Some riders prefer to wear a helmet when riding any type of bike, electric or otherwise.
Others prefer to ride au naturel, at least in regard to their electric bike helmet.
But do you need a helmet to ride an electric bike?
Maybe. In some states or cities, you might need a helmet when riding an ebike. Several states require riders of class 3 electric bikes to wear a helmet, for example.
In other cases, helmet requirements are based on age or type of ebike. Some cities and towns have their own requirements as well.
So, the short answer to the helmet question is: sometimes. More details on that later.
But for safety, many electric bike riders choose to wear a helmet. Because ebikes often travel at higher speeds compared to the leisurely pace of most traditional bikes, it makes sense to protect yourself.
Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS)
Not all bike helmets are created equal. You might not need a Snell-certified helmet, popular with motorcycle riders. But you’ll probably want something better than the selection of cartoon-emblazoned helmets available at the local big-box store. You only get one noggin, and it has to last a lifetime.
A MIPS helmet bridges the gap between standard bike helmets and premium purpose-built helmets, giving riders an extra layer of protection when riding.
MIPS helmets come with a thin layer beneath the padding that’s designed to move if your head makes contact with the ground, a tree, or anything else. In effect, the helmet can rotate under the impact, minimizing your head’s rotation.
In simple terms, you can think of a MIPS helmet as having several layers:
- Shell or finish: This is the pretty part everyone sees.
- Impact-absorbing liner: Helmet makers usually use expanded polystyrene (EPS), a lightweight foam.
- MIPS layer: The MIPS layer is just a low-friction plastic insert that can move inside the helmet.
- Comfort padding: A helmet’s comfort padding is affixed to the MIPS layer.
In a crash, something has to give. A MIPS-equipped helmet is designed to give (rotationally). And it can rotate in any direction, helping to reduce the impact of an angled approach. Of course, you’ll also get the impact-absorbing benefits found in standard helmets.
While a MIPS helmet costs a bit more than a standard electric bike helmet, the extra protection they provide can’t easily be measured in dollars.
Safety first, so this roundup only includes MIPS-equipped helmets. That’s enough talk about crashes; on to the helmets.
Best Electric Bike Helmets Under $200
We all do the ebike thing in our own way. The best electric bike helmet for you depends on your unique needs. But we’re impressed with the features of these helmets and the overall value they bring for under $200.
Smith Engage MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
With 21 vents, this bike helmet keeps you cool without sacrificing durability.
The Engage MIPS Helmet comes from Smith, renowned for its cycling eyewear, and the helmet is designed to work with Smith eyewear to prevent fogging.
Choose from four colors with modern styling. This helmet’s matte surface can take the dust and kicked-up rocks you’ll see on the trails while still looking great around town.
Smith Engage MIPS Highlights
- MIPS-equipped for added safety
- Available in four sizes
- Choose from four colors to match your bike or attire
- Suitable for off-road use
- Priced from $110
Giro Syntax MIPS Road Cycling Helmet
This handsome shortie helmet from Giro keeps you cool on the warmest of rides while keeping you safer than bargain helmets. With eight sizes to choose from, you’re sure to find a perfect fit.
Eight colorful designs make it easy to get the look you want while enhancing riding safety. Thick foam and comfort padding make this a safe easy-to-wear choice for an electric bike helmet.
Giro Syntax MIPS Highlights
- MIPS-equipped to protect against injuries
- Available in seven sizes
- Choose from eight colorful designs
- Road-cycling style designed for on-road use
- Priced from $119.95
Giro Fixture MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
Consider the Giro Fixture MIPS mountain bike helmet if pricier helmets don’t fit your budget. Eighteen wind-tunnel vents route cool breezes through internal channels while you ride.
Fewer size options might give some ebike riders pause, but Giro’s Roc Loc Sport fit system helps ensure a secure fit for heads of all sizes. Don’t be fooled by the price. Giro’s Fixture offers outstanding protection at a price that won’t break the bank.
