Buying Guide
By Austin Parker
on 5.29.14

Now that the only cold breeze to be found is blowing from AC units, we’re out cruising on dry roads and trails; it’s prime time to get back on the bike. You’ve got your favorite cycling shoes and your trusty mountain bike, but without a helmet you’re still a bystander. The tricky thing about an aging helmet is you never know when it’s time to replace it, and you definitely don’t want to be too late. If you’re in the market, there are many good options this year, equipped with new materials, new technology and new innovations in aerodynamics. These are five of the best.

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POC Octal

poc-octal

Best Road Biking Helmet: Launched earlier this year on the noggins of the championship-winning Garmin-Sharp cycling team, the Octal provides better coverage and more venting than any previous POC offering. Its design pays particular attention to the temples and back of the head, and it has an included scannable tag for the ICEdot crash sensor, making it the safest (and best looking) helmet out there right now for road cyclists.

Lifebeam/Lazer SMART

lifebeam-lazer-smart

Best Helmet For Data Geeks: Harnessing Lifebeam biometric technology, the SMART helmet continuously monitors your heart rate without the use of any external sensors. With Bluetooth and ANT+ compatibility, you can track your data with any cycling computer and many smartphone apps. Combined with Lazer’s Genesis helmet foundation, the SMART is both a formidable training tool and a solid safety choice.

Smith Forefront

smith-forefront

Best Mountain Biking Helmet: Smith is known for excellent sunglasses and ski goggles. Their design team spent so much time on California single-track trails in the summer that building their own biking helmet (and then beating everyone else in the market while they were at it) seemed like the next logical step. Using the brand’s Aerocore technology, the Forefront weighs in at a scant 285 grams but provides extra coverage in the side and rear. Minimal internal padding and extra venting up front make this the perfect summer riding helmet for epic days on the dirt.

Torch T1

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Best Commuter Helmet: If most of your riding is done in the morning and evening twilight hours on your work commute, the new T1 should be your new best friend. It weighs in at 366 grams and features best-in-class safety ratings, but the reason you’ll buy it is its built-in lighting system. With four different strobe and steady state functions, plus crash resistant lenses, the T1 is a great bet for comfort and safety, particularly on the fringes of daylight.

Rudy Project Wing57

rudy-project-wing57

Best Triathlon Helmet: Whether you’re chasing that elusive podium finish at your next Ironman or just starting to train for your first sprint distance race, speed is paramount. Building on the foundation of the popular WingSpan helmet, the Wing57 has a dorsal ridge (inspired by sharks, according to the brand) that’s meant to make the helmet more aerodynamic. Strategically placed venting, together with a detachable magnetic tail (meant to be used depending on the rider’s shoulder and back position, and not inspired by any particular animal that we know) and a built-in visor make this helmet an ideal option for speed-hungry triathletes and time-trialists. Look for it in retailers later this year.

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