You don't have to spend a fortune to get a helmet that's light, comfortable and well-ventilated. Our selection of budget lids includes big names such as Giro and Lazer, so you don't even have to forgo brand credibility.
For this selection we've stuck to helmets we've reviewed in the last few years that can be had for £40 or less. Since all helmets sold in the UK have to conform to European standards, we take it as a given that they provide that minimum level of impact absorption and look for comfort, ventilation and ease of adjustment.
If you want to know about co-moulded shells and ventilation, have a read of Cycling helmets — everything you need to know.
Got a bit more to spend? Take a look at all our helmet reviews.
If you've found an inexpensive helmet that you love, let us know in the comments.
The comfortable and secure Catlike Tako feels more expensive than it is, and it looks it too – so long as you don't get too close.
The Tako is solidly constructed, if rather shakily finished. The vents are scruffily moulded both inside and outside; beyond arm's length you don't notice, but once you get up close it looks a little cheap.
In use, however, it feels trustworthy and comfortable. The straps are chunky and their length generous – I cut off around 8cm once the fit was dialled in, and still had around the same left for adjustment. There's a wide, moulded band to securely tidy the ends, which I appreciate. It works far better than the cheap o-ring or rubber band that some lids use.
The Specialized Women's Sierra helmet meets all safety standards, fits really well, and doesn't make you look like a mushroom. While doing all of this, its price tag significantly undercuts the vast majority of the leading specialist manufacturers for entry-level helmets.
The Sierra is the most basic women's helmet that Specialized offers, but that doesn't show in its looks or quality. Specialized offers the Sierra in three different colour options too: White/Silver Arc, Gloss Acid Pink Arc and Matt Mint Arc. It's a real plus to have choices.
Specialized has also added three wide reflective strips on the rear of the helmet that are ideally placed for visibility.
The Decathlon's B'Twin 500 helmet has been rebadged as a mountain bike helmet, but we see no reason why you can't use it on the road too. There are some minor compromises, but at £20 it's an absolute bargain.
Like most lids these days, it complies with EN1078 and follows the in-mould construction (where shell and EPS liner are formed together simultaneously). Build quality is extremely high, superior to many we've tested commanding nearer £100.
Previously known as the 700, this 282g helmet is "ridiculously good value for money", says our Shaun Audane and "shows an attention to detail that exceeds many helmets at twice the price". It's tidily-made and well-ventilated, with an easy-to-use adjustment system.
It's available in red or white so it should look good with any outfit. The only fly in the ointment is that the sizing is slightly generous, so if you're on the borderline between sizes, choose the smaller one.
There are cheaper kids' helmets but with the MountX you get Abus' reputation for quality and thoughtfully-designed features like a rear LED light built into the dial adjuster and a ratchet buckle with a pad to stop it snagging tender young skin.
A comfortable basic helmet that looks and feels good, the Cyclone has 19 large vents for cooling, plenty of reflective patches for visibility and a peak for rain and sun protection.
One size fits all with this straightforward but stylish helmet. It has ten good-sized vents and Giro's Acu Dial fit adjustment plus a removable visor to keep the sun out of your eyes (or rain off your face if you're a glass-half-empty type).
Very well-liked, the Align follows the styling, and has many of the features, of Specialized's top-of-the-line S-Works Prevail helmet, but costs a fraction of that spendy lid's price.
If you asked us how much we'd be prepared to pay for a comfortable, well-ventilated helmet, with a good dial retention system and modern construction techniques, that weighs about 250g, we'd probably say that was about sixty quid's worth of hat, or more. So the fact that the Oxford Raven is just £39.99 makes it a bargain, if the performance lives up to the spec on paper. It does.
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Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.