The 7 Best Full-face Mountain Bike Helmets (2023)

(Last updated on January 18th, 2023)

Smith Mainline helmet on a bike in the dirt
Smith Mainline helmet on a bike in the dirt. Image source: Smith Optics.

Full-face helmets provide the right amount of protection when the going gets steep and the speeds increase. This special type of mountain bike helmet helps downhill and enduro riders keep their teeth and protect their noggin due to the lid’s complete head coverage and chin bar.

As cycling skyrockets in popularity, bike brands are all trying to get a piece of the action and new helmets continue to hit the market. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know which lids are the best investments. To help you out, though, I’ve selected seven of the highest-quality full-face mountain bike helmets designed for downhill and enduro riding.

How I Made My Picks

I narrowed my search by focusing on the larger brands whose helmets are more widely available online and more likely to be at your local bike store so you can try them on. My research spanned numerous manufacturers’ specs, user reviews, and expert opinions. Additionally, I’ve prioritized performance and protection over rock-bottom pricing; this list features a budget model but most of the lids below cost over $200.

I’ve given each helmet a rating based on the following criteria:

Protection: A helmet’s #1 job is to protect your noggin during a crash and advanced technologies like MIPS liners, breakaway visors, and strong chin bars are a must.

Ventilation: Full-face helmets inevitably limit breathability but the best models feature numerous well-designed air vents to keep riders cool in warm conditions.

Comfort: Lightweight helmets put less strain on the neck. Rear retention systems and different-sized pads help riders achieve the perfect fit.

Price: Head protection is a necessary part of cycling and shouldn’t be prohibitively expensive. That said, it’s important to not skimp out on safety.

Compare the Best Mountain Bike Helmets at a Glance

ModelTakeawayWeightMIPS?RatingPrice
FOX Proframe  Best Overall Full-Face Helmet749gYes (and Koroyd)9.5/10$250
Smith MainlineBest All-Rounder Full-Face Helmet765gYes9/10$247
Giro Switchblade MIPSBest Full-Face Helmet with a Removable Chin Bar911gYes9/10$279
Troy Lee Designs StageBest-Looking Full-Face Helmet680gYes9/10$239-$299
POC Coron Air MIPSBest Race Full-Face Helmet1,162gYes8/10$279
Bell Super Air RBest Customizable Full-Face Helmet652gYes8.5/10$299
Bell SanctionBest Budget Full-Face Helmet850gNo8/10$110

Best Mountain Bike Helmets For Sale in 2023

Best Overall Full-Face Helmet

1. FOX Proframe

FOX Proframe full face mountain bike helmet
FOX Proframe full face mountain bike helmet. Source: FOX Racing.

Our Rating

9.5/10

$250

KEY SPECS

Rotational impact protection: Yes (MIPS)
Weight: 749g
Sizes: S, M, L

PROS

  • Solid value for money
  • Excellent ventilation
  • MIPS

CONS

  • Not super adjustable
  • No retention system

From one of the biggest brands in mountain biking, the FOX Racing Proframe is a fan-favorite lid among downhill riders, and for good reason. The Proframe ticks all the right boxes when it comes to protection levels, weight, and comfort, while its superpower is ventilation. The breathability of this full-face helmet is head and shoulders above rival models due to the 24 well-placed “Big Bore” vents that allow airflow.

If you’re worried about your downhill lid turning into an oven, this helmet is a cool solution. FOX doesn’t skimp on the features either— there is a MIPS inner basket and dual-density Varizord EPS liner to absorb impacts. The visor is fixed which might bug some riders who prioritize adjustability, so I docked half a point, but the lightweight profile is a major plus.

For dedicated downhill and enduro racers, there is the higher-end FOX Proframe RS bucket that was just released this fall. This professional helmet comes at a premium though, priced at a steep $359.

Best All-Rounder Full-Face Helmet

2. Smith Mainline

Smith Mainline full face mountain bike helmet
Smith Mainline full-face mountain bike helmet. Image source: Smith Optics.

