Choosing a Bicycle Helmet

Choosing a Bicycle Helmet
Before you take the first ride on your new bike, you should purchase a helmet. While a helmet may seem like an uncomfortable inconvenience, it could save your life. Choosing the right helmet will ensure that you're more likely to wear it each time that you ride and that it will fully protect your head in a crash.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Find your size. You could measure your head to find your size or simply try on helmets. To measure, wrap a measuring tape around your head an inch over your eyebrows. Record the measurement and refer to the sizing charts of specific helmet manufacturers to see whether you're a small, medium or large.
Step 2
Take a trip to your local bike dealer. It's best to choose your helmet in person as this will provide the most comprehensive fit and comfort guide. Helmets can be purchased at bike shops, sports stores and larger general merchandisers. You'll find the most knowledgeable staff at bike shops, however.
Step 3
Find a helmet or several helmets that fit your intended usage. There are helmets designed specifically for different kinds of biking, such as road biking, cross-country biking, mountain biking and downhill/freeride mountain biking. The latter are designed to meet increased safety protocol established under the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F1952 specification.
Step 4
Find a smooth, rounded helmet in an appropriate color. If you'll be riding at night, choose a brighter, more visible helmet. If not, look for a helmet in a color and design that is appealing.
Step 5
Put the helmet on. Use the tightening ring in back to get a snug fit on your head. Move the straps on the side of the helmet so that they rest on either side of the ear, meeting just below. Adjust the chin clip so that it is snug around your chin, providing only enough space to fit a finger or two in. Close the chin clip. When you open your mouth up wide, the chin straps should pull the helmet down.
Step 6
Closely assess the fit. Make sure the helmet comes off level from the forehead, sitting no more than an inch over the eyebrows. It should sit snugly on your head, making contact with your head all around, but it should remain comfortable. Shake your head around and ensure that the helmet remains snug and doesn't flop around. The helmet shouldn't tilt more than an inch in the front or back; try pushing it up from both places to ensure it doesn't. Make adjustments using the control ring and straps if the helmet doesn't fit properly. If you can't get the helmet to fit, try on another model and proceed through the steps again.
Step 7
Consider the overall style of the helmet. You want enough ventilation to keep you cool, but want to avoid large, oblong vents that put you at risk for head injury. Also, make sure there's enough padding to keep you comfortable and absorb sweat.

Tips & Warnings

Wear your sunglasses when trying on your helmet to be sure they work comfortably together.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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