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The Best Bike Helmets Under $100 Of 2021 Helpful Guide

Riding a bicycle is a lot of fun. Sooner or later if you ride a bike long enough you’ll take a fall. When that happens you will want a good helmet on your head to keep you safe. I have had a couple of big falls so far including one notable header into a tree. If there is one area in your bike equipment you don’t want to skimp it is the helmet. There are many great bike helmet choices available that are very affordable. Keep reading for our top picks and guide to the best bike helmets under $100.


If you are in a hurry, our top 3 choices for bike helmets under $100 are below. If you are interested in more detailed reviews of our top 5 bike helmets under $100, a guide to bike helmets, and a FAQ please keep reading below.

Top Pick

Giro Register MIPS Bike Helmet

Editors Choice

Giro Chronicle MIPS Bike Helmet

Best Value

Schwinn Intercept Bike Helmet

The Top 5 Best Bike Helmets Under $100

Below are our top 5 picks for the best bike helmets under $100 on the market today. We considered features, performance, price, durability, customer service, and customer reviews in our recommendations.

Top Pick

Giro Register MIPS Bike Helmet

  • MARKET-LEADING PROTECTION: Engineered in Giro’s category-leading helmet test lab
  • MIPS: Utilizes the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System to redirect energy in a crash
  • UNIVERSAL FIT SIZING: Get the right fit, straight out of the box

Summary

The Giro Register MIPS is one of the best all purpose bike helmets available today at any cost. It features MIPS head protection, 22 vents and a removable visor. It is available in a variety of colors and 2 universal fit sizes.

The Register uses in-mold construction. It has a polycarbonate shell and impact absorbing foam lining. Inside it has the MIPS system combined with their Roc Loc fit system. The fit adjuster has a large knob that it easy to adjust whether it’s on or off your head.

This helmet comes in 2 “Universal fit” sizes. They work for most people but not all head sizes and shapes. The Roc Loc adjuster is really easy to use. It can only do so much. If the molded helmet shape is too far off from your head shape, it won’t feel really secure even with the Roc Loc adjuster tightened.

The helmet has really good ventilation to help keep your head cool. It has quick drying foam padding so you won’t feel like you are wearing a sponge on your head after riding for a while.

The Register is more of a road shape helmet than a mountain bike shaped helmet. It doesn’t cover the back of your head as much as the Fixture and Chronicle designs. It has a bit more venting and is a little lighter weight. The visor is smaller and not as securely attached. For someone who mostly rides on streets or dirt roads this is a perfect choice.

The Giro Register MIPS is a great bike helmet choice for almost anyone. It is our top pick among the best bike helmets under $100.

What We Liked
✔️ MIPS head protection
✔️ Lots of venting
✔️ Easy to use fit system
What We Didn’t Like
Universal fit sizes don’t fit all heads
Visor size and attachment

Editors Choice

Giro Chronicle MIPS Adult Mountain Cycling Helmet

  • MARKET-LEADING PROTECTION: Engineered in Giro’s category-leading helmet test lab
  • MIPS: Utilizes the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System to redirect energy in a crash
  • COMFORT: Easily adjust vertical position and tension with the Roc Loc 5 fit system

Summary

The Giro Chronicle MIPS is one of the best mountain bike helmets available. I have been using one for several years now for my trail riding. I have had several falls while wearing it.

On one occasion I went over my handlebars head first into a tree hard. I’m sure without this helmet I would have been knocked unconscious. There is a good chance I would have had a head injury from that one. I got up and kept riding. My head felt fine but the rest of me felt like I hit a tree and landed on my bike laying on the ground.

The Chronicle has more coverage over the back of the head and fewer vents than the Register. The vent holes that it has are larger and the frame structure between the vents is larger. This gives the helmet more strength. It uses a double layer shell with a hard exterior layer and polycarbonate inner layer. Is uses in-mold construction with an impact absorbing foam inner layer.

