5 Little-Known Facts About Bicycle Helmets

Bicycle helmet

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Bicycle helmets are a crucial piece of safety gear for cyclists of all levels, from casual riders to the pros.

Whether you’re riding in the city, speeding around the velodrome, or tackling an off-road trail, wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the risk of severe head injuries or even death.

While we all understand the fundamental importance of helmet use, there’s more than meets the eye to these head savers.

We take a look at five little-known facts about bicycle helmets that we should all be aware of.

Bicycle Helmet Sketch With Bicycle Helmet Fact

1. Proper Fit Is Crucial

Many people think they can put a helmet on their dome and call it a job done. But the truth is that simply wearing one isn’t enough to ensure your safety, especially if it’s ill-fitting.

Like heads, helmets come in many different shapes and sizes, and it’s essential to make sure that you pick the right one.

Get a friend to measure the circumference of your head using a flexible tape measure above your eyebrows and around the widest point of your head. Then, when buying a helmet, refer to the manufacturer’s sizing chart to determine the appropriate size for you using these figures. Be aware that not all brands measure in the same way!

When fitting the helmet, make sure to position it with the front edge just above your eyebrows, sitting level. Adjust the straps to ensure a snug fit, allowing no more than one or two fingers to fit between the strap and your chin.

After buckling it, make sure to fine-tune it. Shake your head gently to ensure it doesn’t feel unstable or loose. These might sound like small steps, but they can drastically improve the functionality of your helmet, so take your time with them.

Bicycle Helmet Sketch With Bicycle Helmet Fact

2. Bicycle Helmets Expire

Did you know that, just like other safety equipment such as car seats or fire extinguishers, helmets can actually expire?

Over time, the materials used to produce helmets can degrade due to various factors, like exposure to sunlight, sweat, or just general wear and tear.

When it comes to head protection, there are few in the industry that competes with Mips. According to them, most relevant experts agree that bike helmets, on average, last for three to five years, and after that, they should be replaced.

Even if you haven’t been involved in an accident, daily use can take its toll on a helmet. All those little knocks and scratches can add up and do some damage, even if you don’t see it. A damaged helmet is considerably worse at doing its job, which, after all, is an important one.

They also point out that as the development of helmets is an ongoing process, a new helmet will be safer and more comfortable than one you’ve had for a decade.

While it isn’t the most exciting thing to shell out on, it’s good to know that you’ll get more bang for your buck than ever before.

Bicycle Helmet Sketch With Bicycle Helmet Fact

3. There Are Different Standards for Bicycle Helmets

Helmets are usually subject to a strict set of safety standards wherever they’re sold, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily consistent worldwide.

For example, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the US sets domestic standards, while in the European Union, helmets must comply with EN 1078 to be sold legally.

On the other hand, the Dutch NTA 8776 safety standard was developed for helmets specialized for e-bike users. These usually have more protection to the back of your head and temples and are designed to be effective even during collisions at greater speed.

We found at least 10 different regulating bodies worldwide, and they can vary quite drastically. Websites like helmets.org provide a no-nonsense breakdown of the specifics for those interested.

It’s also worth noting that different cycling disciplines require completely different helmets. Whilst road cycling helmets generally prioritize speed and efficiency, downhill and enduro ones are specifically designed for aggressive riding and offer much more extensive coverage of the face, jaw, and chin.

If you have different bikes for different activities, you’ll need the appropriate helmets, too. Remember, not all helmets are created equally, so choose wisely.

Bicycle Helmet Sketch With Bicycle Helmet Fact

4. Bicycle Helmets Only Have a Single Impact Protection

Contrary to popular belief, most bike helmets aren’t built to withstand multiple impacts.

The majority of helmets are constructed with a foam liner, typically made of expanded polystyrene or EPS. This is often designed to compress on impact, absorbing and distributing the force away from your cranium. This is excellent news for your head, though, right?

Well, yes, provided that the helmet is still in its original shape. Once the foam liner has been compressed, it might not fully regain its original shape and protective properties. In other words, its ability to protect is reduced significantly.

It’s the same story with the outer shell. Even a tiny impact from just dropping it can cause cracks or deformation, even if they aren’t visible. Again, it can’t be expected to do its original job if it isn’t in its original state.

If you’re having doubts about whether your helmet is still effective, it’s probably safest to consider replacing it at your local bike shop.

Bicycle Helmet Sketch With Bicycle Helmet Fact

5. Bicycle Helmets Absolutely Save Lives

Alright, we admit it: no one enjoys wearing a helmet. It can ruin our hair, look a bit uncool, and generally make us feel pretty self-conscious.

But we can guarantee that when it comes to protecting you, a helmet does even more than you could imagine.

Did you know that, according to Gitnux, wearing a helmet reduces the risk of a head injury in serious crashes by 60%? That’s astounding! We don’t need to go into too much detail about how important your head is, but take our word for it.

Considering their effectiveness, it’s a shame that less than one in five adult cyclists wear a helmet on every ride. It could be the difference between life and death, so think twice before leaving it behind.

There is a flip side to this argument, of course. As pointed out in The Guardian, you don’t make cycling safe by obliging every rider to wear a helmet. You do it by creating a road system that protects cyclists from fast-moving road traffic and teaches road users to respect one another.

While that may be true, the fact of the matter is that we don’t live in that utopian society yet; at least, the majority of us don’t. Devastating head injuries can be avoided by wearing a helmet, so say what you want about the politics of helmets, as long as you wear one. You can thank us later.

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