9 of the Best Full Face Helmets | Vital MTB Roundup 15

Mountain bike full face helmets are now lighter and safer than ever, and we've tested nine of the best to help you figure out which one might be right for you.

9 of the Best Full Face Helmets | Vital MTB Roundup

The helmet is the single most important piece of protection in a mountain biker’s arsenal of gear. With the recent introduction of the lightweight full face helmet category, more and more riders are seeking the extra protection and peace of mind that the additional coverage provides. However, despite those lightweight helmets often achieving the same safety certifications as their bigger brethren, there comes a time when you just want a bit more. More material, more features, more better. That’s when the classic full face helmet comes out to play, and we’ve rounded up the best of the bunch to let you know how they all stack up (if you are looking for a lightweight, breathable full face for all-mountain and enduro use, check our lightweight full face roundup).

Vital Recommends:

Troy Lee Designs D4 Carbon ($575 USD)

  • Protection: 4.5 stars
  • Breathability: 5 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 4.5 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 5 stars
  • Weight: 5 stars
  • Price/Value: 4 stars
  • Overall: 4.5 stars

POC Coron Air Carbon SPIN ($450 USD)

  • Protection: 4.5 stars
  • Breathability: 5 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 4 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 4.5 stars
  • Weight: 4.5 stars
  • Price/Value: 4 stars
  • Overall: 4.5 stars

Leatt DBX 6.0 Carbon ($499 USD)

  • Protection: 5 stars
  • Breathability: 4 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 4.5 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 4.5 stars
  • Weight: 4.5 stars
  • Price/Value: 4.5 stars
  • Overall: 4.5 stars

O’Neal Blade Carbon IPX ($440 USD)

  • Protection: 4.5 stars
  • Breathability: 4.5 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 4.5 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 4.5 stars
  • Weight: 4 stars
  • Price/Value: 4.5 stars
  • Overall: 4.5 stars

How We Tested

When deciding how to structure this helmet test, we came to the conclusion that formally scoring each contestant and declaring an outright winner was always going to be quite subjective and potentially unfair, for the simple reason that actual crashing is not something anybody really wants to do all that much of. So instead of a traditional Vital Face Off, we decided that a Roundup was more appropriate here. That said, we have allocated scores and we’re still ranking the contestants, so don’t take this as a sign of us backing down from calling it like we see it. We just want to acknowledge that the protection aspect of these products is more difficult to measure objectively, and since protection is the number one task at hand here, we felt that this slightly less formal classification was the most appropriate format. Standards provide part of the answer for sure, but many modern helmets claim to actually “test beyond the standard” so the label itself isn’t enough to rank the helmets on this aspect.

We have had long-term experience with a number of the helmets tested here, while others were new to us. To ensure that each product was evaluated fairly, they were all used again by the same tester over a period of several months, which gave us a good perspective on how they all compare. Back-to-back testing was often used to really try to separate the potential winners from the rest of the pack. All helmets saw riding in different conditions, from blazing hot to rain and cold. To give a bit more structure to the results, each helmet was given a star-rating in six different categories: Protection, Breathability, Fit and Comfort, Quality and Finish, Weight, and Price/Value.

Weight

Weight is a tricky one. There is no doubt that a lighter helmet is more comfortable, especially if you intend to spend the whole day wearing it. However, a little extra weight can also provide a level of reassurance, even if only psychological. Ultimately, we decided that weight should be one of the categories measured, and that a lighter helmet would get a better score here. Bear in mind that these scores are relative to the category, and not to be directly compared to the helmets in the lightweight full face category.

Protection

The main reason for wearing a helmet is so that it can protect your head when you crash. As we stated previously, this aspect is certainly the most difficult one to try to measure scientifically, but the following criteria helped us give a sense of what’s what when it came time to score the different helmets: certification standards, the presence of MIPS or other similar rotational force management systems, presence of a low-energy impact force management system, multi vs. single density EPS liners, removable cheek pads and any other specific safety features (like safety release visors, inflatable bladder compatibility etc). The fit also plays a role here, as a helmet that moves around a lot is potentially less safe in a crash situation.