Inside the helmet, there is the MIPS liner with a Roc Loc 5 adjuster and quick drying foam padding. The Roc Loc 5 adjustment system works okay. The knob is small and difficult to adjust. On other helmets the adjustment knob is double the size it is on this helmet.

After a few years or using this helmet, the foam padding is starting to come apart. This is one area where Giro helmets could use some improvement.

The helmet comes in 4 sizes to fit most adult head shapes. It is comfortable to wear for several hours out on the trail The visor is removeable. It is large enough to give enough shade from the sun. The attachment for the visor has held up to years of riding and several falls.

The Giro Chronicle MIPS has been my personal helmet for several years. I would not hesitate at all to replace it with another one. It is my top pick among the best bike helmets under $100.

What We Liked
✔️ Comfortable fit
✔️ MIPS protection
✔️ Strong construction with adequate venting
What We Didn’t Like
The Roc Loc 5 adjuster is small and difficult to adjust
Foam padding is not that durable

Best Value

Schwinn Intercept Bike Helmet

  • Fits riders ages 14 and up
  • Adjustable dial fit offers superior 360˚ adjustability for a custom fit
  • Snap on/off visor protects eyes from the sun and offers multisport versatility
  • 10 crucial air vents provide maximum ventilation, keeping heads cool on hot summer rides
  • Upper and lower PC micro shell coverage delivers improved protection and durability

Summary

The Schwinn Intercept is a good value bike helmet. It is the cheapest helmet in our review and the only one that doesn’t have MIPS technology.

The Intercept has a PVC microshell exterior with impact absorbing EPS foam lining. It has a fit adjuster to make their universal adult helmet fit most head shapes.

This helmet is lower profile than a MIPS helmet and doesn’t give you a mushroom head look that many MIPS helmets do. It doesn’t offer MIPS protection against glancing blows either.

The helmet has 10 vents for good ventilation. The shell offers good front and side of your head protection. The helmet has more of a road shape with less protection for the back of your head. This allows the size adjustment to work a bit better since there isn’t a helmet shell in the back of your head.

With helmets with back coverage, the adjuster creates a big empty space in the helmet. They feel wobbly when the adjuster is set for a small head. This helmet does a good job of fitting a variety of head shapes. It is available in adult, youth and child size.

The helmet has a removable visor. It is big enough to do a good job blocking the sun. It can be removed for road riding or riding at night.

This is a great value for a bike helmet. I would not recommend it for serious mountain biking. I would use it anywhere else. It is our best value pick among the best bike helmets under $100.

What We Liked
✔️ Low cost and lightweight
✔️ Available in many colors
✔️ Good ventilation
What We Didn’t Like
No MIPS
No much protection for the back of your head

Smith Optics Convoy MIPS Men’s MTB Cycling Helmet

  • Shell Material: polycarbonate
  • Impact Foam: EPS
  • Ventilation: 20 vents

Summary

The Smith Optics Convoy MIPS is an excellent bike helmet option. Smith Optics has long been known for making really good goggles, helmets and glasses. This helmet is no different. It is a solid offering with all the features you would expect.

The helmet is made with in-mold construction. It has a hard outer shell with impact absorbing foam inner shell. Inside it has a MIPS liner for extra head protection and what Smith calls Vapor Fit adjustment system. It is the standard dial knob to adjust the size of the helmet.

The helmet is available in 4 adult sizes to give a good fit for almost any head size. I prefer a bigger range of sizes for a better fit. With Universal fit sizes they sometimes try to put smaller heads into a helmet that is too large. The adjuster might get small enough but it leaves you with a helmet that feels really big and bulky. The downside is that more available sizes usually means they cost more.

The helmet has adjustable straps, quick drying foam pads inside. It has 20 vents which give good ventilation. The vents are bigger with larger frames between them. This gives more helmet strength than a design with more vent holes and thinner structure between them.

The helmet offers good back of head protection. This would be a really good choice for mountain biking. The only time you would need more is if you are going to a bike park or downhilling. In those cases you would should be stepping up to a full face helmet.

