Mountain Bike Helmet vs Road Bike Helmet

Mountain Bike Helmet vs Road Bike Helmet

Are you still undecided between a mountain bike helmet and a road bike helmet? In this post, you will learn which helmet best suits your cycling needs.

A helmet is the most critical piece of safety equipment when it comes to cycling. You have to pick the helmet that matches the riding type you will be doing. It has become a habit for mountain bike and road bike riders to wear a helmet.

I have been a cyclist for several years, and I have encountered varying cycling helmets for each discipline. If you have a mountain bike or a road bike, you have to use a corresponding helmet. Knowing the right helmet for the specific bike type, you will be on while wearing it.

Keep reading and get to know about the significant difference between mountain bike helmet and road bike helmet.

At A Glance

Mountain and road bike helmets are two different types of helmets used by riders for cycling. As the name suggests, a mountain bike helmet is appropriate for rough or mountain cycling, while a road bike helmet is more suited for road biking.

A road helmet comes with an aerodynamic, more compact, and sleeker design. It has a more significant amount of ventilation to promote easy airflow. This helmet does not have a visor.

In contrast, a mountain bike helmet has a beefy, bulkier, and heavier structure alongside small vents dedicated to limited air movement. It also features a visor.

Mountain Bike Helmet VS Road Bike Helmet: The Difference

A helmet is crucial for cycling as it protects your head against accidents or injuries. However, not all helmets are the same. For instance, there is a significant difference between mountain and road bike helmets. 

Don’t worry; I will discuss all those things in this post. I will also provide an in-depth look into their differences. I will start with the section below:

What is a Mountain Bike Helmet 

Mountain Bike Helmet vs Road Bike Helmet

Side view of full face color helmet for downhill mountain bike racing. Extreme sport equipment isolated on white background

A mountain bike helmet is specifically designed for mountain biking. It focuses on providing the utmost security and protection to the cyclist’s head. After all, mountain biking puts someone at many risks.

Every mountain bike helmet features a visor, which is necessary to have additional protection for the face. The visor is designed to block sun rays that impede the cyclist’s vision while riding a single track. It acts as a shield on wet rides, preventing some mud specks from getting into the eyes.

Since trails for mountain bikes are in wooded or forest areas alongside obstacles everywhere, the helmet’s visor helps protect low-hanging branches.

The mountain bike helmet’s look is visibly different from a road helmet due to the lower cut in its back. While it improves the helmet’s aesthetics, it adds protection. Remember that mountain bikers are exposed to many obstacles on trails, so every bit of coverage provided by a helmet is essential.

Some cyclists use enduro or all-mount helmets. These mountain bike helmets are worn when riding trails that come with ascents and descents. For cyclists riding mainly downhill, they wear full face helmets because they protect their chin and mouth. 

What is a Road Bike Helmet

A road bike helmet is built explicitly for road cycling. It is lightweight and has an aerodynamic shape so that cyclists can easily go fast on paved roads and highways. It is focused on weight to keep riders stay comfortable throughout the journey. It is also built for speed.

In road biking, adequate ventilation is critical because cyclists work hard and are prone to sweating. Most road bike helmets come with more holes to promote ventilation. The location and shape of those vents are essential since aerodynamics is the key. These helmets may come with an ovular or round shape to improve the aerodynamic design.

Many road cyclists wear their glasses. Specifically, cycling is done on roads. So, having visors on the design is not necessary. If there is a visor, it will only narrow their visions. Unlike mountain bike trails where cyclists’ vision depth is only 10 feet ahead, road cycling allows cyclists to see for kilometers.

Mountain Bike Helmet VS Road Bike Helmet: The Comparison 

If you are still confused between mountain and road bike helmets, check out this section, and I will compare the two helmets detail by detail.

Size 

The helmet used for mountain biking is often bigger as compared to a road bike helmet because it has to provide more security and protection. That is particularly true since mountain biking comes with more risks than road biking.

These helmets have size options, including small, medium, large, and extra-large with varying size dimensions. A mountain bike helmet is generally bulkier, while a road helmet has a smaller shell with and thinner lining.

Shape 

The shape is one of the major differences between a mountain bike helmet and a road bike helmet. The more aggressive shape of the mountain bike helmet comes with wider coverage and sharper edges. It is also bulkier than its road counterpart because it is built to deliver better protection whenever cyclists crash.

On the other hand, a road bike helmet is thinner and sleeker. It features a more low-profile shape, allowing it to deliver more aerodynamics. 

Visor

As mentioned above, a road bike helmet does not have a visor, while a mountain bike helmet does have. Cyclists need a visor when they are into trail riding to get the necessary protection.

A visor is effective at absorbing impact, giving the eyes and head an extra layer of protection. If a cyclist encounters an over-the-bars crash, the visor will be the helmet’s first part to have contact with the ground. It also acts as a shield from the sun’s very bright light during the summer days.

A road bike helmet does not have a visor because it will only add unnecessary weight. Safety might be compromised, but cyclists do not need to worry too much because they are less likely to fall or crash.

