Bicycle Helmet Checklist

by Chris Weiss

Choosing the right bicycle helmet will ensure both your safety and comfort. There are a variety of factors to consider when purchasing a bicycle helmet, so be sure to spend the time and shop carefully to choose the one that is right for you.

Bike Helmet Checks:

  1. Type: When selecting a style, consider your primary type of cycling and purchase a cycling helmet that corresponds to that style. You'll find road helmets, which are light and aerodynamic; mountain bike helmets, which offer more coverage than road helmets and often include visors; and commuter/sport helmets, which are less expensive helmets designed for those who cycle casually.

  2. Fit: The helmet should fit tightly on your head. You don't want any gaps between your head and the helmet. It should be level at about an inch over the eyebrows and should remain snug around your head even when you shake your head or push up on the front or back. If it slides up more than an inch, you need to tighten it or select a different model. The front of the helmet should be just barely visible when you look up.

  3. Straps: The straps should form a triangle that meets just below your ears. The chin strap should be tight enough that when you open up your mouth, you can feel the helmet pull downward on your head. It should clip in the middle of your chin. Adjusting the straps can help you to get a snugger, more even fit.

  4. Fit system: Most newer helmets use some form of fit system, such as an adjustable dial. This should be easy to use and provide a firm, snug fit. Less expensive helmets may use adjustable padding to provide customized fitting.

  5. Ventilation: In order to provide comfort on hot, long rides, you'll want a helmet with adequate ventilation. But beware that helmets with too many vents or vents that are oversized provide less overall protection to your head, and hazardous objects could potentially slide into the vents.

  6. Safety: In the United States, all bike helmets must meet the safety standard set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Helmets designed for more dangerous types of sports riding, such as downhill mountain biking and BMX, are subject to additional safety standards.

  7. Comfort: To ensure you'll wear it regularly, choose a helmet that is snug but also comfortable. It should offer a good fit without any pain or pressure on your head and should offer ample padding and sweat absorption.

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