Biking is enjoyed as a sporting activity or for recreation. However, safety should be observed for optimal cycling experience. To ensure that you don’t take safety for granted, it’s sensible to use a bicycle helmet every time you ride your bicycle. The purpose or riding condition doesn’t matter, what is important is to avoid risks while cycling. For this reason, wearing a helmet is an appropriate and effective intervention.
Why use Helmets?
Helmets reduce the risks of head injuries in case accidents occur. The primary functions of a helmet include:
- Penetration protection
- Impact protection
In impact protection, forces that could harm the head are distributed across the helmet’s outer shell and its impact-absorbing liner. The shell also prevents penetration of various road hazards such as flying and sharp objects. The retention system ensures that the helmet maintains its position during an impact.
A helmet should be perfectly designed to meet all its purposes. Below are some reasons why helmets are vital while cycling.
To prevent brain injuries.
Head injuries resulting from accidents may directly affect the brain. Therefore, your head need to be protected against sudden impacts, collision, falling or sharp object that may injure the brain.
Some head injuries may lead to memory loss. This may result from strong blows to the head. The best weapon to fight such blows is prevent them by wearing a helmet.
If helmets were worn every time someone rides a bicycle, many bicycle-related deaths could not have occurred. Helmets reduce the risks if serious injuries that may cause death.
Helmets are also used for sun protection and visibility purposes. They protect your face against direct sun that may cause sunburn. To increase visibility, helmets are made of brighter colors. This helps to reduce accidents since riders can easily be noticed. In some states, it is unlawful and punishable to ride a bike without a safety helmet. In such states, you can avoid being on the wrong side of the law by simply wearing a helmet.
Now that you understand how important a helmet is, it’s the time to buy one . Make sure it meets the purpose for which you intend it to do.
Things You Need to Consider Before Buying a Bicycle Helmet
Choosing the right helmet model might be confusing, even for experienced cyclists. However, this is not an issue because the advice below will help you make your wise decision. Consider the following factors while before deciding which model is suitable for you.
Type of the helmet
The design of a helmet varies according to the purpose of cycling. The three main types include sport, mountain and road type. The sports helmet, also known as multi-use is an economical choice as it is used in place of the other kinds. It is suitable for commuter, recreational, mountain and road bikers. Roadie fanatics prefer the road bike helmets due to their aerodynamic design, perfect ventilation and lower weight. The mountain types are suitable for cycling on rough terrains due to their firm and secure fit. They offer great ventilation even at low speeds.
Once you have chosen the type of helmet you need to buy, select the right helmet design. The major categories here include:
- Full Coverage
- Open face
The full coverage, also known as a full face helmet covers the entire head including the face. This design includes an extended chin bar that shields the face and protects the jaw in case of a crash. It is the safest head covering to use in harsh riding conditions, where rain, wind and bugs might be an issue.
The open face design has the chin strap, but no face shield. It offers a wider coverage compared to the Shorty design, but the face is exposed. It is used for shorter rides around homes or along beaches. The Shorty helmet offers less coverage. It protects the head’s crown, though not beyond the ears. Unlike the full coverage type, this style lacks facial and jaw protection. Its classic looks have made it popular among many bikers.
Fit and comfort
The proper helmet fit is obtained by selecting the correct size. Your helmet should cover the head such that it won’t wobble as a result of an impact force. By wearing the right size helmet, you reduce the chances of head injuries or death during accidents. If your helmet is too large, its fit will be poor and it can be knocked off or displaced easily in a crash, thus putting your head at high threat to injuries. On the other hand, if the helmet is too tiny, it will just cover a section of the head and leave the rest exposed. The correct size corresponds to the largest circumference of your head. The sizes are divided into the following categories.
- Extra-large and
- One size fits all
The dimensions for the adult categories differ from that of kids. To select the correct size, first measure the circumference of the largest section of your head. This measurement is taken at the forehead and above the ears. After knowing your head size, select the helmet size which corresponds to it. A table is provided to match the size of your corresponding head circumference. Get the recommended size and test its fit. Wear the helmet and secure the chin-strap. It should fit snugly on the head without wobbling or rotating on the action of a small applied force. The helmet’s fit is adjustable using a sizing wheel and the chin straps. After you are okay with the fit, you need to test the comfort.
Spend a few minutes with the helmet on and test its paddling, ventilation and noise control. The air vents should ensure proper air circulation to cool your head during hot conditions. Don’t be tempted to select an alternative size if your correct size is not available. This won’t be helpful. Just wait for your size to be stocked or look elsewhere.
