Mountain Vs Road Bike Helmets|Best Helmet For Both MTB and Road biking

There are a number of different factors when finding a perfect helmet for yourself and finding a hybrid for both mountain biking and road biking can be hard.

Making a decision gets even harder because there are no viable sources that are understanding the user intent instead everyone is just trying to pour fuel on the fire so I wanted to create a viable source that answers your questions and directs you in the right possible direction.

Let me walk you through different stats that will actually help you make a choice rather than trying to justify which helmet is better and which is bad for you.

 

weight and ventilation Comparison between road bikes mountain bikes and cross-country helmets :

Mountain bike helmets :

I checked dozens of helmets to conduct an experiment on what would the average weight of each type of helmet ventilation and protection.

Mountain bike HelmetsWeightVentsProtection
Oakley DRT5
‎387 Grams
13Mips
Fox Divide Pro401 Grams16MIPS
Smith Session379 Grams
15Mips
Giro Manifest340 Grams19Mips
Troy Lee Half Shell A2350 Grams14MIPS
Troy Lee A1365 Grams16 Mips
Speedframe Pro390 Grams19MIPS
Avrg weight373 Grams

I tested mountain bikes helmet in the same price range of 100-200$ and tried to have a mix of different brands to get the average weight and average vents of the mountain bike helmets this is the result.

mountain bike helmets cover wider area of your head

The average weight of mountain bikes helmet is around 350-373 Grams there are certain exceptions but the number is very low and the prices are much higher for them but this is the most common number than you can expect.

The average number of vents in mountain bike helmets is 16 but this doesn’t prove if the helmet has low or high ventilation because the size of the vents varies from helmet to helmet.

The reason that mountain biking helmets are heavy is that compared to road bike helmets they provide more coverage to the head and in many cases they are double ESp lined or the outer polycarbonate shell is made much thicker.

Road bike helmets :

I also did the same experiment with the road bikes I took all the helmets almost in the same price range from 100-200$ and tried to have a mix of as many brands as I could.

Road bike HelmetsWeightVentsProtection
POC, Omne Air Spin290 Grams15EPS liner/poc's spin technology
Giro Synthe270 Grams20MIPS
Giro Cinder305 Grams15MIPS
BELL Z20290 Grams21MIPS
R2 EVO Smart394 Grams19EPS liner
BELL Stratus MIPS296 Grams
18 Mips
Smith Optics Persist300 Grams21 Mips
Avrg weight306 Grams

The average weight of road bike helmets is around 290-306 grams there are exceptions to road bike helmets as well since some of them weighed as much as 600 grams and as low as 250 grams depending on the layers of foam and out shell materials thickness.

road bike helmets cover less areaback area but provide better ventilation

The average number of vents on a road bike helmet was 18 but the size of the vents was much larger than mountain bike helmets also the ventilation systems were much more well thought out compared to other types of cycling.

The reason that road bike helmets are much lighter than mountain bike helmets is they cover much less area on the back of the head and they are made lighter because road bikers have to constantly move their head around.

XC/Cross country helmets :

I did the same experiment with XC or cross country helmets again in the same price range keeping the mix of different brands and types of helmets.

cross country or trail helmets are designed to be hybrids for both road and trail riding they can also be used for commuting and general cycling.

Cross country/XC HelmetsWeightVentsProtection
Troy Lee Designs A2376 Grams14MIPS
POC Omne Air Resistant315 Grams
16ESP liner
POC Octal X Spin
242 Grams21 spin technology
Scott Centric Plus270 Grams
16MIPS
Trigger AM360 Grams19 MIPS
Fox Speedframe Pro380 Grams19MIPS
Giro Source 345 Grams16Mips
Avrg weight 327 Grams

The average weight of trail/cross country helmets is around 310-327 grams depending on the Esp foam layers and the outer shell thickness they are lighter than mountain bike helmets and heavier than road bike helmets because of their hybrid nature.

