Many outdoor enthusiasts revere the opportunity to bicycle to work. When you’re a city dweller—or just work within city limits—bicycling beats sitting in traffic or piling in to a packed subway car. Moreover, it’s a good way to get your exercise while enjoying some time outside; those of us who are chained to our desks for the better part of the day know how valuable this is. So whether you call it “urban cycling” or “getting to work,”
If you bike to work everyday, you’ll be spending a lot of time on your bicycle. Even if your commute is only an easy 20 minutes by bike, that’s over 3 hours per week. Multiply that times 52 weeks in the year, and we’re talking 156 hours per year on your bicycle in commuting time alone. While this is great, for your health and the environment, it’s important for commuters to make sure they have the proper gear and accessories to make riding as safe and comfortable as possible.
One piece of sporting equipment you absolutely need to be sure is high quality, it’s your bike helmet. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, helmet use has been estimated to reduce head injury by 85%, and nearly 70% of fatally injured bicyclists in the past three years were not wearing a helmet. The statistics say it all. Plus, helmets these days are not clunky eyesores of yesteryear, so you have absolutely no excuse not to buckle on before you ride.
From the most traditional fall-backs to the forefront of innovation, the best bike helmets for commuters take a variety of shapes. And don’t worry, you don’t have to spend $250 on your helmet to ensure safety. You can pedal with guaranteed protection (without sacrificing style) for under $100. Check out some of the top affordable contenders we’re rounded up—a diverse selection for every type of commuter.
Discreet & Durable Bike Helmets
If you want something stylish but understated, try the Giro Surface helmet. As Giro describes it, the Surface is a “hip, low-profile helmet with a short brim.” It maintains the skate helmet shape without alerting everyone to your BMX hobby as you walk into the office. More importantly, you can trust a Giro helmet to keep you safe and comfortable. An ABS outershell designed for high impact is complemented by the Giro In-Form fit system, which purports to increase stability and comfort by providing an ergo-friendly dial at the base of the helmet that can be easily adjusted in seconds. With six cool matte colors to choose from, the $55 Giro Surface offers a protection that’s attractive and practical.
Flashy & Fun Bike Helmets
For $70, you can get a helmet from Nutcase that adds a bit of spice to your life. The new Gen3 is designed to double as your daily headgear on the road to work or on the weekend at the skate park (it’s dual certified for bicycling and skating). With an ABS shell and EPS inner foam lining, your noggin is safe in a Nutcase. So what makes this helmet so fun? Nutcase Gen3 helmets come in crazy, colorful, artistic designs. Our favorites are Lumberjack, Modern Argyle, and Watermelon. But if you’re into pink cheetah print, they’ve got that too. Other cool features: a detachable visor, magnetic buckle, soft chin pad, 360 degree reflectivity.
Simple, Sporty, Versatile
From the road to the trail, you can’t go wrong with Bell’s newest design, the Indy. With a slightly more oval shape than its crossover contemporaries, the Indy is sleek, sporty, and to the point. You’re a bicyclist, and you’re here only to ride, wherever the road may take you. Featuring 15 vents, a detachable blade visor, and an ergo-dial fit system, the Bell Indy is ready to go when you are. At $55, it’s an affordable option for those that prefer an effortless style whether on the way to work or into the backcountry.
Big-headed bicyclists, take heart! The bicycling industry has made special accommodations for those that are wide between the ears. Our favorite new design? The Bell XLP, devised for the “the extra large of head.” It’s a classic Bell design, complete with the ErgoDial fit system, an abundance of vents, a snap-in visor, and of course, the ultimate in protection and comfort with an in-mold microshell. The XLP retails at only $40 so you don’t have to shell out the big bucks for the benefit of your big brain.
A Light in the Night
For the night owls and those who are all too familiar with late nights at the office, the Torch T1 is for you. Originating from a 2012 Kickstarter campaign, the Torch T1 has come such a long way that we’re breaking our budget a bit for this one. With 10 integrated LED lights, up to 12 hours of run time, rechargeable batteries with USB charging cable, four different light functions, and shatterproof polycarbonate lenses, Torch is making an impact in the bicycling world.
There’s simply no need to forgo your bike when the sun goes down if you’re wearing a Torch T1 because 360 degree visibility is now available right on your noggin. Lights aren’t the only worthy quality of this $140 helmet—the creators have covered of just about everything from interior channeling air vents to in-mold construction.