Best commuter bike helmets 2023: Quality helmets for city riding

group image of commuter bike helmets in an urban environment
(Image credit: Josh Ross)

The best commuter bike helmets aren't completely different from other helmets. After all, a bike helmet is a bike helmet and anything you buy has to meet rigorous safety standards for the location you buy it. That means the biggest difference when you look at this list is that there's a certain style that works with options from our list of the best commuter bikes. Sometimes it trends a bit more sporty, and I've included an option that should feel at home on a weekend gravel bike ride, but there's also a distinct style commuter helmets tend to gravitate towards. 

That style isn't purely non-functional though. The helmets designed to commute day in and day out work better with the more upright style bikes that see frequent use as commuter options. Commuter bike helmets also often get additional lighting to add passive safety in high-traffic and low-light situations. If you want to add even more lighting, don’t forget to also check out our list of the best bike lights.

If all that sounds like just the ticket for your daily bike commute, keep reading to see the best commuter bike helmets available. You can also jump down to the bottom to find all the information you need to help you find the best commuter bike helmet for you.

Quick list

Best commuter bike helmets available today

You can trust Cyclingnews Our experts spend countless hours testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

Best overall

Giro Escape MIPS front

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
The best commuter bike helmet overall

Specifications

Weight: 507g size medium
Rotational safety system: MIPS
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia tech score: Untested
Ponytail Space: No

Reasons to buy

+
Front peak to protect face in an accident
+
Integrated lights
+
Perfect commuter style

Reasons to avoid

-
Still uses micro-USB charging

When I consider what the ideal commuter helmet is, I picture the Giro Escape MIPS. The helmet isn't the cheapest on the market but it's also not the most expensive. At the same time, it's got style in spades but not at the expense of quality features. It's a perfect balance of style, features, and price.

What I mean when I mention features is primarily lights. At the rear of the helmet is a charging port and on either side there is a power button for the integrated front and rear lights. The battery lasts a long time and you can decide if you'd prefer flashing or solid lighting. Keep in mind though that you will have to dig out an old style USB cable when it’s time to charge. It’s not the end of the world but this helmet was new right before most accessories made the switch and now it’s an outlier.

That small issue aside, the Giro Escape MIPS is not just stylish but also really comfortable. Put it on and it feels incredible. Giro does a great job with the padding on this helmet and it’s very stable. It's definitely on the heavy side but there’s plenty of coverage front and rear with a solid structural peak/brim that helps keep your face safe in a crash. 

Read more details in our Giro Escape MIPS commuter helmet review.

Best budget helmet

Specialized Mode helmet

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

2. Specialized Mode

Best budget commuter bike helmet

Specifications

Weight: 419g size medium
Rotational safety: MIPS
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia tech score: 8.8
Ponytail Space: No

Reasons to buy

+
Included light mount
+
High Virginia tech rating
+
Dutch NTA 8776 certification

Reasons to avoid

-
Older style MIPS liner
-
Matte outer scratches and shows fingerprints

Compared to the Giro Escape, the Specialized Mode takes a different approach to lighting. You can add it if you want. If that's your preference, you will find a special adapter in the box. Clip it to the rear and it allows you to add a Specialized Stix light, which we have listed in our best budget bike lights buyers guide, to the rear of the helmet. If you don't think it's necessary, the outside remains a simple, clean, expanse of a solid colour. That colour does show fingerprints and pick up scratches though so you'll want to take care with it. The only thing breaking it up is the rim around the helmet which is also venting to help keep you cool even when it's hot.

On the inside of the helmet is where you'll find a MIPS liner. It is the older style so it's more obvious and can sometimes catch on longer hair. The MIPS liner is also paired with the Dutch NTA 8776 e-bike certification which means more coverage and passing higher drop tests. Together these two technologies come together to make for an impressive #6 Virginia Tech rating which is always nice to see.

Overall this is a quality helmet with lots of style and a great price. The Giro Escape adds features but also lacks Virginia Tech testing and costs more. 

