How to Choose a Bike Helmet
If you're reading articles about helmets, then there's no need to emphasize the importance of wear a helmet. Helmets simply make sense whenever and wherever you ride. All helmets in the U.S. must meet the same safety standard for impact protection. But there're more things to consider if you'd like to choose a perfect helmet for yourself.
First of all, make sure the helmet fits your head properly.
Good fitting is vital. An ill-fitting helmet not only affects your biking experience but also compromises protection effectiveness in accidents. To find the right size, measuring your head circumference because the helmet size guide is based on it. And don't forget to adjust the chin strap, tighten it as possible but allows you to open your mouth wide without uncomfortable.
Additional Fit Tips
- Brands use different helmet molds, similar to shoes, so try helmets at a local store to check if the brand fits your head well.
- Be careful with its position. The helmet should sit level on your head (not tilted back) with the front edge one inch or less above your eyebrows to protect your forehead.
Second, consider the specialized features you need.
The protective part of a helmet consists of an outer shell and inner liner that are integrated together:
- The plastic shell provides some puncture resistance and allows the helmet to slide on impact (to protect your head and neck).
- The liner is made of expanded polystyrene foam (essentially high-grade styrofoam); it protects your head by slowing it down and by dissipating impact forces.
We now know that rotational forces can also cause brain injury, even if the damage is less obvious. If you’re a frequent bike rider, or simply want greater peace of mind, you may decide that the additional cost of the following specialized technologies may be worth considering:
- Mips: Multi-directional Impact Protection System (Mips) technology, found on helmets from many brands, features a low-friction layer that redirects rotational effects by allowing the impact-absorbing foam liner to rotate slightly during an impact.
- WaveCel: Found on some Bontrager helmets, this technology features a honeycombed liner material that is engineered to create a sophisticated “crumple zone” that absorbs both primary impact forces and rotational energy from an impact.
- SPIN: Found on POC helmets, SPIN (Shearing Pads Inside) technology features silicone-injected pads in a structure that moves inside the shell to redirect rotational forces during an impact.
Other features of helmets:
- Ventilation: Helmet vents enhance wind flow over your head, keeping you cooler and more comfortable as you ride. The more vents you have, the lighter the helmet, too.
- Visor: Many riders like having a sun-shielding visor—they’re common on mountain bike helmets.
- Full face protection: Some mountain bike helmets have a wraparound chin bar to provide face protection for downhill mountain biking or racing.
- Mount compatibility: Some helmets are designed to let you snap in a mount that holds an action camera or a light (sold separately).
Last but not least, matches your riding style.
Helmet categories simplify the selection process by steering you toward options more suited to your needs (but a road helmet can be worn on a dirt trail and a mountain bike helmet can still be worn on the road). Bike helmets fall within three basic types:
- Recreational bike helmets are an economical choice and will provide basic impact protection for casual riding.
- Road bike helmets are designed to be lightweight, well ventilated, and aerodynamic.
- Mountain bike helmets are well ventilated, and most styles offer extended rear head coverage because a mountain biker is more likely to fall backward than a road rider.