By the time kids are in grade school, they’ve become pretty daring on a bicycle. We have a couple hand-built ramps at our house, and the neighborhood kids can fly off of them. The only rule we have is that they MUST wear a helmet.
Ironically, it’s around this same age that kids get daring that they also start pushing back on wearing a helmet. I’ve found that there are three keys to getting children to wear a bicycle helmet: (1) It has to look cool, (2) it has to be comfortable, and (3) their friends need to be wearing one too.
Because of this last point, we have a whole stable of bicycle helmets at our house that gets passed around to the neighborhood kids. As for the importance of comfort and aesthetics, we’ve tested plenty of helmets out and these ones seem to be the winners. And because it might be less important to junior, but it’s plenty important to mom and dad, these helmets have also been picked for safety.
Table Of Contents Helmets For Toddlers Our Top Picks Honorable Mentions Helmets For Pre-Teens & Teenagers Full Face Helmets How To Choose Comparison Chart
A Note On Helmets For Toddlers & Preschoolers
The bike helmets we’ve listed here are typically a best for for school-aged kids (ages 5 to 12). Of course, toddlers need cool, comfortable helmets too. For younger kids (or those with a smaller heads), check out The Best Helmets for Toddlers and Babies.
Don’t have time to go thru the whole list? Just go ahead and order the Giro Scamp. It’s our favorite helmet for little ones.
Our Top Picks: Kids Bike Helmets
|What We Like||Price|
|Bell Sidetrack||Widely available at bike shops, good coverage||$29.96 **|
|Giro Tremor||Easy to adjust, lightweight||$69.95 **|
|Bell Nomad Jr||High quality construction, large visor||$59.95 **|
|Kali Chakra||Affordable, lightweight||$44.98 **|
|Bern Nino||Optional liner for cold weather riding||$50|
|Woom Helmet||Great coverage, incredible ventilation||$69|
|POC POCito Omne SPIN||Superior fit, durable construction||$89.95 **|
|Thousand Jr||Urban style, match mom or dad||$60|
|Smith Wilder Jr||Good ventilation, mountain bike style||$75|
POC POCito Omne SPIN
POC makes excellent helmets–for kids and adults. In fact, both my husband and I almost exclusively wear POC helmets ourselves.
Why? POC makes high-end helmets that provide excellent coverage, and durable, and do well in all the safety tests.
The POC POCito Omne SPIN is a road-oriented kids lid that provides a superior fit for little kids. It’s highly adjustable, snugs down well, and provides lots of coverage.
We also appreciate that the helmet comes in loud, bright colors for added visibility on the road.
Price: $89.95 (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 15:18 – More Info)
The Bell Sidetrack is one of the most popular kids’ bike helmets out there, and for good reason. It looks cool (can’t overemphasize how important this is to children), is widely available from local retailers, and comes in both MIPS and non-MIPS versions.
Kids love the colorful designs and parents will appreciate the good rear and side of head coverage that the helmet provides. The Bell Sidetrack is a winner on the school commute and at the local pump track.
Read Our Review: Bell Sidetrack
Price: $29.96 (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 15:18 – More Info)
The Bern Nino happens to be a favorite of a lot of cycling-savvy families I know. Why? It looks cool, with its hipster vibe and visor, and has a comfortable, low-profile shell due to Bern’s “Zip Mold” design.
The other great thing about the Nino is that you can add a “snow liner” to the helmet for use during winter weather. If you are the kind of family that bikes year-round, this is your helmet.
Bell Nomad Jr MIPS
Think it would be cool for you and your child to have matching helmets? That can be a reality with the Bell Nomad Jr (and the adult Bell Nomad).
This helmet isn’t merely a “kids” helmet, its a
Read Our Review: Bell Spark Jr MIPS (since replaced with the Nomad Jr, but similar)
Price: $59.95 (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 15:18 – More Info)
Giro Tremor MIPS
Like many of the helmets on this list, the Giro Tremor also boasts the added safety of MIPS technology. And it’s not only safe—the Tremor is also one of the more attractive kids’ bike helmets on the market.
