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Cycling Tips

How to Choose a Cycling Helmets

Wearing a bicycle helmet is an important part of safe cycling. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or just starting out, finding a biking helmet that suits your preferences is vital. This not only ensures that you are able to enjoy the ride but also feel safe and confident while at it.

Although a common excuse is that we’re riding too slow for anything to happen, it’s extremely important to understand that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury to bicyclists by as much as 50 percent.

Whether you’re headed on a long road ride or commuting in your city – bicycle helmets should be always worn.

And when it comes to choosing the right one, we are spoiled for choice. Today, we can buy helmets made from a variety of materials that come in different colors and sizes for kids and adults. However, there are many times we end up buying the wrong size. Heck, many newbies are not aware of how to wear a bicycle helmet correctly.

Keep in mind that, buying a bicycle helmet should be given as much importance as buying a bicycle. It’s critical that it matches the kind of riding you aim to do, delivers high levels of performance and makes you look uber cool when you’re on your bike.

That being said, every helmet must provide a balance between safety, fit, comfort, ventilation and coolness.

Construction of a Helmet:

Helmets are constructed out of three main parts:

  1. The shell,
  2. Liner, and
  3. Interior

The shell is usually a hard plastic, designed to skid, prevent neck injuries, and deflect penetrating objects. The liner is the hard foam part of the helmet that compresses and absorbs most of the force in the event of an impact.

The interior is the soft padding that is designed to provide comfort and fit. It is important to invest in a good helmet as there are cheap helmets too available in India. These helmets just look great and are not suitable for serious cyclists.

Currently, most of the helmets available, are made of expanded polystyrene foam (EPF) and a tough-but-thin plastic shell outer casing that is either glued to the EPF (for helmets at the lower end of the price spectrum) or molded into the EPF (for helmets at the higher end of the price spectrum). Both the helmets are safe.

Though molded helmets are lighter and have more vents. On impact, it’s the EPF that gets crushed and hence ends up protecting your skull. It’s important to replace your helmet after every crash. The helmet might not show any exterior damage, but the interior structure of the EPF would have weakened considerably. Hence rendering the helmet unsafe for future use.

Best Bicycle Helmets for Adults

How to find a bicycle helmet that fits you right?

To find the right size bike helmet start by measuring your head circumference :-

Below are 3 simple steps to determine the proper helmet size.

Step 1 : Measure

Measure the circumference of your head with a tape measure roughly 1 inch above your eyebrows

Step 2 : Wear It

Once you have determined your helmet size, find the ones that are suitable for you and try them on.

Step 3: Adjust the straps:

Adjust the chin straps such that two fingers go in (not too easily). Then turn the dial that’s behind your forehead and adjust the helmet. then move your head and make sure it does not move, slide or fall off.

Step 4: Proper Fit

Ensure the front of the helmet is positioned just above your eyebrows and that the back of the helmet does not touch the nape of your neck. If the skin on your forehead moves slightly, you have a good fit.

Here are some of the bike helmet sizing parameters

  • Extra Small : Below 20″ (51cm)
  • Small : 20″-21.75″ (51cm-cm)
  • Medium : 21.75″ – 23.25″ ( 55cm – 59cm)
  • Large 23.25″-24.75″ (59 cm-63cm)
  • Extra Large: above 24.75″(63cm)
  • One Size fits all : has a highly adjustable fit system

Helmet Sizing / Helmet Fit:

A good fit is crucial. If the helmet is not properly positioned on the head, it may not protect you at the moment of impact. Straps must be snug and the helmet positioned correctly. Once properly adjusted, only minor adjustments are likely to be necessary the next time you wear it.

Most helmets come in different sizes and it’s critical to ensure you find the right size. A well-fitted helmet will ensure you do not develop a headache, and will also ensure optimal safety in case of an eventual fall from your bike.

Remember, the sizing chart may differ for different manufacturers. Don’t go by an approximate sizing and ensure you measure the circumference of your head and get the correct size. Most of the helmets in the lower end of the price range come with a universal fit.

How to adjust a bike helmet

  • Try to adjust the tightness

Many helmets have an adjustment wheel that you can open fully to place the helmet on your head and then twist until you achieve a snug fit.

  • Buckle and tighten the chain strap.

The straps should form a V as they rest under each ear (If they don’t form a comfortable V, adjust the buckle under each ear until they do)

  • With the chin strap buckled, open your mouth wide:

The helmet should press against the top of your head as you do so. If not,  tighten the strap a little and repeat (Just don’t over tighten the strap until it’s uncomfortable).

Helmets based on usage

There are different kinds of helmets depending on the kind of cycling you do. For example : city, Time trial,  road,  mountain biking..

All helmets comply with the same safety requirements to guarantee the same level of protection.

1) Mountain Bike Helmets

Mountain Bike helmet

They are designed with Greater head coverage, particularly on the sides and the back

Smaller & fewer vents- designed so trail objects don’t puncture through during fall

a) Different vent placement

b) Heavier

c) Thicker and stiffer outer shell

d) Adjustable visor

 

2)Road Bike Helmets

Road Bike helmet

They are designed to be

a) Lightweight

b) More aerodynamic

c) Better ventilated with bigger vents in an increased number

d) More compact

Other things to consider while choosing a helmet are Colour, Weight and Padding

Bright Coloured Helmets:

Bright Coloured Helmets will be highly visible on the road which helps in keeping you safe. Inbuilt reflectivity will also ensure motorists and others can see you on the road at night. Some helmets come with inbuilt lights which are great and makes you much more visible on the roads.

Lighter helmets:

Lighter Helmets will not add extra weight on your neck, which will ensure pain free riding. This is especially important on slightly longer rides and critical if you’re into long distance cycling.

Good padding:

It will ensure that your helmet is uber comfortable and will also help in keeping you sweat-free.

Cleaning your helmet:

To clean your helmet you can just wipe the top outer layer with a damp cloth and wash the paddings with cool or warm water.

Sweat and grime are common foes while you’re out riding and are in constant contact with your helmet. This leaves you with a sweaty soggy helmet padding that is loaded with bacteria and bad odour that’s not pleasant at all.

In such cases, you will have to give it a complete wash. .

Make sure you never use solvents or harsh cleaning materials on your helmet, since some of them may attack the foam or the shell and weaken the helmet. We recommend using a mild dish washer that gets the job done.

Washing the helmet with soap and scrubbing it might reduce the effectiveness and be a safety concern. You also get helmet deodorizers and cleaners if you want to be really thorough. Replaceable helmet padding is also a great way to refresh your helmet.

So make sure you buy yourself a really nice helmet, wear it on every ride and do inform those around you.

Written By

Abhishek Tarfe is a Certified Bike Mechanic from Park Tool School. He enjoys teaching people how to cycle and loves going on multi-day tours. Besides, he loves dogs and coffee. Follow his madness on Instagram

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