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The Best Cycling Helmet for Triathlons

A helmet is a must-have accessory for any triathlete, and it’s equally important for your training sessions. With the availability of lightweight helmets with ample ventilation, there’s no reason to skip wearing one.

When it comes to triathlon bike racing, aerodynamics is a key factor, and our guide features a variety of fast helmets that not only provide comfort but also help to enhance your race performance by reducing your race time.

There’s also transition (T1) where you don’t want to lose time there putting on your helmet so we will cover the best helmets for speedy transitions.

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Considerations When Chosing a Triathlon Cycling Helmets

At the end of the day the reason we wear a helmet when we cycle is for safety. Of the 700-plus bicycle deaths each year, approximately three-quarters are from head injuries. A 2016 study of more than 64,000 cyclists found that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of fatal head injury by nearly 70 percent. When selecting a helmet for triathlon racing, there are several factors to consider:

  1. Aerodynamics – A helmet with a streamlined shape and a low profile will reduce drag and wind resistance, which is crucial in triathlon racing.
  2. Ventilation – Look for a helmet that provides sufficient airflow to keep you cool and comfortable during the race.
  3. Weight – A lightweight helmet will reduce the strain on your neck and shoulders and allow you to maintain a comfortable and efficient riding position.
  4. Fit and Comfort: The helmet should fit snugly and securely on your head without being too tight or uncomfortable. It’s essential to try on different helmets to find the perfect fit for your head shape.
  5. Safety Standards: Always choose a helmet that meets safety standards set by relevant authorities, such as CPSC, EN1078, or AS/NZS2063.
  6. Visor: Some helmets come with a detachable visor that can be helpful in reducing glare and protecting your eyes from the sun or rain. Consider whether this is a feature you need for your race.
  7. Transition Time: Look for helmets with easy-to-use straps and buckles that can be quickly adjusted and secured during transitions between race stages. Some helmets have magnetic clasps for super-fast transitions.

Helmet Race Rules

We have all seen professional triathletes getting unnecessary penalties in races because of helmet rule infringements. Do you remember Hayden Wilde at the Commonwealth games when he was battling Alex Yee for the top spot? They reached the final bend and Wilde, with a low five and fist bump, stopped at the penalty box. He got a 10-second penalty issued for unfastening his helmet before his bike was properly racked in T2. This lost him the race.

Quite simply, your helmet must be on your head and secured before you remove your bike from racking and remain that way until you return from the bike course and the bike is securely racked again.

Your helmet must be an approved ANSI Z90.4, SNELL B90, EN 1078 or equivalent standard and this can be checked by looking inside your helmet. Note that a CE mark is not an approved standard.

In your race pack you will probably have a race number which you need to stick on the front of your helmet so ensure you read your specific race rules.

Coaches Tip for Quick Transitions: Helmet

During your training you should practice T1 and T2 several times and when you have found your optimum set-up that works for you take a photo of it and replicated in transition on race day.

Your helmet must be fastened before you leave transition. So, it’s important to get it on, done up and secured as quickly as possible. Before the race, place it on the handlebars, with the cords opened and unlocked. Give yourself enough space in the helmet so it fits comfortably on your head without too much adjustment. This will help avoid any unnecessary time delays.

Practice putting it on and fastening it quickly several times during training so it’s second nature.

Different Types of Triathlon Helmets

One helmet does not fit all! There are a few different types of cycling helmets that you need to take into consideration when choosing the right one for you.

Road: Road helmets are the most common helmet that people wear when recreationally using their bike. The material used in these helmets is plastic and foam, which protects your head. Cyclists wear them to stay safe from bike or major car accidents.

Aero: Aero Helmets are good for those looking for smooth airflow when riding. In other words, using these helmets can effectively enable the air to flow over the top of the helmet and reduce drag. An aero road bike helmet is a hybrid between a road bike helmet and a TT helmet. It gives you all of the benefits of a TT helmet but without a long tail. 

An aero road helmet features an aerodynamic design that moves air up over the helmet. Traditional road bike helmets have multiple vents that channel the air through the helmet, also keeping you cool. The best aero road helmets will incorporate ventilation to keep you cool and still efficiently move air up and over the helmet.

TT: TT means “Time Trail” which can make it a great option for longer triathlons. TT helmets are more commonly used by elite cyclists and triathletes looking for every advantage to reduce drag and maximize speed. Their distinguishing feature is a long tail off the back of the helmet to aid in providing the least amount of wind resistance when a rider is in the aero position.

