There was a time when the weight of a full-face helmet made you feel like you were riding around with your head in a safe.
However, new advances in tech and materials have produced gravity-defying options that have improved on the protection credentials of the old neck-breakers.
We have assembled six of the best new lightweight full-face helmets currently available for some compare and contrast fun to help you chose your next lid for soaring downhill or crushing your next enduro track.
Today’s MTB helmets have borrowed technologies from a range of sources. Here’s a quick guide to just some of ideas packed into the modern lid, from the futuristic to the practical.
360 ̊ Turbine
Strategically positioned discs reduce rotation and impact energy to the head during an impact. Constructed from an energy absorbing shape and material, the discs absorb energy at concussion-level while reducing rotational acceleration to your head and brain. This tech is commonly found on Leatt helmets.
Koroyd is made from tens of thousands of co-polymer extruded tubes, thermally welded to create a structure that crumples instantly and consistently on impact, absorbing more force with greater reliability compared to many other helmet technologies. This unique behaviour protects the skull and brain from direct and angled impacts, significantly reducing the chance of a life-affecting injury.
Detachable chin guards
While not necessarily a safety feature or particularly new, detachable chin guards remain an extremely handy innovation for those riders facing changeable terrain and conditions. So, instead of being lumbered with a full-face on an endurance ride over forgiving trails, you have the option to remove the chin guard to reduce weight. Once you’re back into downhill, snap it back in place and off you go. Chin guards can be secured by a variety of systems, such as concealed buttons or magnets.
Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) is a technology that encourages the helmet to rotate on impact instead of the head, thereby reducing the amount of shock transmitted to the brain. The system was initially developed in Sweden in 1996 and has since been incorporated into a wide number of helmets by many different brands.
Magnetic buckles are relatively new to mountain bike helmets. There are a number of manufacturers and systems with Fidlock being one of the most common. A magnet fastening system provides a quick and easy way to release your lid which is great while wearing gloves or in an emergency.
It wasn’t always possible to have helmets with wide vents until the development of strong, light materials, and advanced, computer-aided designs capable of maintaining structural integrity while using less material. So instead of the hot boxes of yesteryear, today’s helmets feature large vents offering complete ventilation so you stay cool while working hard. Combined with moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial liners, your head will feel as fresh as the newly fallen snow.
Expanded Polystyrene has been used in helmets for many years and its effectiveness is proven and trusted by riders of all levels. Combined with other materials of different densities, it can be tuned to cope well with both high and low-speed impacts.
Clips and storage
Helmet manufacturers have learned to consider the full gamut of rider needs when designing their helmets, with modern lids now fitted with bespoke clips for helmet cams, sunglasses, and goggles.
There are many awesome full-face helmets out there, but here is our pick of the best lightweight options.
If you like futuristic, military-style design, then the FoxProframe helmet is probably one of the best looking helmets you’ve ever seen. Huge ventilation slots and air-guidance slats produce a cooling helmet with a wealth of safety credentials.
The biggest selling point of the MET Parachute MCR helmet – of which there are many – is the large, detachable chin guard, meaning you can transform it from downhill warrior to a comfortable climbing lid in the snap of a magnet. With a wide range of safety features, awesome looks, and a focus on comfort, the MET Parachute is one of the best lids available.
Light yet robust, Troy Lee Designs Stage helmet is slammed with tech and includes so many safety features that it exceeds a number of the most common safety certifications. Meanwhile, 11 high-flow air intakes and 14 open core exhaust ports encourage air flow around the head to keep you fresh even on those sweat-inducing trails.
Another tech-loaded helmet, the Bell Super DH features a tool-free removable chin bar for those days spent going uphill more than down. An over-brow ventilation system links with the helmet’s carefully spaced ventilation holes to provide a cooling airflow, while a goggle-friendly eye-port keeps glasses and goggles secured.
The unique appearance of the Endura MT500’s fabled Koroyd technology sets this lid apart in terms of style, but there is more to the helmet than the striking looks. The large vents channel air through the matrix of tubes, making for an extremely breathable performance – perfect for climbing. The helmet is certified to the highest safety standards and is the lightest in its class.
The Leatt DBX 4.0 won the 2018 Interbike Innovation Award for Mountain Bike Product of the Year, so it’s no surprise there’s a lot of tech packed into this lightweight helmet. Its 360° Turbine discs reduce impact shock to the brain, while dual density foam absorbs hard knocks. A detachable mesh chin guard, meanwhile, allows for a bit of customisation depending on what you’re doing.