It comes in a variety of bright, beautiful colors, and has a mountain bike design. For mountain biking kids, the Giro Tremor is a
Read Review: Giro Tremor MIPS
Price: $69.95 (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 16:18 – More Info)
Kali Chakra Youth
I’ve sung my praises of the Kali Chakra before. This is a bike helmet for kids that gets picked time and time again.
Why? Because it doesn’t look like a kiddie helmet—with its integrated visor and rear coverage, it looks like a really cool, grown-up helmet. It’s also the most affordable helmet on this list and is incredibly lightweight.
Read Review: Kali Chakra
Price: $44.98 (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 15:18 – More Info)
If you’ve been waiting for the Woom helmet to come back, you’re in luck! The helmet is now available for pre-order and is one of our favorites.
The helmet has extensive rear of the head coverage and tons of ventilation–so it is both safe AND comfortable. If you’re already buying your child a Woom bike (our favorites!), buying a Woom helmet is a no-brainer. The colors match their bikes, and look adorable together.
Read Our Review: Woom Helmet
The Thousand Jr is a scaled down version of the adult Thousand Heritage helmet, so if you are looking for a helmet that can match mom or dad, this is it. Even if you don’t care about matching, this is still a good pick–especially for urban riding.
One thing we really like about the Thousand Jr is that it meets the standards for both a bicycle helmet AND a skateboard helmet, so you can use it for multiple sports (scootering included). It also looks sleek and comes with customizable stickers.
The only drawback is that the helmet doesn’t have a ton of ventilation, so it wouldn’t be our top pick for hot climates (like Phoenix).
Read Our Review: Thousand Jr
Price: $60 USD
Smith Wilder Jr
The Smith Wilder Jr is one of the newer offerings on the market, and one of the first kids helmets from Smith (along with the Smith Zip Jr which is listed in our honorable mentions below).
The Wilder is a mountain bike style helmet with MIPS, an integrated visor, and slots to hold your child’s sunglasses when they’re not wearing them. Because kids get sweaty on the trail, there is also tons of ventilation.
The good news is that there have been so many good kids bike helmets coming onto the market in the past few years, that we had to extend our list. These helmets may not have made our “Top 5” list, but they are entirely worthy of your consideration.
Troy Lee Designs A1
The only reason the Troy Lee Designs A1 helmet didn’t make our Top 5 list is because of the cost. The MSRP is higher than the other helmets on this list, which for a kids helmet (that is likely to get dropped or otherwise abused) may be hard to swallow.
That said, if you’ve got the extra cash laying around, you probably can’t beat this helmet. It’s nice. The A1 includes all kinds of features including MIPS, a break-away visor, and a washable liner.
Beware that the youth size is pretty small, so you may want to go with the small adult size.
The Lazer Gekko makes fitting your child’s helmet a cinch. The Lazer Autofit® Retention System automatically sizes the helmet to your child’s head, and they can do it themselves.
While fit is the number one thing we look for in a kids helmet, MIPS is awfully nice to have too–and the Lazer Gekko provides.
Price: $49.99 (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 14:39 – More Info)
For kids who want a skate-style bicycle helmet, this is our favorite. Melon has no shortage of designs, so no matter your child’s favorite color or style, there is a helmet for them. We love the magnetic no-pinch buckle and excellent ventilation.
Read Our Review: Melon helmet
If your child is looking for a road-style helmet, the Giro Hale is your best bet for a sleek-looking, safe, and functional helmet. This lid comes with in both MIPS and non-MIPS versions, has an amazing 22 vent holes, and has a removable visor. We also like that it comes in a wide variety of colors.
Price: $64.95 (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 16:18 – More Info)
POC Pocito Crane
As we mentioned earlier, we love POC helmets. The POC Pocito Crane is a great skate style option.
Unlike many “bucket” helmets, this lid is highly adjustable and has a rear fit dial. It’s also safe thanks to both MIPS technology and a dual-density EPS liner.
Like to the POC Pocito Omne SPIN, the Crane comes in bright colors and is highly visible in traffic.
Price: $95.95 (Last updated: 2021-09-16 at 11:18 – More Info)
Nutcase Little Nutty
If you’re looking for a CUTE helmet, the Nutcase Little Nutty is it. The helmet comes in a wide variety of colors and designs so whatever your child’s favorite color or interest, you can probably find a pattern to match.
