Whether you cycle in town to go shopping, climb the Col du Chat during a triathlon, or hit the mountain trails, your bicycle helmet will have very different characteristics and technologies, as well as a specific design. As the practices are very different from each other and the expectations that arise from them as well, it is only natural to find bicycle helmets very different from each other.
While a reminder of the safety of wearing a bicycle helmet is never too much, it also seems important to understand how to choose the right bicycle helmet. Construction, materials, technologies used …: In this article, we explain everything you need to know to choose the right bike helmet!
Choosing the Right Bicycle Helmet: Basic Composition of a Bicycle Helmet
To choose the right bicycle helmet, it is essential to understand how it is made up. Thus, a bicycle helmet is composed of 3 elements, namely an outer shell, a lower shell, and adjustment straps, knobs, and pads.
The outer layer, as the name implies, is the bike helmet’s outer layer. Choosing the right bike helmet means having an outer shell that sufficiently protects you from shocks. An outer shell can be made of PVC, polycarbonate, ABS, or reinforced with carbon parts. Often, the outer shell is embellished with a protective varnish to protect your bicycle helmet from scratches and chips.
The second element of a bicycle helmet is the internal shell. To choose the right bike helmet, it is important to dwell on it because it provides most of the protection of your head. Thus, the inner shell is made from polyester beads, which will be molded to perfectly match the outer shell, into which it will be welded. It is possible to choose your bicycle helmet with an internal shell made of kevlar, aramid, nylon, or carbon mixed in polystyrene for more resistance and protection.
Finally, the adjustment straps, the knobs, and possibly the pads are the elements that complete your bike helmet. To choose your bicycle helmet, you should choose a comfortable bicycle helmet: this is where these last components come in, which will allow you to adjust and adjust your bicycle helmet more or less easily to your head.
Now that you have an essential understanding of designing a bicycle helmet let’s get to the meat of the matter: analyzing the selection criteria for selecting the best bicycle helmet. If the latter is used to protect your head, it is made up of many technologies and accessories, very specific according to the practice.
Choosing the right bike helmet: the criteria to take into account
The different technologies
If you want to choose your bicycle helmet, you must, first of all, choose a bicycle helmet that sufficiently protects against the potential impacts that you could suffer. As such, there are 3 main manufacturing methods for a bicycle helmet.
The first method is the so-called classic method, during which the polyester beads that make up the inner shell are mixed with steam to inflate sufficiently, to come then to fit the shape of the mold which is dedicated to them. It is not uncommon to choose a bicycle helmet made with this method because it is the least expensive, and this has repercussions on the final price of the product, often much cheaper than its colleagues.
The second method is the most common, is the manufacturing in-mold the helmet. This technology is more elaborate and thus allows better resistance while offering more lightness. The big difference with the first method is in the connection between the inner shell and the outer shell. Indeed, the outer shell (often polycarbonate) is directly molded with the inner shell during the polyester injection phase. This, therefore, makes it possible to gain rigidity and robustness. During an impact, this construction also allows the impact to be better diffused over a larger part of the bicycle helmet.
Finally, the last method is MIPS (Multidirectional Impact Protection System) technology! The bicycle helmet, equipped with MIPS technology, provides optimal protection of your head. Indeed, after more than 20 years of research, the principle of MIPS technology is to imitate the role of the cerebrospinal fluid in which our brain is located. During an impact, instead of absorbing the latter at the point of impact, MIPS technology will allow the impact to be absorbed by sliding the skull along the shell and dissipating the accumulated energy.
To avoid ending up with a wet head quickly (nothing more unpleasant than undergoing the under pope effect) or even overheating when you make an effort, it is crucial to choose your bike helmet with good ventilation. In general, ventilation is done through ventilation holes made on the bicycle helmet. To choose a bicycle helmet with good ventilation, the principle is simple: the more vents it has, the better its ventilation capacity.
However, good ventilation also means choosing your bike helmet. At the right size: when the interior foams are crushed because the fit is poor, the ventilation will therefore be partially blocked and thus much less effective. Also, it is possible to choose your bike helmet with front ventilation protection using textile, which prevents mosquitoes and other insects from infiltrating the holes when you ride.