Best with bright lights

Unit1 Faro helmet

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
Best commuter bike helmet with bright lights

Specifications

Weight: 630g size medium
Rotational safety: MIPS
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia tech score: Untested
Ponytail Space: No

Reasons to buy

+
ABS plastic outer
+
Emergency call feature
+
App based light customization

Reasons to avoid

-
Fabric rear is difficult to clean
-
Weight

Often the lighting that's integrated into a helmet isn't that bright. The point is to add a bit of visibility but it's not meant to be truly eye searing. Unit1 is a bit different. The helmet includes a full 500 lumens of onboard lighting and there's both a front and rear LED strip plus a big, configurable via app, lighting matrix under the fabric at the rear of the helmet. When you slow down, sensors in the helmet know it and they signal that you are braking. You can also purchase optional bar mounted turn signals to add even visibility for other road users. Both pieces charge via USB-C and the helmet has an 1850 mAh battery with up to 10 hours of battery life depending on use.

When choosing a version of this helmet, you will find four colour options. Those colours grace an ABS outer shell which add a bit of day to day resistance, plus the fabric rear. The fabric rear does include special coatings to resist water and stains but it is worth noting that it will never be as easy to keep clean as the rest of the helmet. Other nice features are the magnetic buckle that's easier to use than the normal clip and MIPS (though there's no Virginia Tech testing).

Also worth noting, all the built-in tech makes the Unit 1 Faro heavy at 580g. It's still well balanced, has good ventilation and is comfortable to wear but it is on the heavier side. 

Read our full review of the Unit 1 Faro commuter bike helmet for more info. 

Best for road bike style

Cannondale Dynam helmet

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

4. Cannondale Dynam

Best commuter bike helmet for road-bike-commuters

Specifications

Weight: 320g size medium
Rotational safety: MIPS
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia tech score: Untested
Ponytail Space: Limited

Reasons to buy

+
High quality helmet bag included
+
Magnetic buckle
+
Excellent ventilation
+
Removable and washable padding

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively heavy

The Cannondale Dynam is a road bike helmet. It wouldn't be completely out of line to see it show up on something like our best road bike helmets list. It makes this list of commuter bike helmets though because it has a style that lends itself to stretching anywhere between fast road bike and flat bar commuter.

The fact that the Dynam focuses on road bikes riding means that compared to many commuter helmets, it's highly ventilated. There are big strips of open area on the helmet and extensive exhaust ports as well. The MIPS air only helps with this by being completely integrated into what seems like standard padding. Unlike some helmets though, the MIPS air padding is easy to remove and wash should you need to.

There is a downside to all that venting though and that is weight. While it's not heavy in the context of most commuter helmets, it's also not a featherweight road helmet. What it comes down to is that keeping the helmet structurally sound even with so much venting means adding a bit of extra weight. The magnetic buckle probably doesn't help that weight issue much either but it is nice to have. On the upside, Cannondale includes a very nice helmet bag that should keep the exterior looking nice even when stuffed into another commuter bag while at work.

If you like a sportier commute, the Cannondale Dynam is going to be a good choice.

Best for gravel bike style

Nutcase Vio

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
Best commuter bike helmet for gravel riders

Specifications

Weight: 432g size medium
Rotational safety: MIPS
Sizes: S/M, L/XL
Virginia tech score: Untested
Ponytail Space: No

Reasons to buy

+
Plenty of built-in lights
+
Good venting
+
Would work for gravel rides as well as commutes

Reasons to avoid

-
Only two sizes are available
-
The rear cradle doesn't adjust vertically

Sportier commuting doesn't always mean a road bike. The best gravel bikes are also a bit more upright and way more versatile than the road bikes. That relaxed riding position and versatility makes them an excellent choice for commuter duties and if you want a helmet to match, then kid's brand Nutcase has an option. While you won't find wild designs like you do with the kids helmets, the design of the Nutcase Vio lends itself to matching with a gravel bike and there are still lots of colours.

Style isn't all that the Nutcase Vio has going for it though. On top of style it also includes plenty of venting and passive safety in the form of MIPS alongside a dual-density EPS foam liner. As with many of the best commuter helmets, the Nutcase Vio also includes integrated lighting. At the front there is a strip of white lights and at the back you'll find red. That's also standard but Nutcase takes it further with long strips of amber lights along each side.

The only thing you might need to watch out for is fit. There's only two sizes and there's no vertical adjustment to the rear cradle.

You can find more details in our full Nutcase Vio MIPS review.