Standards

To qualify for this roundup, a helmet had to be certified to the ASTM F1952 standard, the official designation of which is: “Standard Specification for Helmets Used for Downhill Mountain Bicycle Racing”. This standard is more stringent than the regular EN1078 (“Helmets for pedal cyclists and for users of skateboards and roller skates”) for example, because it recognizes the “higher risk to the head and face for this sport [downhill] as compared to recreational street riding”. To translate this to practical terms, it means the helmet is subjected to higher-energy impact tests, and the chin bar must also pass a certain level of impact testing. Note that the ASTM F1952 standard actually does not call for a full face design or a chin bar for a helmet to be certified for downhill use, but if that’s the design chosen then the chin bar needs to be tested and certified as well. Now, digging into these standards in a bit more detail, there are no guidelines for things like how large the frontal opening of a helmet can be, nor the size and shape of any vents (although some of those aspects are tested and checked). The standards also do not attempt to measure the benefits of recent innovations like MIPS or multi-density impact liners, and to be completely fair, the impact test criteria are in many cases so old that most helmets sold today surpass them by a significant amount. In other words, the standards do a good enough job of making sure that the minimum safety criteria are met, but in today’s world, you can do a lot better than the minimum.

Breathability

Our breathability rating is largely based on our actual experience with these helmets on the trail, as well as a visual inspection and appraisal of the relevant vents, air channels and liner materials. Note once again that the scores here are relative to the category and cannot be directly compared to those of the lightweight full face category, tested separately.

Fit and Comfort

Fit and comfort are absolutely crucial for a helmet. We recognize that finding a perfect fit depends largely on the shape of the rider’s head, so ultimately there is no “best fit”. What we looked for here however are other aspects of the design that impact the fit and comfort, such as the types of materials used and the layout of the pads. The principle tester and author of this article typically wears a size L helmet, but each manufacturer sent the size that was deemed the closest fit for his 59cm head circumference.

Quality and Finish

Beyond the fact that nobody likes to pay good money for a half-finished product, the quality and finish of the helmet can also influence how comfortable it is to wear and how long it will last you in use. We evaluated this aspect both upon initial inspection of each helmet as well as over time.

Price/Value

With prices ranging from $380 to $575, we felt there is enough spread here to warrant keeping score in regards to this particular aspect as well. Note that a high price for a quality item may yield the same Price/Value score as a cheaper helmet with fewer features or lesser build quality.


Our Picks – Vital Recommends

These are the four standout performers who each earn the “Vital Recommends” badge:

Vital Recommends: Troy Lee Designs D4 Carbon

Vital Ratings

  • Protection: 4.5 stars
  • Breathability: 5 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 4.5 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 5 stars
  • Weight: 5 stars
  • Price/Value: 4 stars
  • Overall: 4.5 stars
Strengths Weaknesses
  • Very comfortable
  • Extremely well ventilated
  • Very stable fit
  • High level of protection
  • Innovative “collarbone suspension system”
  • Lightest helmet in test
  • Great build quality
  • Very expensive (but still good value for money in our opinion)
  • No obvious spot for mounting your POV camera

Troy Lee Designs D4 Carbon Highlights

  • TeXtreme® Spread Tow carbon fiber shell
  • MIPS 
  • Ventilation channels work in unison with the headliner to promote airflow through the helmet
  • Collarbone suspension system
  • Break-away visor screws
  • In-mold PC around vent openings and exposed EPS increases strength and durability
  • Quick Release XT2 3D cheek pads and X-Static/ XT2 washable liner create an optimized fit
  • Lightweight titanium D-rings and hardware
  • Safety certification: CPSC 1203, EN1078, ASTM F1952 – DH, ASTM 2032 – BMX
  • Weight: 955 grams (size L, verified) / 1026 grams (size M, verified)
  • In the box: helmet, helmet bag
  • MSRP: $575 USD

Shop the Troy Lee Designs D4 Carbon at Competitive Cyclist

When a product has been loved and appreciated for 10 years, it’s no easy task coming up with a new version, but Troy Lee Designs took everything that was good about the venerable D3 and made it better with the all-new D4. Stronger, lighter, more breathable and with innovative safety features, the D4 looks a lot like its predecessor but it is in fact a ground-up redesign. Starting with the outer shell, it’s made out of “TeXtreme”, a particular type of carbon fiber manufacturing technique that yields a very light yet very strong product. Our size L sample weighed in at 955 grams, the lightest of all the helmets tested here.

