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A simple ponytail is one of the most popular cycling styles for men and women with longer hair. It’s easy to pull together, unlike more elaborate French braids and buns pinned close to the scalp. Ponytails are also very comfortable. They keep hair out of your way and off your sweaty neck.
However, riders with ponytails risk sacrificing their safety for comfort. Many styles of bike helmets don’t play well with the pony. A rider is forced to thread their hair through one of the vents or cram the top of the ponytail under the regular helmet, which can make biking difficult. That affects the overall fit, comfort, and protection offered by an important piece of gear. This is why many cyclists are looking for bike helmets with ponytail holes rather than basic helmet designs.
Our top pick for the best bike helmet for ponytails is the Giro Ember, a versatile helmet offering MIPS technology and a number of smart features for a moderate budget.
- MARKET-LEADING PROTECTION: Engineered in Giro’s category-leading helmet test lab
- MIPS: Utilizes the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System to redirect energy in a crash
- VENTILATION: 24 Wind Tunnel vents with internal channeling
- COMFORT: Easily adjust vertical position and tension with the Roc Loc 5 fit sys
If you want similar quality (but no MIPS) in a unisex helmet, look at the KASK Protone.
Top 3 Bike Helmets for Ponytails at a Glance
So what goes into a great fitting helmet? How do you wear one over your ponytail? Let’s take a closer look.
Factors To Consider When Buying a Bike Helmet
A helmet’s main job is to protect the cyclist’s head during an accident. But the most protective design in the world won’t do much good if it doesn’t fit properly and comfortably. When you’re shopping for helmets, you’ll want to keep in mind five major factors:
Bike helmet fit is fundamental. It affects both safety and comfort. What kind of retention system does it have? Are the adjustable straps easy to work with? Can you loosen the helmet enough to squeeze a skull cap on underneath without compromising the fit?
Is the helmet certified by the standards of the country you’ll be riding in? This might include GPSR in the EU and CPSC in the United States. You may also want to look for helmets with MIPS safety systems for additional protection.
More expensive helmets packed with high-end features aren’t always the right choice. If you find a basic ponytail-friendly helmet that’s really comfortable to wear, congratulations! You’ve just saved yourself some money. Liners, additional padding, and the number and arrangement of cut-outs can all affect how comfortable a helmet feels.
Pop the helmet on. Does it already feel a bit heavy? Imagine how that will feel at the end of a day-long ride. If you’re sensitive to helmet weight, check the product specs carefully.
Whether you’re on a mountain bike or a road bike, bike helmets are an extremely important piece of safety gear, so you really shouldn’t make a beeline for the cheapest option. At the same time, you don’t necessarily have to spend $300 or more. Many reputable brands put out basic, comfortable, and protective models that may be in the $50-$75 range. You can also make your dollar stretch further by keeping an eye out for seasonal sales on affordable bike helmets.
How Do I Wear a Ponytail Helmet Correctly?
Some of these types of helmets have a curve or groove at the bottom back of the shell. This shaping creates extra space to accommodate a ponytail, braid, or bun. This style is compatible with a low pony.
If you wear your ponytail higher, you’ll want a ponytail bike helmet with a dedicated cutout. There will be a hole at the back that you can thread your hair through. Once you’ve done so, re-check the fit and adjust as needed.
What If I’m Still Struggling To Wear a Ponytail With My Helmet?
Try tighter or looser ponytails and change up how high or low you wear your elastic. Match your ponytail height to where the helmet’s hole is. If you have very thick or textured hair, you may need to wear it in two stacked ponytails, one higher and one at the nape. Finally, if all else fails, exchange your helmet. There’s likely a different one on the market that will be comfortable, stylish, and protective.
9 Best Bike Helmets for Ponytails
1. Giro EmberCheck availability
Not every helmet comes with MIPS technology, but the Ember does. Giro has designed a women-specific helmet with an in-mold polycarbonate shell and EPS liner. It has a compact shape, has full hard body coverage, and integrates 26 vents and Air-FX quick-dry padding. This lightweight helmet is a crowd pleaser, and it’s versatile enough to work for all types of riding.