Our Rating

9/10

$247

KEY SPECS

Rotational impact protection: Yes (MIPS and Koroyd)
Weight: 765g
Sizes: S, M, L

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable visor
  • Well-ventilated

CONS

  • Not super heavy-duty
  • Not as light as Fox Proframe

The Smith Mainline is another ultra-light and breathable helmet designed for enduro and downhill riding. Similar to the FOX Proframe, this helmet achieves almost the same level of ventilation to keep you cool on hot weather rides and comes with a couple of features that are missing on the well-rated FOX lid.

The Mainline boasts 21 vents to let air flow through the intakes and channels and there’s a special Koroyd mesh layer that improves impact protection. Like most helmets on this list, it comes with an integrated MIPS liner. Some special touches that impressed me were the adjustable visor and D-ring fastener (like a motorcycle helmet) which is lightweight and very secure.

A few sets of different-sized pads come in the box so you can fine-tune the helmet’s fit around your cheeks and head. This helmet isn’t the best for bike parks or huge terrain nor is it as light as the FOX Proframe, which lowered my rating by a point. But at just 765g, it’s a great choice for gravity riders who want the extra protection of a full-face lid but are worried about the additional weight.

Best Full-Face Helmet with a Removable Chin Bar

3. Giro Switchblade MIPS

Giro Switchblade MIPS full face mountain bike helmet
Giro Switchblade MIPS full-face mountain bike helmet. Image Source: Giro.

Our Rating

9/10

$279

KEY SPECS

Rotational impact protection: Yes (MIPS)
Weight: 911g (size S)
Sizes: S, M, L

PROS

  • Removable chin bar
  • Roc Loc Air retention system
  • Two visor options

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

The Giro Switchblade helmet offers a 2-in-1 protection solution because of its removable chin bar, allowing for full face coverage on gnarly descents and a lighter setup for the climbs. I love this innovative system that lets riders adapt to the conditions and the level of protection that’s necessary on the current terrain.

MTBers often complain of the heft and lack of airflow on full-face helmets and while it’s a necessary evil for fast-paced downhill riders, enduro racers can benefit from switching it up on the fly. There are 20 vents to let air through as well as two visor options that let you ride with or without a camera mount (great for GoPro lovers).

A major plus is the Roc Loc Air rear retention system that lets riders achieve a custom fit, a fairly rare feature for a full-face lid. The system also has a bumper that prevents accidental changes to the system if it touches your pack or body armor. I’m a big fan of the cool, two-tone design on a few of the Switchblade models. Some drawbacks of this helmet are that it’s more expensive than many of its rivals and heavier as well, so I knocked off a point from my rating. That said, with all the extra customizability, this helmet is a definite keeper.

Best-Looking Full Face Helmet

4.Troy Lee Designs Stage

Troy Lee Designs Stage full face mountain bike helmet
Troy Lee Designs Stage full face mountain bike helmet. Source: Troy Lee Designs.

Our Rating

9/10

$239-$299

KEY SPECS

Rotational impact protection: Yes (MIPS)
Weight: 680g
Sizes: XS/S, M/L, XL/XXL

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Great aesthetics and many colors
  • Well-ventilated

CONS

  • A bit pricey

Probably the best-looking helmet on this list, the Troy Lee Designs Stage lid offers serious performance to back up its sweet aesthetics. The Troy Lee Designs brand is a highly trusted name in both mountain biking and motocross protection equipment, so it’s no surprise one of their quality helmets has made its way onto this list

This full-face lid embraces the lightweight and well-ventilated philosophy that’s shared by the Smith Mainline and FOX Proframe, but this one shaves off even more grams with the S/M size weighing only 680g. There are 25 air vents to let air pass over your head and keep you cool and the magnetic buckle is super easy to use.

The helmet comes with a wide range of different-sized pads and liners so riders can achieve a comfortable fit and the visor is adjustable, too. One of the shortfalls is this model’s steep price tag so I have to dock a point, but that’s likely the premium people are willing to pay for the stylish look and the Troy Lee Designs name.

Best Race Full-Face Helmet

5. POC Coron Air MIPS

POC Coron Air MIPS full face mountain bike helmet
POC Coron Air MIPS full face mountain bike helmet. Source: POC Sports.

