In this article I will not go into the merits of one of the most debated issues concerning the bike: to wear or not to wear a helmet when you go out by bike. For us the cycling helmet has become an indispensable accessory, without which we don’t move, but it’s good to know that in Italy there is no obligation! That said, we recommend to wear it always: when you go to do a bike trip, when you leave for the grocery store, when you jump into riding a BIKE for a day trip in the Woods … evolution has brought the bicycle helmet to be light and comfortable to the point of getting used to in a few days to use it and forget soon to have it in your head.
However, it is important to buy the right bike helmet and below we will try to understand how to choose the best bike helmets and what parameters to assess at the time of purchase.
Would make an introduction to subsequent considerations related mandatory reporting requirements: the bicycle helmet underwent considerable evolution in recent decades as well as the world of cycling in General. The ever greater specialization and Division of cycling disciplines (Urban, road bikes, Enduro, Downhill …) meant that (rightly) were also landforms and studied geometry of road helmets. Below I’ll make a general discourse, valid for most disciplines and in particular for those who practice cycling or using the bike every day to go to work or do simple excursions by bike, avoiding dwell on more specific helmet types such as those for the gravity disciplines, where is a full face helmet with chin strap (similar to motocross).
What characteristics to evaluate
When you decide to buy a new bike helmet, it is vital to consider some features to make an informed choice and wise. The role of a helmet is to protect the skull against impact when falling … don’t expect that will save your life if you are coming down to 100 kph from a mountain road or if a truck there, but you think you can avoid overwhelms a head injury in the most frequent case where you slam the head on the ground at a speed “normal” for a cyclist.
The first parameter to be evaluated, the most important, is the ability to shock absorption. There is now a European law that requires manufacturers to design and test their road helmets so as to withstand shocks and stresses. The relevant legislation is the EN1078 and the first thing to do when buying a helmet is check the label located inside: make sure there is the CE EN1078 as picture. In General, most companies now are adequate to this standard, but if you happen to buy helmets from countries outside Europe beware as wearing a cycling helmet not tested could be equivalent to not having it at all, if not worse!
The key part of a cycling helmet, which ensures protection, is the CAP. Generally consists of two parts: the outer and inner polycarbonate in polystyrene. Helmets when these two parts are simply glued generally cost less than those in which they are cast (such as In-Mold technique), for obvious reasons of different binding capacity of two methods: the first is definitely stronger than the second. Such detail does not affect, however, on the strength of the helmet. When purchasing consider geometry of the shell according to your needs: for anyone who considers it important for the performance the helmet may be less enveloping; who wants more security can opt for helmets that protect even the nape like BMX. Keep in mind that aeration is generally inversely proportional to the coverage that a helmet guarantees.
Belts and straps
Critical to your safety belts and straps must be resistant and comfortable at the same time. Make sure the anchorage the helmet is secure, trying to give some tugging and carefully looking at the inside of the helmet itself. Make sure there is a serious cushion near the fastening buckles … the straps should be fully in contact with the Chin once wore and the padding is crucial for your convenience!
Another key element for the convenience of the cyclist is the aeration of the bicycle helmet, especially during the summer. The head is one of the body parts that overheat more easily during the warmer days and have an airtight helmet doesn’t help the heat dissipation. Unless you travel by bike only in winter or cold climates, we recommend you buy a helmet well ventilated… the air ducts and geometry are studied carefully from the best companies to improve aeration of the boss, aerodynamics and to reduce weight. Compare multiple models, wearing them at the time of purchase, to assess what the most suitable, although in that case it would be a test on the go.
Can’t miss and is usually located at the rear of the helmet. Allows you to broaden or tighten the helmet around the neck for optimum fit. There are different types and is often one of the most fragile of all the helmet: the wheel adjustment (which is turned to tighten or extend the plastic gear that anchor the helmet straps to the back of the head) is perhaps the most common but there are single or double pressure systems. Again, the best way to tell if the system is practical and solid at the same time is to wear a helmet and try it out.
Not the fundamentals for those who practice cycling or using the bike to go to work and quiet, but can be important for racing cyclists. The weight in any case should not be excessive as the stress on the neck increases exponentially and can create in the long run cervical problems or fatigue.
It’s an important element but it is definitely not a safer helmet is a helmet more expensive … a lot depends on the weight: to reduce it in fact you often use expensive materials that make up the price of the final product. Online is an interesting Altroconsumo survey which shows that not always the most expensive helmet is also that safer!
When buying a bicycle helmet you might also consider the presence of any accessories which in my opinion could make a difference at comparable quality: If you practice the MTB is very helpful in the presence of a visor that protects against branches and sudden solar glare inside the wood. Another accessory that is often useful is the retina for insects inside the openings of helmet: a WaSP trapped in the helmet can be a very dangerous downhill into town! Make sure theinternal padding of the helmet is good quality … it is often the first thing that is consumed and rubbing of polystyrene on the forehead with sweat can be very annoying (I doubt that my wide receding hairline is due to the intensive use of helmets with shoddy padding:)), if you often ride at night, think of a helmet as of reflectors to improve your visibility (these are by no means sufficient : lights and other high visibility elements are a must).
Try the helmet before purchasing
At the time of purchase is essential to wear the helmet and try it in a correct and complete. Bike Helmets are not all the same as well as our heads are not equal. Firstly wear helmets incorrectly equates to not wear it, then put it through your head, covering her forehead and neck wrap well without move. Adjusting the belts fastening them on the Chin and adapting them so they don’t tighten too but that securely onto your face. Use the rear adjuster to fit perfectly to your skull: If the size is wrong or the model is not suitable for you you’ll notice right away.
Comfort is another very important element. As time goes by, if the helmet is comfortable, you’ll forget you have it on your mind: you don’t know how many times on the road, I happened to get into a bar for a drink or start a meal without take off my helmet … a little ridiculous perhaps, but you get the idea!
Try several models and compare on all elements in the list above: among the thousands of models in circulation there are sure to be some for you … the rest does the aesthetics, your budget and preferences.
When to replace a helmet
Bike Helmets are made of plastic which degrades under the weathering and time even if you’re not using it so it’s a good idea to replace the helmet anyway after a few years (5-6). Also a cycling helmet must be replaced if it undergoes significant bumps, though apparently suffered no damage. The periodic washing (avoiding harsh chemicals, SOAP and water are fine) and a good maintenance can extend the life of your helmet and especially keep it in good condition during use, so dedicated to it a few minutes of your time.