How To Choose The Right Helmet For Your Ride?
The statistics underscores the importance of wearing the right cycling helmet regardless of the distance, duration and type of riding you want. Every year, approximately 2% of crash deaths among motor vehicles are cyclists – and in majority of these deaths, the head suffered the most serious injuries.
Safety experts urge the use of helmets among all cyclists regardless of age, skills level, and gender. This is because helmet use can reduce the risks of head injuries by as much as 50% and by 33% for neck or face injuries. Even in states where helmet use among cyclists aren’t in place yet, you should always wear one since head protection is better than no protection.
The Right Helmet for Your Ride
According to existing laws, all helmets sold in the United States must meet the safety standards implemented by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). You can ask the sales associate about the CPSC certification of the helmets, conduct basic research about it via consumer boards, and check the helmets’ label.
When you’re satisfied that the helmets being considered passed the safety standards, you can decide based on their features, design and price. You must spend time, energy and effort in considering the pros and cons of each helmet. Your limbs, even your life, may well depend on its durability and functionality.
Here are a few tips when choosing from among dozens of cycling helmets:
Consider the Type
You will find three basic helmet types although all of them are designed for protection against impact for your head. First, the recreational helmets are the affordable option for commuter, road and mountain bikers whose biking habits are within the recreational enjoyment aspect.
Second, the road bike helmets are characterized by their light weight, aerodynamic design, and adequate ventilation. These are preferred by road bikers because these provide unobstructed view of the road even when in a crouched position (i.e., aggressive riding).
Third, the mountain bike helmets are designed for rough riding conditions. These have rear head coverage and front visors for better protection, as well as a secure fit and generous ventilation.
You have to consider which of these types will suit your current riding needs. You may, for example, choose a road bike helmet on your road biking trips and a mountain bike helmet with full face protection for downhill cycling.
You should avoid using a recreational helmet for rough terrain riding since it will not provide as much protection as another helmet type.
Check the Construction
You must check the helmet from top to bottom and from its shell to its liner before buying it. Beware of helmets with cracks, dents and scratches, as well as apparently missing parts. You’re checking for the durability, functionality and integrity of the helmet since these are the most important aspects of its construction.
Most contemporary helmets have in-mold construction, which means the outer shell and inner liner are fused without using adhesives (e.g., glues). These helmets are light in weight yet strong and sturdy, a must for competitive racers and frequent riders.
Check these two main parts for quality construction:
- The outer shell should be made of a durable plastic material able to withstand mild to moderate impact. This is also designed to provide puncture resistance and slide on impact for better protection for your head and neck.
- The inner liner is typically made of expanded polystyrene foam. This is designed to dissipate the force of the impact resulting in less risk of injury to your head – or at least, provide as much protection as possible.
Modern helmets are also designed with Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) technology. This is a method of helmet construction providing more protection for the rider in the event of a crash, particularly against rotational forces.
Helmets with MIPS technology feature a low friction layer, which allows for the slight rotation of the impact-absorbing foam liner around your head during a crash. While it only moves for just a few millimeters, it can lessen the amount of rotational forces transferred from the ground to your head.
While the debate about the value of MIPS technology continues, you may want to buy an MIPS-equipped helmet. You will need the extra protection especially when you prefer rough and tough rides.
Consider the Other Features
You have to consider the other features of the helmets since these are just as important as the type and construction.
- Ventilation: which will contribute to your cool and comfortable feeling in the head as well as enhance wind-flow over it. Your helmet will be lighter, too, when it has more ventilation holes.
- Visor: which will shield your face from the sun’s rays but will add to the weight and wind resistance, albeit slightly.
- Straps: which should be easy to buckle and unbuckle aside from being comfortable.
When you have considered these safety factors, you can take a look at the style including the color scheme and accessories.
Choose the Right Size
Biking helmets come in several sizes from extra-small to extra-large as well as one-size-fits-all for men, women, and kids. You can ask the sales associate about getting the right size for your head when you have chosen your preferred helmet.
In finding your size, especially when you’re buying online:
- Wrap a flexible tape measure around your head’s largest part, approximately 1 inch above your eyebrows. As an alternative, measure using ribbon and measure its length with a ruler.
- Ask for a helmet size that corresponds to your measurement.
For example, your helmet will be a medium-sized one if your head measurement is between 21.75 and 23.35 inches. If you’re between sizes, you can either order the smaller size or get the larger size but wear a cycling underneath it to improve its fit.
Your helmet should have a snug fit without being too tight. You can check the fit by:
- Placing it on your head. It should sit level on your head with a 1-inch clearance above your eyebrows.
- Move your head from back to front and side to side. You may have to adjust it in case it moves an inch or more.
You can also adjust the size with these steps:
- Expand the sizing wheels.
- Place the helmet on your head.
- Reach behind your head to tighten the sizing wheel until you have a snug fit.
- Buckle the chinstrap, tighten and adjust it, and determine your comfort level.
- Open your mouth wide when the chinstrap has been buckled. The helmet’s inner lining should press against the top of your head in the process.
- Adjust, as needed.
Once you’ve found the right helmet, make sure to wear it every time you go out to ride your bike! You just cannot take chances when concussions are common among cyclists involved in accidents.