Lightest, most comfortable bike helmet?
September 11, 2010 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about the lightest, most comfortable bicycle helmet there is.

I'm willing to pay top-of-the-market prices if necessary; I do a lot of cycling.

Giro and Bell dominate the market here in the U.S., but I'd be glad to hear about bike headgear from other parts of the world that may not be distributed as widely in the States. If you have less U.S.-centric suggestions, please don't hesitate to share them.
posted by killdevil to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
posted by TDIpod at 6:46 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I sweat like a pig, and I got a Giro Atmos recently. It cost top dollar but it's by far the best ventilated helmet I've ever had.

Now, when I'm cycling in Europe (mostly France, England, and this summer, Ireland), I usually don't wear a helmet at all, because it doesn't fit in my folding bike's case and I'm too cheap to buy a helmet when I get there. Plus, in the Irish rain, a Gore-Tex cycling cap just makes so much more sense than a helmet. Very few cyclists in France or Ireland wear helmets. In England--well, Oxford-- I did an unscientific survey that showed that about 40% of cyclists crossing the Magdalen Bridge when I happened to be there were wearing helmets.

Honestly, much of the time when I'm cycling in the US--especially on my commute--I wear a helmet because if I am killed while cycling, I do not want the local newspaper story about my death to point out that I was not wearing a helmet, even if I happen to be crushed under a bus or hit head-on by a drunk driver, or killed in some other way where a helmet would not have made a lick of difference. If I'm likely to be descending hills at over 30 mph, or if I'll be riding long enough that fatigue might affect my reflexes, I'll wear a helmet (the Atmos). Otherwise, I might well leave it at home.

But to reiterate, to actually answer the question: take a good look at the Giro Atmos.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:09 PM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

TDIpod has it. Never actually owned one myself, but those things are basically the holy grail of helmets here in the NYC bike scene.
posted by johnnybeggs at 7:19 PM on September 11, 2010

Says it's the lightest in the world (that conforms to some standards).

Looks better than the swiss-cheese one imo.
posted by ghharr at 7:29 PM on September 11, 2010

I have been very happy with my Alpina helmet. Lightweight, good ventilation, very comfortable and secure fit with the strap that tightens around the head. Not unreasonably expensive either (~$60). They make a few different models, so it would be worth your while to try them on if you get a chance. Many of their helmets are white too, which in my experience makes a huge difference in keeping your head cool.
posted by ssg at 7:31 PM on September 11, 2010

TDIpod has it. Never actually owned one myself, but those things are basically the holy grail of helmets here in the NYC bike scene.

Mostly because the Catlike helmets are big in the ProTour peloton but rare in the US. They're not (or weren't until recently) CSPC-certified, and so they couldn't be sold in the States and had to be smuggled in. I think that's changed and now Competitive Cyclist is selling them.

The Giro Atmos is actually lighter than the Whisper (275g vs 307g) and is really stellar—as "set-it-and-forget-it" as a helmet I've ever experienced. Really well vented, and I'm on my second (thanks, crash that also broke my collarbone!). The Giro ProLight, though, weighs only 200g. I've never worn one, but apparently when the Garmin-Slipstream riders were given the choice between the ProLight and the other Giro helmets, most chose the ProLight.

One other thing to consider is that Giro's crash replacement policy is a 30% discount on a replacement. Bell's is much more generous: new identical helmet for $35. I had a Sweep that seemed really good, but I only wore it six times, all in the winter, before crashing it and never got around to replacing it, so I can't really speak to its comfort in warmer weather. If you're racing, consider the crash replacement policy.

But, as you can tell, both Bell and Giro did the job and saved my noodle from some truly catastrophic damage. And after seeing the helmets post-crash, I'm damn glad I was wearing them.
posted by The Michael The at 7:37 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Says it's the lightest in the world (that conforms to some standards).

The Giro ProLight is lighter.
posted by The Michael The at 7:39 PM on September 11, 2010

The Giro ProLight is lighter than just about anything, but definitely not the most comfortable in my experience. I bought one, rode about 100 miles in it on a couple rides, and returned it. It is very minimally adjustable - basically loose, medium, or tight - rather than the ratcheted system on other Giro's. The ProLight's retention system is elastic, which always felt either too loose or too tight. None of the three settings were comfortable for me, and it definitely wasn't as well ventilated as my old Atmos. So I wound up returning it and getting another Giro Atmos. I think it's the best helmet around when considering weight, ventilation, and looks. The Specialized is comfortable and just as light, but the gaping horizontal mouth in the front looks pretty dumb.
posted by pkingdesign at 12:29 AM on September 12, 2010

I dunno. I went helmet shopping a couple months ago and came away with the Giro Prolight. I found it to be much more comfortable than the Atmos or Ionos; the lightness was a bonus. I've put a couple hundred miles on it, and even in the heat of summer, I don't mind the decreased venting. (Giro had to decrease the ventilation to get it up to safety standards.)

It depends on the shape of your head. Mine is narrow but long (front to back)
posted by supercres at 6:57 AM on September 12, 2010

My last comment in this post, I promise: I just weighed my medium Atmos at 273g. So, truth in advertising from Giro I guess. I really do love this helmet.
posted by The Michael The at 7:30 AM on September 12, 2010

I've got the Specialized S-Works linked by ghharr and it is super comfortable for me, but that's because Specialized helmets fit my oval-shaped head better than any other brand. Helmets are just something you need to try on. It is light as hell though.
posted by markr at 7:12 PM on September 12, 2010

I'm fond of helmets by MET, an Italian company. You have to order them through places in England that ship to the United States, but it is worth it.
posted by dgran at 1:47 PM on September 17, 2010

You may be interested in this recent article.
posted by The Michael The at 8:36 AM on September 27, 2010

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