First, you may not have a choice about choosing a bike helmet as it may be the law in your neighborhood. But it also makes sense from safety standpoint to wear one, you only need to see what happens to the helmet when someone has fallen off their bicycle to recognize that.
You need to replace you bicycle helmet if it is involved in an accident as it is likely to get damaged. Also it is generally recommended that a helmet be replaced after 5 years, because UV light, pollution and weathering can potentially weaken its components over time.
Intended use – the first thing is to realize when choosing a bicycle helmet is that whatever the intended use such as commuter, mountain biking, road biking or racing will make a difference.
Good fit – bicycle helmets come in small, medium, etc. or it may be one size fits all, particularly for a kids helmet. To determine your helmet size, wrap a tape measure around the largest portion of your head just above your eyebrows.
Manufacturers sometimes have different size standards so the following is a general guideline:
- Small: 20″-21.75″ (51cm-55cm)
- Medium: 21.75″-23.25″ (55cm-59cm)
- Large: 23.25″-24.75″ (59cm-63cm)
- Extra-small, extra-large: Below 20″ (51cm), above 24.75 (63cm)
- One size fits all (men): 21.25″-24″ (54cm-61cm)
- One size fits all (women): 19.75″-22.5″ (50cm-57cm)
Weight – the lighter the helmet the more expensive they usually are which is important for racers or others where weight is a consideration.
Basic Construction – have a helmet liner, most of which are made of expanded polystyrene foam which dissipates on impact to protect your head. You need to ensure the liner fits your head comfortably. The shell is usually made of plastic. If mountain biking a sturdy construction is essential.
Aerodynamic – all bicycle helmets are somewhat aerodynamic but this is clearly more important if you are racing.
Ventilation – the vents in the helmet create an airflow over your head to help keep you cool. Generally the more vents you have the more expensive the helmet but also you will be cooler.
Straps – find a helmet strap system that works for you, is comfortable and easy to adjust. Also make sure that it matches your riding style as you require a more secure system if you are mountain biking while something lighter works for road racing.
Visor – some cyclists prefer having a visor attached to their helmet for sun protection. Works best for those road biking or bicycle touring.
Style and color – looking great is always a consideration when choosing a bicycle helmet. Some styles also include a design that accommodates ponytails.
Certification – in countries such as Canada (CSA- Canadian Standards Association) and the U.S. (CPSC- Consumer Products Safety Commission) helmets will meet certain standards.
Accessories – some cyclists wear a skull cap under there helmet, others attach a small rear view mirror while others have a rain covering.
In the amazing video below you see a mountain biker ambushed by an African antelope while riding in South Africa. It is a good thing he was wearing a bike helmet.
Click here to check out our kids bike helmets. It is interesting that you do get used to wearing a bike helmet and should you forget it you feel like something is missing.