Helmet and Elbow/Knee Pad Reviews
There are a lot of fun toys on the pages of this site, but it’s really important that you don’t get so excited that you forget how important it is to wear the right protective gear. A good helmet and pads will go a long way toward saving you pain, avoiding medical bills, and not making you feel really, really stupid.
There are a diverse set of electric vehicles and no one helmet is suitable for all of them. Bicycle helmets should really only be used on a bicycle and not other things like hoverboards. This is because bike helmets tend not protect the back of the head, as you are unlikely to suffer that sort of injury when falling off your bike. Skateboards and hoverboards can, however, put you flat on the back of your skull. For these vehicles you should use a good multi-sport helmet or a skateboard helmet. You can get more information on what to look for in my helmet and pads buyer’s guide.
I’ve broken this set of mini-reviews into one section for helmets and then a short section for pads.
My Top Pick: The Triple 888 Brainsaver
You don’t easily dismiss a classic like the venerable Triple Eight Brainsaver. As the name says this is a helmet that has saved many brains over the years. Without a doubt this is one of the most comfortable and stylish helmets around. I may be a little biased though, since this is actually the helmet I decided to buy after a long stretch of research. I’ve never looked back, and when my Brainsaver eventually needs replacing you can be sure where my next hundred bucks is going.
The “sweatsaver” lining really does work well and the padding in the Brainsaver is probably some of the best on the market. It’s thin, yet comfortable. The lining keeps sweat out of your eyes and the rubber gives a premium feel to the product. The latest Brainsaver has benefited from many years of rider input and it shows. If you’re in a hurry then you don’t have to look further than this superlative helmet.
The Best Budget Choice: The Bell Multi-Sport Helmet
If you’re looking for helmet pedigree you don’t have to look much further than Bell. These guys have been making helmets since 1954, so I think they’ve got the hang of it by now. The Segment is the ideal helmet for skating, hoverboarding, or any other sort of wheeled shenanigans.
The Segment has all the certification you could want, and customers report that it fits exactly as expected. If you’re going to have a budget helmet, buy this one. The list price is around fifty bucks, but I’ve often seen it for half of that.
It’s available in a bunch of colors, is well-ventilated, and for the money I doubt you could do better.
The Best Dual Purpose Option: The Fox Head Transition Hardshell
If you’re the offroading type then you really shouldn’t be using a rubber multi-sport helmet or road bike helmet to protect your head. There are many things in nature that seek to puncture the old noggin, so a hardshell helmet is recommended.
What I like about the Fox is that it would look good for road use too. In fact, to my eye it’s very attractive. The Fox is also generously vented, and those big vents in the front add to the great looks of this helmet.
It’s available in a number of colors, but the burgundy option looks the most premium, if you ask me. At at around $50 this helmet is great value for the money, especially if you want to do dual-purpose riding but can only afford one helmet.
The Fast E-bike Option: The Giro Air Attack
Some e-bikes are properly fast, for a bicycle. At those speeds you probably want something that cuts through the air and also keeps bugs and wind out of your eyes. The Giro Air Attack is just such a helmet.
It’s been wind-tunnel tested for racing conditions, has a magnetically-attached visor and a very tough polycarbonate shell. It may be a bit pricey at over $200 (different sizes change the price) but the many stories of how people were saved from brain damage at high speeds by this helmet are a testament to the worth of every dollar.
The TSG Superlight Multi-Sport Helmet
When TSG says that their helmet is “superlight” they aren’t kidding. At 1.35 lbs it’s no wonder people who have bought it say they can barely feel it. Despite this light weight the TSG complies with EU and US safety standards. Comfort levels are reported as high, and the advertised ventilation system also adds to this perception. There’s also adjustable padding, which is something I haven’t seen that much. The price also seems pretty fair at around $60. What can I say? This is a good mid-range helmet with above-average comfort levels. Just be warned that the sizing seems to be smaller than other helmets, so get the sizing chart for the brand before you assume it will fit.
The Critical Cycles Classic Commuter
The Classic Commuter looks to my eye very much like a multi-sport or skateboard helmet, yet it is very clearly marketed as a bicycle helmet. For me that’s a plus, since I think bike helmets look pretty ridiculous in general. But that’s purely a personal taste, of course.
The Classic Commuter comes in a couple of colors with a matte texture – also something I like, since I always feel like the glossy plastic finishes on some helmets make them look cheap. Ironically, at about $25, the Classic Commuter IS cheap, but it conforms to US CPSC standards and should be OK on that score.
There are, however, complaints of small sizing, poor fit, and an oversized outer shell. You’d be better off going with a good brand like Bell. Specifically the Bell Segment Multi-Sport Helmet.
Elbow and Knee Pads
While it’s certainly a very serious thing to crack open your skull, a shattered knee or elbow is no fun either, so it’s a good idea to invest in some elbow and knee pads. I’ve only put my top picks here and I’m pretty confident either of these two choices will serve you well.
Since the vehicles on my site are generally for commuting purposes I’ve picked two sets of soft pads that are comfortable to wear on a daily basis. If you are planning on doing offroad riding or any sort of trick riding I highly recommend that you look at a set of hard shell pads instead.
The G-Form Pro-X Impact Protection Pads
I have heard nothing but good things about these G-form pads. They are super light, low-profile soft pads, but have an amazing trick up their sleeves (no pun intended) – they harden on impact. This means the G-Form pad gives you the best of both worlds – you get the comfort of a soft pad but almost as much protection as a hard pad. They carry a bit more cost than regular pads, but in my opinion these are the best all-round commuter pads out there.
The Triple Eight ExoSkin Elbow and Knee Pads
The ExoSkins are designed for mountain biking, but they’ll be just as good at protecting you from bumps and bruises on the way to work. These soft pads can be worn under your clothing if the garments are baggy enough.
The other advantage is that these guys breathe pretty well, so you don’t have to worry about excessive heat and sweating on longer commutes. The best feature is probably the side impact pockets, an area sometimes overlooked by some pad manufacturers that only care about head-on impacts.
On the Bounce
If you have $10 head, wear a $10 helmet, they say. Well, I think that the top helmets I’ve selected here have stood the test of time and will keep your gray matter exactly where it belongs. Whizzing around town is a lot of fun, but when the unexpected happens or your confidence exceeds your abilities, you’ll be glad to have something between your body and the ground.