Digging deeper into the design, we find a large number of vents, many of which connect directly to channels in the EPS liner. The inner comfort liner has also been totally reworked, it is now based around the kind of smaller pads that are often found in half-shell helmets. Many of the channels in the comfort line up with the air vents as well, all in an effort to promote better breathability. As for safety features, aside from the ubiquitous rotational impact protection system TLD has also developed what they call a “collarbone suspension system”, essentially a softer area at the base of the helmet intended to provide a little relief if you crash on your head and ram the helmet into your collarbone. The visor screws are of the breakaway type, and wherever the EPS liner is exposed through the vents, it has been given an extra polycarbonate layer to increase strength and durability.

Putting the new D4 for the first time, we were struck by how light and comfortable it is. Yes, the comfort liner looks a bit like something you would find in a half-shell, but there are more pads here and they reach all around your head to still give you that enclosed full face feeling. The fit is true to size, and the helmet is really stable in use – you’ll soon forget you’re wearing it. The large goggle port easily accommodates your goggle of choice, and the D-ring strap is something that you’ll soon get the hang of if you aren’t used to it already.

Safe, light and very well ventilated, the D4 is a significant upgrade over the D3, and even though it is easily the most expensive helmet in this test, we think it’s well worth the premium.

When things heat up out on the trail, the improved ventilation of the D4 really becomes obvious. As soon as you start moving, the airflow will help cool your head. The fact that some of the vents now connect all the way through the comfort liner also lets you hear a little bit more of what goes on outside the helmet, which is a welcome improvement in action (we like being able to hear what we are doing on the bike). All in all, the new D4 is a very impressive piece of kit. Safe, light and very well ventilated, it is a significant upgrade over the D3, and even though it is easily the most expensive helmet in this test, we think it’s well worth the premium.


Vital Recommends: POC Coron Air Carbon SPIN

Vital Ratings

  • Protection: 4.5 stars
  • Breathability: 4 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 5 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 5 stars
  • Weight: 4.5 stars
  • Price/Value: 5 stars
  • Overall: 4.5 stars
Strengths Weaknesses
  • Ultra-comfortable
  • High level of protection
  • Multi-use EPP liner
  • Excellent quality, fit, and finish
  • Light weight
  • Good ventilation but the liner pads run a bit warm

POC Coron Air Carbon SPIN Highlights

  • Innovative air flow and vent design
  • Patent pending SPIN (Shearing Pad Inside) pads – rotational force management
  • Emergency removable cheek pads for added security in the case of a head or neck injury
  • Ear chambers designed for less effect on balance and hearing
  • Chin bar constructed for optimized protection and easy breathing
  • Breakaway visor designed to break off in the case of an impact to protect the rider’s neck
  • Multi-impact EPP liner
  • All internal padding can be removed for washing
  • Simple and effective buckle fastening system for added security
  • Certification: EN 1078, CPSC 12.03, ASTM F1952
  • Weight: 1060 grams (size L, verified)
  • MSRP: $450 USD

Shop the POC Coron Air Carbon SPIN at Competitive Cyclist

POC (“Piece Of Cake”) is known as the brand that made ski helmets cool, and it’s fair to say that the ski heritage is present in much of their current design language as well. The Coron presents a very rounded profile, with uninterrupted surfaces and very low-key styling – in fact, this latest version was only released in the rather subdued black/carbon colorway shown here. The vents are pretty big and strategically placed to ensure good airflow when in use.

The styling may appear simplistic but the helmet is not. Among the safety features we find a multi-impact EPP liner, which unlike a traditional EPS liner is able to return to its normal state after an impact, prolonging the helmet’s life but also making it safer. Many riders fail to discard their EPS helmets after a crash, unaware of the degradation suffered by the EPS liner. POC has also equipped the Coron with their own rotational force protection system, called “SPIN” (“Shearing Pads Inside”). SPIN consists of a gel-like substance captured inside the comfort liner, allowing for a certain degree of rotational and low-force impact management. There are also removable cheek pads, and a visor designed to break off in a crash rather than potentially twist the rider’s head. Our size M/L sample weighed in at 1060 grams, quite a competitive number in this category of helmets.