To choose the right bike helmet, the feeling in terms of comfort is important. The foam present against the internal shell is precisely used to provide more comfort and a better fit. It is useful to choose your bike helmet with a removable foam, often equipped with a velcro, which allows you to clean it regularly or remove it completely if necessary.
Indispensable for adjusting your bicycle helmet about its head size, the dial allows you to adjust, by loosening or tightening, the inner frame of the shell. It is important to try out the different types of knobs before choosing your bike helmet: some knobs are more complex to use than others; choose a knob with which you are comfortable.
The dial gives you great security because it allows your bike helmet to be perfectly adjusted and thus not to move in the event of an impact. You will also appreciate having a bicycle helmet perfectly adapted to your head circumference, as it will prevent you from discomfort and discomfort when riding.
It is customary to choose your bike helmet with a visor in MTB and BMX in particular because this effectively protects against projections of mud or even insects. However, it is also interesting to choose your bike helmet for the city or the road with a visor because the latter can also protect you from the sun and the wind, especially for VTC. Some visors are removable, allowing you to change them according to your needs, even to remove it if it is not useful for your outing by bike .
If it is essential to have lights on your bike when the night begins to fall, it is possible to choose your bike helmet itself equipped with lights for more safety. Some bike helmet lights even allow the rider to see better, illuminating the road ahead. Also, it is possible to choose your bike helmet without lights and to buy them separately.
Approval and standards
It is important to choose your bicycle helmet with approval by European standards. Indeed, you do not plan to buy a car without compliant documents? The same goes for a bicycle helmet: without approval, nothing guarantees its effectiveness in the event of a fall. For bicycle helmets, the European standard you should refer to is EN1078. You must therefore make sure that it is mentioned when choosing your bicycle helmet.
The weight is an important criterion for choosing the right bike helmet, including bike route where every gram counts. And you guessed it, the lighter a helmet, the higher its price because it requires more sophisticated materials and design. The in-mold technology mentioned above is in particular, one of the most effective techniques for gaining several tens of grams.
If you practice the road bike in a recurring and sporting way, a light helmet of fewer than 300 grams will prevent you from pain in the neck and the upper back. A not insignificant comfort when you regularly swallow the kilometers by bike!
The materials used
As we saw above, when we mentioned the different elements that make up a bicycle helmet, when constructing the hulls, various materials can be used. It is advisable to choose your bicycle helmet with several materials at the level of the shells because this ensures greater resistance in the event of an impact, and in particular, prevents the helmet from disintegrating into several pieces during a violent impact. In this area, carbon is particularly appreciated for its durability.
Secondary criteria for choosing the right bicycle helmet
In addition to the basic criteria for choosing a bicycle helmet, today, there are many additional options. Depending on your use, these can be particularly useful and valuable.
As with cars, some bicycle helmets are equipped with a Bluetooth connection, which allows you to make phone calls while you pedal, for example. It goes even further since some manufacturers offer alarm and alert systems in the event of a fall. This is the case with Livall’s BH60 Bling, which triggers emergency lighting upon impact. The Cratoni Smart ride, on the other hand, allows you to alert a person registered in advance in the event of a fall. Choosing your connected bicycle helmet, therefore, provides significant additional safety and functions.
For cyclists who are used to facing the rain, rain covers can be of great help. Sometimes delivered directly with the bike helmet, it is also possible to get one separately. Some covers are universal and thus adapt to any type of bicycle helmet.
Just like bicycles, bicycle helmets also have specific locks. You don’t have to choose your bike helmet specifically for this: locks are generally designed to fit the ventilation holes in most bicycle helmets.
While it is possible to choose a bicycle helmet with particularly high coverage, there are also removable accessories that provide more protection from the cold, especially at the level of the ears.
Thus, many criteria must be considered to choose the right bicycle helmet—ventilation, visor, wheel. Every cyclist can find the ideal bicycle helmet, as the models are numerous and different. However, in addition to the characteristics specific to a bicycle helmet, the size of the head is a fundamental element in choosing the right bicycle helmet. Poorly adjusted, a bicycle helmet loses all its usefulness. To choose the right bike helmet, it is therefore essential to measure and know your head circumference.
