Helmet Buying Guide
If you are going out for a long ride, hitting some trails or even scooting about town, it is essential that you wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. Children especially should wear a proper fitting helmet that has been sized for their heads and fastened properly.
Modern helmets have great technology which can greatly reduce the seriousness of an injury if worn properly. Head injury’s account for the majority of serious injuries in bicycle accidents so there is no better reason to wear one and no excuse not to wear one...!
Different riding typically calls for different helmets or ones that cover a couple of bases. Have a read through our guide and see which one or ones are best for you…!
Types of Helmets
There are many types of helmets available on the market from general road and commuting purpose to downhill and BMX shenanigans…! They all serve the same purpose which is to help reduce injury in the event of an accident or collision.
All disciplines have a range of helmets available often made with different materials and inners which offer different levels of protection.
Road helmets are typically of an elongated shape and made of a lightweight construction often EPS foam coated in a plastic shell with large air vents and fit neatly on the head, these lightweight helmets are perfect for hard road riding, offering adequate protection while keeping the cyclist cool.
“The Commuter”, a term coined by Bell Helmets in 2004 when they introduced their Metro model. Commuter helmets tend to be a rounder shape and usually cover more of the head compared to road helmets. They often come with accessories such as lights, mirrors, camera mounts and ear flaps and are designed to increase safety and aid cycling in the town and cities while commuting.
MTB helmets have a similar elongated shape as road helmets but are generally made with a heavier construction than a road helmet and usually with a detachable, adjustable, or fixed sun visor. They typically have fewer vents than road helmets and tend to cover more of the head especially the back. MTB helmets are often designed to be used with glasses or googles for increased eye protection and may have camera mounts on top.
Trail helmets are similar to Enduro/DH helmets in style, tending to cover more of the head at the back and often the ears but with an open face design. Due to ever advancing bike design and suspension, riders are tackling technical trails at higher speeds. New style helmets have evolved in line with this and now incorporate advanced materials and safety systems.
Enduro/Downhill helmets are designed for cranking up hill and coming down as fast as possible…! These helmets can be open face, full face or full face with a detachable chin bar. They come in a range of materials and incorporate advanced safety features with the aim of reducing the risk of injury in the event of a crash or collision. There are many designs available on the market and finding one which suits your riding style and conditions is essential.
Safety Features and Materials
EPS Foam: EPS or Expanded Polystyrene is one of the most widespread foams used in society, from coffee cups to packaging material…! The version of EPS foam used in helmets is several grades higher than that used for cups or packaging material and with the addition of resins, nylon, carbon fibre and other plastics it has allowed engineers to push the boundaries on helmet design while still meeting stringent impact testing requirements. EPS has ideal crush characteristics with no bounce back which would make the impact more severe. Once damaged or crushed the helmet should be replaced immediately.
Koroyd: This is a material made by welding tubes together to create a honeycomb style material that crumples instantly on impact. This unique behavior helps to protect the head from direct and angled impact and may reduce the seriousness of an injury. The honeycomb construction means the helmet is light and has good cooling capabilities.
MIPS: This is a special liner used in the inside of the helmet which has been designed to reduce the rotational forces to the head when falling at an angle. MIPS or Multi Impact Protection System has been tested over 40,000 times and is used in a multitude of sporting activities not just cycling…! The main function of MIPS is to reduce rotational forces on the head and spine by allowing a 10 – 15mm movement on impact between the liner and the helmet which may reduce concussions and other brain injuries on impact.
Summary: There is a huge choice of helmets on the market with various designs, colours and functions to choose from. Finding the right one will depend on the bike and terrain you ride. You may require more than one helmet depending on how many cycling disciplines you participate in. Consider the weight of the helmets you are looking at, functions, adjustability, ventilation and safety features and find the one that ticks all the boxes. The most expensive is not necessarily the best and it's most important that the helmet fits well, is comfortable to wear and has a credible certification if possible.