Protecting your noggin is serious business. I remember when I was in my early 20’s we didn’t wear helmets at all. It seemed to us after riding our Motocross bikes at 50-60 miles through the dirt, that XC riding was just too slow to even need one.
However, I had a change of heart early on in my riding career. I remember my father purchased me a helmet, so I figured why not.
That day my front forks completely snapped off where both of the stanchions meet the fork’s crown. I assure you there was no time to get your hands out in front of you. It also happened right after I jumped off the dirt trail on to the street landing. Ouch!
I cracked the XC / cross country mountain bike helmet in half, scraped up the visor good, and only walked away from that mess with minor scrapes, and a micro piece of one of my teeth chipped a little on the backside out of view as a lifetime reminder. If I didn’t have that mountain bike helmet, I might not even be typing this today.
Nowadays you don’t see anyone without a mountain bike helmet on the trail, and that’s a good thing.
Here is the XC mountain bike helmet criteria we are looking at:
- Cross Country Mountain Bike Helmet – Protection
- Cross Country Mountain Bike Helmet – Venting
- Cross Country Mountain Bike Helmet – Comfort
- Cross Country Mountain Bike Helmet – Sizing / Fit / Adjustability
- Cross Country Mountain Bike Helmet – Tech
- Cross Country Mountain Bike Helmet – Style (it has to look good too, or who wants it)
- Cross Country Mountain Bike Helmet – Price
XC Mountain Bike Helmet Protection
As an XC rider, there are several XC mountain bike helmet choices available depending on the terrain your ride and how aggressive you are. Plus some of us just crash more than others.
One of my XC mountain biking buddies is like Iceman in Top Gun. No matter what he does, no matter how crazy he gets, he never seems to crash. Of course that doesn’t stop him from wearing a quality XC mountain bike helmet. I on the other hand wouldn’t consider myself a crasher, but I do eat a lot more dirt than he does.
The Standard XC Mountain Bike Helmet
This is the style you see worn by the UCI XC Worldcup mountain bicycle riders and most of the rest of the worlds XC mountain bikers. It offers additional protection over a road helmet, but has a very similar coverage area. Typically it covers half of your upper head, with a little backside coverage behind the head.
As I mentioned above, the visor not only offers protection from the sun, but it can do a lot as well in a really bad crash if it bends over to minimize some facial road / dirt rash.
One year I even raced a Downhill Mountain Bike National Race on my Enduro mountain bike with my XC mountain bike helmet. The racecourse to me just didn’t warrant a full face downhill mountain bike helmet.
Fortunately I never crashed bad enough to wish I had worn my full face downhill mountain bike helmet.
I was recently blown away by these helmet deals as well, click here to check them out.
XC Mountain Bike Helmets
Trail / AM / XC Mountain Bike Helmet
These are very similar to the Standard XC helmet, but I would say they are closer to 3/4 coverage, as you get more real estate protecting the back of your head, and the side of your head.
Truthfully if you aren’t in an XC race, and you ride aggressive XC trails, this might be a good choice. Possibly consider owning two mountain bike helmets. A standard XC mountain bike helmet for race day and a trail XC mountain bike helmet for training.
The trail / XC mountain bike helmet style is not much heavier and it gives you that extra piece of mind if you want to let loose.
Mountain Bike Helmet – Removable Full Face
Bell really revolutionized mountain bike riding with their super series mountain bike helmets. These mountain bike helmets have a removable full face piece allowing the helmet to be ridden in more of trail helmet style.
You can hump the full face piece along on your pack, and attach it later if you are going real big. Also a good investment if you ride enduro, all mountain or some gravity parks.
This one could also work for you if you have more than one type of mountain bike in your garage covering different disciplines.
Obviously there is a weight penalty. While it is lighter than a dedicated full face helmet, even in trail mode you are not going to wear it to your next XC mountain bike national race.
