Cycling - Knowledge

Cycling Gear: Bicycle Helmet - How to Choose the One for You?

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Well! If you have a passion for cycling, you must take proper safety measures and the most important among them is to wear a helmet. It safeguards your head, face, and neck if you fall off the bike. But from the plethora of choices in brands, shapes, sizes and specific use cases how do you decide which bicycle helmet is the most suitable for your needs? Take our advice and after going through the requirements for a good helmet, you will find the one most suited to you.

Here are some helpful tips for choosing the most appropriate bicycle helmet for your needs.

how to choose a perfect bicycle helmet
Helmets Form An Important Part of Your Biking (source)

Safety

No matter how good you are at cycling, safety is always required and is a prime concern. Whether it is your first long distance bicycle ride or a short one, safety cannot be comprised at any cost!

For ideas about long rides, read our article How to Plan Your First Long Distance Bicycle Ride.

A bike helmet is more than an accessory, choose a bike helmet that offers proper ventilation, follows legal safety standards, is tough and provides a comfortable fit.

Standards

You should always choose a bicycle helmet with a standard sticker inside it.

Bike Helmet Standard
Bicycle Helmet Standard (source)

In the US, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an organization to set legal standards for a helmet. Moreover, by law, only helmets that follow CPSC standards are allowed to be sold in the US Market.

Helmet Features

Visor: A visor in your helmet protects you from sunlight to provide clear vision.

Ventilation: A bike helmet mostly comes with multiple vents to create proper airflow so that the rider’s head does not heat up inside.

Bicycle helmet with a visor and strap
Features of a Good Helmet (source)

Full-face protection: Prefer a full face helmet if you are a mountain bike rider. It provides a chin bar to protect your entire face.

Straps: The straps of the helmet should not be too tight or too loose and should be easy to fasten and release.

Hair Port: Helmets with a hair port are especially recommended when you have long hairs. It provides a space for ponytails.

Helmet Size

Bike helmets come in various sizes such as small, medium, large or extended. Search for a helmet that fits your head.

How to measure the size?

Check out the steps below and the provide this reading to your seller and get the appropriate helmet.

how to measure your head for ideal bike helmet size
How Measure Bike Size (source)

General Sizing Parameters Chart

For kids, prefer sizes from category XXS, XS, and S.

the chart and parameters for a bicycle helmet
Bike Helmet Size Chart

Ensure That Your Bicycle Helmet Fits

Helmet construction material, size and the correct way to wear are the most important factors to ensure that the helmet fits.

The Correct Way to Wear

The helmet should snug on your head but should not be so tight that you suffocate. Do not tilt the helmet back and expose your head to give a cowboy look. The front edge should be at least an inch above your eyebrows so that your whole head is shielded. Tighten the ring on the back side of the helmet so that it does not wobble. Moreover, straps of the helmet should come below the earlobe such that the straps form a “V” shape.

how to correctly wear a bicycle helmet
Are You Wearing Your Bike Helmet Correctly? (source)

Next, adjust them around both ears and finally connect the chin strap and buckle it such that you are able to open your mouth to take in energy bars or refreshment drinks or put a finger between your chin and the strap.

Adjusting a Bike Helmet

A good-fitting helmet should fit snugly but not uncomfortably tight. It should sit levelly on your head, and not tilted back, with the front edge one inch (or less) above your eyebrows so that your forehead is protected. To check the proper seating of the helmet, push from side to side and back to front. If it shifts noticeably (1 in. or more), you need to adjust the fit.

Tightening helmets
Adjust the Fitting with the Sizing Wheel (source)

To adjust the helmet fit, first, expand the sizing wheel before you place a helmet on your head. Almost all helmets have a sizing wheel on the back of the helmet's internal sizing ring. Once the helmet is in place, reach behind your head and tighten the ring (usually by twisting a wheel) until you get a snug fit.

Next, buckle and tighten the chinstrap. The straps should form a "V" as they rest under each ear. Adjust the straps around both ears until you have a comfortable fit.

Tightening of chinstrap of a bike helmet
Tighten the Chinstrap Appropriately (source)

Finally, with the chinstrap buckled, open your mouth wide. The helmet should press against the top of your head as you do so. If not, tighten further and repeat. Just don't overtighten the strap until it's uncomfortable.