The Nutcase Little Nutty has also recently been updated to include nice-to-have features like MIPS, a removable visor, and magnetic buckle. The helmet is certified for both biking and skateboarding.
Bontrager Jet WaveCel
We like the Bontrager Jet WaveCel because it’s easy to find at local bike shops–Trek dealers to be exact. We also like it because it has WaveCel technology, one of the newer and better safety features.
Just be aware, that like other skate style helmets, this one doesn’t have much ventilation.
Smith Zip Jr MIPS
The Smith Zip Jr MIPS is a fantastic road-oriented helmet that will work well for little speedsters as well as kiddos biking to school. The helmet has good rear of the head coverage (something you don’t always see on “road” helmets) and fantastic ventilation.
We also appreciate the helmet has MIPS and an easy to use fit system. Like the other Smith helmets, the Zip Jr also integrates well with sunglasses.
Helmets For Pre-Teens & Teenagers
The helmets listed above are a best fit for elementary age kids. For older kids (or just kids with larger head circumferences), you can go with an adult helmet instead. Even plenty of younger kids will have a head circumference large enough to fit into an XS adult helmet.
We won’t go into an exhaustive list here, because plenty of those already exist around the web. Still, some of our favorite adult helmets that fit heads that are still on the smaller size include:
Full Face Helmets
You’ll notice none of the helmets on this list are full face helmets. Why?
Most kids just don’t need a full face helmet. Yes, they offer additional protection, but they are also heavy and hot.
For riding to school, cruising the greenbelt, and even mellow mountain biking, the half shell helmets listed in this article will work great.
That said, if your child is truly accident prone OR if they are racing BMX, hitting big jumps, or doing downhill mountain biking, then you absolutely want a full face helmet.
To learn more about kids full face helmets, and see our top picks, read our article: 7 Best Kids Full Face Helmets (BMX, MTB).
How to Choose a Kids Bike Helmet
If you’re not sure what to look for when shopping for a kids bike helmets, we’ve offered some pointers below to help make sure you get the best helmet for YOUR child.
All the bicycle helmets on this list–and all bike helmets sold in the U.S. are CPSC certified for ages 5 and up. In other words, they are all “safe.”
That said, the safest helmet is one that fits well. That’s why we’ve chosen helmets on this list that have easy adjustments and good head coverage (more on that in a moment).
Additionally, if you want the very best in safety technology, then look for a helmet with MIPS technology. MIPS provides additional protection in crashes where there is rotational impact to the head.
(Want to know more? Read our article about MIPS in kids helmets).
Finally, if you want your child to skateboard with the helmet as well as bike, or if your kiddo is involved in BMX or downhill racing, you’ll want a helmet that meet ASTM standards.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet on helmet standards:
- Bicycling: CPSC, ASTM F1447
- Skateboarding: ASTM F1492
- BMX Racing: ASTM F2032
- Downhill mountain biking: ASTM F1952
Adjustability & Fit
The best kids bike helmets are highly adjustable so that you can get a great fit. We always look for a helmet that has a rear fit dial to help cinch down the helmet.
Additionally, we like side straps that are quick and easy to adjust. (Kids are wiggly and don’t sit still for long.
For additional info on this topic, read our article on getting a great fit with your kids bike helmet.
One thing to consider when choosing a bike helmet for kids is its weight. The lighter weight it is, the more comfortable, and the more likely your child is to wear it. Use our comparison chart to check the weight of each helmet.
When choosing a bicycle helmet for your child, don’t skip measuring their head circumference. This is a mistake that nearly all parents make.
Just because the helmets on this list are rated for kids 5+ doesn’t mean that your child wouldn’t be better off with a smaller helmet. Buying a helmet should be based on head size, not age.
For more tips on fitting a helmet, read How to Fit a Kids Bike Helmet.
Most kids bike helmets come with a traditional style buckle. Some of the fancier ones, however, have a magnetic buckle instead. These are super easy for kids to buckle (and unbuckle) on their own, and help prevent the dreaded “chin pinch.”
We’ve found that the magnetic buckles are particularly helpful for younger kids and those who still struggle with fine motor skills. Older kids tend to fine with a traditional buckle and we don’t worry so much about looking for a magnetic buckle for them.