XC Mountain Bike Helmet Venting
XC mountain bike helmets seem to have evolved into a state that now offer much better airflow. I guess until someone gets a stick through a vent hole that enters their head, the vents will keep getting bigger.
Personally I like airflow as I ride in very hot conditions. If you are a mountain biker in colder climates, you might prefer less venting. Less venting will likely provide stronger crash protection as no doubt molding vent holes throughout the helmet can weaken it.
XC Mountain Bike Helmet Comfort
If it doesn’t fit you properly, don’t use it. An improper fit can limit a helmets protection. The padding does a lot to absorb impact along with a snug fit.
In addition, if it isn’t comfortable, ditch it. I can’t imagine riding 30 miles in a helmet that moves all around or presses into my head. Mountain biking is suppose to be fun, not some form of ancient barbaric torture where you wear your XC mountain bike helmet until it hurts so bad you confess…
Many XC mountain bike helmets also have superior strap designs, so consider the strapping system and adjustability as well.
Most helmets come with some replacement padding so put this in a safe place. Nothing can cause more discomfort than missing padding. Plus it tends to wear out and sadly enough even become very odor offensive if not cared for.
XC Mountain Bike Helmet Sizing / Fit / Adjustability
On one hand it is tough to design mountain bike helmet sizing to fit everyone, but some manufacturers do it better as they offer more size ranges and better adjustability.
For me, it always seems like I am in between sizes. Size medium is too big, and size small is too tight. Thus I am always on the lookout for better adjustability and better size coverage ratios when I make a purchase.
Companies that cover a wide sizing range of mountain bike helmets like S/M (small to medium) work best for me because I know there is more adjustability than say just purchasing a medium size mountain bike helmet. This assumes they are true to size. Sometimes the XS/S (extra small to small) could even work if you wear a medium if their sizing is way off.
When it comes to fit, it is like a shoe. When an XC mountain bike helmet fits right, it is amazing, and when it is wrong, its like agony. Without proper fit, the helmet simply cannot deliver its intended protection level.
Concerning adjustability, is there enough adjustability left over in case of stretch or shrinkage? How easy or hard is it to adjust the XC mountain bike helmet, and does the adjustment system stay in place under load.
XC Mountain Bike Helmet Tech
Technology covers materials and other new widget like Mips. I am a big fan with technological improvement that make a helmet lighter yet stronger and protect my head / brain and even neck better.
For example materials used typically in today’s manufacturing are plastic, fiberglass and carbon fiber. Note, just because carbon fiber is all the rage now, doesn’t guarantee it was designed properly and the helmet is stronger.
This can only be determined with proper manufacturer testing. So stick with the larger more trusted brands when diving into newer technologies that could put your head at risk.
Also Mips which is designed to help reduce head injuries from forces that occur laterally, essentially in unexpected directions get my vote. You can never have too much protection regarding head injuries. This is a great step forward, so if you are in the market for a new helmet, consider it.
In the near future all helmets will include this, but for now it is new bling.
XC Mountain Bike Helmet Style
Who does not want to look good when their riding on mountain bike trail? I like a wide range of tasteful colors, especially good looking lighter colors, white, silver, gray etc. because it gets really hot where I live. It seems like black always looks the best, but I have to remind myself it gets real hot wearing a black helmet for long day of pedaling.
Personally I am not a big fan of to many stickers, too much bling or turning my head into a branding billboard. Probably my age, or perhaps if I could jump 80 feet and do a back flip midway I would need the bling to match my persona. Sadly enough that’s just not me. I sure wish I could though.
I think I’m good for 15-20 feet minus the back flip. Hey you got start somewhere.
XC Mountain Bike Helmet Price
Who can put a price on a head injury? The truth is there plenty of affordable new mountain bike helmets even when they aren’t discounted and they are brand new for the year.
I was recently blown away by these helmet deals as well, click here to check them out.
If your looking for some of the best pick, here are our choices:
Trail Mountain Bike Helmets
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