Dirt Bike Helmets?
The sport of mountain biking is on the rise, and the downhill, and the next rise… As bikes are evolving into precision trail eating machines, riders are choosing more challenging trails. They are also experiencing more epic crashes. With this, comes the evolution of better gear.
What Dirt Bike Helmets Are All About
Dirt bike helmets have taken the best safety features of motocross and BMX helmets and combined them with streamlined design and lightweight materials to provide a safer, more pleasant ride.
Your helmet starts with a core of expanded polystyrene (EPS) which gives the helmet it the basic shape. The foam core acts as a crumple zone. It is lined with a multi-directional impact protection system (MIPS) that prevents rotational brain injuries. Padding is set into the helmet. An adjustable retention device is added to the interior. The hard plastic outer shell is a thin, strong, puncture resistant layer. Wrapping the shell around the edges offers extra protection to the back of the head and temples. This is important for trail riding.
How Safe Is Safe?
There are several safety organizations who rate dirt bike helmets. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)has set the minimum standards for helmet safety. Snell has the toughest rating standard. American Society for Testing and Materials ASTM F1952 is the new national standard for mountain bike helmet safety. Always check for the right seal of approval.
Testing requires that a helmet, strapped to a head form, be turned upside down and dropped, from a specified distance, onto an anvil. The anvil may be flat or shaped to simulate objects you could crash into. An accelerometer inside the head form measures the gravitational force (g’s). They must read below a certain level or the helmet is not approved for safety.
Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Head Gear
If you fight with your helmet every time you use it, you might risk not using it, so it’s vital to choose one with care and make sure it’s the right fit. The following keys should be combined to find the perfect helmet for you.
You want the highest rated helmet you can afford. All helmets sold in the U.S. must meet minimum safety standards so, technically, you can’t get a bad one, but you can get a better one.
Convertible chin guards allow you to remove the guard for maximum breathability on hard climbs, then replace it for safety on gnarly down hills. Recent adaptations from enduro racing include wrap-around chin guards incorporated into the helmet. They provide greater protection to your lower face and may reduce neck injuries.
You don’t want to be a hot head on the trail. Cooling ports in the front of your helmet and rear exhaust ports to maintain interior airflow are necessities. The more, the merrier. Thickness and configuration of the padding inside your helmet will have an effect on temperature and airflow. Thicker padding is warmer, but allows for deeper air channels and is more absorbent, something to think about on a long, sweaty day.
Comfort is key. Your helmet should fit snugly without any pressure points or shifting. The retention device should be simple enough to adjust with a single gloved hand. The visor should offer an unobstructed view while keeping the sun out of your eyes. If it is adjustable, the securing mechanism should be solid so you don’t spend half your ride pushing the visor back up, out of your face. Ideally, the helmet will provide a place for you to park your goggles. If you wear corrective eyewear or sunglasses when you ride, make sure the helmet fits over them comfortably.
You want your helmet to be lighter than air. It doesn’t sound like much, but a couple of extra pounds can feel like tons at the end of a long trail. New composites and 3-D printing are teaming up to make stronger, lighter helmets. Some weigh less than a pound. Your neck will thank you.
A Special Feature
Removable camera mounts are becoming available on more and more new helmets. This allows you to video your ride when you choose to – without drilling holes in your helmet and breaching its integrity- or maintain a sleek aerodynamic profile when you don’t.
A helmet, like a seatbelt, doesn’t matter much until you need it, then it becomes the most important thing in your world. You wouldn’t drive a car without insurance or your seatbelt, so think of your dirt bike helmet as an insurance policy for your lifestyle. It will help ensure that you can keep on doing what you love to do.