Cross country helmets have medium weight and vents

The average number of vents on the trail/cross-country helmet is around 17 vents the size of the vent on these helmets is average between road and Mtb helmets. the number varies on which category they fall more to road or Mtb, but they have excellent ventilation.

Cross-country helmets are a hybrid between mountain biking helmets and road bike helmets their weight and number of vents and sizes are average compared to both helmets even from a safety point of view it falls the average and let me explain to you why that can be more helpful to you as a user.

Protection :

This is part where things get interesting In 2017 IRCOBI (International Research Council on Biomechanics of Injury.) source held a conference to assess the protection of the helmet the conference is held almost every year or 2 and they tested different helmets, they conduct different tests on helmets from bikes to motorcycles skii and other helmets the test they conduct on these helmets are as follows.

Shock absorption test

  • Oblique impact A. Contact point
    on the upper part of the helmet
  • Oblique impact B. Contact point
    on the side of the helmet
  • Oblique impact C. Contact point
    on the side of the helmet.
Basically, they study how secure the helmet is and how well the helmet distributes the kinetic energy through the shell and foam to minimize the impact on the user.
The result of the top 10 helmets was published but half of those helmets Failed as soon as they hit the market and the reason why they failed.
Helmet Positions on IRCOBI testHelmet type-Road/mountain bike helmetThe reason why they failed the market
Abus S‐Force PeakRoad bike helmetNot comfortable
Bell Stoker MIPSMountain bike helmetNo style
Position 8
POC Octal AVIP MIPS
cross country helmetnot comfortable

The reason that I included a no 8 helmet was all the other helmets were for either motorcycles or other sports not related to the topic at hand.

So there you have it the reason that these helmets tanked and no one really liked them was because they were not comfortable or stylish or various other reasons that were not user-friendly they may have passed the toughest test but they failed in the market just because they were not comfortable enough.

that’s a great lesson for all of us if you are fighting over which one is the toughest it doesn’t matter all that matters is that you are wearing a helmet on your head and not a brick.

I should mention one other thing both in IRCOBI 2017 and NCBI 2021  source the most important thing that they study were conventional helmets meaning helmets that had ESP foam lining and MIPs and their overall test says that conventional helmets with ESP, EPP, and SPIN technology had not changed and they haven’t improved.

The only exception they did find was Helmets with MIPS integration they performed way better and are improving and if you can take any lesson from that is to try to get the helmets that have MIPS integrated we never know what will happen on the trails or roads but its best to have something on your head that can protect you.

In the end, I would advise you to pick something that’s comfortable stylish, and adequate for both mountain biking and road biking, and the most suitable helmet I found for both was a cross-country helmet.

After considering more than 2 dozen helmets I decided on Troy Lee A2 for me it’s the best that has good ventilation, a nice vision range, and the most important factor quality for the price. Although it weighs a little high at 350 grams but is due to the double foam and mips layers.

Troy Lee A2 Review :

TRoy lee A series was great A1 was great but lacking and A2 is just awsome it filled the gaps from A1 added security style and ventilation is a big bonus that I loved about it this might not be the lightest helmet out there but I love the loaded protection of this helmet and its usability to entertain both road and mountain biking experience, here are the specs for the helmet.

A2 weight : 350g

vents: 13 big vents

ventilation system: 8/10 with the guided air vent system

Aerodynamics: I would give it a 7/10, not the best out their but not the worst either.

Protection : dual density of ESP and EPP with a MIPS liner this is the reason for its bit higher weight.

STyle : A2 has good style and different color combos.

Either you like this helmet or not its up to you i did alot of research and i found this one particularly better than others in alot of aspects and i was willing to sacrifice on the things it was lacking but may be you  dont like it so here are some quick checks you can perform before you make a purchase.

What to look for in a Helmet :

Helmets are necessary for every cyclist there are many times I was thankful I had a helmet on my head.

