Best Mountain Biking Helmets Under $100

Gabriel Ramos –  April 9th, 2024
Author Name

Written by Gabriel Ramos

Gabe is an avid climber, snowboarder, mountain biker, and hiker with a passion for sharing expert tips on outdoor sports. Committed to safe and sustainable adventures

Estimated Time: 5 minutes

Giro Fixture MIPS II

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Giro Chronicle MIPS II

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Schwinn Intercept

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Smith Session MIPS

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Specialized Ambush Comp

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Bontrager Solstice

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When it comes to mountain biking, your helmet isn’t just another piece of kit—it’s super important. It’s all that stands between you and some potentially nasty head injuries. But hey, getting your hands on a good helmet doesn’t mean you have to empty your pockets. Even if you’re watching your spending, you can snag a helmet that’s safe, comfy, and even looks good without breaking the bank.

So, we’ve put together this guide to show you the best mountain biking helmets you can find for under $100. Yep, you heard that right! It’s all about showing that you don’t have to shell out a fortune to get quality protection.

Whether you’re just starting to hit the trails, you’re all about those weekend rides, or maybe you’re a parent on the hunt for something dependable for the kids, this rundown’s going to help you pick the right helmet without having to stretch your wallet too thin.

 6 Best MTB Helmets Under $100

Giro Fixture Mips II

Price: $75
Shell Material: Polycarbonate
Visor/Brim: Yes
Weight: 320 g
Safety Tech: MIPS
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Let’s shift gears to the Giro Fixture with MIPS. It’s like your reliable trail buddy who’s always up for an adventure and doesn’t make a big fuss about it. Giro’s nailed it with this one, serving up a helmet that packs in all the essentials—safety, comfort, and a bit of style—without asking for your last dime.

Pros:

  • MIPS tech without the high price tag
  • Adjusts easily, and that visor? Super handy
  • Keeps your head cool with plenty of vents
  • Solid coverage for peace of mind

Cons:

  • The look is a bit on the basic side
  • The adjustment system does the job, but it’s nothing fancy
  • A tad heavier because of the MIPS, but worth it for the protection

Diving into the Giro Fixture, it’s all about hitting that sweet spot between must-have safety features and sticking to a budget. With MIPS in the mix, you’re getting that extra layer of protection against those unexpected tumbles. It’s like having a safety net, ensuring that if things go sideways, you’re covered.

Comparing it to the sleek and techy Specialized Ambush Comp, the Fixture keeps things straightforward. Where the Ambush Comp goes all out with tech advancements and that nifty ANGi crash sensor readiness, the Fixture focuses on the basics—good, reliable protection that’s ready to roll when you are.

And let’s talk about staying cool. The Fixture has got you covered with vents that work like a charm, pulling in fresh air and keeping you cool, no matter how hard you’re pushing it. Sure, it might not have all the high-tech bells and whistles of the Ambush Comp, but it nails the essentials, making it a solid pick for those of us who just want to hit the trails without worrying about our gear. For under $100, the Giro Fixture with MIPS is a standout

Giro Chronicle MIPS

Price: $100
Shell Material: Polycarbonate
Visor/Brim: Yes
Weight: 784 g
Safety Tech: MIPS
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Stepping into the realm of affordable but reliable MTB helmets, the Giro Chronicle MIPS holds its ground. Priced around the sweet spot for riders looking to maximize value without skimping on essential features, it’s a solid pick for those who want peace of mind without emptying their pockets.

With MIPS technology integrated into its design, the Chronicle offers that extra layer of protection against rotational forces, a feature often found in higher-priced helmets.

Pros:

  • MIPS for less
  • Lightweight feel
  • Snug and comfortable fit
  • Good ventilation
Cons:
  • Style options are limited
  • Visor adjustability could be better
  • Might run a bit snug for some

Schwinn Intercept

Price: $24.99
Shell Material: Plastic
Visor/Brim: Yes
Weight: 784 g
Safety Tech: CPSC Safety Standard
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For the everyday adventurer looking for a helmet that’s both wallet-friendly and dependable, the Schwinn Thrasher comes through. It’s a testament to the idea that you don’t have to splurge to get solid head protection.

With a price that’s hard to beat and features designed for the practical rider, the Thrasher is all about getting you out on the trails with confidence and a bit of extra cash in your pocket.

Pros:
  • Very budget-friendly
  • Super light
  • Great ventilation
  • Adjustable fit for comfort
Cons:
  • No MIPS technology
  • Basic design
  • Not as durable as higher-priced options

The Schwinn Intercept is the go-to for casual bikers and those just starting on their trail adventures. It’s designed to be light, keeping your ride comfortable and your head cool with its ample ventilation.

