Buyer's Guide to Cycling Helmets
Bicycle helmets have several features and benefits. To make sure you get the right cycling helmet, we've put together this handy guide.
It is not mandatory to wear a helmet whilst riding a bicycle in the UK. However, if you fall off your bike, your head is particularly vulnerable to injury.
Bike helmets - spoilt for choice
Finding the appropriate bike helmet is no easy task among the myriad of models and options. Whether for an E-MTB, road bike, gravel bike or city bike, there's a different style and fit for each category.
The goal of a helmet is to protect your head in the unlikely event you come off your bike. In order to achieve this, the helmet must fit properly. Furthermore, it's important to also consider comfort with features such as weight and ventilation. The overall design of your helmet will therefore play a role in which one you decide to buy.
By the way: even if you're riding an E-Bike, there is still no law requiring you to wear a bicycle helmet in this country.
What should every helmet feature?
All helmets sold in the UK must conform to legal safety standards. The British Standards Institution (BSI) standard is BS EN 1078. You can find this mark of approval on all helmets sold in the UK. If you can't find it, your helmet will not protect you sufficiently.
Removable and washable foam pads improve comfort. Some helmets also include a fly protector to stop insect flying inside your helmet while you ride. Your bike helmet should also have sufficient ventilation to keep you cool on warm days and to help dry your sweat. A good helmet is easy to use and offers supreme comfort. Tip: take your cycling sunglasses with you when you try on a helmet. It'll save time and money if you can find the perfect combination.
Comfort and fit
The most suitable helmet must fit close to your head without being too tight and uncomfortable. First, measure the circumference of your head. Grab a tape measure and wrap it around your head just above your ears and centrally over your forehead. If needed, ask a friend or family member for help. All helmets have upper and lower size paramaters, for example 53-57 cm. If your head circumference falls at the upper limit of the size guide, choose a bigger helmet.
Modern bicycle helmets usually have an adjustment wheel at the back of the helmet. Turn this wheel to tighten it. The helmet should sit firmly on your head even when the chin strap isn't done up.
It's also important to adjust the chin strap. On one hand, your ears shouldn't be tucked behind the straps. On the other hand, the strap shouldn't be too tight under your chin. You should be able to slide two fingers in between the chin and the strap.
The Y of the straps must sit just below your ears. The chin strap can usually only be adjusted at one end. Cheaper helmets in particular are only available in one size. Experience shows that these helmets are only suitable if your head circumference falls within the average range. Outside of that range and these helmets are uncomfortable and ill-fitting.
What does "MIPS" mean?
A lot of newer, top-of-the-range helmets are sold with "MIPS" technology. This stands for "Multi Directional Impact Protection System". This reduces the rotary forces acting on the skull in a fall and thus minimises the risk of concussion.
Multiple concussions can have bad consequences, as many of us are aware. Therefore, many helmet manufacturers choose a slightly heavier and marginally less aerodynamic helmet in favour of greater safety and security.
How does MIPS work?
MIPS helmets (or those with similar technologies) have an additional layer between the head and helmet which prevent sudden movements within the helmet during a fall. In addition to a direct impact, this is the second most common cause of a concussion. MIPS helmets tend to be slightly more expensive than a helmet without such a feature. When buying a new helmet, you should consider the small surcharge. The added peace of mind may be worth it.
Which types of helmet are there?
Nowadays, there are many varieties of helmets which differ depending on the purpose. Examples include aerodynamic helmets for road cycling or skate-style helmets for trials bikes. The most important categories for helmets are:
Helmets for hybrid and city bikes
Hybrid or city bike helmets are mostly simple yet funtional helmets for everyday cycling. The design tends to favour be similar to skate-style helmets with full coverage and a few vents. Most of these helmets have an adjustment system and occasionally cover the ears. The high-end models can even include built-in lighting which improves your visibility on the road at night or in poor weather conditions.
If you also ride an E-MTB or a road bike, you can also wear these types of helmets. Everything is allowed - the main thing is you have a helmet for your own protection.
Helmets for road bikes
In addition to safety and protection features, the other important criteria for road cyclists are good aerodynamics, low weight and optimal ventilation. As a general rule of thumb, the more expensive a helmet, the more likely it is that these criteria will be included. However, even if your budget is smaller, you can still find a very good road bike helmet.
If you're looking to shave off seconds in a race, you'll need an aerodynamic time-trial helmet. These helmets streamline the air flow over the helmet to reduce drag.
If you're frequently on the road during windy and wet days, you should consider a helmet with integrated lights and rain protection. For cool temperatures, there are even helmets with integrated hats to keep you warm.
Lightweight helmet are especially useful for racing. These helmets typically weigh less than 300 grams, but still offer the same reliable protection for crashes.
Helmets for E-MTBs and MTBs
Downhill and enduro racing demands high speeds, rough terrain and dangerous obstacles on the trail. Therefore it's recommended that you wear a full-face helmet with a chin guard. These helmets are heavier and not as well ventilated. For trails that are a little more tame, riders tend to have a second half-face helmet with increased rear protection. Some helmets are compatible with a removable chin guard.
If you're looking for other protective equipment and accessories for your e-bike, E-MTB or hybrid bike, just visit Canyon. As well as great bikes, you'll find everything you need including high-quality accessories and clothing.
Cross-country helmets are similar to road bike helmets. Sometimes, these helmets have a removable visor for protection against branches along the trail. In addition, the helmet also has increased protection at the back of the head in case of a fall. You should make sure the helmet you choose isn't too heavy and is well ventilated. Premium MTB helmets are manufactured to be lightweight and include sweat-absorbing pads.
Special helmets are also available for BMX and dirt jump disciplines. These helmets originally come from skateboarding and are very robust with a solid top shell. This is an important feature because BMX riders sometimes show spectacular stunts where there is a danger of falling. These helmets are so stable that they can also survive several bumps without sacrificing the protective function. The ventilation is now quite so good for these helmets, but it's sufficient enough.
Now you're armed with all the information you need for your helmet purchase. At Canyon you'll find a wide selection of high-quality helmets from some of the best helmet manufacturers in the business. Take a look and choose the helmet that best suits you and your needs. If the helmet doesn't fit properly it's not problem: At Canyon, we offer a 30 day returns policy on bikes and accessories.
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