Bike helmets seem like such a trivial thing while setting up for a ride right? The adrenaline rush that takes over seems to be the only thing that matters at the moment! We aren’t here to bore you with the “safety first” lecture but there are certain specifications to your helmets that you should be acknowledged about before you set out for another ride again. We are here to throw some light on the variety of options available for these helmets, their significance and which one would be the most suitable for you.
Why Do We Need Bike Helmets?
We often don’t fully realize the importance of putting on a helmet over our head. Be it bikes, cycles or any other similar vehicle. However, the fact is, the absence of helmets can make a noticeable contribution to the yearly death statistics. In the year 2015 alone, 818 cyclists in the US faced demise and that is the highest recorded rate for the last decade!
Even though wearing a helmet is considered “uncool” among teens and the daredevils in general, doctors have always emphasized its importance. It can reduce the risk of potential traumatic brain injuries (TBI) by half according to an American study. Helmets prevent concussion, jarring motion and other variations of this injury. You can also save yourself from facial bone fractures and injuries under the protection of a helmet.
Types of Bike Helmets
At present, there are a number of helmets available in the market but which kind is aimed for whom is not always a common knowledge. To help you out, here goes our compilation of the most popular types of bike helmets:
From the naming itself, you might have guessed already that this type of helmet is aimed at riders who go on casual road rides every day. Though this stands to be its primary usability, it can also be utilized for other cycling types as well.
The road helmets are lightweight, very aerodynamic and usually have more air vents than other categories. A higher price will ensure lighter weight and more sophisticated channels on the interior for proper ventilation. Some of them might also offer extra features like slots and removable plastic shells. They tend to be very stylish, compact and racy.
If you are looking for a helmet dedicated to those trips between home and work, this is the perfect category for you. Commuter helmets tend to have a more rounded shape than the usual elongated ones.
Most of them offer extra utilities like winter ear flaps, integrated blinkers and sometimes even waterproof covers. These have fewer air vents than the road helmets to protect you from wind and rain. They generally have a solid plastic shell covering the EPS foam within. If you live in an area where rain and gloomy weather are the norms, this helmet will be the best bet.
Trail helmets are mainly used for mountain biking where the risk of stumbling upon the wrong stone is pretty much imminent. Their shells are therefore made harder than even the premium road helmets and provide larger coverage by some extra length on the lower back.
They usually come with a shade attached to the front to protect your eyes from sunlight, dirt materials and obstructive branches. Few of them also allow attaching a camera on the front to record your adventure, or lights for night-time rides. Before buying one of these, try it out on your head for real to see if they fit you properly.
These are similar to the trail helmets, except they come with an extra coverage on the rear allowing more protection around the skull base. They also contain a peak on the front where you can put your goggles for rest. Despite these extra advantages, they weigh much lighter than downhill or full-face helmets.
The name for these helmets comes from the enduro racing, which is a form of stage race where the participants compete for a fixed time period through downhill courses. They have to climb between the courses to go from one stage to another. So these helmets demand high-level protection along with grade-A ventilation.
5. Aero Road
The name “aero” comes from aerodynamics which is the main focus behind this helmet’s built. Their vents are usually covered by using vent plugs or by utilizing adjustable vents. They seem to be more smooth and rounded than others to let air flow more effectively when the rider is in a fast pace.
Basically, these are made as a combination of trial helmets and road helmets. Cyclists who take part in time trial races use them the most since aerodynamics plays an important role in such competitions. They allow easy movement, weigh very little and are of a compact size.
6. Full-face or Downhill Mountain
A full-face helmet can assure you the maximum protection for head and is an absolute necessity for biking on downhill mountains. They provide complete coverage around the head and also offer a ventilated built-in chin guard to give you some extra facial protection.
In addition to that, they contain an elongated peak or a replaceable visor to protect you from rain, mud and airborne debris. There is usually a hook or grip patch too for a proper placement of your goggle strap.
These helmets are generally made of EPS foam, protected by a shell made of plastic, carbon fiber or fiberglass. They are a favorite for aggressive bikers who love taking risks since they can keep you safe from the head, chin, cheek and teeth damages.
Also known as park helmets, these have the simplest designs and their origins go back to the 1970s. That time they were just round, hard and smooth shells, which are used by skateboarders even today.
They offer the least advantages on our list since they can have few to zero ventilation holes, offer lower coverage around the head and get hot faster than other helmets. There is not much option to modify its adjustability either. All you can try is inserting foams of varying width. This foam can be EPS, EPP or butyl nitrile, which is covered by a hard shell made of ABS plastic.
BMX stands for Bicycle Motor-Cross and aims at satisfying riders who regularly take part in BMX races. It offers some variations from full weight to lightweight and full face to open face. The full face ones offer the best protection and the open face helmets are more suitable for riding on flatlands. Since these races are typically pretty short, the air vents provided within are kept small.
They always contain a chinbar and a visor which is big enough in size to keep unwanted airborne materials away from your eyes and face. A shell made of plastic or composite material covers the EPS foam in these helmets.
Like aero helmets, Chrono helmets also highlight aerodynamic advantages but are specifically made for track pursuit events. Most of the times, they don’t have any vent so that the air movement across the shell runs smoothly. Thus, this is not fit for daily use on roads at regular street speed.
They can be a fully round ball or a bit elongated in shape resembling a horizontal teardrop. Some also contain a protruding tail in the back which lets the helmet settle properly and also offers extra support for the head in case of a crash. EPS foam is inserted into a plastic shell with very little weight for impact protection.
10. Women’s Road
There are no astounding differences in terms of design and architecture between men’s and women’s helmets, except for the extra space it requires to accommodate the longer hair or tied up hair. The official term for this space is “hairport” or “ponytail port” which is basically a rear channel in the foam.
These helmets come in a broader range of colors than usual and sometimes even some floral designs to cater to their fashion needs. The fitting doesn’t show much change either since the shape of the skull and the location of ears, eyes and nose are not that different.
11. Children and Toddler
For the junior prodigies, there is a pretty wide variety of helmets available now on the market. These come in bright colors and fun kid-friendly designs, with an assurance of certified safety. Some of them even include MIPS for some extra security.
MIPS or Multi-directional Impact Protection System is a feature introduced by Swedish manufacturers which allows an additional layer inside the shell. If the rider faces an oblique impact, these helmets can shift around without moving the head avoiding injury.
They are small, lightweight, smooth and usually have the shape of a road helmet model or a rounder one. All of them have extra rear coverage and are bound to meet the CPSC standards.
Summary – Bike Helmet Styles
With so many options ready to be explored, it definitely motivates us to try out these exciting new things in the biking arena! Before picking one of these, bear in mind what kind of rides you are really comfortable with taking and which style would suit you the most. We would encourage you to look for a certified helmet since they can offer the biggest guarantee in terms of durability, safety and the overall quality.