Choosing the right bike helmet according to your head size
Specific to everyone, the size of the head circumference is decisive in choosing the right bicycle helmet. As a reminder, most bicycle helmets have a minimum size, as well as a maximum size: knowing your head circumference will help you to find your way more easily among the bicycle helmets that may or may not match you. For this, you can simply use a tape measure and pass it from your middle of the forehead to your occipital hump.
You can also take your measurements in a specialist store, which is often equipped for this. To be sure to choose a bike helmet over his head size, you must come before any outing on a bicycle check that the bicycle helmet is perfectly adjusted. To do this, nothing could be simpler: once the bike helmet is on, the dial allows you to adjust the tightening. After adjusting the dial, it is important to shake your head to check that the helmet does not move. Also, the bike helmet should be comfortable and not put pressure on your temples or forehead.
This data is essential for choosing the right bike helmet. Because if the latter hurts you even before any activity, in the event of shocks, the damage caused could be increased tenfold. To complete the fit of your bike helmet, you need to adapt the chin strap, which should be close enough to your face to support you while leaving you good freedom of movement.
As we have seen, head circumference is important in choosing the right bike helmet. But this is not the only element to take into account to find THE perfect bicycle helmet: your cycling experience is indeed decisive in choosing your bicycle helmet. Road bike helmet or bicycle helmet for mountain biking; each practice requires a particular bicycle helmet!
Choosing the right bike helmet according to your practice
Bike helmet for the city / VTC
Sometimes very different in architecture, bicycle helmets for the city or the VTC can also have different technical characteristics. So, for short trips in town, for example, it is often advisable to choose your bike helmet in a rounded shape, which places more emphasis on protection and strength. For the VTC or longer trips by city bike, on the other hand, it is recommended to choose a rather thin bike helmet with better ventilation and more lightness.
Bicycle helmet for mountain biking
Unlike those intended for the city, bicycle helmets for mountain biking are generally provided with elaborate ventilation while offering lightness. Also, it is interesting to choose your bike helmet for mountain biking with a visor, which protects you from external elements such as mud, tree branches, or even the sun and rain.
Cycling helmet for the road
Speed is the most important element in a road bike; it makes sense to choose a bike helmet on the road with aerodynamic build and light. The bicycle helmet’s road has thus an elongated format, ideal for better air penetration. The ventilation is also part of the essential criteria for this type of helmet, especially for sports use.
BMX bike helmet
The most committed practice, BMX, requires considerable protection against possible falls from a great height. It is possible to choose your bike helmet for BMX in the form of a bomber or bowl, which covers a large part of the head. This type of bicycle helmet is commonly used for urban practices, such as the ramp (similar to skateparks), the flat (figures on-site), or even the street (figures on urban equipment).
It is also possible to choose your bike helmet for BMX with full head protection in the form of a motocross helmet. These bicycle helmets are, in general, used by practitioners of BMX or dirt races (figures to be performed by crossing bumps).
Freeride MTB Helmet
Finally, to choose your bicycle helmet for Freeride mountain biking, it is mandatory to adopt a full-face bicycle helmet. The Freeride a dangerous discipline; helmets are longer at the neck for added protection. A chin bar, often removable, is also present to protect your face.
Each practice requires a very specific bicycle helmet. It is, therefore, necessary to choose your bicycle helmet according to its practice, both for your comfort and for your safety during your outings by bike. And if this applies to adults, it is also true for children! The content of this section will explain how to choose the right bicycle helmet for children.
Choosing the right bicycle helmet for children
Since March 22, 2017, children under 12 must compulsorily wear a bicycle helmet, whether on their bike or transported on another bike. Indeed, children are much more fragile and do not have the same reflexes as an adult. But then, how to choose a bike helmet for children? Manufacturers today offer models that perfectly match the characteristics of children. So, in the first place, the size is specially designed to match the small size of children’s head sizes.
Some models go even further since they are suitable for transporting the child in a bicycle seat: the back of the bicycle helmet is thus flattered to reduce the child’s discomfort. In addition, manufacturers make a special effort on the design or colors of children’s bicycle helmets to please more while fulfilling their basic function, namely protection.
The process for choosing the right bicycle helmet for children is the same as for an adult: the adjustment is similar; the helmet must wrap the child’s head without pressure and not move during its movements.