Our Rating

8/10

$279

KEY SPECS

Rotational impact protection: Yes (MIPS)
Weight: 1,162g (size M)
Sizes: S, M, L

PROS

  • Multiple impact construction
  • Breakaway visor
  • Race design

CONS

  • Not as well-ventilated as others
  • Noticeably heavy

The premier POC Coron Air full-face helmet is designed for dedicated racers and podium-worthy performances. The renowned POC brand shows off its characteristic modern and race-ready aesthetic with this ultra-sleek lid. It’s available in black and white, but be ready for frequent cleanings if you boldly decide to go with the white colorway.

This helmet’s distinctive features lie in the construction of the outer shell and inside liner. Different from most helmets on this list, the shell material is made of tough fiberglass and there is a multiple-impact EPP liner that offers additional protection compared to the typical dual-density EPS foam. While it’s rated to take multiple hits, I still recommend replacing the helmet after a serious crash.

This newest version swaps out POC’s own SPIN rotation impact technology for the conventional MIPS liner and the adjustable visor is designed to breakaway so as to not act as a lever and torque the rider’s neck. There are a few ventilation holes with mesh, but it’s nothing compared to other airy models on this list, so I have to dock a couple of points from my rating. This model is also significantly heavier than rival helmets, but that’s the price to pay for such advanced protection. Racers willing to spend the extra cash can splurge on the carbon version of the Coron Air and save those precious grams.

Best Customizable Full-Face Helmet

6. H2 Bell Super Air R

Bell Super Air R full face mountain bike helmet
Bell Super Air R full face mountain bike helmet. Source: Bell Helmets.

Our Rating

8.5/10

$299

KEY SPECS

Rotational impact protection: Yes (MIPS)
Weight: 911g (size S)
Sizes: S, M, L

PROS

  • Removable chin bar
  • Lots of cool colors
  • Lightweight

CONS

  • Expensive

For riders on the hunt for a lightweight downhill helmet with a removable chin bar, the Bell Super Air R offers the best of both worlds. Significantly lighter than the Giro Switchblade, this model combines customizability with a slim profile with impressive ventilation. The lid boasts 26 air vents so you can stay cool in hot weather, even if you decide to keep the chin bar attached.

Bell has improved the chin bar system and it now detaches with two simple clicks that’s even easy than the previous generation. MIPS liner reduces the rotational force of an impact and there’s a 3-position adjustable

visor. Goggle straps stay put on this well-designed helmet and riders can adjust the interior fit with a Float Fit rubber overmolded dial. It’s more expensive than its Giro Switchblade rival, so I had to steal away a few points from my rating, but this helmet is a sure bet for a wide range of gravity riders.

Best Budget Full-Face Helmet

7. H2 Bell Sanction

Bell Sanction full face mountain bike helmet
Bell Sanction full face mountain. bike helmet Source: Bell Helmets.

Our Rating

8/10

$110

KEY SPECS

Rotational impact protection: No
Weight: 850g (size M)
Sizes: XS, S, M, L

PROS

  • Great value
  • Adjustable visor

CONS

  • Not as robust
  • Low ventilation

Every helmet you can buy has passed legally-required safety standards, but there is still a wide variety of smaller details that can enhance a helmet’s level of protection. One of the most important features to be on the lookout for are MIPS liners and other forms of rotational impact reduction. Check helmets for that recognizable MIPS logo to tell if it includes this extra bit of tech.

Most helmets have a dual-density EPS foam construction to shield against heavy impacts, but other models like the POC Coron Air uses a more advanced EPP layer with a fiberglass outer shell that’s rated for multiple impacts.

Keep in mind that while full-face helmets are the most protective option out there, they aren’t appropriate for all types of mountain biking. Recreation riders that stick to more tame trails are served well by traditional open-face helmets. Using a full-face helmet outside of steep downhill and enduro terrain may even be unnecessarily intrusive or restricting for the rider.

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Buyer’s Guide

Protection and Safety Features

Every helmet you can buy has passed legally-required safety standards, but there is still a wide variety of smaller details that can enhance a helmet’s level of protection. One of the most important features to be on the lookout for are MIPS liners and other forms of rotational impact reduction. Check helmets for that recognizable MIPS logo to tell if it includes this extra bit of tech.

