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Visors seem pretty ubiquitous on mountain bike helmets, but not on road bike helmets. Why do mountain bike helmets have visors? What purpose does the visor have?

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Many road cyclists wear a cloth cap under their helmets, but as a visor extends further forwards it may help deflect foliage and twigs without causing them to whip into the eyes. –  Emyr Jun 12 at 14:58
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my 2 cents: to arbitrarily differentiate them from "road" helmets. no other reason. if the sun's in your eyes, sunglasses and a cap do wonders. –  Paul H Jun 12 at 16:51
    
The nice thing about the cap / road helmet combination, is that most caps have a brim that can be flipped up to get the brim out of your way when you're in an aggressive riding position. The disadvantage is that cap reduces the cooling effect on your head, making me overheat in the summer. However, the Bern Allston (urban) helmet has a built in brim which can be flipped like this, without affecting the venting on the top of the head (but the helmet still has a bit less venting than a lot of other road or mountain helmets) –  Benzo Jun 13 at 20:03

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

One purpose of a visor is to shield the sun like a baseball cap.

There are many factors:

  • Wind resistance is not as big a factor on a mountain bike (slower speeds).
  • The more upright position on a mountain bike puts a visor more into play.
  • On a road bike the rider is leaning forward and facing down and the visor can even block forward view.
  • A visor can help keep rain, sprayed up mud, or low branches off the riders face.
  • Mountain bikers think it's cool?
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Yeah, a visor is a PITA on a road bike, where you're leaning forward and facing down. The visor makes it impossible to see well straight-ahead. –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 12 at 14:57
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Not just sun - a visor can help keep rain off your face, or mud sprayed up, or low branches. –  vclaw Jun 12 at 15:03
    
@vclaw, how exactly does a visor above your face keep mud from hitting it from below? –  Paul H Jun 12 at 16:52
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@PaulH The mud does eventually come down. –  Blam Jun 12 at 17:09
    
Is/wasn't there a rule for DH racing that helmets must have a visor? –  Aaron Jun 13 at 16:48

I spend a lot of my time on my MTB riding around forests so the visor is to keep branches out of my face.

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This aspect has already been covered in another answer. Please upvote that one rather than post a new answer. –  mattnz Jun 16 at 0:55

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