Putting the Coron on for the first time is like sinking into your favorite lounge chair. Comfort and fit are certainly subject to individual variations, but the lush interior and the carefully crafted pads of the Coron really stood out to us as offering the most comfort. The Coron runs fairly big, the size M/L tested here is listed for head sizes from 55 to 58 cm – this tester’s head measures in at 58.5-59 cm, which corresponds to a size L in most brands, and the size M/L Coron was a perfect fit after installing the thinner of two sets of cheek pads supplied. POC also supplies a series of small foam spacers that can be applied to various areas around the helmet to really tailor the fit – going beyond any of the other helmets tested here in regards to the fit aspect.

Putting the Coron on for the first time is like sinking into your favorite lounge chair.

On the trail, the Coron is super stable, and the field of vision is excellent. The visor is not adjustable but it sits in the right spot – just make sure you do up the top bolt snugly, otherwise the visor can snap out and up when things get hectic. The generous interior padding is very comfortable but can also run a bit warm where it contacts the skin. Thankfully the ventilation channels work as intended to provide a certain amount of airflow as soon as you get moving. The chin strap buckle feels little bit on the clunky side but it works well. All in all, the Coron put in a super impressive showing here, and although $450 isn’t exactly cheap, it is actually pretty competitive in this category of helmets – in particular when you look at the impressive feature list.


Vital Recommends: Leatt DBX 6.0 Carbon

Vital Ratings

  • Protection: 5 stars
  • Breathability: 4 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 4.5 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 4.5 stars
  • Weight: 4.5 stars
  • Price/Value: 4.5 stars
  • Overall: 4.5 stars
Strengths Weaknesses
  • Very high levels of protection, innovative safety features
  • Very comfortable
  • Light weight
  • Good shell breathability
  • Pads are comfortable but thick and warm

Leatt DBX 6.0 Carbon Highlights

  • Carbon shell in three sizes
  • 360° Turbine Technology: (reduces up to 30% of head impact at concussion level, reduces up to 40% of rotational acceleration to head and brain)
  • Reduced outer shell volume (a 10% smaller shell, transfers up to 20% less rotational forces to the neck, head and brain)
  • Multi-density, V-shaped impact foam molded directly to the outer shell significantly reduces G-forces transferred to the head and brain
  • Fidlock magnetic closure system
  • New Dri-Lex moisture wicking, breathable, anti-odor and washable inner liner
  • Optimal neck brace compatibility
  • Visor with breakaway function for rotational reduction in a crash
  • Emergency cheek pad removal
  • Hydration ready (with optional hands-free kit)
  • Certification: EN1078; US CPSC; ASTM F1952–10
  • Weight: 1049 grams (size L, verified)
  • MSRP: $499 USD

Shop the Leatt DBX 6.0 Carbon at Competitive Cyclist

Leatt was born out of a desire to make mountain biking safer, so it should come as no surprise that the DBX 6.0 has the most safety features of all the helmets in this test. There is a multi-density impact foam layer intended to be able to absorb both low- and high-speed impacts. “360° Turbine Technology” provides further low-energy impact management as well as protection against the transmission of rotational forces between the helmet and the head. The visor breaks away in a crash, the cheek pads can be easily removed as well, and the rear part of the helmet is optimized to work with a neck brace. All this and the DBX 6.0 still weighs in at just 1049 grams in size L.

Leatt made sure that the DBX 6.0 would not only be safe, but also comfortable. The generous padding is soft to the touch, and it provides openings that match the rather significant rearward vents of the outer shell. To really help you keep cool, the DBX 6.0 is hydration system compatible, which means there is a channel provided to route your drinking hose through the chin bar for easy drinking on the go. A Fidlock magnetic strap buckle is extra convenient when it comes to putting on and taking off the helmet.

The DBX 6.0 is another one of the most comfortable helmets in this test. The interior of the helmet is plush and soft to the touch, and the fit of the size L was perfect for this tester’s 58.5 cm head. The frontal opening works well with any goggle, but only just. The opening is slightly smaller than the other helmets tested here, which leads to a pretty tight goggle fit - tight, but not too tight. We did also note that the visor is slightly more present in the field of vision than with some other helmets, even when we ran it in the highest position. It does not interfere with your vision, but it makes itself known.

The DBX 6.0 feels comfortable and safe and it’s reassuring to know that it has the safety features to back up that feeling.