Most helmets have a dual-density EPS foam construction to shield against heavy impacts, but other models like the POC Coron Air uses a more advanced EPP layer with a fiberglass outer shell that’s rated for multiple impacts.

Keep in mind that while full-face helmets are the most protective option out there, they aren’t appropriate for all types of mountain biking. Recreation riders that stick to more tame trails are served well by traditional open-face helmets. Using a full-face helmet outside of steep downhill and enduro terrain may even be unnecessarily intrusive or restricting for the rider.

Weight

Full-face helmets can weigh well over a kilogram and that can place a significant amount of strain on riders’ necks as they whip around and attack bumpy trails. Lightweight helmets use strong, high-quality materials and leverage well-positioned gaps in the lid’s construction to shave off grams.

Ventilation

Modern mountain biking is taking a page out of road biking and emphasizing the role of ventilation in helmet design. Airflow and breathability are especially crucial for full-face helmets that inevitably trap more heat than open-face helmets. Many of the lids on this list allow air to channel through the helmet and keep riders cool, all the while providing the same amount of crash protection as traditional full-face setups.

Visor

More a matter of personal preference, visor design can vary from one helmet to the next. Many models have a fixed visor while others have a system that can be secured in two or three distinct positions. The most advanced designs allow room for a helmet-mounted camera (for those GoPro lovers out there!) and are built to break away in the event of a crash so as to not lever the neck unsafely.

Comfort and Fit

Being trapped inside a poorly fitting full-face helmet is simply the worst. Symptoms can include annoying pinch points, general discomfort, and the helmet wiggling around on bumps, but the most serious fact is that an ill-fitting helmet is an unsafe helmet.

If possible, try on a range of helmets at your local bike shop to see what works best for you. Keep in mind that some models come with a few sets of different-sized pads that hit around your cheeks and head so you can fine-tune the fit. While all open-face helmets have some form of rear retention systems, only some full-face lids come with an adjustment dial to ensure a snug fit.

Check out the mountain bike helmet size chart below to get a general idea of what size is appropriate for you. Most brands include model-specific sizing tools on their website that match the exact specs of their products.

Mountain Bike Helmet Size Chart

XSSMLXL
< 51cm51-55cm55-59cm59-63cm> 63cm

Removable Chin Bar

Removable chin bars are one of the niftiest features available on certain full-face helmets. Lids like the Giro Switchblade or Bell Super Air R give riders the option to take off that extra piece when the pace is slow and they want extra airflow— this comes in handy on tough climbs or tamer sections of the trail.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a DH helmet?

A downhill (DH for short) helmet is designed for high-speed mountain biking with steep descents and large trail obstacles. Downhill helmets feature a full-face design that protects the entire head as well as the face via a protruding chin guard and room for goggles to keep debris away from the eyes.

Which is better WaveCel or MIPS?

Both technologies are industry-leading systems that reduce the rotation force of an impact, helping to prevent serious head injuries and concussions. MIPS is an independent company whose technology is distributed among the highest number of helmets while WaveCel is Bontrager’s proprietary design.

Should I get a DH or enduro bike helmet?

This depends on the level of protection and ventilation you desire. DH helmets offer the most coverage in a heavier-duty package designed for extreme riding. Enduro MTB full-face helmets typically have additional ventilation as well as a removable chin bar to increase comfort while climbing.

How tight should a DH helmet be?

A downhill helmet should be snug without being uncomfortable. If it’s too big, the extra weight of a full-face helmet will make it move around while riding. Expect that cheek cushions will press slightly against your face.

Is MIPS worth it for full-face helmet?

MIPS technology is more accessible than ever with prices that have come down since its introduction, so there’s little reason to opt out of having the extra protection. That said, there are still excellent non-MIPS-equipped helmets that pass safety standards with flying colors.

Which is the safest cycle helmet?

All commercially sold helmets pass strict safety standards, but some models come with additional protective features. Choose helmets with rotational impact technology and well-designed visors.

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