Bike to Work Week Tips: Helmets

Riding a bicycle on public roads should not be viewed as a dangerous proposition any more than driving a car would be. And when driving a car, you wear a seatbelt because it’s the law, and it’s also the simplest defense against injuries, should you be involved in an accident. A bicycle helmet is no different. Not only is it a legal requirement in some places, but it’s a relatively inexpensive piece of gear that could potentially save your life.

Unlike seatbelts, which are basically a take it or leave it sort of deal, we have plenty of options in helmets. And they have more than one use. A helmet’s primary function is the one we never hope it gets used for. But it can also protect your head from the sun, provide a mounting point for front or rear lights, it’s a great surface for reflective tape, and for commuting, you can even (gasp!) mount a side view mirror. Ok, not sure if anyone uses those mirrors any more, but it was an option at one time.

Most helmets are constructed of expanded polystyrene foam (what your DVD player came packed in) with a thin plastic shell. From a safety standpoint, there is really no difference between a $20 helmet and a $200 helmet, as long as they have a certification. For an explanation of the standards, click here. The price difference is generally related to construction. A helmet with 21 vents may be light weight and provide a cool breeze over your flowing locks, but requires much more in the way of design and materials (read, money) in order to gain certification, when compared to an inexpensive helmet with a non-vented shell. Fancy team graphics can also drive up the price, but some cyclists can’t imagine their helmet not matching their jersey. This is obviously less critical for commuters. So when shopping for a helmet, keep in mind where you ride, how far you ride, as well as your sense of fashion. Lightweight, vented helmets are great for several hours in the Texas sun, but perhaps overkill for a twenty minute ride in Oregon traffic. Equally important is fit. A helmet that doesn’t fit properly can not only be less effective, it can potentially be a hazard. The good news is that most helmets today are offered in several sizes, and come with interchangeable pads that fit inside, to fine-tune the fit even further. Retention straps generally offer adjustment that affects the fore/aft fit as well.

For a beginner, or your first helmet purchase, I recommend visiting your local bike shop, not a big box discounter, or even an online source. If you’re going to wear a helmet, you should get one that fits (human heads come in various shapes and sizes, so you really need to try on several helmets) and is adjusted properly. It pays to have someone with a bit of experience assist in this purchase.

If you are already know what you need in a helmet, and know your size, you might benefit from purchasing from one of these reputable online cycling retailers: Modern Bike |JensonUSA |Bikesomewhere

IndustryOutsider is supported by its readers. When you purchase through links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read more here.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x