No one wants to wear a helmet, but for those who choose to, there are some important considerations when buying for yourself or your children.
Helmets which adhere to the European safety standard EN 1078 (1080 for children) are all as safe as each other, regardless of the cost. You pay more for comfort, aerodynamics, ventilation, weight, design, and brand. There is, however, a new technology called Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) which “helps to reduce rotational forces on the brain caused by angled impacts to the head." Find out more here.
Helmets are not designed to protect you from the impact of a motorised vehicle. If they were, they would look like motorcycle helmets: not at all practical for cycling. They are designed to protect you from an impact velocity of no greater than 12mph. This is why children, who do not ride on the roads, are likely to get the greatest benefit from wearing a helmet; any impact they receive is likely to be less than 12mph.
Which size? Use a tape measure to measure around the widest part of your head – about an inch above your eyebrows. Take a measurement in centimeters a few times to ensure accuracy.
Next step: try on some helmets! Most helmets have an adjustable dial on the back, which you should twist clockwise until it is snug. The helmet should stay on your head when you look at your feet (without doing up the chin strap).
The adjustment of the helmet is crucial. If incorrectly adjusted, a helmet will not give the full amount of protection it is capable of. Here is the advice given by the Snell Memorial Foundation:
“Position the helmet on your head so that it sits low on your forehead; if you can’t see the edge of the brim at the extreme upper range of your vision, the helmet is probably out of place. Adjust the chinstraps so that, when buckled, they hold the helmet firmly in place. This positioning and adjusting should be repeated to obtain the very best result possible. The procedure initially may be time consuming. Take the time.
Try to remove the helmet without undoing the chin strap. If the helmet comes off [very easily] or shifts over your eyes, readjust and try again. If no adjustment seems to work, this helmet is not for you; try another.”
When to replace
Examine the helmet regularly for cracks. If there is a crack, even a hairline, replace the helmet.
- If a helmet is dropped onto a hard surface, it needs to be replaced, regardless of whether there is a visible crack.
- Most manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet after five years or less.
- We sell Bontrager helmets which have a crash replacement guarantee: the first year after purchase you will get a free replacement if you have been involved in a crash.
- Helmets have to work in a variety of climatic conditions but ultraviolet light, rain, and heat will damage a helmet over time.
Final things to consider when buying a helmet
How much ventilation will you need? A child sitting in a child seat on the back of an adult’s bike will need less than a road racer!
Our Bern helmets are designed for snow sports as well as cycling so you can take them on the slopes as well.