountain bike helmet on this list if you are to look into the level of protection it provides.
It covers most of your head and face as air vents are minimal. It features the exclusive MVRS or Magnetic Visor Release System which automatically detaches your visor upon impact.
It also has the X-static comfort liner that provides a soft cushion and moisture-wicking capabilities.
This is also one of the many reasons why most Fox helmets sold out easily compared to most helmets because all of its offerings are considered as the best trail helmet for trail and enduro riders and those who want modern helmets.
And the best thing of all is that its outer shell is made from carbon fiber, which makes this light despite its robust and bulky build.
This makes it one of the best mountain bike helmets due to its lightweight helmet nature. It is also the best and safest helmet for extreme downhill and bike park free-riding mountain biking.
In order for you to choose the safest and best mountain bike helmets, you need to know your chosen mountain biking discipline as well as the areas where you’ll focus on.
Know the things you are willing to compromise, such as comfort and breathability for the sake of safety.
Weigh things out, consider your skills, and do not hesitate to spend beyond your helmet budget, because helmets protect your life.