When it comes to ventilation, it’s a tale of two opposites. The rearward facing vents are large and completely unobstructed, which bodes well for airflow. The helmet lacks intakes on the front of the skull however, which means there is no air being pushed through the helmet at speed. The grills in the chin bar do work well to evacuate your breath. All in all, we’re fans of the DBX 6.0, if feels comfortable and safe and it’s reassuring to know that it has the safety features to back up that feeling. If you ride in slightly cooler climates, don’t hesitate to consider it.


Vital Recommends: O’Neal Blade Carbon IPX

Vital Ratings

  • Protection: 4.5 stars
  • Breathability: 4.5 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 4.5 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 4.5 stars
  • Weight: 4 stars
  • Price/Value: 4.5 stars
  • Overall: 4.5 stars
Strengths Weaknesses
  • Innovative safety features including low-level impact force management
  • Very comfortable
  • Great breathability
  • Slightly heavier than average
  • Chin strap can feel bulky

O’Neal Blade Carbon IPX Highlights

  • Carbon construction
  • Multiple oversized vents for maximum airflow and cooling
  • Glossy finish
  • Durable multi-colored graphics
  • Dri-Lex padded inner lining with antibacterial Polygiene treatment, ultra-plush, removable, sweat absorbing and washable
  • Emergency pull straps on cheek pads
  • O'Neal Fidlock® magnetic buckle
  • Incorporating IPX® ACells rotational and low-energy impact absorption technology
  • GoPro mount included
  • Height adjustable visor
  • Exceeds EN1078 safety standard for bicycle helmets and meets ASTM downhill standard
  • Weight: 1135 grams (size L, verified)
  • MSRP: $440 USD

Shop the O’Neal Blade Carbon IPX at Evans Cycles

If you are going to get Greg Minnaar to help you design a signature model helmet, you should expect to hear some feedback from him. Greg is notoriously well-prepared and leaves nothing to chance, and it really feels like O’Neal turned over every stone when developing the new Blade. Starting off with the shape and the finish, this thing looks like it might have been made by a formula one team in their spare time. The shape is very elaborate, and the finish is gorgeous. Aesthetics will always be subject to personal preferences, but there is no denying that the paint job here looks great, and the carbon weave patches have been used with taste.

Looking at the safety features, O’Neal kept the standards high here too. Their “IPX Acells” provide rotational force mitigation and low-energy impact absorption, and removable cheek pads help with safe helmet removal after a crash. In terms of comfort, the generous Dri-Lex liner features an anti-microbial and anti-odor treatment. The Blade ships with a removable GoPro mount, which is a nice touch, as well as a hydration hose guide, basically a set of custom plastic hooks that snap into the lower part of the helmet to hold a hydration hose. The box also includes one spare visor bolt, always good to have.

Slipping into the Blade for the first time, you’re met with a feeling of comfort and security. The helmet wraps around your head with no pressure points, and the sizing is in line with published specs – if anything, the helmet runs a little bit big. The chin bar sits really far from the mouth, which further accentuates the roomy feeling. The chin strap is very wide, and the Fidlock buckle chosen by O’Neal is pretty big, which means some users may feel like it gets in the way or applies pressure to the throat. 

The Blade Carbon IPX delivers on all counts, and it should put O’Neal back on the radar of anyone looking for a high-end full face helmet.

The vents of the Blade are big, and they work well. The comfort liner lacks specific openings to correspond to the placement of the vents, but the helmet still breathes really well and kept cool even on hotter days. On the trail, the Blade is stable and reassuring, while still providing a good sense of what goes around you. The visor can be moved sufficiently far up in the field of vision to not be a factor, something that Greg Minnaar insisted on during the development process. All in all, the Blade Carbon IPX delivers on all counts, and it should put O’Neal back on the radar of anyone looking for a high-end full face helmet.