I have been a long time user of Smith ski helmets and goggles. I have always been impressed with their products. I would not hesitate to try a Smith bike helmet.

What We Liked
✔️ Comfortable and good fitting
✔️ Very well made with high quality fittings
✔️ MIPS head protection
What We Didn’t Like
Only available in 4 colors

Best value with MIPS

Giro Fixture MIPS Adult Dirt Bike Helmet

  • MARKET-LEADING PROTECTION: Engineered in Giro’s category-leading helmet test lab
  • INTEGRATED MIPS: Utilizes the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System to redirect energy in a crash
  • VENTILATION: 18 Wind Tunnel vents with internal channeling

Summary

The Giro Fixture MIPS helmet is another great option from Giro. It has most of the features of the Chronicle MIPS helmet at a lower price.

My wife rides with a Giro Fixture MIPS. If you set it next to a Giro Chronicle the changes are very subtle. Let’s go through them.

The Fixture has 2 more vent holes. The sizes and shapes are roughly similar to the more expensive helmet. There is one extra hole in the back of the helmet and one on top.

The Fixture MIPS has a polycarbonate shell. It doesn’t have the extra shell layer that the Chronicle has. It’s not noticeable when you are looking at the 2 helmets side by side.

The Fixture has a much bigger knob on it’s Roc Loc system. It’s much easier to adjust and I prefer it over the tiny knob on the Chronicle helmet.

There is slightly less foam padding inside the Fixture helmet. At the rear of the helmet, there is less padding.

The straps on the Fixture are not as adjustable as the Chronicle. The ear straps are fixed where they come together with the chin strap. On the Chronicle, you can adjust the ear strap segments.

The Giro Fixture only comes in 2 universal fit sizes instead of 4 adult sizes. My wife’s head is very wide. She fits the small end of the XL universal size helmet. When I put it on, it’s too big for me with the adjuster turned all the way down.

This helmet has MIPS, similar back of head coverage and a similar removeable visor as the Chronicle.

What We Liked
✔️ Low cost for a MIPS helmet
✔️ Good ventilation
✔️ Good head protection
What We Didn’t Like
Ear straps are not adjustable
Universal fit sizes may feel big for heads at the same end of their size range.

Bike Helmet Guide

There are many bike helmets out there to choose from. There are hundreds of available bike helmets under $100. How do you pick the right one for you? There are several important factors such as cost, how it fits, MIPS, and venting. It is very important to find a bike helmet that fits, feels comfortable, and is suitable for the type of riding you do. It is important to wear the helmet, so this is not an area to skimp and get something you don’t really like to save a buck. You won’t like it and won’t use it.

Let’s discuss what is important for a bike helmet below.

Price

Price matters in almost every buying decision we make. Protective equipment is one area where I don’t think price should be the primary factor. Find a helmet that feels good and you like the appearance of so you’ll be comfortable wearing it. Saving a buck isn’t worth it if you don’t use it and you’re not wearing it when you fall. It is possible to get a high performing bike helmet with MIPS, good fit and good construction for under $100.

CPSC certification

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) releases standards in the US for consumer products. You should not consider using a helmet that isn’t at least CPSC complaint. If your Canadian, the helmet should have CSA compliance. To learn more about bike helmet certifications see the center for cycling education.

Comfort and Fit

Different helmet companies make their helmet shapes different. Some brands fit some people better than others. My wife has a wider shaped head and Giro fits her but Smith helmets never do. I can fit either one comfortably. Having a good snug comfortable fit is important. A floppy feeling helmet may not stay in place if you fall. If your helmet falls off it’s not going to protect your head. Don’t be afraid to try on a bunch of helmets to find one you like the feel of.

Style

Different helmets have different shapes and styles. Mountain biking helmets tend to have more back of the head coverage. Road helmets tend to be more minimalistic. Commuter helmets can have less vents so you don’t get lots of bugs stuck in your hair. A helmet does no good if your not wearing it when you fall. Find a helmet you like how it looks on you so that you’ll wear it.