While you don’t need them in everyday training, you will want to seriously look at getting one for a time trial and or triathlon race formats where every second counts.

As with all triathlon kit you need to find the right helmet for your needs and budget. The decision will also depend on if you plan to do short course triathlon or long course triathlon like an IRONMAN. The following helmets will help you make your mind up.

7 Best Cycling Helmets for Triathlons

HelmetImageFeatureBuy Online
1Giro VanquishGiro Vanquish MIPS Cycling Helmet - Matte White/Portato Grey/Red SmallBest Overall HelmetPrice not available at Amazon.com
$299.95 at CompetitiveCyclist.com
2KASK Bambino ProKASK Bambino Pro, Color: Black Matt, Size: M (CHE00042-211-058)Best Aero Helmet$420.00 at Amazon.com
$420 at Kask.com
3Giro AeroheadGiro Aerohead MIPS Bike Helmet - Black/Titanium MediumFastest Triathlon Cycling Helmet$299.59 at Amazon.com
$299.95 at CompetitiveCyclist.com
4Giro IsodeGiro Isode MIPS Adult Recreational Cycling Helmet - Matte Black (2022), Universal Adult (54-61 cm)Best Beginner Helmet$34.95 at Amazon.com
$59.99 at DicksSportingGoods.com
5Kask ProtoneKask Protone Helmet, Black, MediumMost Comfortable HelmetPrice not available at Amazon.com
$299.95 at CompetitiveCyclist.com
6Kask RapidoKask Rapido Road Cycling HelmetBest Budget Helmet$69.95 at Amazon.com
$99.95 at CompetitiveCyclist.com
7S-Works TT MIPS HelmetBest Time Trial (TT) Helmet$224.95 at Specialized.com
8Smith Optics IgniteSMITH Ignite MIPS Road Cycling Helmet - Black/Matte Cement | MediumMost Durable Cycling Helmet$250.00 at Amazon.com
$250.00 at SmithOptics.com
$250.00 at CompetitiveCyclist.com

1. Best Overall Triathlon Helmet – Giro Vanquish MIPS Adult Aero Cycling Helmet

Giro Vanquish MIPS Cycling Helmet - Matte White/Portato Grey/Red Small

Price not available at Amazon.com
$299.95 at CompetitiveCyclist.com

The best overall cycling helment for triathlons is the The GIRO Vanquish MIPS becase it provides a faster cycling experience with excellent protection and safety. GIRO has implemented a unique helmet design with TransformvAir technology, which helps with drag during cycling. The Transform Air technology provides advanced aerodynamics which is useful for both racing and training.

The helmet comes in three different standard sizes – small, medium, and large. This means the customer can find the correct fitting helmet based on Giro’s specifications in it’s sizing chart.

The ventilation and comfortable fitting are top notch in these helmets due to the Roc Loc Air Fit System combined with the MIPS safety technology. The best part here is that Giro itself introduced the feature for the customers.

In additional to keeping the head protected, aerodynamic and ventilated, Giro also introduced lenses to protect the eyes and nose during cycling. The lenses of this helmet come in Vivid Shape, which allows proper airflow along with a better tune-in contrast that provides a natural-looking environment. The lenses/shades are also replaceable so you can use their own shade in the helmet if you choose.

I personally own the Giro Vanquish and it’s been a great hemlet. The fit has been very comfrotable, but by far the best feature is the magenetic shades. Even on a cloudy day you can see perfectly so the shades keep the sunlight out while still allowing you to see clearly in darker conditions, which is super important for biking.

Pros:
– Shades built in to the helmet.
– Fewer Vents but bigger to allow more ventilation
– Very comfortable compared to other helmets.
Cons:
– Slightly Heavier.
– Not Preferable for High Cheekbones face.
Unique Feature:
– Aerodynamic efficiency and reduces Drag due to Transform Air Technology.
Basic Features:
– In-Mold Construction.
– Wind Tunnel Ventilation system.
– Roc LOC 5 Air Fit system.
– Integrated MIPS Equipped.

2. Best Aero Helmet for Triathlon – KASK Bambino Pro

KASK Bambino Pro, Color: Black Matt, Size: M (CHE00042-211-058)

$420.00 at Amazon.com
$420 at Kask.com

Second on the list is out first look at a Kask helmet and this is the Bambino. When it was first released around 9 years year it was an instant hit with triathletes thanks to it’s Italian looks. You tell by looking at it it’s an aero helmet but because it’s not got a TT “tail” you can wear it in training and racing which makes it’s a good buy.