While it doesn’t boast the advanced safety tech found in some of its costlier counterparts, its construction is solid for everyday rides and standard trail use.
This helmet is about getting you out there with the assurance you’re protected, emphasizing that starting with mountain biking doesn’t require a hefty investment in gear.

Kali Chakra Plus

Price: $69.45
Shell Material: Polycarbonate
Visor/Brim: Adjustable Visor
Weight: 290 g
Safety Tech: Kali’s Composite Fusion Tech 
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 For those who merge the line between innovation and affordability, the Kali Chakra Plus stands out. It’s a helmet that brings advanced design elements into a price range that’s approachable for nearly any rider.

This is the helmet for the enthusiast who appreciates the nuances of thoughtful design but is mindful of their budget.

Pros:
  • Affordable innovation
  • Featherlight
  • Enhanced cooling with ample vents
  • Composite Fusion technology for added safety
Cons:
  • Skips MIPS for proprietary technology
  • Style options are somewhat limited
  • Fit might be snug for some, so size up

 Kali’s Composite Fusion technology is a standout feature here, merging the shell and foam for a closer, more effective protection mechanism that’s designed to mitigate impact forces more efficiently than traditional methods. This isn’t just innovation for the sake of it; it’s a thoughtful reimagining of helmet safety.

Lightness is another factor where the Chakra Plus excels, making it nearly forgettable when worn—exactly what you want in a helmet when navigating technical terrain or enduring lengthy ascents. Its ample ventilation is a boon, too, ensuring that even on the most grueling rides, overheating won’t be adding to your challenges.

While it doesn’t incorporate MIPS, a point that might raise eyebrows, Kali’s Composite Fusion is a compelling alternative, showcasing their commitment to pioneering safer, more effective biking gear. This isn’t about eschewing established norms but about offering something distinctively protective

Smith Session MIPS

Price: $126.93 (Usually $170)
Shell Material: Polycarbonate
Visor/Brim: Three-position adjustable visor
Weight: 368 g
Safety Tech: MIPS
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This is one is a bit more expensive, but when I pivot to discussing helmets like the Smith Session MIPS, I’m entering a realm where style meets meticulous engineering.

Priced slightly higher, this helmet is for those among us who view their gear as an extension of their adventure spirit—where every design element is a blend of function and aesthetics.

Pros:
  • Advanced MIPS integration
  • Balanced weight for day-long comfort
  • Stylish design that stands out
  • Excellent ventilation system
Cons:
  • Pushes the upper limit of our budget
  • Styling may not appeal to all
  • Sizing runs a bit small

In my experience, the Smith Session MIPS differentiates itself with its approach to combining advanced safety features like MIPS with a distinct aesthetic that doesn’t just aim to protect but to also impress. It’s positioned for the rider who demands performance without sacrificing style—a nuanced blend not found in all helmets.

While the Kali Chakra Plus brings innovative material technology to the forefront at a lower price point, the Smith Session MIPS leans into the proven MIPS system coupled with a design that’s as sleek as it is functional. This helmet is about making a statement on the trails, ensuring that your protective gear is as visually compelling as it is safe.

Its weight is commendably balanced, not the lightest but designed to ensure that long hours on the trail are spent in comfort, with the MIPS technology offering peace of mind against rotational impacts. Ventilation is another highlight, with the Session’s design ensuring airflow keeps you cool, even on those challenging climbs or during warmer days.

However, it’s essential to note that the Smith Session nudges over our budget limit, a consideration for the cost-conscious rider. Additionally, its unique style, while appealing, might not resonate with everyone’s taste, and its sizing nuances suggest a try-before-you-buy approach might be best. This is the helmet I use on a daily basis, and so far, it’s been worth the price.

Specialized Ambush Comp

Price: $80 (Usually $160)
Shell Material: Polycarbonate
Visor/Brim: Three-position adjustable visor
Weight: 365 g
Safety Tech: MIPS & ANGi Crash Sensor Ready
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Transitioning our focus to the Specialized Ambush Comp, we encounter a helmet that’s been fine-tuned for the trail connoisseur who values precision in every aspect of their ride.

This helmet doesn’t just aim to protect; it’s designed to enhance the riding experience with its meticulous attention to detail and rider-focused features.

Pros:
  • Ultra-lightweight for all-day comfort
  • ANGi crash sensor compatibility
  • Superior ventilation design
  • Extended rear coverage for added protection
Cons:
  • ANGi sensor sold separately
  • On the higher end of our budget spectrum
  • Limited color options are available

In comparing helmets like the Smith Session MIPS and the Kali Chakra Plus, the Specialized Ambush Comp introduces a different angle—precision. With its remarkably light build, it’s as if it disappears on your head, allowing you to focus purely on the trail ahead. This helmet is for those among us who dissect every feature, from weight to airflow, understanding that such nuances significantly impact our ride.