The Contenders

We chose all the participants for this roundup carefully, they represent what we feel are currently the best full face helmets on the market. Here are the contenders that didn’t quite make the “Vital Recommends” list above, but are nevertheless absolutely worthy of your attention: 

Fly Racing Werx

Vital Ratings

  • Protection: 4 stars
  • Breathability: 4.5 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 4.5 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 4 stars
  • Weight: 5 stars
  • Price/Value: 4 stars
  • Overall: 4 stars
Strengths Weaknesses
  • Very low weight
  • Great breathability and comfort
  • Lacks some of the more advanced safety features of some of its competitors
  • Visor could go further up
  • Perfectible finish

Fly Racing Werx Highlights

  • Carbon and Kevlar construction
  • Ventilation: 18 intake and 6 exhaust ports
  • Channeled EPS is designed to move air through the interior
  • MIPS-equipped (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System)
  • CoolMax comfort liner with Antimicrobial treatment, removable and washable
  • 2 shells with 4 specific EPS for a better fit throughout the size range
  • Quick release cheek pads aid in emergency helmet removal
  • Anodized black aluminum ventilation screen
  • Titanium plated rivets
  • Certification: CPSC1203, CE EN1078:2012 + A1:2012, AS/NZ2063.2008 ASTM F1952-15
  • Weight: 994g, size L, verified
  • MSRP: $449.95 USD 

Shop the Fly Racing Werx at Jenson USA

The Fly Werx helmet has been around for a few years now, but it’s still keeping up with the Jones’s. In fact, it only lost out on being the lightest helmet in this test to the recently introduced TLD D4. To achieve this low weight, Fly made the Werx with a carbon and Kevlar combo to construct a light shell with plenty of vents. There is a MIPS layer and emergency release cheek pads, but no multi-density EPS or other energy management features. The CoolMax liner features various openings that line up with the vents in the shell.

The fit of the Werx is fairly snug, the size L is designed for 59-60 cm heads, and this tester’s 58.5 fits somewhat tight without being uncomfortable. The interior is soft to the touch and the helmet wraps around the head to provide a good sense of security. The light weight of the Werx is an advantage during long days out, and the ventilation works well. The MIPS layer is a little bit noisy when you adjust the helmet on your head, but it’s quiet in use. The visor is present at the top of the field of vision, we would have given it another few degrees of upwards range but we’re sort of nitpicking here – it’s never obstructive, just present. In summary, we’ve always been fans of the Werx and it still holds its own in a market that has seen plenty of new competitors over the past couple of years.


Fox Racing Rampage Pro Carbon

Vital Ratings

  • Protection: 5 stars
  • Breathability: 4 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 4 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 5 stars
  • Weight: 3.5 stars
  • Price/Value: 4 stars
  • Overall: 4 stars
Strengths Weaknesses
  • Very high levels of protection
  • Loaded with innovative safety features
  • Very high quality and finish
  • Heavy
  • Runs fairly warm
  • Very tight fit, inconsistent sizing

Fox Racing Rampage Pro Carbon Highlights

  • Magnetic Visor Release System (MVRS) allows the visor to detach during a crash
  • Dual-density Varizorb™ EPS liner 
  • CAGE™ chin bar/eye port is intended to improve energy management in the event of an impact
  • MCT (Multi-Composite Technology) shell
  • Mesh vent screens provide airflow while maintaining protection from dirt and debris
  • 19 total vents - 15 intake & 4 exhaust vents
  • Fluid Inside ensures optimal linear and rotational impact performance
  • Removable, washable X-static® moisture-wicking & antimicrobial comfort liner
  • 3 shell sizes & 4 EPS sizes
  • Stainless steel D-ring closure
  • Weight: 1352 grams (size L, verified)
  • Certification: CPSC, EN 1078, AS/NZS 2063, ASTM 1952-15 DOWNHILL
  • MSRP: $499.95 USD

Shop the Fox Racing Rampage Carbon Pro at Fox Racing

Fox Racing clearly decided to pull no punches with the new Rampage Pro Carbon. It boasts a long list of class-leading safety features and the build quality and attention to detail are absolutely second to none. There is a “Varizorb” dual density EPS liner, coupled with Fox Racing’s own “Fluid Inside” rotational and low-energy impact management system. There is also the “CAGE”, a chin bar/eye port structure that was designed to improve energy management in case of an impact. The Rampage Pro Carbon – or “RPC” for short – also features a large number of imposing vents, with composite grilles instead of the classic mesh found on most other helmets. To round off the features, there’s a trick magnetic visor that can snap out when you crash to avoid the visor catching onto something and twisting your head around – in theory it should do so without breaking and can then be snapped right back into place afterwards.

