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How To Choose A Bicycle Helmet: Part Two

Chaparral Motorsports
July 10, 2014

Once a cyclist shows up to a store, they should feel more prepared with the information from Part One. However, there are still aspects of a helmet to consider, especially for more serious riders.

Knowing The Ins And Outs

[mageProductLink sku="09322-018-s" title=""]Fox Racing Rampage Helmet[/mageProductLink]Bicycle helmets typically have a hard outer shell, which is then covered in plastic. This is the primary part in keeping a head safe. However, it's not the only one. The helmet also comes with a liner, typically made of polystyrene foam. Aside from making a helmet more comfortable on a head, this part also does absorb some of the impact during a fall, thereby protecting your head. It might seem like an irrelevant part but the liner makes a big difference.

In addition to the primary parts of helmet, a helmet will also feature ventilation. This is critical in ensuring a rider stays comfortable and doesn't overheat during a ride. It's also effective in making a helmet lighter, adding holes where possible. Typically, the more ventilation, the higher the price of the helmet. Professional riders will want a helmet that is so light they don't even notice it on their head. However, at the same time, it still needs to protect them in the event of a crash. That can require some innovative designs, which would likely set a shopper back.

Depending on the riding you will primarily be doing - casual street or rugged off-road - you'll want a helmet that is tailored to your specific needs. For instance, if you mountain-bike on trails, you'll likely want a more rugged helmet, which might include a visor. Conversely, if you have a road bike, you'll want a light-weight helmet that will be comfortable for long rides.

Getting Down To The Nitty Gritty

Bicycle Racer

Helmets are pretty complex pieces of cycling equipment these days, so knowing the components makes a difference. They can greatly vary in price, so having an eye for quality and spotting certain features can help when shopping around.

Lighter helmets are typically higher performance, and therefore, more expensive. For those using their bike for competitive racing, a pricier helmet could be worth the price, as the risk of a serious crash is likely more prevalent. However, those who are simply using a bike for trail riding could probably get away with spending less.

Ventilation is another key feature to consider. More expensive helmets typically feature more ventilation, keeping you cool and also making the helmet lighter. The increased comfort from this added airflow could well be worth the extra price.

Ensuring It's Certified

BMX Bicycle In Air

There many aspects of a helmet you will want to take into account when you purchase, with style and quality likely toward the top. However, helmet shoppers will also want to make sure the product they are interested in is certified.

Helmets need to comply with standards laid out by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. While a cyclist likely won't be able to find a helmet that's not certified in a store, it's definitely something to be aware of. Essentially, the standards make sure that a helmet is safe, comfortable and capable.

"Bicycle helmets are required by federal law to meet the CPSC standard," the CPSC website reads. "When purchasing a helmet, consumers are urged to examine the helmet and accompanying instructions and safety literature carefully. Consumers should also look for a label stating conformance with the CPSC standard."

Helmets that are certified with the CPSC must have a chin strap and buckle. This ensures that a helmet won't move on the top of your head, putting you at risk of injury in the event of a crash. It's with these standards in mind that you will want to base your purchase.

Opting For Safety Over Convenience

Bicyclist Wearing Helmet

As a bicyclist operating a vehicle on the road, you are required to obey traffic laws. However, you don't have all the safety features of others on the road, like a driver's airbags, for example. Therefore, while it might not be required by law, it's still a good idea to have some line of defense in the event of an accident.

The No.1 safety precaution on a bike ride should be a helmet. There is no body part more important to protect than a head and it's easy as putting a helmet on your head and strapping in.

Helmets come in all shapes and sizes these days, so you can find one that is just your style and, not to mention, suitable to your safety needs.

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