According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), accidents are the biggest threat to society. It is something that cannot be controlled and comes when you least expect it. As a registered charity, RosPA has been working for a century to promote changes in citizen’s attitude toward accidents as well as act as a driving force for the transformations of certain legislation related to safety. And that includes safety when on a road bike. No one can underestimate the necessity of wearing the best road bike helmets and that is for some good reasons. Here we provide you with the ultimate guide that will help you decide which will be the best helmet you can while on the road.
To note that there is a significant number of people who have been involved in a bike accident is not an overstatement. According to the most recent available figures, there were 18,477 cyclists were injured in reported road accidents, in 2016 alone. Of this number, 3,499 were killed or seriously injured. Even though a bicycle helmet is not generally a huge consideration in the bike riding experience, it could prove to be the difference in how well your face and your head will be prevented in the event of a crash.
Most of the time, buyers tend to consider the performance and the style of a helmet than the safety that it can offer. The fact that every helmet that you can see being sold in the US are required to pass certain safety standard set my the CPSC or the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Still, as there will always be significant variations in the design in the prodcuts available in the market today, it makes sense to make an informed decision about what will be sitting on your head while you roll on the road for whatever reason.
As you read on you will learn how a helmet works, why it is important to wear one, what features to look out for, what types of helmets you may find in the market, as well as what you can expect for a set budget.
Other than the CPSC standards that most manufacturers need to pass before actually selling their products in the US, there are other standards that manufacturers voluntarily try to acquire certification for. To know if a helmet has met such standards, just check for the appropriate sticker inside the helmet.
There are some specific requirements that helmet manufacturers consider when designing their helmet models, such as the permanent attachments that should have no external rigid projections that will be greater than 5mm in height and no internal projections that would most likely cause injury. Requirements of the materials used that will guarantee the product’s ability durability when exposed to sunlight, extreme temperatures and rain, and stability under the influence of aging.
Helmets also need to comply with performance elements, including a design that will not obscure vision, reduce the force that will manage to directly hit a cyclist’s head upon impact, distribute the force of an impact, as well as provide secure enough hold to remain on a cyclist’s head should an accident occur.
You see for a helmet to conform to every possible standard, it will take a lot of time to finish and execute the design. The process includes the following phases: sketching, designing, 3D work, testing, sampling, certification, pilot runs, and graphic design before they finally hit production. High-end helmets will require as much as close to 2 years to do all of that.
How do helmets work?
A helmet is worn to prevent head and face injury in the event of an impact. As such, helmets must be designed with a means of absorbing impact energy, one which can distribute the load, as well as a retention system.
To absorb and distribute the load, helmets are made with polystyrene foam that compresses on impact, cushions the blow, and distributes the force. A hard, smooth outer shell is used to cover the foam and keep them together. This also enables the helmet to slide on the ground to avoid any jerking movements that may cause possible neck injuries. The outer shell also adds a layer of protection to puncture type accidents which the foam would be vulnerable to. Plastic and carbon fiber composite is the most common outer shells that these helmets are usually made of.
Another feature that is usually added to aid retention that will be a combination of dials, straps, fasteners, and adjusters is also required to prevent the helmet from sliding or coming off following jolting forces and fast changes of direction caused by secondary impacts and movements.
Padding is another feature that you will normally see inside a helmet. Earlier designs were included primarily to provide comfort rather than protection. Recent developments, such as ‘SPIN’ which stands for ‘Shearing Pad INside’, is added in the latest POC Ventral bicycle helmets. This padding is intended to minimize rotational forces on the head in the event of an impact, thus making the helmet a lot safer when worn.
Getting a right-fitting helmet is crucial for safety reasons other than the comfort that it provides.
When looking for a helmet to buy, you will need to consider the size, shape, retention system, as well as tightening mechanisms to ensure that the helmet that you will be wearing will be able to provide you the right protection that you will need while you are on the go.
You will also have to check for the pressure points or if there is uneven pressure throughout the helmet. Any pressure that you may feel at any portion of your head and face that is covered by the gear indicates that the helmet is the wrong size or the wrong shape for your head.
If you have a long hair, you may also need to check for a hair port or a way that a helmet can accommodate a ponytail without affecting the fit or safety of a helmet.
Finally, if you are looking for a helmet that your child will have to wear, look for one that will provide a perfect fit and not one that they can grow into. Remember that if you compromise the fit of the helmet, you may also compromise the safety of the wearer. Consider all these suggestions and try on several sizes and designs before actually buying one to ensure that you won’t regret your decision.