Picking up the new RPC for the first time, we were struck by the weight. At 1350 grams, it is about 300 grams heavier than the average helmet in this test, and while that does not sound like all that much, you can definitely feel it on your head. Additionally, the comfort liner is generously plush, which also makes it pretty warm, despite the elaborate vents. All told, the RPC feels like a bigger and warmer version of most other helmets tested here, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your preferences and where you ride. It is definitely one of those helmets that makes you feel very safe, and the laundry list of safety features means that this feeling is actually grounded in reality as well. For uplift days in demanding terrain, we see ourselves reaching for the new Rampage Pro Carbon more often than not, even if there is a bit of a weight penalty to pay. Do pay particular attention to sizing with this one, as we’ve found that it runs very very small – in fact, this tester had to size up to an XL to make it work. Fox Racing’s website states that this helmet will feel snug when it’s new but that it will give a bit over time, and although we did find this to be the case, it was not quite enough to let this tester get comfy in his usual L. If you are in between measurements, definitely size up.


100% Aircraft Carbon

Vital Ratings

  • Protection: 4 stars
  • Breathability: 4 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 4 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 4.5 stars
  • Weight: 4 stars
  • Price/Value: 4.5 stars
  • Overall: 4 stars
Strengths Weaknesses
  • Good price/value
  • Good safety features
  • Comfortable fit
  • Range of visor adjustment is limited
  • Not as breathable as class leaders

100% Aircraft Carbon Highlights

  • Carbon / Kevlar composite shell
  • Active Cooling System with 25 vents
  • Comfort liner - washable, anti-bacterial liner, cheek pads and chin strap covers
  • Emergency release cheek pads
  • Integrated release system compartment
  • MIPS
  • Titanium D-ring buckle
  • Adjustable visor
  • Light-weight aluminum mounting screws
  • ASTM, CPSC, CE and AS//NZ certified
  • Weight: 1102 grams (size M, verified)
  • MSRP: $400 USD

Shop the 100% Aircraft Carbon at Competitive Cyclist

The 100% Aircraft is another helmet that has been around for a while now, but it is certainly aging well. The aggressively sculpted shell gives nothing up in the looks department, and as a side effect of longevity the MSRP has been dropped to $400 USD, making it the second most affordable helmet in this test. Made from a carbon/Kevlar composite shell, the Aircraft features 25 cooling vents which is an impressive number, although quite a few of those are on the small side. The comfort liner is anti-bacterial, while on the safety side we find MIPS, emergency release cheek pads and an internal compartment where an inflatable helmet removal bladder can be placed. The EPS liner is of the single-density variety. Our size M sample weighed in at 1102 grams, placing it on the heavier side of average.

The Aircraft runs true to measured size, we tested a size M with thinner cheek pads which worked out fine, while a size L with standard pads would probably have been ideal. The comfort liner is just that, comfortable, and the helmet is stable in use. We would have liked to see a tiny bit more visor adjustment range, as it stands the visor remains present at the top of your field of vision, not to the point of actually getting in the way but just a reminder that it is indeed present. All goggles work well with the Aircraft, and we should point out that although a few of the vents sit directly beneath the goggle strap, there are ridges in that area that lift the strap up by a few millimeters to allow air to still escape through the vents. As a result, the Aircraft breathes well enough, just a little bit shy of the class leaders in this aspect. Certainly one to consider if good looks and a lower price are high on your list of priorities.


Bluegrass Legit Carbon

Vital Ratings

  • Protection: 4 stars
  • Breathability: 4 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 4.5 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 4.5 stars
  • Weight: 4 stars
  • Price/Value: 4 stars
  • Overall: 4 stars
Strengths Weaknesses
  • Great fit and comfort
  • Great build quality
  • Good safety features
  • Runs warmer than class leaders
  • One vent sits under goggle strap
  • Slightly heavy
  • Somewhat pricey

Bluegrass Legit Carbon Highlights

  • Composite carbon outer shell with EPS liner, MIPS E2
  • In-mold polycarbonate shells
  • Chin guard injected foam lining
  • Safety-release visor system, anti-twisting flexible visor
  • 15 Vents, breathable chin guard
  • Hand washable, snap-in padding, removable and hand washable straps covers
  • Double-D chin strap buckle
  • Inflatable emergency release system compatible
  • Certification: ASTM, CE
  • Weight: 1180 grams, size L, verified
  • MSRP: $499.00 USD

