Tuesday, August 26, 2014

All about Bicycle Helmets

Consumer reports helmet video
Today, I am taking a break from my Share the Road not the lane Series to talk about, what is the absolute most important part of your cycling gear, the helmet.

I get a lot of questions about what the difference is in cycling helmets, what to look for in a helmet and why they vary so much in price.

For me the most important thing about a helmet for a new user is Comfort!

....what??  I know that many of you are likely gasping with surprise that I didn't put how well it protects your head at the top of my list.  There are 2 reasons for this.
  1. Virtually all helmets are going to give you a reasonable amount of protection or else the manufacturer risks liability if the product they recommend to protect your head fails to do so.  Examples of the amount of risk assumed by helmet manufactures can be illustrated by the Greg Bedan vs Rawlings when in 1981 a Johnson County Circuit Court jury in Indiana returned a $5.8 million judgement yesterday against Rawlings Sales Company, over a spinal cord injury sustained while Greg was wearing one of their helmets.  That was a lot of money back then and the suit was over a failure to warn that the helmet would not protect against spinal cord injury.
  2. If the helmet is not comfortable, you are a lot less likely to adopt it's use all the time.  A helmet owner with a comfy helmet is a happy helmet wearer.
So what makes a  helmet comfortable?  A number of things
But this is the one that saved my
Head at Mount Mitchell
  • In my opinion the first thing is fit.  If the helmet has great adjustment, you should be able to be comfortable in all circumstances.  If you are wearing a hat underneath (BTW there are 2 reasons to wear a hat under your helmet) #1 if it is raining - your want to wear one of those funny looking cycling hats to use the specially designed short brim to keep the rain out of your eyes. #2 as an additional head warmer.
  • Second is maximum venting.  The more your helmet lets the wind through, the better, as far as I'm concerned.  You can always put a cover over your helmet to block the wind when it gets colder, but if it is hot, you can't very well ad to your vent space.  A great helmet will be much cooler than a cheaper (not so great helmet)
  • Finally, weight.  If the helmet is very light and does not feel like it is even there, if becomes so comfortable, you will likely forget that it is there.
The most expensive helmets I have personally owned were the Giro Ionos that I paid $179.95 for and the Belt Volt (about $180) By the way - the Volt is discontinued and can right now be found for as little as $70!! a steal at that price, I just bought another one!

You can find some really good videos on proper helmet fit on the right side of the page at the following link for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety - Bold and Italic
"Less than two percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists." Which is good news - per 100,000 miles driven, a bicycle is much safer than a motorized vehicle - and I am doing my part to make it even more Safe!
"The most serious injuries among a majority of those killed are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. Eighty-nine percent of bicycle deaths are persons 16 and older, so helmet laws should include adults. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce head injury risk.
Ninety-one percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 reportedly weren't wearing helmets."

Wearing a helmet my seem like an inconvenience to many people, but I can tell you that my helmets have saved my noggin on many occasions (both on bicycles and motorcycles) and this is mandatory gear in my book.

So find a helmet that you like and enjoy wearing, even if it costs a few dollars more and you will not regret it!


Next time - Part #3 on Share the Road - Not the Lane - Real life examples

No comments:

Post a Comment