Best for skate style

POC Crane MIPS

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

6. POC Crane MIPS

Best skate-style commuter bike helmet

Specifications

Weight: 411g size M/L
Rotational safety: MIPS
Sizes: XS/S, M/L, XL/XXL
Virginia tech score: Untested
Ponytail Space: No

Reasons to buy

+
Included, optional, brim
+
Relatively low weight
+
Lots of venting
+
Thick and durable outer shell

Reasons to avoid

-
Older style MIPS liner

Style matters when picking a helmet. I covered options for sporty road bike commuters and options for those who want to take the gravel bike they commute with off-road on the weekend. If none of those are quite what you want, you might want an urban or skater style helmet. There are a number of options along those lines that make sense but the POC Crane MIPS is one that marries the style to thoughtful design touches.

While many cycling helmets use a lighter in mould construction, the POC Crane MIPS aims to hold up. Despite that choice, at 411 grams for a size M/L POC has managed to keep the weight in check. That's not really the stand-out feature though. What makes the POC Crane MIPS a great choice for a skater style helmet is how well it handles venting. Sticking to the skater style, there aren't huge strips of venting but rather large rounded squares. The two at the front, plus the rear exhaust vents, do a great job of keeping air moving through this helmet.

Although this is a great helmet, the one thing I’d love to see changed is the MIPS part of the helmet. While POC, and other brands, has mostly moved past the first generation MIPS with the large plastic inner, this helmet still uses it. It’s not a huge problem in a skate style helmet as the liner mirrors the large blocky cuts of the outer. It still seems like a throwback to an older technology though. 

One small note in terms of style, there’s also an included brim if you prefer something to help keep the sun or rain out of your eyes. To my eye the brim can shift from a skate style to an urban style so aside from function, there's a bit of form too.

Best for long hair

Bontrager Circuit Wavecel

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
Best commuter bike helmet for long hair

Specifications

Weight: 325g size SM without mounts installed, 32g for both mounts
Rotational safety: Wavecel
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Virginia tech score: 11.73
Ponytail Space: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Removable light mounts for dual-duty use
+
Visor can be added for urban use
+
Wavecel impact protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Rear light mount is fiddly
-
Wavecell tech means you cant scratch your head through the vents if you feel the need

I don't have long hair but as I've gone through this list, I found there's not a ton of good options for those who do. Helmets that come down farther on the edges of the head often leave little room for pony tails. Even when there is space, many helmets seem to inexplicably block space in the rear cradle to pass a ponytail through. The Bontrager Circuit Wavecel was the helmet I'd initially tagged as the best option with removable light mounts but when I checked the rear cradle, it's big and open. There's all the room in the world to pass long hair through the rear cradle on this helmet. It ended up being unique enough I wanted to highlight it. 

Aside from the room in the rear cradle, what's unique about the Bontrager Circuit is a combination of an innovative rotational tech and adaptability. For rotational safety, there's no MIPS here. The point of MIPS is to allow the helmet to rotate without hurting you. Bontrager instead builds that rotation right into the helmet with a material called Wavecel that will crush in a crash. It makes for better integration and a lighter helmet that has an easier time releasing heat. Unfortunately it also means you can't reach your head if you have an itch.

The Bontrager Circuit Wavecel is also unique because it's very adaptable. It's not so different from the older Bontrager XXX road race helmet so if you want to use it on the weekend, it should work well with a fast bike. During the week, you can add the magnetic light mounts and a pair of Bontrager lights for front and rear visibility. The rear mount is a little fiddly but overall, it's a great option for every situation.

You can find more details in our full Bontrager Circuit Wavecel review.

Best for scratch resistance

Kask Moebius helmet

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
Best scratch-resistant commuter bike helmet

Specifications

Weight: 420g size medium
Rotational safety: KASK Rotational Impact WG11 Tested
Sizes: M, L
Virginia tech score: Untested
Ponytail Space: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent airflow and cooling properties
+
Comfortable
+
Durable and hard-wearing

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks a size small option for smaller heads

Commuter helmets can take a beating. They get used everyday and when you get to the office, you probably don't lovingly place them in some special place. They get dropped into a bag and bounce around all-day. The nature of things is that a commuter helmet needs to be able to stand-up to this kind of use and that's what the Kask Moebius excels at.

For the Moebius, Kask uses a scratch resistant ABS outer . It's thick and it's textured so that even if it does pick up a scratch, it's less likely to be noticeable. There's also ten colours available so you can pick something to match or something to stand out. I've gone with a bright blue I think does a good job being both stylish and bright.

