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How to Buy the Best Helmet for Riding an Electric Bike

Electric bikes have grown very popular for several reasons. Today's cyclists enjoy using motor-assisted bicycles for commuting, shopping, and recreational riding. They offer a chance to exercise by pedaling them like a traditional bike. At the same time, the electric motor can kick in to navigate steeper inclines, longer distances, and faster speeds. An e-bike provides the perfect compromise between a regular bike and a scooter or moped for many cyclists.

Electric bikes, regular bikes, and scooters share features and also have some significant differences. All cyclists should consider buying the best helmet to protect themselves from a fall or crash. Helmets rated for traditional, pedal-powered bikes might not provide enough protection for electric bike riders, so people who ride powered bicycles might need a specially rated helmet. Find out how to buy the correct type of e-bike helmet, when it's time to replace an old one, and which brands to consider.

Why Electric Bike Riders Should Buy the Right Helmet

The National Council of State Legislatures found that half the states in the U.S. passed laws requiring helmets for electric bikes. Most states limit their mandate to riders below certain ages or for specific types of electric bikes. For instance, some states differentiate between kinds of electric bicycles based on their maximum speed. Many states also publish different rules for adults than for children. As a first step, e-bike riders should understand the regulations in their state or any states they visit.

Local rules provide a starting point, but e-bike riders need to gather even more information before deciding which e-bike helmet to purchase. Even though most states don't force every e-bike rider to wear a helmet, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says the proper helmets will help protect everybody from severe injuries and very often, save lives. The organization also pointed out that all helmets don't provide the same level of protection.

This organization certifies various helmets for various standards that indicate the activities people should use them for. Electric bike buyers can usually find the intended use and safety rating on the packaging or in the specification section of an advertisement. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer or retailer for more information.

Here's what to look for:

  • For electric bikes with a maximum speed of less than 20MPH, riders can use regular bicycle helmets. People can also use helmets rated by the Consumer Products Safety Commission, or CPSC, as safe for bicycles and low-speed e-bikes for kick scooters, recreational skating, and skateboards.
  • Bikes with faster motors require helmets rated for mopeds and scooters. Applicable ratings include Snell L-98, M-2005, M-2010, CMS/CMR 2007, and DOT FMVSS 218.

To protect themselves, electric bike riders must also wear their helmets correctly and ensure a proper fit. For instance, the chin strap will keep the helmet from falling off during a fall. Helmets need to fit snugly enough to prevent movement, and they should not tilt backward or forward. At the same time, riders will want to ensure they buy the right-sized helmets to ensure comfort during longer rides.

When to Buy a New Bike Helmet

The CPSC says helmets can last for five to ten years, but they added several caveats. Riders should replace helmets with any sign of wear, including cracks, crushed foam, worn straps, or missing parts. Manufacturers design helmets to offer protection for one impact, so they need replacing after a crash.

Why replace older helmets that don't appear worn? High-quality helmet makers constantly innovate to offer better protection, more comfortable fits, and lighter weights. Replacing the helmet gives riders a chance to enjoy the latest advancements in helmet design and technology.

Understanding MIPS helmet liners

The CPSC says that helmets can reduce the risk of concussions or other serious head injuries, but no product on the market can offer a 100-percent guarantee. People who want to invest in the latest technology might consider buying a helmet with an MIPS liner.

This increasingly popular bike helmet feature may provide better protection, so riders who plan to use their electric cycles at higher speeds or rough terrain might consider this option. MIPS refers to a multi-directional impact protection system, and this advanced protection rotates to mimic how the protection system inside the skull works. Thus, sometimes people refer to MIPS liners as rotational liners. They work by reducing the energy impact from crashes.

A neuroscientist developed this technology in 1997, and he based its design on research into traumatic head injuries. He worked with engineers to translate his knowledge into the design. The liner doesn't change much about the look or feel of the helmet, though it typically adds to the price.

Other developers have also come up with competitive products. For instance, Peloton Magazine highlighted WaveCel, which a team of doctors and engineers also produced and may prove even more effective.

Ensuring the Correct Fit of Bike Helmets

Most helmet makers offer each product in different sizes, like small, medium, and large. They should provide a guide to help customers figure out which helmet to purchase. Shoppers should measure the circumference of their heads around the largest part.

Most people can wrap a tape measure or cord over their eyebrows to find the correct measurements. This measurement in inches should correspond to measurements on the manufacturer's sizing guide. If the measurement falls between sizes, most guides suggest selecting the smaller helmet. If unsure, contact the manufacturer for their recommendation.

Are Rear Helmet Lights Worth the Extra Money?

The e-bike should already have a rear light, so should people invest extra money in rear helmet lights?