A traditional buckle (left) compared to a magnetic buckle (right).
Use / Type Of Riding
What kind of riding is your child going to do? Are they biking to school? Riding singletrack? Racing BMX? Going to the skate park?
Each of these styles of riding lend themselves to a different style of helmet. For casual riding around town, we love an urban style helmet like the Bern Nino or Thousand Jr.
Mountain bike kids will be best served by a “mountain bike style” helmet with a visor and plenty of rear coverage. For trail riding, check out the Giro Tremor MIPS or Smith Wilder Jr.
Kids doing aggressive downhill mountain biking or racing BMX will want a full face helmet. These are hotter and heavier than a traditional helmet, so save them for times where your kiddo actually needs the extra protection.
For aspiring road racers, choose a sleek, breathable helmet like the POC Pocito OMNE Spin or the Giro Hale.
Finally, if your child plans to take their bike to the skate park (or if you want them to use their bike helmet for skateboarding or scootering as well as biking), choose a skate style helmet. Just beware not all “skate style” bike helmets are certified for skateboarding as well, so if you want one that does both make sure it meets the ASTM F1492 standard. The Nutcase Little Nutty is one example of a helmet that meets both bike and skate standards.
We always recommend a visor for trail riding or mountain biking as it adds additional face protection in the event of a crash. That said, a visor can be a great option for any child.
A visor adds a bit of extra sun protection on their face and helps shade their eyes. Note that are differnt types of visors. Some helmets have optional removable visors, others have a built-in (non-adjustable) visor, while others have a visor on rotating screws that allow you to adjust the position of the visor.
In general, the more holes (or the larger the holes) a helmet has, the better the airflow. For this reason, I tend to prefer a traditional bicycle helmet over a “skate-style” helmet.
Skate-style helmets tend to leave little heads hot and sweaty. That said, kids often prefer the skate-style design, and if they are more likely to wear it, then who cares about a hot head!
Higher end, more expensive helmets will also have ventilation channels on the inside of the helmet to help aid airflow.
Perhaps even more important than any of the criteria above is the preference of your child. If you want them to wear a helmet, then it should be one that they like. Let them help pick.
Comparison Chart: Bike Helmets for Kids
Not sure which helmet is best? Use this comparison chart to help you decide.
|Helmet||Style||MIPS?||Magnetic Buckle?||Weight||Head Circumference|
|Kali Chakra Youth*||MTB||No||No||245 g||52-57 cm|
|Giro Tremor MIPS*||MTB||Yes||No||306 g||50 - 57 cm|
|Troy Lee Designs A1*||MTB||Yes||No||346 g||48 to 53 cm (Youth)
50 to 54 cm (XS)
|Melon*||Skate-style||No||Yes||280 g||52-58 cm (M/L)|
|Bern Nino*||Skate-style||No||No||360 g||52-55cm|
|Giro Hale MIPS*||Traditional / Road||Yes||No||247 g||50-57 cm|
|Bell Sidetrack MIPS*||MTB||Yes||No||340 g||47 – 54 cm (Child)
50 – 57 cm (Youth)
|Bell Sidetrack (non-MIPS)*||MTB||No||No||310 g||47 – 54 cm (Child)
50 – 57 cm (Youth)
|Bell Nomad Jr*||MTB||Yes||No||353 g||50-57 cm|
|Woom||MTB||No||Yes||270 g||53-56 cm (M)|
|POC POCito Omne SPIN*||Traditional / Road||No||No||326 g||51-56 cm (S)|
|Thousand Jr*||Skate-style||No||No||390 g||49-53 cm|
|Smith Wilder Jr||MTB||Yes||No||269 g||48-52 cm|
|Lazer Gekko*||Traditional / Road||Yes||No||310 g||50-56 cm|
|POC Pocito Crane*||Skate-style||Yes||No||51-54 cm (XS-S)
55-58 cm (M-L)
|Nutcase Little Nutty*||Skate-style||Yes||Yes||48-52 cm (Child)
52-56 cm (Youth)
|Bontrager Jet WaveCel||Skate-style||No||Yes||540 g||50-55 cm|
|Smith Zip Jr MIPS*||Traditional / Road||Yes||No||269 g||48-52 cm|