Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bicyle Helmet Advice

A friend of mine recently asked me for advice about buying a bicycle helmet. The advice I actually gave was more rambling, but I thought I should compose my thoughts a little better and share it with you. So here goes.

There are two basic things to look for when buying a bicycle helmet.

Comfort: A bike helmet should be easy to wear. If it is so comfortable you forget you have it on, that is a good helmet. Most helmets can be comfortable on some people. The more they adjust, the more likely you are to be in that range where they are comfortable. So buying a helmet that is more adjustable is generally a good thing. For this, it is really going to help to go to a store and try a few on. The most common bike helmets also have big holes for ventilation. The need for this will vary by the type of riding you do. It is helpful if you are going very fast all the time, but not as much if you are stuck in traffic. They can also be worse if you are riding in the winter or in the rain. It is best to make sure you have the right kind of helmet for the riding you actually do.

Style: It may sound silly to think style in a bike helmet is important, but it is. If you don't think you look good wearing the helmet, you won't. If you don't think you look good wearing the helmet, you won't. Again, it is best to find a helmet suited to your bike and riding style. If you get a full face helmet, that says you are going to be going off 20 foot dirt jumps at any moment. It looks pretty silly if you are on a beach cruiser. I won't go telling anyone about fashion, but just know that other cyclists and drivers will make assumptions about you based on what you wear on your head.

I do also have a few words on price. Be prepared to spend between $40 and $50 dollars on a helmet. There are less and more expensive helmets but that range is generally the sweet spot. For cheaper versions you are sacrificing comfort or durability. For more expensive versions you are paying for a name brand, an insignificant amount if weight reduction, or a "look".

Notice how I didn't mention protection? Pretty much all helmets are rated to soften the blows to your melon. Getting to a level where the helmet makes most impacts non-lethal isn't hard. The hard part is everything else. The comfort and the style. Any modern bike helmet you get will provide a decent level of protection. Beyond that, just remember that the best way to protect your head is to ride safe.


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