But if it has a flaw you might not want to wear it intentionally so if you perform a quick checklist before you buy it online or from any store make sure that it complies with your checklist having said that here’s a quick checklist that can save you a lot of time and money so the next time you get out to buy a new helmet perform a quick checklist from here

Weight:

weight of a helmet is a big issue maybe you may not notice it much when using the helmet for a few days but in the long run, you may regret your decision of compromising on weight if you are wearing a helmet and forget you were wearing one that’s the one for you, a heavy helmet is just like a brick on the head it may be up to the task for every situation but in the end, it will be just like a brick and no one wants a brick on their head or do you?

Ventilation:

ventilation is another important part you will start sweating and get irritated in no time and that would be the worst thing ever if you are buying a new helmet are looking to try another always check how many vents it has luckily almost all the trusted brands are keen on the airflow but just in case always read what you are buying beforehand.

Style:

style is the third parameter that I urge you not to ignore I have seen people saying that style doesn’t matter helmets are for security and after some time regret their decision if you are paying for something it might as well be a package, not a drum on your head you might compromise on it today but soon are later it starts to get under your skin.

Comfortability:

if you are not comfortable with your helmet you might ditch it someday but you never know which one is the bad day Always check whether the helmet has padding or if it gives your head a breather this is one of those things that we usually ignore in excitement always make sure that what you are buying is futuristic, not suitable for today.

Fit:

size is also one of the most important things as well choose a size that’s comfortable for you perform a quick test wrap tape around your head and match it with the sizes that the developer has repaired for you always make sure that you read what size is for what measurements.

For example, some manufacturers use small size and 52-56 centimeters but for other manufacturers, it might be different so always perform a quick check before buying also always consider which unit the manufacturer has used for scaling for example if they are using centimeters and you accidentally chose inches it will create problems for you, luckily sites like amazon accept returned products but of course shipping back and receiving the product again is just a hassle so make sure you save yourself the trouble.

replaceable parts : 

Always make sure that the helmet you are buying has replaceable parts because for some of us if we are lucky the helmet can last for years but of course, the inner parts may not last that long so make sure that the helmet you are buying has replaceable parts like pads.

Protection : 

Protection is the most important and fundamental part of a helmet it’s designed to do that but not every helmet if you are buying a low-end helmet that costs 50$ make sure it has a Mips liner if it comes with an ESP liner do not even consider it, those helmets are equipped with a single layer of foam and you can expect what a single layer of foam can do for you in an unfortunate accident

Price : 

This is a tricky part finding a helmet that provides quality for the price can be hard low price helmets are tempting but if you are not knowledgeable enough about what quality you are getting for it you might end up

brand reputation :

A simple check on the brand can do no harm sometimes you might buy a helmet that’s cheaper but turns out the specs that you saw on the manufacturer’s site or manual are lacking or downright faulty so it’s best to give it a quick check before you make the purchase.

there are some other questions that people have like.

Can you use road helmets for mountain biking :

You can use road bike helmets for mountain biking but there are moments that you may feel them lacking because of the huge terrain contrast for example if you are riding downhill you will never feel comfortable with the road bike helmets simply because there are times when you might push the brake too hard and there is a chance that you might flip over the handlebars and this is not fictional it happens often but of course not that quite happen.

But then again I would say why take a chance? always keep in mind that you are responsible for your safety, not the helmet and you should never take that chance because you can be the one in that 1 in 100.

Do more expensive bike helmets protect better :

yes, you see even if a cheap helmet is equipped with MIPS design there’s usually only one layer of ESP foam between the helmet and your head and an expensive helmet has 2 to 3 layers but security is not the only factor you should see in them.

is mtb helmet good for road biking :

Mtb helmets are good for road biking they provide better coverage but they might not be so comfortable because of smaller vents and low ventilation systems, of course, there are exceptions and you can find tons of MTB helmets with good ventilation like here.

 

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