The inside of the Moebius is also unique. The pads are low and have wide coverage but it's the space in-between them I find most interesting. The outside of the helmet only has a front intake and rear exhaust but there's a clear path between them moulded into the helmet. While it might seem like there's not much venting, it works like an aero helmet and keep air constantly moving. Then at the rear, the rear cradle threads into the straps so you can pull it down as far as you want. This is another helmet that will be a good choice for anyone with long hair.

Unfortunately as good as the helmet is, anyone with a small head will be out of luck. The smallest option is a size medium with a 55cm lower cut-off. There is also a light you can add but it’s not especially well integrated and instead works with double sided tape. 

If you want to hear more details, take a look at our full Kask Moebius review.

Best with e-bike certification

best e-bike helmet - Giro Camden MIPS

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

9. Giro Camden MIPS

Best commuter bike helmet with e-bike certification

Specifications

Weight: 494g size medium
Rotational safety: MIPS
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia tech score: Untested
Ponytail Space: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Vents you can close
+
A big rear light
+
NTA 8776 certification

Reasons to avoid

-
Still uses micro-USB charging
-
Heavy

More and more, e-bikes are becoming the standard option for commuter bikes. We have a list of the best e-bike helmets but many of the options are on both lists. If you found yourself here and you are using an e-bike, it's probably worth checking that list out. If I have to pick only one though, it's the Giro Camden MIPS.

What I like about the Camden MIPS is the mix of e-bike specific certification and features for everyone. You don't have to have any special certification for an e-bike helmet but the Dutch NTA 8776 certification mandates more coverage and passing a higher drop test. For those using US style Class III e-bikes at 28mph, that seems like a reasonable thing to have.

The Giro Camden MIPS starts with that certification then adds more features. At the rear is a big light. It's not as bright or configurable as the Unit1 helmet but it gets the job done. At the front you'll find an integrated brim and up top are vents you can close when it's cold. There's also a magnetic buckle to make on and off easy. It ends up being a really great feeling helmet to wear.

Downsides include the use of the older USB standard plus a bit of extra weight. If those seem like small details, they are. This is a comfortable helmet that is a great option for commuting of any kind and especially if you use an e-bike.

Best for locking up

Thousand Chapter MIPS helmets

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

10. Thousand Chapter MIPS

Best lockable commuter bike helmet

Specifications

Weight: 410g size large
Rotational safety: MIPS
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia tech score: 12.91
Ponytail Space: Limited

Reasons to buy

+
Popsocket for locking convenience
+
Automatic rear light
+
Included multi-use light adapter
+
Swappable visors

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks forward air intakes

Thousand helmets was far more fashion than function at one point but the brand has completely left that persona behind. Today, Thousand makes a whole range of bike accessories that are fashion forward but also well thought out and a joy to use. The Chapter MIPS is the helmet that Chapter makes specifically for daily commuting needs.

As mentioned, Thousand is a fashion forward brand. That means that even the brand's most function forward product is still very fashionable. There are eight different colour options and each one comes with a matching removable visor. Thousand also sells the visors on their own though and you can mix and match with six visor options.

As much as I'm a fan of fashion though, Thousand is still coming close to focusing a bit too much. There's good air movement from your forehead up and into the helmet. Still, on the hottest days, more air is always appreciated and openings at the front of the helmet would help even if they impacted the looks.

Whatever colour you pick, there's also an included rear light. It stays off normally but when the light gets low it automatically turns on. If you'd prefer to use it somewhere besides the helmet, Thousand also includes an adapter to mount the light on a bike. Of course you may not need it on the bike as we've also included the Thousand Traveler lights on our list of best bike lights.

It's really not the lights or fashion that makes Thousand helmets unique though. From the beginning, the Thousand helmets have always had a provision for locking the helmet to a bike. The Chapter MIPS is no different. When you get to your destination you don't have to bring your helmet with you. Instead just pop the cover off the side and thread your lock through the hole and now your helmet is as safe as your bike without having to carry extra bulk with you. 

Best for sustainability

POC Myelin helmet

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

11. POC Myelin

Best sustainable commuter bike helmet

Specifications

Weight: 373g size medium
Rotational safety: MIPS
Sizes: S, M, L
Virginia tech score: Untested
Ponytail Space: Yes