Aerodynamics 

Cyclists who use road bicycles are very particular with the helmets’ aerodynamics. That is because they have to be fast when exploring the roads. 

Drag and air resistance are critical for the roadies to overcome. So, they want their helmets to be more aerodynamic than other helmets. 

Resistance 

In high-speed road biking, roadies want an increased resistance because of the road bike’s lid. They aim to reduce resistance by adding more wheels and wearing tight suits. Wearing a road bike helmet that comes with a lid is not appropriate for road biking. On the other hand, mountain bikers do not have much concern about resistance.

Vision

The built-in visor in the mountain bike helmet offers eye protection against dirt, rain, and sun. This feature is critical for the helmet to see potholes and bumps in the trail clearly. In contrast, a visor is unnecessary for a road bike helmet since it only limits the cyclist’s vision. Instead, they wear sunglasses for eye protection from dust and sunlight.

Mountain Bike Helmet VS Road Bike Helmet: The Winner 

Is a mountain bike helmet better than a bike helmet? Is it more practical to buy a road bike helmet than a mountain bike helmet? These are the questions that may come to your mind if you are torn between two helmets.

However, the real question is - why mountain bike helmets and road bike helmets are sold separately?

Of course, manufacturers can save on money, time, and resources if they sell universal helmets. On the other hand, mountain biking is far different from road cycling. So, each element is designed for a particular biking type. 

Mountain Bike Helmet vs Road Bike Helmet

Protection helmet gloves and glasses for cycling isolated on a white background

For instance, a mountain bike helmet is built to test varying terrain limits, while a road bike helmet is designed for fast cycling. Mountain biking 

When it comes to maximum protection and sturdy design, a mountain bike helmet is a reliable option. If someone prefers an aerodynamic and lightweight design, a road bike helmet is a must-have. However, remember that getting the right helmet for a particular use will help make the cycling experience even safer and more enjoyable.

Mountain Bike Helmet VS Road Bike Helmet: The Similarity

No matter what type of bike helmet you are using, all of the helmets come with the same purpose: to protect you against potential injuries during cycling. While these two bike helmets have differences, they still have some similarities, including:

Mountain and road bike helmets feature chin straps to help riders fasten the helmet around their necks. During speedy rides, this feature can keep the helmet in the right place.

Both bike helmets feature some special protection technologies like MIPS to reduce head injuries during a fall.

These two bike helmets are incorporated with cushioning to keep cyclists comfortable and snug during a ride, but the cushioning level differs in the helmet types.

What to Look for When Buying a Mountain Bike Helmet?

Below are the key features you should look for when buying a mountain bike helmet:

Type of Mountain Bike Helmet 

Whether it is a full-face or full-shell mountain bike helmet, it determines your riding discipline. 

  • Cross-country mountain bike helmet. This helmet tends to be lightweight and comes with a more circular profile. It features a lot of ventilation, allowing cyclists to push themselves to the limit without worrying about overheating.

  • Enduro and trail mountain bike helmets. These helmets provide more protection towards the back of the head. They are a bit bulkier. Several enduro helmets come with a detachable chin bar.

Fit 

Another considering when buying a mountain bike helmet is the fit. Protective features like MIPS help improve the helmet’s safety. However, if the fit is poor, the effectiveness of the helmet in all aspects is reduced.

In most cases, manufacturers provide a size guide according to the head measurements. However, it only goes as there is no way to account for the cyclists’ skull shape. 

Ventilation 

Ventilation is critical in every mountain bike helmet. However, it would be difficult to determine how hot or cool the helmet is without wearing it first. The best thing you can do is read product reviews to know if necessary ventilation is available.

What to Look for When Buying a Road Bike Helmet?

Now, let’s check out the factors to consider when buying a road bike helmet.

Safety 

Check if the road bike helmet is tested to the standard associated with where you live, such as EN 1078 for UK and Europe and CPSC for the US. In other words, the helmet has passed several tests that look at the impact absorption, field of vision, chin strap and buckle, and retention system.

MIPS 

The MIPS liner is built to help reduce rotational forces occurring during an event of a crash. It creates a slip plane that is effective as mimicking the own protection system of the brain. As a result, force transmission to the brain is minimized.

Fit 

If a road bike helmet does not fit properly, it will fail to do the job it is built for. A helmet is usually available in varying sizes based on the cyclist’s head circumstances. Since cyclists wear their helmets for more than five hours, they have to ensure that the helmets are comfortable.

It is recommended to try a variety of models and makes to see which one fits perfectly, particularly helmets come with varying shapes internally. For instance, women’s helmet specific may feature a special to accommodate a ponytail.

Retention System

With the retention system, cyclists can easily adjust the helmet’s fit according to their head size. A ratchet or dial system often adjusts these helmets. If you want a road bike helmet with the best retention system, go for the one operated with a single hand. This feature allows you to make a bit of adjustment on the move.

The helmet must loosen the helmet’s retention system, allowing the cyclists to wear a cycling cap or skull cap underneath and promoting added warmth. 

