Choosing a bike helmet
Gone are the days where people would consider riding in a car without wearing a seatbelt – so why would you hop on a bike without a bike helmet?
In Australia all bike helmets sold should meet the Australian standard 2063 and there should be a sticker on the inside noting this. This standard means you should receive good protection if you happen to be involved in an accident. Some states have additional recommendations so you should research this before you buy. We also recommend you never buy a second hand helmet – as you never know if it has already been involved in an accident and has a weakness that isn’t visible.
Helmets have changed dramatically over the years and the range is vast!
Here are some tips for choosing a bike helmet model that will suit your needs.
Types of Bike Helmets
Bike helmets come in
three basic types: recreational (also called multi-use and casual), road and
mountain. All types are designed to protect your head from impact while being
lightweight and comfortable.
Recreational helmets are an economical choice for recreational, commuter, road and mountain bikers; they’re also popular with skateboarders and inline skaters. They often include visors to shield your eyes from the sun.
Road bike helmets are preferred by the lycra-clad enthusiasts for their low weight, generous ventilation and aerodynamic design.
Mountain bike helmets are designed to ventilate well at low speeds. You can tell a mountain bike helmet by its visor, enhanced rear-head coverage and a firm, secure fit for when you’re tackling rough terrain. Some also feature full-face protection that's preferred by serious downhill mountain bikers.
Bike Helmet Construction
Nowadays the majority of helmets use in-mould construction, a process that fuses an outer shell and inner liner without the use of glues. This results in light-yet-super strong designs. For the majority of us (occasional cyclists or commuters) the weight of oour helmet is not a huge concern – but those who race will appreciate the lower weight of today’s helmets.
Shell: Most helmets are covered by a hard plastic shell which holds the helmet together in a crash, provides puncture-resistance and allows the helmet to slide on impact (protecting your head and neck).
Liner: Helmet liners are made of expanded polystyrene foam. On impact, the liner dissipates the force to protect your head. Make sure the liner fits your head comfortably.
Other Bike Helmet Features
Ventilation: Helmet vents enhance wind-flow over your head, keeping you cooler and more comfortable as you ride. The more vents you have, the lighter the helmet, too.
Visor: Some riders prefer having a sun-shielding visor attached to the helmet – particularly handy in Australia!
Straps: The strap system should be comfortable and easy to buckle and unbuckle.
Hair port: Some helmets come with a strap design that accommodates ponytails – an important feature!
Find the Right Size Bike Helmet
We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a helmet that fits you well. Most helmets come in small, medium, large or extended sizes.
To find your size, wrap a flexible tape measure around the largest portion of your head—about 2-3cm above your eyebrows.
Look for a helmet size
that matches your measurement.
General sizing parameters:
- Extra-small: below 51cm
- Small: 51cm–55cm
- Medium: 55cm–59cm
- Large: 59cm–63cm
- Extra-large: above 63cm
- One size fits all (men): 54cm–61cm
- One size fits all (women): 50cm–57cm
- One size fits all (kids): 46cm–57cm
If your head measures in between, it’s probably best to go with a smaller size or some shop owners may suggest wearing a cycling cap or beanie.
Adjusting a Bike Helmet
A good-fitting helmet should be snug but not too tight. It should sit level on your head (not tilted back) with the front edge 2-3cm or less above your eyebrows so that your forehead is protected. Push the helmet from side to side and back to front. If it shifts noticeably (2-3cm or more), you should adjust the fit.
To adjust the fit, first expand the sizing wheel before you place a helmet on your head. Almost all helmets have a sizing wheel on the back of the helmet's internal sizing ring. Once the helmet is in place, reach behind your head and tighten the ring (usually by twisting a wheel) until you get a snug fit.
Next, buckle and tighten the chinstrap. The straps should form a "V" as they rest under each ear. Adjust the straps around both ears until you have a comfortable fit.
Finally, with the chinstrap buckled, open your mouth wide. The helmet should press against the top of your head as you do so. If not, tighten further and repeat. Just don't over tighten the strap until it's uncomfortable.
Bike Helmet Care
- Avoid using chemical solvents to clean a helmet. Manufacturers recommend only the use of a soft cloth or sponge, plus mild soap and water. Removal pads may be washed.
- Do not store a helmet anywhere where it will get too hot (such as your garage, car boot). Excessive heat can cause bubbles to form on helmet parts. Do not wear a heat-damaged helmet as it can prevent it from protecting your head in an impact.
- Avoid loaning your helmet to others. You should know exactly what kind of use your helmet has experienced during its lifespan.
When to Replace a Helmet
Any helmet involved in an accident is likely to get damaged. Replace the helmet after any significant impact, even if everything looks OK.
Even if you haven’t had a crash, we generally recommended to replace your helmet after 5 years as pollution, UV light and weathering can weaken its components over time.