Ventilation follows protection and fit. For more comfortable rides, there should be proper air circulation at the contact between the head and the helmet. This is essential, especially in hot environments where sweating occurs during rides. Vents and air channels are included in the design of helmets to ensure that warm and stale air is expelled from the area covered by the helmet and fresh air absorbed. Proper ventilation also improves comfort.
It is also important to consider the color of your helmet for safety reasons. Black is the favorite color for many riders but this doesn’t boost safety. Bright colors are better since they increase visibility, thus reducing the risks of being hit by motorists. Stylish reasons may trigger the choice of color that you make. You can choose one that matches with your cycling clothing and the bike itself. Helmets are available in various coloring patterns, the choice is yours. Although sometimes the color affects the cost, satisfaction is more vital.
The price tag is another element a buyer has to consider. While helmets are available in different types, styles, weight and specifications, you buy what you can afford . Additional features such as adjustable fit systems, reduced weight and visors may increase the cost. Check your pocket and decide on how much you are willing to spend on the helmet. Remember not to compromise your safety with the cost. Some cheap helmets are not effective. You may save a few bucks while risking your life. Compare the prices offered by various dealers and also try to negotiate a bit, sometimes dealers offer discounts.
Components or features of the helmet
These include all the functional features. Make sure each part is in good condition and executing its duty. The components should be intact and assembled correctly. Below are the components to check.
- Shell: This is the outer plastic part which protects the head from any shock caused by an external force. In cases of collisions or impact of objects, forces are distributed throughout the shell. Before purchasing any helmet, make sure the shell is in good shape and intact.
- Liner: This is the part which fits to the head. The material generally used to make liners is the expanded polystyrene foam. The liner dispels the forces that result from an impact, thus protecting the head from injuries. It should fit comfortably and have no dents.
- Construction: This is the basic structure which is similar in all helmets. Make sure all the important features are included.
- Straps: They are used to enhance the fit. Choose a strap system which is comfortable and easy to engage or remove. For mountain trails and rough terrain, choose beefier straps while road biking, cooler and light straps will do.
- Ventilation: Vents enhance air circulation. The vented helmets are comfortable and easy to maintain. Venting may also reduce the weight.
Comparing the specifications
The importance of comparing the specifications is to enhance personal satisfaction. Some of them are not a big deal when it comes to serving the purpose. Below are some of the considerations:
- Weight: The weight might not be a concern for occasional cyclists, but frequent riders and racers appreciate light helmets. Heavy helmets may strain your head and make you uncomfortable.
Buying tip: Prices may increase with reduced weights.
- Vents: Air vents are designed to provide airflow for cooling the head. More vents leads to more cooling.
- Visor: It shields the rider from the sun or provide slight wind resistance. Although visors may not be practical in all styles, you will find them in some designs.
- Fit System: A system used to secure the helmet properly to the head. It offers a tight fit and ensures that the helmet always remains in place to avoid failure. Fit systems are adjustable to ease their use and enhance the fit.
Some states have set standards that a manufactured helmet should meet in order to be considered safe for use. If such standards are applicable in your state, make sure you buy an approved helmet. This has helped to improve the quality of helmets in the market. Manufacturers ensure that their products can withstand significant impacts and they are comfortable.
The considerations above should guide you in making a wise decision when buying a helmet to use along with your bike. Take your time to inspect all the features and you will be satisfied with the product. Don’t risk your life by riding a bike with your head exposed. The helmet is an essential protective gear for safe and ultimate riding experience.
Now that you already have your protective gear, you are set to enjoy the rides. Keep your helmet clean and well maintained to increase its life span.
Replacing your Helmet
In case you are involved in a crash, your helmet might be damaged beyond repair or such that it will not be safe to use. Such helmet should be replaced. The quality deteriorates with time such that it might not be safe to use after a certain period even if it has not been involved in an accident. This decline in performance is accelerated by UV light, pollution and weathering. It is advisable that a replacement be done after 5 years, even in cases where the crash has not occurred.
Helmet Maintenance Tips
- Avoid sharing your helmet. It will be difficult to know how you have used it during its lifetime. Sharing may also spread skin diseases.
- Use the right procedure to clean your helmet. Use a wet sponge or soft cloth and mild soap to remove dirt. Chemical solvents are not recommended.
- Store your helmet carefully. Avoid environments with excessive heat to prevent accumulation of bubbles on its parts. Replace your helmet if its heat-damaged.
Purchase your helmet now and escape the dire consequences of exposing your head while biking. You can get your favorite design at a pocket friendly price.