Consumer Reports helmet page recommendations
Summary: In 2020 Consumer Reports updated its bicycle helmet report on the website. They give Excellent impact protection ratings to 22 models, with most of the remaining ones scoring Very Good. They recommended 15 models. Of those they scored four at the top of the ratings, including three MIPS models and one without MIPS. They describe MIPS as "a promising technology designed to reduce the risk of concussion." The Morpher Flat Folding Helmet and Woom Kids Helmet failed impact tests.
See our Helmet Ratings page for the short list of helmets with the highest Consumer Reports rating for impact protection and also scoring best on the Virginia Tech STAR concussion ratings.
CR now rates helmets by Bell, Bern, Bontrager, Cannondale, Coros, Garneau, Giant, Giro, Kali, Livall, Mongoose, Morpher, Nutcase, Overade, Pro-Tec, Raskullz, Razor, Schwinn, Shred, Specialized, Triple Eight, Uvex, Wipeout, Woom and Zefal.
The highest overall scores are for the Giro Register MIPS, Kali Alchemy, Bontrager Circuit MIPS and Bell Stratus MIPS. Below the leaders were the Giant Rev Comp MIPS, Giro Cinder MIPS, Livall Bling BH60, Coros LINX, Bontrager Specter WaveCel, Cannondale Quick, Garneau Raid MIPS, Specialized Chamonix MIPS (despite scoring only fair for fit), Specialized Align, Bontrager Charge WaveCel, Garneau Vitesse, Garneau Nino, Uvex Quatro Junior, Specialized Shuffle Youth SB, Bell Span, Giro Scamp MIPS, Raskullz Mohawk, Razor V17 and Bell Disney Frozen Tiara. Lowest scores from the bottom up: Woom Kids Helmet, Morpher Flat Folding Helmet, Wipeout Dry Erase, Overade Plixi and Pro-Tec Classic.
Impact protection ratings
The impact ratings have been CR's biggest contribution to consumer information, and one of our key criteria for helmet choice. After testing more than 48 current models in the lab, CR has rated 24 of them Excellent: Giro Register MIPS, Kali Alchemy, Bontrager Circuit MIPS, Bell Stratus MIPS, Giant Rev Comp MIPS, Livall Bling BH60, Coros LINX, Bontrager Specter WaveCel, Cannondale Quick, Garneau Raid MIPS, Specialized Chamonix MIPS, Specialized Align, Bontrager Charge WaveCel, Garneau Vitesse, Garneau Nino, Uvex Quatro Junior, Specialized Shuffle Youth SB, Bell Span, Giro Scamp MIPS, Raskullz Mohawk, Razor V17, and Bell Disney Frozen Tiara.
Note that some that were rated Excellent for impact protection had low overall scores for other reasons. The remaining helmets were mostly rated Very Good, with a few only good and two "do not buy" for impact test failures.
We consider the impact ratings the most important consideration. You can now combine the impact ratings with the Virginia Tech concussion protection ratings to compile a very short list of helmets rated for both major impact protection and lower-level impact protection.
Fit is our second key criterion, and here CR was more discriminating. They rated Excellent only the Kali Alchemy, Kali City and Bontrager Circuit MIPS. Most of the rest were Good, but surprisingly the Specialized Chamonix MIPS rated only Fair.
Only the Giro Register MIPS, Livall Bling BH60 and Specialized Chamonix MIPS rated Excellent for ventilation. Ten models are rated Poor.
CR has in the past discussed concussion concerns. They had tested MIPS vs Non-MIPS models and found that MIPS reduced rotational force by 43 percent. We do not know what testing protocols they used. They concluded that "The MIPS helmets in our ratings are priced $20 to $25 more than the non-MIPS versions. Even if the extra benefit isn't definitive, a MIPS helmet might be worth the extra cost." For this 2020 page they describe MIPS as "a promising technology designed to reduce the risk of concussion."
What We Missed
CR has improved their helmet selection, and their ratings are certainly worth a look if you are researching a new helmet, although the number of helmets included is still small compared to the thousands on the market this year. Most of the models are available only in bike stores, leaving out the millions of helmets sold in discount stores. There were no Bell True Fit models tested, the only major advance in helmet fitting in the past decade. But testing is expensive, and no single lab, including the US Government, can afford to test every helmet on the market. Our own listing of helmets for this season is much more comprehensive, but has no lab test results, severely limiting its usefulness.
To find a helmet rated for both major impact protection and lower-level impact protection, see our Helmet Ratings page for the very short list of helmets recommended by Consumer Reports and scoring best on the Virginia Tech STAR concussion ratings.
Here is the article in Consumer Reports. The ratings are behind the pay wall.
Here is a link to our reviews of previous Consumer Reports articles.