Giro Fixture MIPS Highlights
- MIPS-equipped on a budget
- Two universal sizes (adult and extra-large)
- 13 colors to choose from
- Suitable for on or off-road use
- Priced from $64.95
Smith Express MIPS Cycling Helmet
This lightweight helmet design from Smith features a rear light, giving it a modern touch to a classic design. While the Express doesn’t have as much ventilation as some other choices, well-placed vents at the front route air through the helmet when riding.
In total, 13 vents work to keep you cool, while the great looks of this helmet help you stay cool in a different way. Built for your commute, the Smith express is all about minimalism without sacrificing safety.
Smith Express MIPS Highlights
- Three sizes to fit most adults
- Available in four colors
- Lightweight, designed for city use
- Priced from $100
POC Kortal Race MIPS MTB Helmet
Although a bit pricier than other bike helmets in this roundup, the POC Kortal Race brings some additional features for the price. A built-in NFC chip provides critical information to first responders, giving them the information they need if you’re unable to respond. Store vital medical information as well as emergency contact information.
The POC Kortal Race also boasts NTA-8776 certification, a rising European-based standard to differentiate traditional bike helmets from helmets designed to give electric bike riders better protection.
POC Kortal Race MIPS Highlights
- Available in three sizes
- Choose from five eye-catching colors
- Rugged design for off-road use
- NTA-8776 certified
- Priced from $199
Is an Electric Bike Helmet Different Than a Standard Bike Helmet?
You can use a standard bike helmet with an electric bike in most cases. At lower price points, there’s often no real distinction aside from marketing labels. However, a newer rating called NTA-8776 could change that going forward. Helmets with the NTA-8776 certification offer more protection compared to typical bike helmets and could become the new standard for electric-bike-certified helmets.
We all use our ebikes in different ways. Some rarely see a paved road. Others stay exclusively on the pavement. However, many riders see a bit of both. Take the time to choose a quality bike helmet matched to the way you use your electric bike.
State and Local eBike Helmet Requirements
A federal law dating back to 2002 defines a low-speed electric bicycle as a two or three-wheeled pedal-equipped vehicle with an electric motor with less than 750 watts output. The definition also limits motor-driven speeds to 20 MPH for ebikes.
There’s no federal law requiring electric bike riders to wear a helmet, however. Instead, the 2002 federal law simply designates some ebikes as being subject to the Consumer Safety Act. The law also states that low-speed electric bicycles are not vehicles. States still can (and do) make their own definitions and state-by-state rules for electric bikes.
The neighborly folks at EVOLO Electric Bicycles put together a handy state-by-state list of ebike regulations and requirements. Just select your state for an overview.
Rules vary, but no states require specialized helmets or ebike-certified helmets as yet. Where helmets are required, you can still use a standard bike helmet with your ebike.
However, laws or local ordinances can (and do) change. The safest approach is to check the websites for your state and city to see up-to-date requirements for electric bike helmet use or other rules.
Helmets on for Safety
Every year in the US, nearly 1,000 cyclists die in motor-vehicle-related accidents, and the CDC reports almost 500,000 bicycle-related injuries annually. Accidents happen to even the most careful of riders. And at higher speeds, the result can be a devastating injury.
Many times, accidents can be avoided by riding defensively. Other times, there isn’t much you can do to prevent a mishap. The right electric bike helmet might make the difference.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of helmet do I need for an electric bike?
A standard bike helmet is suitable for electric bikes in most cases. While helmets with NTA-8776 certification offer more protection, no states have passed laws (yet) requiring a special type of helmet for ebikes. To enhance safety with a standard bike helmet, many riders choose a MIPS-certified helmet that reduces risk due to rotational force.
Do I need a helmet for an electric bike?
Several states, including California, require some electric bike riders to wear a helmet. However, helmet requirements often target younger riders or riders of class 3 electric bikes. Because rules vary by state (and sometimes by city), check your local laws to find out if you need a helmet to ride your eBike.