Going biking? Helmets are often seen as optional by teens and adults alike, especially when engaging in casual rides on the sidewalk or on bike paths.But when it comes to mountain biking, every rider will agree that having a bike helmet is crucial. Even though mountain bikers are often naturally reckless, experienced riders wouldn’t dare head down the trail without head protection.
If you’ve spent more than 10 minutes mountain biking, you know that falling is normal. And since you know you’re going to fall at some point, it makes sense to wear a full face mountain bike helmet.
A full face mtb helmet will keep your entire face safe from impacts and scratches, whether you hit the ground or a low-hanging tree branch. Normal bike helmets only protect the top of your head, leaving your eyes, nose, and mouth exposed.
If you want to have a fun ride, while also staying safe on the trails, then keep reading to discover how to choose the best mountain bike helmet that protects your entire head and face.
What Is a Full Face Mountain Bike Helmet?
Wearing a full face helmet is the only way to stay safe while riding on downhill trails. With so much risk, due to high speeds, rough terrain, technical features, and large jumps, sooner or later you are going to fall or crash.
When you do, you want to be wearing a helmet that covers your full face. Full-face helmets have protective padding that covers your entire head, from the neck up. They feature a visor that allows you to see while preventing dirt and debris from getting in your eyes.
And they have gaps at the mouth, allowing you to breathe effectively while riding. Wearing one can protect you from serious injury to the brain, along with your eyes, mouth, nose, and the skin on your face.
Types of Full Face Helmets for Mountain Bikers
There are different types of helmets available for different styles of mountain biking. For downhill biking, you’ll want the most protection. Since you’ll either hitch a ride to the top of the course or walk your bike up, you won’t need to wear the helmet until you start your descent.
Since downhill mountain biking is much more extreme, with higher risk, these helmets are heavier, offering more protection. But some of the comfort features are left out in order to maximize protection.
For those that aren’t just riding downhill, and need a helmet to wear while riding on flat trails or uphill, along with casual downhill tracks, a lighter trail helmet is ideal. These even work great for commuting on your belt-drive bike.
Lighter helmets will allow for greater ventilation. They’ll offer a little less padding, but they won’t be as bulky and uncomfortable. They’ll be much easier to wear for longer periods of time, still offering adequate protection during intense descents.
And since many riders mix and match different styles of riding depending on the day, newer convertible style helmets are available and growing in popularity.
Basically, convertible helmets act as a lighter trail helmet when you don’t need quite as much protection, but allow you to convert to a more protective downhill helmet when it’s time for the next race.
Choosing a Full Face Mountain Bike Helmet
With so many different mountain biking brands, how do you choose the right helmet that offers enough protection while still being comfortable? There are a few things to keep in mind.
If you don’t know exactly which style of the helmet to choose, go with a convertible model. These allow for the greatest flexibility.
Maybe you are a dedicated trail rider, looking for something comfortable, light, and breathable on more casual trail rides after work. But your friends might invite you to the local mountain for some downhill action once in a while.
Rather than having to buy another helmet specifically for this occasion, or borrowing a helmet that doesn’t fit perfectly, you can just adjust your convertible helmet. While more expensive upfront, a convertible helmet can save you money down the road.
MIPS is a relatively new helmet technology that has become the standard in high-end mountain bike helmets these days. MIPS solves the dilemma faced by most bicycle crashes; crashing at an angle.
Older helmets were designed to protect the head in a head-on impact, but not necessarily for crashes at an angle, which are more common. MIPS is a small liner attached to the helmet via pegs. When an angled force comes in contact with the helmet, the liner is able to rotate to more adequately deal with the force, without rotating the head.
For most protection on the trail, opt for a helmet that uses MIPS.
To truly prioritize safety on the trail or on the mountain, you need a helmet that fits. While most helmets are adjustable, some may fit the shape of your head better than others. It’s best to try multiple helmets on if possible.
If it fits better, it will be more comfortable. Greater comfort means you will wear it more often and enjoy your rides more.
The Best Full Face Mountian Bike Helmet
So what is the best full-face mountain bike helmet for the money? The Bell Super DH convertible mountain bike helmet is one of the best helmets on the market today.
While not cheap, this helmet offers convertible functionality that acts as two different helmets. You can use this for safe riding downhill, while also riding enduro or casual trails. When you don’t need full protection, you can easily remove the chin guard to use the helmet in half-shell mode, which cuts the weight in half.
The Bell helmet offers MIPS technology along with ample ventilation channels. It even comes with a breakaway camera mount to capture all of your rides.
Otherwise, check out the Giro Switchblade Convertible Helmet with MIPS, one of the original convertible helmets. While the helmet is a bit heavier, it was the first convertible helmet to achieve full downhill safety certification.
It offers excellent ventilation, which even provides chin pads after removing the chin bar.
Stay Safe on the Trails
There are a lot of excellent options out there when it comes to a full face mountain bike helmet. But for the most protection without sacrificing comfort, the names of Bell and Giro, along with a few others, stand out above the rest.
Both beginner and experienced riders love the convertible functionality of the Bell Super DH helmet.
And once you’ve selected the perfect helmet, make sure you have a mountain bike that can handle the trails you hope to tackle. Check out our list of the best budget mountain bikes here.