The Bambino Pro helmet has an incredibly top performing shell, designed with speed, safety, comfort, and advanced performance at the forefront. Wherever you position your head the outflow of air will be perfectly in line with the helmet. Ideal for track, TT racing, crono, and triathlons.

For ventilation it has six micro air intakes on the front and four exhaust vents in the rear, connected via an internal air duct system. Innovative magnetic visor integrated into the helmet by use of 5 magnetic system which ensures optimal air flow and increased aerodynamics. It has Tridimensional padding so is extremely comfortable. Inner padding is removable and washable.

Pros:
– Great for track, TT racing, and triathlons.
– Comfortable.
– Good ventilation.
– Magnetic visor.
– Great for all distance triathlons.
Cons:
– It’s pricey.
– ‎At 1.3 Kilograms/45.85oz it is on the heavy side.
Unique Feature:
Compact design that can be used for TT’s, training and triathlon racing. Used by the NEOS Grenadiers riders when they do time trials on the grand tours.

3. Fastest Triathlon Cycling Helmet – Giro Aerohead MIPS Adult Road Cycling Helmet

Giro Aerohead MIPS Bike Helmet - Black/Titanium Medium

$299.59 at Amazon.com
$299.95 at CompetitiveCyclist.com

The Second product on the list is also from the same manufacturer, Giro – the Aerohead MIPS Road Cycling Helmet.

The looks and performance of this helmet are definitely an upgrade than it’s predecessors in the marketplace..

The details and features of the Aerohead are what sets it apart. For example, the straps available in this helmet feel high quality and the inner liner is durable and lasts longer than most helmets.

One of the best features of the Giro AeroHead MIPS is the magnetic lens anchor attachment, which allows easy clip on and off of the lens with strong magnets but also strong enough to stay on during rougher rides.

The helmet has good ventilation, even cycling at slower pace with limited wind resistance. In other words, you will enjoy a good breeze and cooling effect regardless of weather condition.

Pros:
– Adequate Ventilation.
– Elegant Looks with Good Color Combinations.
– A touch of sensible and durable construction appears in this helmet.
– Affordable.
Cons:
– It comes for the Adult Range cyclers.
– The Shades catches stain, but it?s not a big issue.
Unique Feature:
The Helmet comes with a unique eye shield that prevents face view distortion. Meanwhile, the shield remains secure due to the attached magnetic anchor on it.
Basic Features:
– Super Fit Engineering.
– Vented Eye Shield.
– Polycarbonate Shell.
– Magnetic Lens Anchor.
– MIPS Equipped.

4. Best Beginner Triathlon Helmet – Giro Isode MIPS Adult Road Cycling Helmet

Giro Isode MIPS Adult Recreational Cycling Helmet - Matte Black (2022), Universal Adult (54-61 cm)

$34.95 at Amazon.com
$59.99 at DicksSportingGoods.com

The third pick on the list of best cycling helmets for triathlons is also a Giro helmet. This it’s the Isode MIPS which is famous for it’s unique and cool ventilation holes design.

There are more than 20 vents in the helmet making it a super cool and ventilated helmet. Although it has a considerable amount of ventilation holes, it doesn?t lower this helmet’s quality or safety. The MIPS technology in the helmet protects the head from any accidents.

Previously we have heard complaints about the fit of the helmet due to varying head sizes. Therefore, Giro has introduced an adjustable knob in the helmet that easily helps to adjust it as per the head size. The clips available in the helmet come in a compact and small size. Meanwhile, the straps are easy to adjust on both ends. This feature helps with a more comfortable and better positioning of the head with the helmet.

Pros:
– Lightweight.
– High safety rating with protection for multi-directional impact.
– Budget-friendly.
Cons:
– No Shades available for the eyes and nose.
Unique Feature:
These Helmets are preferably designed for recreational biking experiences.
Basic Features:
– Reflectivity.
– Quick-Dry Padding.
– Compact Shape.
– Full hard body coverage.
– Integrated MIPS technology.

5. Most Comfortable Cycling Helmet – Kask Protone Helmet

Kask Protone Helmet, Black, Medium

No products found. at Amazon.com
$299.95 at CompetitiveCyclist.com

The Kask Protone has introduced a good quality inner frame with a slimline feature. Although the helmet is slimmer than most others on the market, the outstanding quality ensures that it’s a protective helmet.