Consider some pros and cons of investing in a helmet with rear lights:

  • Pros: Anybody who rides in the dark or even on a foggy or rainy day might benefit from extra visibility. That's particularly true for people who take their e-bikes offload or on streets without sufficient lighting. Reflective materials depend upon light sources, like headlights or streetlights, to work effectively. Thus, lights on a bike helmet can add an extra layer of protection. Some advanced models even let riders indicate turns or other actions with their helmet lights.
  • Cons: Lights rely on a source of power. They may use regular batteries or include a rechargeable battery. Either way, the lights won't offer adequate protection if the battery dies, so helmet owners need to take the extra step or ensure they keep their helmets charged. Also, lights will add to the weight and price of the helmet.

Examples of Today's Best Electric Bike Helmets

Electric bike riders can find dozens of helmets that may satisfy their basic requirements. Even helmets that meet basic requirements can vary wildly in the level of protection, quality, and features. These examples of high-quality bike helmets for electric bike riders offer safety, style, and convenient features.

Giro Bexley MIPS: Pricey but stylish and safe

The Giro Bexley MIPS starts with a futuristic, sleek design. Underneath, find an MIPS liner that deflects energy during an impact. The antimicrobial padding supports long-lasting hygiene and comfort. A highlighted feature includes four closable vents that make a big difference for riding in warm or cool weather. The helmet also offers a retractable eyeshield, rear lights, and a magnetic buckle to close the straps.

The price might offer the main drawback to this ergonomically designed, safe helmet, and it retails for about $299. Still, considering its protection, durability, and extra features, the Giro Bexley MIPS offers good value.

Cratoni Commuter: Lightweight, mid-priced helmet with generous features

Besides costing about $100 less than the Bexley MIPS, the Cratoni Commuter weighs over 10 ounces less. It lacks a rear light and only has reflective material on the back for visibility, but it does include adjustable vents. The straps come with padding, so riders will feel comfortable even if they like to wear their straps tight. The most significant sacrifice of the Cratoni Commuter includes the lack of the rotational inner liner that the Giro model has.

Abus Pedelec 2.0: Perfect for the lower price

Shop around to find the Abus Pendalec 2.0 on sale for less than $140. Besides the lower price, this helmet only weighs a few grams more than the Cratoni Commuter. It comes with an LED light on the back, an adjustable rear light, and a comfortable fit. It lacks a rotational liner. Also, riders can't adjust the vents, and the manufacturer designed them to maximize airflow. Anybody who wants to ride in cooler weather may want to wear a cap underneath.

Luos Matrix: Digitally enhanced protection

In the front, this helmet offers as much as 1,000 lumens. The LED, 70-diode panel in the rear provides this futuristic helmet's true innovation. With smart pulse tech, users can configure the smart lights to signal such actions as turning or slowing down. Like the Giro Bexley MIPS, the Luos Matrix includes a rotational liner.

The Matrix weighs more than the Abus and Cratoni models but less than the Giro. This helmet does not come with adjustable vents, comes in one size, and generally sells for $230. The Luos Matrix should satisfy riders who don't mind paying for the latest technology but might sacrifice some convenient, low-end features.

Sena R1: Connected communication

Sena calls the R1 a smart communications helmet. Like many smartwatches, it uses Bluetooth to connect to a phone to listen to streaming content or even make calls. It also receives FM radio and allows multiple riders to use their own Sena R1 helmets like a walkie-talkie for in-group chats. In addition, riders can customize their helmet settings with a phone app. The Sena R1 only costs $120, and people who ride in groups or alone appear to appreciate its communication features.

Bell Daily MIPS: Low-priced quality from a proven brand

Bell has earned a good reputation for producing high-quality, affordable bicycle helmets for decades. For just $99, this helmet includes an MIPS liner, an ergonomic design, one LED light in the rear, and a modern style. Otherwise, the helmet doesn't offer the advanced features of some competitors and only comes in one universal size. Still, the Bell Daily MIPS appears to provide good value from a trusted brand.

Shopping for the Best Electric Bike Helmet

An electric bike allows riders to travel further, faster, and over less even terrain. The added power and range also increase the risk of accidents. The best helmets for electric bikes offer added protection, and some states even mandate their use for some or all e-bike riders. Also, a helmet meant for a traditional bike might not provide the best choice for people who ride electric bikes that can travel over 20MPH.

Added features, like lights, can also mitigate risks by ensuring other traffic sees the rider. Other features, like Bluetooth connectivity, can make longer rides more enjoyable. Important considerations for choosing the best electric bike helmet include the weight and comfort of the helmet.

Most of the time, shoppers need to seek a balance between their budgets, safety, and other features. E-bike riders have many options, but they probably will not find the perfect helmet that checks every box, especially if they need to stick to a budget.

For example, helmets with the highest safety ratings often cost and weigh somewhat more. Still, high-quality manufacturers generally put a lot of thought into their designs, so they should still feel comfortable and should last for years. Most manufacturers offer more than one size, and buyers will need to ensure they can adjust the fit to rest securely and comfortably on their heads.


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