The current generation of young bikers is going faster, bigger, and harder than any before them. Ten-year-olds are launching jumps at the old Red Bell Rampage site. We’ve got 2-year-old balance bike riders hitting teeter-totters at Trailside and Valmont bike parks. This kind of riding necessitates full-face helmets, and yet there is a considerable lack of them on the market for kids.
To save you some frustration, we’ve rounded up the best, lightest-weight options for kids–from the balance bike crew to the pre-teen rippers. Here are our 7 favorite kids full face bike helmets for mountain biking, racing BMX, or just goofing around. We’ve also included a comparison chart and some advice on how to pick the best full face helmet for your child.
Bell Sanction: Best for Young Children
The Bell Sanction is the helmet my little guy has been wearing for the past year. It’s been on downhill days at Spirit Mountain, Burke Ski Resort, and countless self-shuttled runs. The Bell Sanction is small enough even for toddlers. It’s not the beefiest helmet nor the fanciest but is perfect for younger children.
Note: When you go to buy the description is likely to say “adult” helmet. Don’t worry about that; the size chart doesn’t lie. The small sizes are made for kids.
Read Review: Bell Sanction
Kali Zoka: Best for Parents on a Budget
The Kali Zoka is a lightweight full-face helmet at a super reasonable price-point. It has an adjustable visor, removable (washable) pads, and comes in a variety of colors. It is not ASTM DH certified but works great for use at the BMX track or skills park.
Bell Super 3R MIPS: Best for Aggressive Trail Riding
This is an adult helmet but is small enough and light enough it works well for elementary-age children. The Bell Super 3R isn’t a true full-face helmet; it is a convertible helmet with a removable chin bar. This makes it ideal for kids doing aggressive trail riding and saves mom and dad the cost of buying two helmets. We also like that it comes with MIPS for added peace of mind.
Giro Switchblade MIPS: Best Convertible Helmet
This is another helmet with a removable chin bar but is more tailored to downhill riding than trail riding. The Giro Switchblade offers a lightweight lid with all the extras: adjustable visor, camera mount, MIPS technology. It is ASTM certified so is a good choice for kids who are going big.
Fox Racing Rampage: Best Bang For Your Buck
The Fox Rampage is a light-weight helmet with a small profile. Most importantly, this is the cheapest full-face helmet we know of that meets the ASTM-F1952 certification which makes it ideal for parents who want to keep their child safe on downhill days without breaking the bank.
Fly Racing Default: Best for BMX Racing
The Fly Racing Default is a favorite out on the BMX track thanks to its flashy style, lightweight, and reasonable price. It does get a bit hot and sweaty so it’s not our top choice for long downhill days, but it works well for shorter rides and races.
IXS Xact: Best for the Bike Park
We tested the IXS Xact at the Whistler bike park when we wanted to make our sure our son had a helmet certified for downhill riding. Despite a freak 85 degree day in June, he managed to stay (relatively) cool and comfortable; and mom was able to rest assured knowing his noggin’ was safe while he pushed the limits. It utilized double-D closures rather than a standard buckle, and EPR (Emergency Padding Release) allows for quick removal of the helmet in the event of a serious accident.
Other Kids Full Face Bike Helmet Options
These full-face bike helmets didn’t make our top 5 list, but they are other choices to consider.
- SixSixOne Comp: A nice entry-level helmet. Does not have ASTM-certification.
- Lazer Phoenix Plus: Adjustable visor and attractive designs.
- FlyRacing Kinetic Invasion Youth: A youth-specific helmet popular with the BMX crowd.
- Leatt DBX 5.0: Really expensive, but really nice.
- Bell Super DH MIPS: ASTM DH certified, 850 grams.
- 7ipd M1: Certified for both BMX and DH. Smallest size fits heads as small as 48cm.
- 100% Status: Comes in youth sizes. Designed for both BMX and MTB.
Comparison Chart: Youth Full Face Bike Helmets
Here are how the top helmets on our list stack up. For more help on choosing between the helmets, read our tips on how to pick a good helmet below.
|Helmet||Minimum Head Circumference||MIPS?||Standards||Weight|
|Bell Sanction||52cm||No||CPSC, CE EN1078||950g|
|Kali Zoka||50 cm||No||CPSC, ASTM F1952, ASTM 2032, EN 1078||980 g|
|Bell Super 3R MIPS||52 cm||Yes||CPSC||784 g|
|Giro Switchblade MIPS||51 cm||Yes||CPSC, EN 1078, ASTM F1952||964 g|
|Fox Racing Rampage||53 cm||No||CPSC, ASTM F1952, EN 1078||1,043 g|
|Fly Racing Default||53 cm||No||CPSC||1,133 g|
|IXS Xact||49 cm||No||CPSC, EN 1078, ASTM F1952||1,007g|
|SixSixOne Comp||55 cm||No||CPSC, CE EN1078||910 g|
|FlyRacing Kinetic Invasion Youth||No|
|Leatt DBX 5.0||53 cm||No||ASTM F1952–10, EN1078, CPSC 1203||1040 g|
|Bell Super DH MIPS||52 cm||Yes||CPSC, CE EN1078, ASTM F1952, ASTM F2032||850 g|
|7ipd M1||48 cm||No||CE, CPSC, AS|
|100% Status||47 cm||No||1,383 g|
How to Choose a Youth Full-Face Helmet
When shopping for a full-face mountain bike helmet, it is important to pay attention to certifications. All helmets sold in the U.S. come with a CPSC certification, and most of these all have the European equivalent CE EN1078. These certifications are not specific to full-face helmets and are the same standards found on other kid and adult helmets.
For mountain bikers, the certification to pay more attention to is the ASTM-F1952 standard. This one is specific to downhill helmets and adds additional levels of safety for high-speed, serious crashes. Unfortunately, not all full-face helmets have this certification, including a lot of the full-face helmets that are suitable to kids (lightweight, smaller profile). If your kiddo is doing serious riding–high speed, big gravity–you want to make sure their helmet has the ASTM certification.
BMX riders should look for a helmet with the ASTM F2032 standard. This specification requires impact protection over a larger area of the head than required for either the SPSC or F1952 standards.
For younger kids and those doing more conservative riding, the ASTM standards are less critical.
The biggest limiter in searching for a full-face mountain bike helmet for kids is the weight. Although many full-face helmets may fit your child in terms of head circumference, the weight may still be way too much. Kids neck muscles are not as developed as an adult’s and many full-face helmets are just way too heavy. The younger and more petite your child is, the more concerned you need to be about the weight of the helmet.
In order to ensure you are buying a helmet that will fit, it is important to measure your child’s head first. Grab a flexible tape measure, and measure around your child’s head right above the eyebrows. Note their head circumference — in centimeters. Make sure the helmet you choose is small enough for your child. Don’t be tempted to buy up a size, the helmet won’t be safe.
Why does your child need a full-face helmet? Are they spending time doing lift-assisted runs at the bike park? Or are they a crash-prone pre-schooler? The answer to this question is going to result in very different helmet choices. The best helmet for the pre-schooler is the Bell Sanction; the top pick for the downhiller might be the Giro Switchblade. And for all the kids somewhere in between, we like the Bell Super 3R.