Buyers' Guide: Buying Your First Helmet
June 29th, 2017
June 29th, 2017
John T Lyons grew up riding the canyons of San Diego on his single speed Huffy. After a stint working for Shelby American in automotive and then in the Aerospace industry, JT started Moment Bicycles. He developed a "better way to buy a bike" using his engineering problem-solving skills. Learn more at momentbicycles.com
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Most brands have different types of bike helmets in the market today. Their helmets come in different shapes, sizes, features, and cost. This makes it daunting for a shopper to make up their mind. There’s no cause for worry, though, John Lyons of Moment Cycles has prepared a comprehensive guide to choosing the right bike helmet to help you in your search for a suitable choice.
What should you consider?
Although all helmets are designed with one goal of protecting your head, your application matters when choosing one. Bike helmets fall under three categories:
- Recreational helmets: these are suitable for leisure and commute riding. They come with visors for protecting your eyes from sun glare.
- Road bike helmets: these helmets feature aerodynamic design, are lightweight and well-ventilated. To lower the weight of road bike helmets, manufacturers do away with visors. This also ensures that you have a clear view even when caught up in a tricky riding position. They may cost more than recreational helmets.
- Mountain bike helmets: these work best in rough terrains. They feature visors, have full head covers (including rear head coverage and full-face protection), and large ventilations. They are also firm and offer a secure fit. They can be used by mountain bikers, cyclocross and park riders.
In most cases, construction of a helmet involves combining an outer shell and inner padding without using glue. This creates a strong helmet that is lightweight. For racers and regular riders, a lightweight helmet is of great importance.
- Outer Shell: Many cycling helmets use plastic outer shells to keep the helmet together during a crash. A good choice should be puncture-resistant and able to slide under impact to ensure the safety of your head and neck.
- Padding: bike helmet padding makes it more comfortable. Good padding uses expanded polystyrene foam material that can spread the force during an impact so that your head remains protected. Choose one that fits you properly. Also, make sure that the padding is removable and washable because it accumulates lots of sweat. Usually, Velcro holds the padding in place making it easy to remove whenever the need arises.
It’s noteworthy that some modern helmet designs include a low-friction layer that causes the padding to rotate gently around the head in the case of impact. This lowers the intensity of rotational force being transferred to your brain thus minimizing injuries.
- Aerodynamics: air vents in a helmet improve airflow over your head while riding. This helps to keep you comfortable. However, they can interfere with your velocity. Luckily, some manufacturers have come up with a solution that guarantees aerodynamic design benefits while ensuring proper ventilation. For instance, we have bike helmets designed in such a way that they have large vents in the front and rear and a smooth top section.
- Straps: check that the chinstrap is not too thin to interfere with your comfort. They should fit properly such that you can open and close your mouth without much pressure below your chin. Also, the strap should be simple to buckle and unbuckle.
- Retention System: this determines how well your helmet stays in place while riding. Find out whether it is possible to adjust the retention system even when you’re on the move. Some systems give room for height adjustment while others have a hair port so as to accommodate cyclists with long hair.
If you want to a suitable helmet, you might have to visit the shop physically so you can test different makes and brands. Helmets come in various shapes and sizes depending on the manufacturer. They can be oval or spherical in shape and available in small, extra small, medium, large and extra large sizes. There can also be a one size fits all for kids, or for women and for men. Though they have the dimensions indicated, you may not get a clear idea of how it feels on your head by looking at the sizes. This is why you need to fit it before purchasing. Make sure that when you wear a helmet, it fits correctly. Your head should compress the foam inside partially even before you have tightened the straps. Also, ensure that there are no pressure points on the edges of the helmet.
Bike helmets that put a lot of emphasis on aerodynamics and lightweight aspects may cost a lot. However, you don’t need to rob a bank to buy a quality one. For less than £50, you can win yourself an excellent helmet that's safe and comfortable. Besides, put into consideration that you'll have to incur the cost of replacing a helmet after every five years or soon after a crash.
Your experience, age, and the bike type don't matter- a bike helmet is an essential accessory that should not be missing in your cycling gear. Have in mind that most fatal bike injuries occur to the head. Fortunately, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety asserts that a bicycle helmet can reduce head injuries by as much as 50 percent.