You are more likely to skin your knee than to have a crash landing on top of your head, but still, I think it’s a good idea to always wear a bicycle helmet. It’s really not that annoying and it could save you from brain damage or death!
Helmets made for the USA must meet the US Consumer Product Safety Commission standard, so look for a CPSC sticker on your helmet. Most every helmet from a major manufacturer (Bell, Giro, POC, etc.) will have met this safety standard.
Types of Bicycle helmets
There are many types of helmets out there. There are funny shaped aerodynamic helmets for time trialists and triathletes, as well as full-face helmets designed for downhill mountain bike racers.
For the average road or mountain biker, you will probably want a typical road/mountain bike helmet. This is the helmet that covers the top and back of your head (but not your face, ears, or neck.)
It is composed of a styrofoam liner and a thin plastic shell. It will also have some air vents. This helmet is designed for comfort and ventilation and will stand up to one hard impact.
Another option is a skate or BMX style helmet. This helmet has about the same amount of coverage, but is a little heavier and has less ventilation. It is designed to withstand multiple small impacts before replacement, so some cyclists choose this style.
A mountain bike is a heavy-duty bicycle with wide, knobby tires that can handle harsh terrain.
It might have suspension to soak up the bumps from rough terrain. If you plan to do most of your riding off-road on either dirt roads or technical singletrack trails filled with mud and rocks, a mountain bike is a must.
Features to look for
The main features to look for in a helmet are:
• light weight and
The main difference between a $20 helmet and a $220 helmet is that the more expensive helmet will be lighter weight and have better ventilation.
That is important for professional bicycle racers in the Tour de France, but when you are just starting out, you don’t need an expensive helmet.
Remember – the $220 helmet won’t really be any safer than the $20 helmet. It will just be more comfortable and stylish.
Where to buy your first helmet
For hybrid bicycles, it is important to note that it shares traits with both road and mountain bikes. Generally, the hybrid has an upright riding position for better comfort and control. It also comes with smooth tires that make it fairly fast on paved streets.
The most important thing to do is choose a helmet that fits you properly. At first, it would be best to go to a bike shop to buy a helmet. There you can try on different sizes and brands.
The only problem with a hybrid is that is won’t be able to handle rough mountain bike trails, and it won’t go super fast on the road.
If you have a local bike shop, you can try out all the different types of bikes from different brands to see which one feels most comfortable.
Some are slightly different shaped, so it’s likely that one brand will fit your head better than others.
But once you figure out the right size and best brand of helmet for you, you can probably get a good helmet at either a bike shop or online store.
Fitting your helmet
When wearing your helmet, it should be level on your head. Your forehead should not be exposed.
The helmet for a road bike should be shaped backward. Remember a road bike is a lightweight bicycle built to go fast on paved roads. It is great for comfortably covering long distances, or for going fast.
If you plan to ride on the road or paved bike paths, either recreationally or to train for racing, this is the bike for you.
The chin strap should be tightened until you can just fit one finger between the strap and your neck.
If it is not tightened down like this, the helmet could shift off your head during a crash, rendering it useless. (Try rocking the helmet back and forth and side to side to test the fit.)