Helmet Construction

Mainly there are three construction methods – In-mold, ABS, and Softshell.

The most preferable among them is in-mold construction in which a helmet uses Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam and is covered with a thin plastic shell. Both are molded together during the manufacturing process instead of using glue to bind them. They are lightweight, have a proper ventilation system, and slide during a crash to protect your head.

MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) Technology based helmets provide low friction layer which protects your head from a rotational and disastrous crash.

MIPS technology bike helmet
Interiors of a Bicyle Helmet (source)

Choose the Type According to Purpose

There are mainly three types of bicycle helmets: Recreational/General, Road bike, and Mountain bike helmets.

Which is the best helmet type for you? Choose the type according to the kind of biker you are.

Recreational/General Helmets

Recreational helmets are the most basic ones used by commuters. They are affordable and provide protection for normal riding but they are heavier than road helmets.

Road Bike Helmets

These are lightweight, provide proper ventilation, and follow an aerodynamic design, which keeps your head safe, visor that protects your eyes, and reduced air resistance while you are racing. These are suitable gear, mainly for road bikers.

road bike helmet
Source

Mountain Bike Helmets

These are used by bikers mostly in mountainous areas, where they cannot increase their speed. These are designed to provide ventilation even at low speeds. Various kinds of mountain bike helmets are available in the market based on your mountain biking style. Typically, they provide improved rear-head safety and thick straps to protect you from bumpy rides on terrain areas. Some of them provide full face protection too.

Mountain Bike Helmet
Mountain Bike Helmet (source)

Aero Helmets

These helmets prioritize aerodynamics above all other factors, and are usually are not as well ventilated. Serious racers should go for an aerodynamic helmet, especially the cyclocross racer. Since the aero helmets are sparsely ventilated, hence they help to keep riders dry and warmer in winter cycling. A few also come with an integrated eye shield like the Bontrager Ballista. Plus, the drag reduction in the 2-3watt range (at 30mph) can be quite advantageous for a world tour level racer.

aero helmets
Aero Helmets (source)

Now, an aero helmet should not be your only lid. Keep a good, well-ventilated bike helmets for other cycling times.

Semi Aero

Get the best of the both worlds- ventilation and aerodynamic advantage with semi-aero bike helmets. An updated version of aero helmets, the semi aero helmets aim to provide some of the benefits while maintaining considerable ventilation. Buy a semi-aero helmet if you race and only want one helmet, or you just like the idea of saving a few watts and having a cool head.

Helmet manufacturers have realized the limiting nature of full aero helmets, and the result is semi aero helmets that offer better aerodynamics than a traditional helmet, but have enough ventilation to make them tolerable on a hot day. Examples include the Giro Synthe and the Kask Protone.

Time Trial Helmets

Time trial helmets are designed for time-sensitive racing. Their core purpose is to provide aerodynamic benefits as well as protection while you race against the clock.

Time Trial Helmets
Time Trial Helmets (source)

BMX

The BMX helmets come in two main designs: Full face and open face. Full face helmets offer protection to meet the demands of BMX racing. Open face (skate style) helmets are more commonly used for flatland riding and dirt jumping.

BMX helmets
BMX Helmet (source)

Leisure

These range of helmets are available for those of you who wish to have a great looking bike helmet, but without features like the ultra-light, extremely vented and race pedigree, etc.

Leisure Helmet
Leisure Helmet (source)

Helmet Color

Ah! Here color does not mean your favorite color.

You should choose the helmet which makes you more visible, preferably contrasting colors and avoid matching the helmet color with your bike clothes so that you are visible to a car driver and hence, avoid chances of accidents.

How to Buy

When you go to buy a helmet, there are a lot of options available in the market with or without MIPS. Definitely, safety is more important than any other factor but you cannot simply ignore the cost. You do not need to buy the most expensive and fancy helmet but the one which provides proper safety and is lightweight and comfortable. Consider all the above-mentioned factors to buy a helmet, be it safety, standard, construction, fit, type, size, or color.

Definitely, a bicycle helmet is the most important gear for your safety but there are various common cycling injuries you should be aware of.

Learn more about the Ways to Prevent Common Cycling Injuries!

We hope you use these helpful tips for the next time you go shopping for bicycle helmets.Share any tips you have about choosing bicycle helmets in the comments below!

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