How To Choose A Bicycle Helmet: Part One

A bicycle helmet is without a doubt the most important piece of safety equipment for a cyclist. It could make all the difference for someone involved in an accident, protecting the most vital part of their body.

Many helmet shoppers will just pick up the first one they see or choose the one with the lowest price. However, there are far more variables to base this decision off of. When it comes to shopping for a helmet, there is a lot to consider, like the type of riding a person will be doing. Depending on what bike a person has, they’ll likely want a suitable helmet.
Fly Racing Dirt/Park Helmet

Three Different Helmet Designs

  • Sport Bicycle Helmets: These helmets are typically on the cheaper end, giving riders a practical choice for their bike. Sport helmets are perfect for those who want a good value in a cheaper helmet. Anyone who commutes to work with their bike or simply uses it for casual rides will want to go with this option.
  • XLC Mercer HelmetRoad Bicycle Helmets: Helmets for road cyclists tend to be more advanced, giving a rider an aerodynamic option for a long commute across town or even a race. These helmets will also likely feature more ventilation and lighter-weight design when compared to other types of helmets. Typically, the more vents in a helmet, the pricier it will be. Not only will it keep a rider’s head safe in the event of a crash, but it will also keep it cool during a hot ride.
  • Smith Optics Forefront Dr Bob HelmetMountain Bike Helmets: These helmets are likely more durable than their sport and road counterparts. They often include visors and more coverage for the back of the head. Mountain biking requires a more rugged design, as there are more obstacles to deal with in the woods. These helmets might be a little heavier than, say, a road bike helmet, but they will do the job in keeping a rider safe.

Finding The Perfect Fit

Woman on Mountain BikeBuying a helmet might seem tough. You have so many styles to choose from and a number of features to consider. However, before getting any further with shopping, you’ll want to make sure you find a helmet that fits. Sure, the helmet might look cool or match your bike gear, but if it doesn’t fit you might be putting yourself in danger.

As many helmet shoppers are unaware of the various styles and types of helmets, it’s likely they are unsure how exactly a helmet should fit. This can make all the difference in the performance of helmet in the event of a crash, so it’s clearly important.

Certain helmets are one-size-fits-all, featuring products for both men and women. However, certain helmets do have sizes, so it’s important to get one that fits tightly to the head without feeling constrictive. If someone is in between sizes, it’s best that they go for one that’s smaller, as this will better protect their head than a loose-fitting helmet.

A helmet should fit comfortably and sit on top of your head. It should be a little tight once you buckle your chinstrap – however, not so tight that it’s uncomfortable.

Properly wearing a helmet is essential to it functioning properly. It will ensure you stay comfortable during a hot ride, but more importantly, will protect your head in the event of a crash. A helmet is the most essential piece of safety equipment for a bike rider, so it’s important it fits properly.

Adjusting For Safety And Comfort

Bicycle Road RaceSafety is likely the largest concern when shopping for a helmet. However, comfort is a close second. Most people will likely purchase a one-size-fits-all helmet, as they come with certain features to ensure a rider finds the perfect fit.

Helmets typically come with a strap on the inside, along with a chin strap, in order to get the right fit. It’s important riders know how a helmet should be worn in order to make sure they are adjusting it correctly. A helmet should be level with the ground when it is on top of a rider’s head and should be just above their eyebrows. Any tilting forward or backward means the helmet likely is too loose and needs to be adjusted.

If a helmet is loose on top of a rider’s head, that problem should be corrected immediately. A helmet needs to be tight to a rider’s head – while still comfortable – so if they are in a crash, it protects them. Otherwise, a helmet could slide to the improper position and a rider could end up hitting their head, instead of the helmet taking the brunt of the impact.

Every helmet will be different, although most are designed to fit riders of all sizes. However, where they tend to vary is in their appearance and how many ventilation holes they have. Typically, the more holes, the lighter and more expensive a helmet will be. This ensures a rider stays cool, as the ventilation holes helps a rider get plenty of fresh air.

Continue to Part Two

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  1. "A bicycle helmet is without a doubt the most important piece of safety equipment for a cyclist." – RUBBISH! In Work Place Health & Safety, PPE is the last and least effective method of injury protection. The real improvements in safety come with avoiding crashes in the first place. Pay more attention to the road and other people around you. Get a rear view mirror so you always know exactly where cars are coming behind you and if you can or can't swerve around that broken glass etc without getting rear ended.
    Read the USA Bicycling magazine article "Senseless" that details how helmet design is not as good as it's "cracked up" to be.
    Helmets lead to "Risk Compensation" and ski helmet & crash data show increases crashes with increased ski helmet use People I know are too scared to ride down a mountain hill fast without a helmet but really if they crashed over the edge the helmet would not save them anyway. They would be safer if they rode down without the helmet and were more cautious.
    Helmet straps have broken necks & hung children in the house or on play equipment.
    Helmets reduce your ability to roll with the fall. Being able to tuck and roll easily reduces the impact on the brain. Because helmets effectively make your head bigger you are far more likely to hit it more often & harder with a helmet on. And more likely to cause neck injury.
    Helmets may reduce the severity of some head injury, reduce grazing and bruising but they won't "save your life" nearly as often as people believe, While in Melbourne, Australia where we have stupid helmet laws for all ages, Boris Johnston commented that in London bicycle deaths, helmets would have made no difference in 90% of deaths. In Australia helmet laws only lead to a 30-40% reduction in cyclist numbers that year but the death rate & brain damage didn't decrease that much.
    I've found gloves to be far more important as they allow me to land on the road, take more impact on my hands and slide without hitting my head at all.
    Get a rear view mirror & good gloves instead of a helmet. Don't rely on motorist seeing & avoiding you and hence reduce your chances of getting hit in the first place.
    People are put off cycling by safety concerns and the push for helmets make those fears seem more real than they actually are. Bicycle companies will sell more bikes & other gear if they DON'T promote helmets.

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