Commuter bike helmet shopping 101: Which to choose?
If you haven’t realized it by now, a bike helmet is crucial to your commuter experience. So when it’s time to buy a new commuter bike helmet, you need to make sure whatever you choose meets certain standards in safety, design, and of course, style.
Shopping for the best bike helmet? Here are the core elements you’ll want to look for:
…a helmet that meets certain safety standards.
It goes without saying that commuter bicycle helmets are meant to protect you, and like anything that has the potential to prevent injury, it’s important that whichever one you buy meets certain standards of safety. In the United States, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sets the legal safety standard for all manufactured bike helmets, a process that includes a flat anvil test that drops helmets two meters to see how they fair in a crash. In Europe, the standard is EN 1078, which requires all manufactured helmets to pass flat and kerbstone anvil tests, a guided free fall, impact and roll-off testing, and retention testing.
…a helmet that fits well.
It’s always important to actually try on your helmet. Don’t just measure your head and buy one based on sizing—helmets come in all shapes and sizes, and simply looking at it from the outside won’t give you a true idea of how it might fit. The helmet should be snug, but not too tight. When trying it on, make sure there are no pressure points around the edges, and play with the internal padding to see adjust the fit to you.
…a helmet that doesn’t weigh too much.
Your commuter bike helmet should be light enough that it doesn’t weigh your head down, but sturdy enough that it still protects you in the case of an emergency. While this might seem easy enough to find, given that most helmets are made of expanded polystyrene, weight gets added when you factor in that most commuter bicycle helmets have a molded, hard plastic shell and straps running through the helmet’s interior to hold it all together.
…a helmet with proper ventilation.
Ventilation in a helmet is important, both for comfort and safety. The best bike helmets have vents cut into the polystyrene shell that are there to direct airflow over the wearer’s head, reducing any excess heat in the helmet itself and preventing sunstroke.
…a helmet with a solid retention system.
Bike helmet retention systems are important because they keep the impact-absorbing part of the helmet properly fastened on your head in an accident. When looking for a new bike helmet, it’s important to find one with a retention system that can be easily adjusted with one hand while riding and can change in height. As a simple test, consider this: if you can fit a cotton cap under the helmet retention system, you’ve found one with the right fit
…a helmet that doesn’t need too much padding.
When you get a commuter bike helmet that fits correctly, it shouldn’t need a lot of padding. Whatever it does have, however, should be easily removable and washable. Washing the padding on a regular basis is important, as your padding both protects you and absorbs sweat.
Looking for a new commuter bike helmet? Try the Closca Helmet. It is foldable so it can’t break in an emergency, has interchangeable accessories that match your everyday fashion, is embedded with near-field communication technology, and complies with not one, but two safety regulations: European EN 1078 and American CSPC.