As we mentioned in a previous post, the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings are the leading unbiased source for helmet safety ratings. While all helmets must meet certain minimum requirements to be sold, it doesn’t mean that they do the same job of reducing yoour risk of a concussion. New technologies like MIPS and better materials like multi-density EPS foam have helped bicycle helmets become safer. Virginia Tech does a variety of tests to simulate real-world scenarios and measure the performance of each helmet. In 2022, they tested 52 mountain bike helmets from brands like Specialized, Giant, POC, and Smith. Here are the top 5!
#5 – Specialized Ambush 2 MIPS
Featuring MIPS, an integreated fit system, and weighing in at 360 grams, the Specialized Ambush 2 packs in a lot in at the $180 price point. It is definetly light weight and sleek looking but we do wish the visor was adjustable. One feature we do like are the hidden rubber channels that will keep your glasses locked in place and rattle free when you need them out of the way.
#4 – Bontrager Rally Mips
The Rally MIPS from Bontrager is fairly similar to the Ambush 2 in terms of features and weight. Coming in at 370g, it is just slightly heavier than the Ambush 2 but slightly cheaper as well at $150. Unfortunatley, the Rally MIPS has been discontinued but they are still available at select retailers!
#3 – Fox Dropframe Pro
The Fox Dropframe Pro is somewhere between a half shell and full face helmet. Coming down over the ears, the Dropframe Pro gives ample protection around the side of your head. At $209 it is the most expensive option on the top 5 list. If you want a traditional half shell consider the Speedframe Pro from Fox. It weighs and costs less than the Dropframe Pro and still gets 5 Stars from the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings.
#2 – Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS
The Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS is a fantastic mountain nike helmet. From this list it is the lightest optioin clocking in at 325 grams. It is extremely breathable with massive vents running along the top and backside of the helmet. We like the color options and adjustable visor as well.
#1 – Specialized Tactic MIPS
The Tactic took the top spot in the Virginia Tech Helmet Rating for the mountain bike category. It is the most affordable option at $120 and comes in 9 color options! In terms of weight, it is on par with most of the helmets in this list at 380 grams and features a fixed visor like the Dropframe Pro and Ambush 2. And for those of you with a bigger noggin, Specialized offers both classic and round fits.