Helmets are of utmost importance while riding a bicycle. There have been several instances in my 12 odd years of riding a bicycle where
A styrofoam cap on my head has prevented my untimely demise or permanent brain injury.
It's simple, Helmets save lives, and therefore should not just be worn, but worn PROPERLY.
Before Buying a New Helmet
Check for Fit by loosening the adjustable ratchet all the way
And placing the helmet on your head.
Try to slide one finger between your eyebrow and the helmet.
If your finger just fits, the helmet is the right size. If it wiggles about, you'll need to go for a smaller-sized helmet.
Wearing the Helmet Correctly
Ensure there’s a 2 finger width between your eyebrows and the helmet.
Ensure the V-strap is just below the ears
Ensure the chin strap is tightened so that you can just about squeeze 2 fingers under the strap.
The aforementioned makes sure that your helmet will stay in place if the worst happens and do what it’s intended to do, i.e. Protect your precious brain.
Left: WRONG Right: CORRECT
If you're still uncomfortable, check your helmet's retention system as most of them will provide varying adjustments based on your personal needs.
You can see the retention is much lower on the left and much more "inside the helmet" on the right. This MET Rivale provides 15mm of adjustability.
How Often Should I Replace my helmet? Although manufacturers recommend replacing a helmet every two years, this is vastly varied on the storage conditions, handling, exposure, care and knocks that the helmet sees over it's life. You don't need the helmet to be smashed to pieces before needing to replace it. Large cracks are normally caused by impacts. They indicate that the foam beneath has been partially crushed to save your brain.
The second type of crack is the small single crack or multiple cracks that can develop in the shell without major impact damage. Sometimes minor impacts that are not really destructive to the helmet can cause a small, sharp deformation to the outer shell of a helmet, resulting in tiny hairline cracks which can go unnoticed.
Temperature cycling and long hours of exposure to the sun also will diminish the life of a helmet.
Regular and careful inspection is highly recommended for a helmet of any price point.
Which Helmet is right for you? Just like bicycles, Helmets also are designed for specific purposes. Once you understand which size is best for you, You'll need to ask yourself
what kind of cycling will you be doing? Road Bike Helmets
These are lightweight and provide maximum protection whilst minimizing weight. Aerodynamics,
ventilation properties and comfort over prolonged periods of use are what make a good road bike helmet.
Another important feature to look out for is easy sunglass storage in the helmet's design as it's super important.
Mountain Bike Helmets
These are not the lightest, but are overbuilt around the ears and occipital area (just above your neck where your skull connects to your spine as mountain bike crashes are different from the kind you experience on a road.
They also have a massive Visor in the front to help with visibility in poor weather conditions and also acts as a sun shield. Aerodynamics are not a big part of mountain biking and therefore it's okay to have a visor.
Commuter Helmets Commuter helmets are hybrid helmets between road and mountain helmets.
They may or may not have a visor but usually look better than any other helmets when paired with casual commuter wear. Other Helmets
There are many more Purpose specific helmets available such as Aero helmets for time trials,
Full Face helmets for Freeride and Downhill mountain biking and so on.
How do I ensure my helmet is safe?
ensure that your helmet bears a sticker of certification inside
bearing the figures EN 1078 (or EN 1078:2012+A1:2012) EN 1078 specifies requirements and mandatory test methods for cycling helmet manufacturers. (skateboard and roller skate helmets are included in the same umbrella as well). It covers helmet construction including the field of vision, shock-absorbing properties, retention system properties including chin strap and fastening devices, as well as marking and information.
The standard's key features are:
Test anvils: Flat and kerbstone
Drop apparatus: Guided free fall
Impact velocity, energy, or drop height flat anvil: 5.42–5.52 m/s
Impact energy criteria: < 250g
Roll-off test: Yes
Retention system strength: Force applied dynamically. Helmet supported on headform.
What does all this mean? It means that the helmet you are about to purchase has passed the strict quality assessment tests and surpassed international safety standards, hence,
if the worst does happen, the helmet will do what it is intended to do.
What is MIPS?
MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, which is a leading slip-plane technology inside the helmet designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts. MIPS uses a slip-plane system that moves inside the helmet, mimicking the brain's own protection system and adding an additional layer of protection from sliding impacts, which are most common on bicycle-related head injuries.
Some helmets like the Giro Aether have two separate shells which move creating a slip plane between two halves of the helmet.