Unlike the Smith Session, which integrates MIPS for rotational impact protection, the Ambush Comp elevates safety innovation with readiness for Specialized’s ANGi crash sensor, offering real-time monitoring and alert capabilities—a feature for the tech-savvy rider who seeks more than just physical protection. However, it’s essential to highlight that this cutting-edge technology requires an additional purchase, slightly nudging the overall investment.

Ventilation is another domain where the Ambush Comp shines, with a design optimized for maximum airflow, keeping you cool even during the most strenuous climbs or in the heat of competition. And with its extended rear coverage, it provides a level of protection that’s meticulously calculated to offer peace of mind in various riding conditions.

Bontrager Solstice

Price: $49.99
Shell Material: Polycarbonate
Visor/Brim: N/A
Weight: 290 g
Safety Tech: N/A
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As we round out our exploration of affordable MTB helmets under $100, the Trek Bontrager Solstice stands as a beacon for everyday riders.

It’s designed with simplicity and efficiency in mind, making it an excellent choice for those who desire straightforward protection without the complexity or higher costs of more feature-rich helmets.

Pros:
  • Cost-effective without sacrificing quality
  • Lightweight for everyday comfort
  • Ample ventilation for cooling
  • User-friendly adjustment system for a perfect fit
Cons:
  • Lacks advanced safety features like MIPS or ANGi
  • Somewhat basic in design and functionality
  • May not offer the specialized protection for aggressive trail riding

The Trek Bontrager Solstice is emblematic of what many riders seek in a helmet for daily rides or less technical trails. It’s not burdened with the bells and whistles of its counterparts but rather focuses on delivering solid performance where it counts: protection, comfort, and usability.

Things to Look for in a Helmet

When you’re in the market for a new mountain biking helmet, it’s a bit like picking out the right pair of shoes. You want something that’s not just going to look good, but feel good too, especially because it’s playing a crucial role in keeping you safe. So, let’s break down what really matters when choosing your next trail companion.

Comfort

First up, let’s talk about comfort. Ever had a pair of headphones you had to take off after 30 minutes because they just didn’t feel right? Well, a helmet can be the same. You need something that fits your head like it was made for you.

That means adjustable fit systems that let you dial in the perfect snugness without feeling like you’re in a vice grip. And padding—soft, sweat-wicking padding that feels like a cloud against your scalp. Don’t forget the straps! You should barely notice them. If you find yourself constantly fidgeting with your helmet, it’s not the one.

Protection

Now, onto the meaty stuff: protection. Your helmet’s job number one is to keep your noggin safe. We’re seeing some pretty space-age tech in helmets these days, like MIPS, which helps protect your brain from those twisting impacts.

Coverage is key too; more of it generally means better protection. And durability matters because bumps and scrapes are part of the game. A helmet that can take a licking and keep on ticking is worth its weight in gold.

Ventilation

Ever feel like your head’s in an oven while riding? That’s where ventilation comes in. Good airflow keeps the breeze flowing over your scalp, cooling you down so you can focus on nailing that next section.

Look for plenty of vents, but remember, it’s not just about quantity; placement is crucial. The best designs are like a well-thought-out air conditioning system for your head.

Weight

Weight’s a big deal too. A lighter helmet means less strain on your neck and you can ride longer without feeling weighed down. But, it’s a balancing act—too light and you might be sacrificing protection. It’s all about finding that sweet spot where the helmet’s presence fades into the background.

Features

Lastly, the bells and whistles. Visors, for keeping the sun and rain out of your eyes; maybe a mount for your action cam; even tech that calls for help if you take a hard fall. These aren’t just add-ons; they can make a big difference in your ride. 

Reflective elements for those dusk rides, antimicrobial padding to keep things fresh, and compatibility with your riding glasses or goggles—all these features add up to make your ride safer and more enjoyable.

Wrapping up, as you gear up for your next ride, take a moment to consider what you really need from your helmet. The pioneering technology of the Kali Chakra Plus, or maybe the straightforward, no-fuss protection of the Trek Bontrager Solstice? Whatever your choice, make it a companion that you trust, one that’ll be with you as you explore, enjoy, and embrace the world of mountain biking.

Happy trails, riders. Stay safe, ride hard, and never compromise on protecting what matters most.

How to Choose The Right Mountain Bike Helmet For You

When you’re picking out a mountain bike helmet, you’re not just choosing a piece of equipment—you’re picking your main line of defense for those unpredictable trails. It’s about way more than just matching it to your bike; it’s about keeping your head safe in style and comfort. So, whether you’re just starting out or looking to upgrade, you want to get this right.