More information about the Legit Carbon available at Bluegrass

Bluegrass took full advantage of its roster of pro riders when developing the Legit Carbon, with Tracey and Mick Hannah and Sam Blenkinsop all providing input along the way. The result is a serious piece of equipment, with safety and comfort given more attention than overall weight and ventilation. The carbon shape is distinctly rounded, with strategically placed air vents making sure the helmet can breathe. The comfort liner is plush, with generous cheek pads. The safety features include a flexible visor that can also snap off in a crash, a dedicated compartment for an inflatable helmet removal bladder and the MIPS E2 layer. MIPS E2 is an evolution of the original MIPS which relies on a slip plane enclosed in a special fabric as opposed to the sliding gaskets of the first version. E2 is visually less imposing but more importantly, it makes a lot less noise when the helmet shifts around. The Bluegrass Legit weighed in at 1180 grams for our size L sample, placing it among the heavier helmets in this test.

The Legit is another one of those super plush and comfy helmets, completely devoid of any pressure points and offering a very cocoon-like experience. In terms of dimensions, it runs true to measured size, the 58-60 range left this tester’s 58.5 just shy of a snug fit. A dedicated vent just outside each ear makes sure you can still hear what is going on outside the helmet, always a plus in our opinion. The frontal opening is generous, and the visor sits well outside the field of vision (luckily enough, since it is not adjustable). As for ventilation, all that plush comfort comes at a price, with the Legit running a little bit hotter than some of the other helmets in this test. The vents do their part, but it doesn’t help that the main rearward exhaust port is partially covered by the goggle strap in action. All in all, if you ride in cooler climates and you value comfort and security highly, put the Legit on your list.


Alpinestars Missile Tech

Vital Ratings

  • Protection: 4 stars
  • Breathability: 4 stars
  • Fit and Comfort: 4 stars
  • Quality and Finish: 4 stars
  • Weight: 4 stars
  • Price/Value: 5 stars
  • Overall: 4 stars
Strengths Weaknesses
  • Comfortable fit
  • Great price
  • Good safety features
  • Plenty of vents, but the comfort liner runs warm
  • One vent placed behind goggle strap
  • Somewhat perfectible build quality and finish

Alpinestars Missile Tech Highlights

  • Carbon and fiberglass outer shell for strength and lightness
  • Smooth profile is streamlined and free of any external features that might act as a load point in an impact
  • Surface curvature promotes reduced friction on impact, allowing deflection
  • MIPS
  • Additional thicker cheek pads are available for a tighter fit
  • 22 vents
  • Removable air filter on mouth opening for easy cleaning
  • ERS system for quick and safe extraction in emergency situations
  • D-ring closure
  • Patented visor release system, snaps out in case of impact
  • Two outer shell sizes and three EPS sizes
  • Weight: 1108 grams (size L, verified)
  • MSRP: $379.95

More information about the Missile Tech available at Alpinestars

Alpinestars were not trying to make the lightest or most breathable helmet out there with the Missile Tech, but what they did do is deliver a worthy contender at a great price (and at 1108 grams for our size L, it’s not exactly heavy either). The Missile Tech is built with a mix of carbon and fiberglass to ensure both strength and light weight, with a series of classic mesh-covered ports to provide adequate airflow in action. Safety features include emergency release cheek pads and a patented visor release system that lets the visor snap out in a crash. The outline of the helmet is smooth and free of ridges or other external features, something that Alpinestars says helps avoid creating any “load points” during an impact. Additionally, MIPS is used to mitigate the propagation of rotational forces between helmet and head.

On the trail, we found the Missile Tech both comfortable and stable. The size L tested here was designed for 59-60 cm circumference heads and proved a good match for this tester’s 58.5 noggin. The visor is not adjustable but it sits well out of your direct field of vision. The liner is plush and additional cheek pads can be ordered to fine tune the fit. There are no vents directly around the ears, which leads to a certain degree of trail noise muffling. Overall breathability is adequate but not among the best, and a foam filter in the chin bar tends to kick back some of your breath in your face (it can be removed to improve this aspect). There is also a large exhaust port in the rear that ends up partially covered by the goggle strap. All told, we still think that the Missile Tech holds its own – in particular given the great price point.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 46 // Years Riding MTB: 14 // Weight: 190-pounds (~87kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord

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