2. KASK ProtoneCheck availability
This unisex helmet offers a comfortable fit for people who wear low ponytails. The KASK Protone was crafted in collaboration with the Ineos Grenadiers cycling team (formerly Team Sky), whose feedback led to the development of a smart array of vents coupled with a very low-drag aerodynamic design. This helmet may be designed by the pros, but it’s easy enough for even a beginner to adjust thanks to KASK’s Octofit system technology.
3. Bern Melrose Zipmold Women’s HelmetCheck availability
Urban cyclists take note: the Bern Melrose was made with you in mind. These helmets come in both classic neutrals and playfully bright colors. They have a higher cut in the back that lets you slide a low ponytail out underneath. This model features 16 air vents and a moisture control pad. At 331 grams, it’s heavier than some on this list.
4. Schwinn ThrasherCheck availability
Looking for a budget-friendly, perfect helmet that won’t cramp your style? Schwinn’s Thrasher is an affordable choice that comes in a wide range of colors. It has a protective and ponytail-friendly design. There are 20 air vents and moisture-wicking pads, and the helmet adjusts with a dial fit knob. Another bonus: it’s quite lightweight for full shell coverage.
5. Bell Women’s Gamine HelmetCheck availability
Smaller riders with long hair have two hurdles to cross when it comes to bike helmets: will the helmet work with both their ponytail and their head size? Bell’s Women’s Gamine Helmet fits snugly against a 50-57 cm head circumference, which is great for more petite riders. It’s protective, certified by CPSC and ASTM, and has a ponytail-friendly fit system at the back.
6. Lazer Z1Check availability
The Lazer Z1 is a high-end MIPS helmet with some design innovations that have great appeal for cyclists who like to wear their hair back.
The most significant is the location of the dial that adjusts the head basket. On most helmets you’ll find this at the back where it interferes with a ponytail. The Lazer Z1 puts it on top of the helmet, creating all kinds of space at the back for your long hair. This system is also special in that it tightens all 360 degrees of the head basket, unlike most systems that tighten only the back part of the helmet.
With 31 vents and weighing only 190 grams, this is Lazer’s lightest helmet. But it doesn’t lack for protection. The area around the temples in particular is as well protected as we’ve seen on any helmet.
7. Bell Women’s Citi Bike HelmetCheck availability
If you just want a simple, low-profile helmet to keep your head safe in traffic, the Bell Citi Bike Helmet is an excellent choice that ticks all those boxes and more. It’s a helmet for women by design and integrates a ponytail compatible fit system. The helmet itself has 13 vents, looks quite professional, and includes a convenient visor (which is also a removable visor). There are no bells and whistles here, just excellent protection and performance.
8. Specialized Aspire HelmetCheck availability
Specialized offers a number of helmets that include a ponytail port. The Aspire is one of their most popular designs. Along with a place for your ponytail, this road cycling helmet has 27 air vents. They’re arrayed to funnel air past your head in the 4th Dimension Cooling System. Any sweat that you develop is kept at bay with moisture-wicking pads.
9. GROTTICO Bike HelmetCheck availability
GROTTICO has designed their bike helmets to meet both US and EU safety standards, which makes this model a good option for people planning a cycling holiday. The GROTTICO Bike Helmet includes 23 vents and replaceable inner pads, a nice feature that lets you refresh your gear midway through a sweaty summer ride. It also has an integrated rear light. You can select flash, wave, and steady modes for this feature.
It can take some digging around to find a ponytail-friendly bicycle helmet that fits you well. The good news is that multiple well-known bike helmet manufacturers and brands have heard the call and are putting these helmets out. No matter the head size or budget, there are options on the market to keep cyclists riding in style with safety in mind.
After you’ve selected a helmet, consider investing in some padded bike shorts for women to maximize your comfort.