Pedal a bike to work? Hop on your bike for exercise? Whatever the reason, buying a helmet is a no-brainer. Bike helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by 85% in adults and 97% in children.
They also provide protection from neck injury and face injury. Purchasing a helmet may seem like an easy task, but with so many options available it can be hard to know what you’re looking for. So here are some tips on how to choose the perfect one for you.
Consider Your Needs
The most important factor to consider when buying a bike helmet is the specific needs you will have when riding. When buying a helmet, there are three main types of helmets you should consider. These are multi-use helmets, full face helmets and bike specific helmets.
Multi-use helmets are the most versatile and most popular choice for cyclists. They are typically worn while cycling in both the urban and rural areas. What they do best is offer full coverage on the head and eye sockets. Multi-use helmets can be adjusted to fit different head shapes, so you are sure to find one that fits you perfectly.
Full face helmets are the most protective option. They protect the head by including a full coverage on the front and back. Full face helmets are usually white and form a shell over the head.
Know Your Helmet Standards
The CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) regulates bicycle helmets in the United States. These standards stipulate a certain level of protection and safety. There are four standards to adhere to:
For children Full-face helmets with a minimum horizontal to chest/neck ratio of 5:1 or 5:2 are the safest choice, offering more protection than half-face helmets Half-face helmets with a minimum horizontal to chin ratio of 6:1 or 6:2 are the safest choice, offering more protection than full-face helmets.
Banzai and combat-ready helmets (this category includes the popular Klim brand) are actually allowed to meet the CPSC standards for adult helmets with a minimum chest to neck ratio of 6:1.
Make Sure It Fits Correctly
The most important thing to remember when choosing a bike helmet is that you should choose the helmet that’s going to fit you properly. Often, helmet companies will market their helmets as being fit for most riders. But, if it doesn’t fit you properly, you’re not going to be comfortable using it for cycling.
Make sure that your helmet fits the way it’s supposed to – so don’t worry about finding one that fits like a glove. Some tips to ensure that your helmet fits properly include buying a helmet that’s cut on the smaller size (it will take some practice before you get it right, but trust us, you’ll get it right sooner than you think).
Also, don’t forget that your helmet has to fit snugly around your head, otherwise it will restrict airflow around your ears.
Consider the style of helmet
Pick a helmet that’s stylish and comfortable. If you want a protective helmet, but you also want to make a fashion statement, consider a visor-style helmet or one that can be clipped on to a bicycle or helmet with a strap.
The number of air vents should be taken into consideration too. Too few vents (with few moving parts) and the helmet will stay inflated, which means it won’t offer enough protection. Too many vents and your head will be hot, uncomfortable and sweaty.
Select a helmet that is rated for your weight and riding style. Just because you’re a big guy doesn’t mean you should buy a ridiculously huge helmet.
Consider the color of helmet
Bike helmets are often made in a variety of colors, from grey and black to pink and orange. Choosing a helmet that matches your outfit makes it much easier to spot you in a crowd and there’s also some scientific evidence that you may be more likely to wear a helmet if you’re wearing the same color you are.
Some helmets can be very expensive. Before buying, try to work out how much you can really afford to spend, and what your daily commute is going to cost in terms of a cost of commuting.
Bike helmets come in two main styles: ‘hard’ and ‘soft.’ Hard helmets are harder and stiffer than soft helmets. They are the helmet of choice if you’re looking to protect your head from crashes and sudden changes of direction.
Decide Between a Full-Face or Open Face Helmet
While the majority of helmets sold in stores are full-face helmets, some cyclists prefer an open-face helmet, which leaves their face exposed. An open-face helmet protects your eyes from debris and grit and offers a little more protection.
This is especially useful for riders who ride in urban areas, where debris and sand can get onto the road surface. When you’re shopping for a helmet, you should choose between a full-face or an open-face helmet. .
Is your head shape oval, round, or heart-shaped?
It’s an old rule of thumb that a round helmet fits round heads best. But as most cycle helmets are supposed to fit more loosely than helmets worn on skis and skateboards, it is actually a good idea to try them on before you buy.
Most helmets offer a two-stage fit – first adjust the straps then check the overall fit. A well-fitting helmet should not feel tight or restrictive.
Plastic vs. composite or metal: Conventional bike helmets are typically made from plastic, but lately many new designs are coming in with both composite and metal inlays. You don’t need to worry about the inlays compromising your head protection if you do not intend to take your helmet off when you’re at the pub, although they may make you look cool.
Do you have a long face?
Heads come in a variety of shapes and sizes. However, a significant percentage of people choose to wear their helmets the wrong way round. If you have a long face you will want to purchase your helmet from the back of your head, like the picture below. This way the helmet stays in place when you’re climbing on and off your bike.
The colour of your bike is another important factor when it comes to choosing the right helmet. The darker the colour of the bicycle you’re riding, the less likely you are to be seen by others in your surroundings. Similarly, the lighter the colour, the more likely you are to be seen. For most, buying a red or yellow helmet is best; it makes you a beacon.
Choose What’s Best for You
When buying a bike helmet, you’ll usually find one that includes eyewear protection. This is great for those that wear contact lenses, or those that also wear glasses. Many bicycle helmets come with one pair of in-line anti-fog lenses, in addition to the helmet itself.
Some also come with a second pair. However, if you wear glasses, you might also want to look at some options that have prescription lenses, or ones that come in different-sized lenses.
Let’s say you wear contact lenses. The most common anti-fog lenses are made with polycarbonate. These lenses are relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of colors. Some anti-fog lenses even come with colored polycarbonate lenses.
According to the CPSC, you can take up to two years off a helmet’s life by being rough with it. Shredded helmets are not really suitable for the job. The main thing is to try and treat it gently. A good way of doing this is to put a plastic bag on it or tie it to the handle bars.
Not all bike helmets are created equal. If you want a breathable helmet that will actually provide some protection from rain, opt for a clip on style instead. This type of helmet may feel a bit more risky for a novice rider.