Like other types of sports, having the correct gear not only makes the sport more enjoyable but also safer. Cycling helmets are no different. Most of today’s helmets have to conform to certain safety standards. Common standards are found in the American, European and Australian cycling markets.
While the basic function of cycling helmets is to protect your head and brain in the event of a crash, certain parts of the helmet varies according to type of cycling, such as the interior and exterior design, chin strap and retention systems. How each of these parts differ are discussed under each type of helmet below.
Helmets are classed according to the type of riding. Generally there are four types:
Helmets designed for road riding are lightweight and offer good airflow because of the way the vents are designed. Look for a helmet that has its foam core designed into the shell and not just glued in; otherwise the shell will eventually start to peel away from the shell, thus losing some of its protective ability. Also with the shell molded around the shell, exposed shell edges and corners will be more protected from damage.
Chin straps are usually anchored both in front of and behind the ears. The Y connector where the straps meet should be adjustable for the most comfortable fit. The retention system inside the foam insert should also be adjustable for the size of your head either with parallel sliders or in the more expensive helmets a dial adjuster.
If you race against time, then a time trail helmet may work best for you as they are specifically designed for the least air resistance. Not only do they have fewer vents but the ones they have are placed so there is minimum aerodynamic drag. These helmets also have a longer tail in the back of the helmet to better streamline the flow of air coming over the top of the head and reduce drag between your head and shoulders.
Mountain biking helmets tend to provide more coverage of the head giving you maximum protection in the case of falls. One noticeable difference from other helmets are the smaller vents on these helmets. With smaller vents, more material can be used in the helmet construction thus giving more protection.
Commuter or Leisure
For those that ride bike to and from work, a more traditional style of helmet works best. These have a small visor built into the shell to shade the eyes along with certain helmets having integrated LED lights for low-light city-style riding. Also some helmets have a flip-out rear-view mirror for visibility to the rear. From the stylish point, these helmets look better when wearing normal clothes or even a suit when riding to and from work.
Helmets are one of the most important biking accessories; don’t skimp on cost as your life can literally depend on the helmet you are wearing in the event of a crash.