MIPS

MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. It is a system that allows your head to rotate inside the bike helmet upon impact. If you hit something like a tree at a glancing blow, your helmet will rotate separately from your head. This reduces the loads on your head and brain. Without MIPS the your head will get torqued as it rotates with the helmet. It adds another layer of protection against different impact directions. I personally would not wear a helmet without MIPS.

Straps

Some helmets have more adjustability for their straps than others. The Giro Chronicle has adjustability on both ear straps. The less expensive Giro Fixture has fixed ear straps. You can only adjust the length of the chin strap. Adjustable ear straps make it easier to adjust the angle the helmet sits at on your head. If you want it more up or down angled, you can do it. More adjustability means you can get a better fit and your helmet is more likely to stay in place if you fall.

Padding

Helmets can have more or less padding. Helmets made for road bike racing may have very minimal padding. Weight is the most important thing. A more comfortable recreational helmet will have more. Look for padding that is specified as quick drying. You don’t want your helmet to feel like a wet sponge at the end of your ride.

Ventilation

More and bigger vents will keep your head cooler. Helmets constructed of stronger and more energy absorbing materials can have larger vents. If you plan on riding when it’s hot in the summer, lots of vents are good. If you plan on riding in the winter you may want something with fewer vents in it.

Weight


Some bike helmets weigh much more than others. A full face mountain bike helmet made for downhill riding will weigh much more than a road racing helmet. Features such as MIPS add weight to a helmet as well.

Bike Helmet FAQ

Q: Which cycle helmet is best?

My personal favorite that I wear and have tested against a tree is the Giro Chronicle MIPS. The best helmet for you is one that fits you well, has the features you want, and you like the appearance of.

Q: What is the safest bike helmet?

You should look for a helmet that is CPSC certified in the US or CSA certified in Canada. Some helmets are also certified to other standards such as ASTM. Helmet makers such as Giro and Smith do impact testing of their helmets. This insures they are making self helmets that provide protection to whoever is wearing them.

Q: Is MIPS worth the extra money?

You can get a good MIPS helmet for less than $70 from a well known brand such as Giro. It is only a little extra cost for a little more safety. If it saves you from a head injury it will have been worth it. See the video below for more information on MIPS.

Q: How much should I spend on a bike helmet?

This is your brain we are talking about protecting. Is this really the place you want to skimp on? You can buy good, full featured, bike helmet for under $100. I would look for a helmet with MIPS or one of the other similar systems, and other features you want such as a visor.

Q: Are cheap bike helmets safe?

You want to buy a bike helmet that is at least CPSC certified. This means it has past some minimum of impact safety testing. Cheap helmets like the Schwinn Thrasher are CPSC certified. They are basic without other features such as MIPS and adjustable straps. They are significantly better than wearing no helmet at all.

Q: Why are bike helmets so expensive?

It depends on what you consider expensive. A really basic CPSC certified helmet can be bought for $25. A MIPS helmet can go for $65. A MIPS helmet with adjustable straps and advanced construction is still under $100. An average road or mountain bike runs $2000 to $3000. A good bike helmet is a small expense compared to a lot of other things we pay for to enjoy cycling.

Q: Are Walmart bike helmets safe?

The cheapest bike helmet sold in the store at Walmart will at least be CPSC certified. For liability reasons, they won’t sell an uncertified product. A Walmart bike helmet will still be a safe bike helmet. It may not be as full featured as a more expensive helmet. It will still help protect your head if you fall.

Q: Are expensive helmets safer?

More expensive bike helmets may have more advanced features such as MIPS. They may also cover more of your head. They may have adjustable straps that give you a better customized fit. These features all give you a little more protection than a helmet without them. To some degree, more expensive bike helmets can better protect your head.

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About the author

My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water.  I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions.  I decided to start Endless Rush Outdoors as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.

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