Kask protone is an outstanding option for those who are looking for an everyday aerodynamic helmet. Why? Because there are only a few available in the market that offers positive results.

The inside cushioning of this helmet is unique and better than other helmets available. The best part is that the cushioning is dense and comes with a soft cool max padding. The brackets come with perfect padding and an comfortable shape. Hence, the helmet will hug the occipital bones to provide a better fit and feel.

The performance and designing testing never disappointed at all. Why? Because the designs and material testing approve by a top-notch service in Italy.

Pros:
– Comes with a protective fit.
– No flap Snug-fitting Chinstrap.
– The ventilation is outstanding.
Cons:
– No Shades available.
– The interference happens in the headbands due to the low retentions.
– Expensive.
Unique Feature:
The Kask Protone is uniquely made to provide a comfortable and ventilated cycling experience.
Basic Features:
– Polycarbonate Outer Material.
– MIT Safety Technology.
– OCTO Fit Micro Dial Adjuster.
– 3D Dry Padding.
– Wind Tunnel Tested Aerodynamics.

6. Best Budget Triathlon Helmet – Kask Rapido Road Cycling Helmet

Kask Rapido Road Cycling Helmet

$69.95 at Amazon.com
$99.95 at CompetitiveCyclist.com

The Kask Rapido is the second pick in the list of the Kask brand. The product comes with several color options and a perfect detailing that provides a unique appearance. This is my go-to helmet for training and even cycling to the shops – a great all-rounder.

The helmet is very lightweight and has excellent shock absorption. This is because the brand has designed the product by jointing the outer shell and inner cap together, which brings an advanced mold technology feature.

For a triathlon proper ventilation is essential for helmets. Understanding this, Kask has included a total of 23 large ventilation slots present in the helmet. This makes the helmet perfect for long hot summer rides!

Finally, the brand is offering approximately three years of warranty for this product so every penny a cyclist spends on this product is worth it.

Pros:
– Aerodynamic.
– Better Ventilation.
– Lower budget, Good quality helmet.
– The product is suitable for those with thick hair.
Cons:
– The Craftsmanship and Materials are mediocre (Customer review).
– Narrow fitting (customer Review).
– The retention system is bulky.
Unique Feature:
Kask Rapido is basically a Road helmet that comes with a unique helmet adjustment system, along with robust material and secure transitions.
Basic Features:
– 100% Italian Made.
– In-Molding Construction.
– MIT Technology.

7. Best Time Trial (TT) Helmet for Triathlons – S-Works TT MIPS helmet

$224.95 at Specialized.com

This helmet Specialized designed with McLaren but enhanced by taking it back into the wind tunnel to make it even more slippery. The S-Works TT helmet has a longer tail than most, so it’s best for riders who have their TT position dialled and can tuck their head. Airflow is inside the shell is courtesy of the patented side ‘gill’ vents that move a surprising amount of air through the lid — not the breeziest helmet on the market, but it’s not sweltering either. 

The visor is removable, but it’s not a sophisticated system like the POC, Smith or Giro, with Specialized opting for clips instead of magnets. That said, Specialized includes two visors, one for bright conditions and the other for flat light, both are distortion-free. With the helmet, you get a high-quality carry case that will protect it and the visor from dings and scratches in transit and storage. The helmet can also be used without the visor, though this might add some drag. 

Benefits from MIPS rotational impact protection.

Pros:
– Two visors: one for bright conditions and the other for flat light.
– Highly aerodynamic.
– MIPS protection
– Best for long distance triathlons where you get into an aero position for large parts of the bike leg.
Cons:
– You need to have an optimum aero position on the bike for this one. If you don’t it could be uncomfortable.
– No magnetic clasp like other TT helmets.
– 350g/12.3oz so one of the heavier helmets.
Unique Features:
– High quality carry case to prevent damage if travelling with it.

8. Most Durable Cycling Helmet – Smith Optics Ignite MIPS Adult Cycling Helmet

SMITH Ignite MIPS Road Cycling Helmet - Black/Matte Cement | Medium

$250.00 at Amazon.com
$250.00 at SmithOptics.com
$250.00 at CompetitiveCyclist.com

The last product in the list of best cycling helmets for triathlons is Smith Optics Ignite, which is also the second smith brand product in this list. The product comes with seven color options as Black, Matte Black, Matte Cinder Haze, Matte Charcoal, Matte mystic green, Matte rise, and matte white.