Comfort and Padding 

A helmet becomes more comfortable because of padding. This padding also helps wick sweat away from cyclists’ heads. A good road bike helmet comes with removable padding for replacement and washing.

Venting 

Venting refers to the holes in the helmet’s holes. It has two functions. First, it minimized the helmet’s weight. Second, it adds ventilation. If a helmet has fewer or no vents, it is considerably warmer. 

Weight 

If a road bike helmet is lightweight, it tends to become more comfortable. That is because it does not apply less strain on the neck. For competing cyclists, less weight gives the cyclists an advantage of increased power to weight ratio.

Why Wearing Bike Helmets Matter 

The head is usually the first body part of becoming injured in case of a bicycle accident. That is why a cyclist should wear a helmet that fits perfectly. If you wear the right size for a helmet, it will help protect your head from external and internal damage.

Another reason for wearing a bike helmet is the bad weather. If a bicycle is your primary mode of transportation, you may deal with inclement weather conditions. Wearing helmets like the one with a visor will protect you against the sun’s UV damage, wind gusts, and rain.

Cycling is exposed to a myriad of hazards. In most cases, accidents occur because motorists do not see cyclists. That is why a bike helmet with lights or reflective strips helps cyclists become more visible to drivers. 

Recommended Mountain Bike Helmet and Road Bike Helmet

When you check the market, you can find so many mountain and road bike helmets. So, I understand if you find the selection process of a specific helmet type. Don’t worry; i give you the following products to help you find ideas and decide.

BELL Avenue MIPS Road Bike Helmet

This road bike helmet features a fusion in-mold polycarbonate shell. This means the outer shell of the helmet is bonded to the EPS foam liner. In return, the helmet becomes sturdier. The integrated Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) minimized the rotational forces caused by specific impacts.

With the Ergo-Fit LED, the helmet comes with an enhanced dial feel and function. This feature is also less bulky but sleeker. This helmet is designed with quick-adjust fasteners, keeping the straps properly positioned and flat. It also comes with a sweat guide pad design, which helps pull moisture away from eyewear and brow pad.

BELL Super 3R MIPS Adult Mountain Bike Helmet 

This mountain bike helmet is MIPS equipped, so it is protected against rotational forces due to specific impacts. It comes with quick-adjust fasteners to ensure that straps are flat and in the proper position.

The removable protective chin bar is helpful while on the trails because it easily adapts to the environment. This helmet features Overbrow Ventilation, which ushers in cool air and then pushes it through the air-channel matrix. As a result, the helmet offers full-head ventilation.

With the adaptable visor system, the helmet accommodates glasses and goggles. The helmet works well with or without a visor attached. It features a seamless camera mount that is engineered to reduce the risks of injuries by breaking away upon impact. The camera mount also requires no tape or ties.

Conclusion 

There you have it! Choosing the right helmet based on the type of biking you want is highly critical. Remember that cycling is also all about getting and using the right equipment to enjoy a comfortable and safe riding experience, whether you are using a mountain bike or road bicycle

A mountain bike helmet offers more protection as compared to a road bike helmet. However, it is heavier and not breathable. In contrast, a road bike helmet is a reliable option when it comes to aerodynamics.

Helmet protection is one of the most critical things in mountain biking. On the other hand, lightweight design and breathability are the main focus of road bike helmets. In other words, you should go for a helmet type that suits your biking preference.

If you still do not have a biking helmet, do not hesitate to get yours as soon as possible. Happy biking!

Frequently Asked Questions 

If you want to get to know more about mountain and road bike helmets, you can refer to the frequently asked questions below:

Why does a road bike helmet has no visor and a mountain bike helmet has?

A road bike helmet lacks a visor because it will only inhibit cyclists’ vision. Remember that vision is highly critical in road biking. Rather than using visors, roadies can use sunglasses to protect their eyes against dirt, dust, and sunlight.

Meanwhile, a mountain bike helmet features a visor because it does not obstruct the cyclists’ vision. When riding a mountain bike, cyclists’ posture stays more upright, so they do not worry about the visor affecting their vision. In fact, a visor acts as a shield for their eyes from dirt, dust, and sunlight.

Can I use my mountain bike helmet for road biking?

The answer is YES. However, the visor on the helmet causes vision obstruction. A rider may feel sweaty and stuffy during a long ride due to the helmet’s sturdy design and limited ventilation. That is why an aerodynamic and lightweight road bike helmet is a better option for road biking.

Can I use my road bike helmet for mountain biking?

The answer is YES. However, cyclists can put themselves in danger. Wearing a road bike helmet when riding on trails is not recommended because it is not safe. This helmet is lightweight and has a thin protective layer. Instead, it is better to use a helmet specifically designed for mountain biking to get the necessary protection.

Can bicycle helmets prevent concussions?

The answer is NO. No helmet is proven to prevent concussions. Current helmets are made from materials that can absorb any heavy impact energies that lead to brain injuries or cranial fractures. Special technologies like MIPS and Koroyd help minimize concussions, but their efficacy is not 100% guaranteed.

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