Bike Vs. Ski Helmets

Bike Vs. Ski Helmets
Recreational sports participation often comes with risk. A person who bikes or skis assumes possible injury when mounting a bike or strapping on skis. Wearing a helmet may reduce the risk of a serious head injury, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). However, helmets are designed to protect the head from the impacts common to a particular sport and are not necessarily interchangeable.

Bicycle Helmets

Bicycle helmets are designed for bicycling, recreational roller and in-line skating, and low-speed scooter riding, according to the CPSC. Bicycle helmets are designed to provide the wearer with adequate ventilation. Bicycle helmets must comply with mandatory federal safety standards. All helmets manufactured after 1999 and sold in the U.S. must meet the CPSC bicycle helmet standard.

Bicycle helmets that meet the CPSC standard provide substantial head protection when fitted and worn properly, according to the CPSC. These helmets are designed to withstand more than one moderate impact. However, adequate protection is provided for only a limited number of impacts. The CPSC recommends replacing the helmet with a new one when a cracked shell or crushed liner is evident and/or when directed by the manufacturer.

Ski Helmets

Ski helmets are specifically designed for skiing and snowboarding, according to the CPSC. Ski helmets are insulated for cold weather and designed to accommodate the use of goggles. They do not provide as much ventilation as a bicycle helmet. Ski helmets provide better coverage and impact protection than the use of a bicycle helmet and are built for multiple impacts, according to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA).

Standards help identify helmets that provide protection against collisions with large objects, have chinstraps sufficiently strong enough to hold the helmet in place throughout a crash, and provide adequate coverage and protection to the endangered areas of the head.

Ski helmet manufacturers are not required to meet U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. However, according to the NSAA, ski helmets may meet standards set by the Common European Norm--CEN 1077, the American Society of Testing Materials--ASTM F2040, or the Snell Memorial Foundation--Snell RS-98 for recreational skiing or Snell S-98 for snow sports.

According to the NSAA, CEN standards are less stringent than ASTM or Snell standards. The ASTM standard has become the standard to which helmets should be manufactured in the U.S. And the Snell RS-98 standard is the most stringent ski helmet standard in the world.

General Helmet Information

Wear a helmet that has a comfortable, snug fit. Wear the helmet level on your head, not tilted back at the top of your head or low over the forehead. Check to see that your peripheral vision is not impaired when wearing the helmet. If a face shield is provided, be certain that the view through the shield is clear and undistorted. The shield should resist fogging.

A helmet provides limited protection. The wearer must participate within his/her abilities and follow common sense rules of the sport's safety to help reduce the risk of personal injury.

Helmets may help to prevent some head injuries, but probably not in high-speed, head-on injuries, and they offer no protection against neck and other types of injuries.

Article Written By Karen Plant

Karen Plant earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Montana, School of Journalism. Her work has been published in several newspapers, online and in the Montana Journalism Review. As a native Montanan, Plant's love for the outdoors is evident in her frequent hiking, camping and other outdoor activities.

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