The Smith Ignite helmet offers good airflow due to the koroyd technology. However, the ventilation causes issues for those who have thick and long hair.

As compared to other helmets, Smith Ignite comes with a three year warranty. Despite the higher cost, it isn?t bad to spend such an amount of money on something that lasts for almost three years.

Pros:
– Three Years Warranty.
– Seven Color options to choose from.
– Multi-purpose Cycling Helmet.
– Good in Quality.
– Protective for Crashes or accidents.
Cons:
– Issues with the Matte finish.
Unique Feature:
These helmets come with aero advantages, which provide an undoubtedly and comfortable slippery air safety feature.
Basic Features:
– Eight Fixed Vents.
– Anti-microbial Lining.
– Light Weight.
– MIPS Brain Protection System.
– VaporFit Dial Adjustment.
– AirEvac Ventilation system.

Triathlon Helmet FAQ

Why do I need a specific helmet for triathlon racing?

Triathlon helmets are designed with aerodynamics, ventilation, and comfort in mind, which are essential for the unique demands of triathlon racing. They also often come with features such as visors and easy-to-use straps to help you quickly transition between stages.

What should I look for when choosing a triathlon helmet?

When selecting a triathlon helmet, look for one that is aerodynamic, lightweight, well-ventilated, and fits comfortably on your head. It’s also important to choose a helmet that meets relevant safety standards and has features that will help you during transitions.

Are more expensive helmets better for triathlon racing?

Not necessarily. While expensive helmets may have advanced features and materials, such as carbon fiber or magnetic buckles, they may not necessarily be the best fit or provide the most comfortable ride for your head shape. It’s essential to try on helmets and find the best one for your individual needs and budget.

Can I use a regular road bike helmet for triathlon racing?

Yes, you can use a regular road bike helmet for triathlon racing, but a specialized triathlon helmet will likely provide better aerodynamics and ventilation, which can make a significant difference in your race performance.

Can I attach a visor to my triathlon helmet?

Many triathlon helmets come with detachable visors, but not all models do. If you want a visor on your helmet, make sure to choose a model that has this feature or one that is compatible with aftermarket visors.

How often should I replace my triathlon helmet?

It’s recommended to replace your helmet every three to five years, depending on use and wear. You should also replace your helmet after any significant impact, such as a crash or drop, even if there is no visible damage.

Can I wear glasses with my triathlon helmet?

Yes, you can wear glasses with your triathlon helmet, but it’s essential to choose a helmet that fits well and does not interfere with the placement of your glasses. Some helmets have features such as eyewear docks that make it easier to store and access your glasses during the race.

How do I properly fit my triathlon helmet?

To properly fit your triathlon helmet, first, adjust the chin strap so that it is snug but not too tight. Next, adjust the rear stabilizer so that the helmet sits level on your head. Finally, adjust the helmet’s side straps so that they form a V-shape around your ears without being too tight.

How do I care for my triathlon helmet?

To care for your triathlon helmet, keep it clean and dry by wiping it down with a soft cloth after each use. Avoid using harsh chemicals or solvents that can damage the helmet’s materials. Store the helmet in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, and avoid leaving it in a hot car or other extreme environments.

Are helmets mandatory for triathlon races?

Yes, helmets are mandatory for all triathlon races, including training sessions. You may be disqualified or prevented from participating if you do not have a helmet that meets safety standards.

What safety standards should a triathlon helmet meet?

Your helmet must be an approved ANSI Z90.4, SNELL B90, EN 1078 or equivalent standard and this can be checked by looking inside your helmet. Note that a CE mark is not an approved standard.

Triathlon helmets should meet safety standards set by organizations such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Snell Memorial Foundation. Look for the appropriate certification sticker or label on the helmet to ensure that it meets these standards.

Can I wear a time trial helmet in a non-drafting triathlon race?

Yes, you can wear a time trial helmet in a non-drafting triathlon race, as long as it meets safety standards and does not have a tail or extension longer than 10 cm.

Can I make adjustments to my helmet during a triathlon race?

Yes, you can make adjustments to your helmet during a triathlon race, but you must do so in a designated transition area, and you must not impede the progress of other athletes.

What is MIPS?

MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact protection. MIPS technology reduces the trauma when the helmet sustains impact from any angle. However, the ultimate goal of using the technology in a helmet is to protect the brain.

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Joe Obringer
Joe Obringer
Joe Obringer is an former collegiate swimmer in the Big Ten.  He has competed in many triathlons, including Half Ironmans.

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