Most injuries caused during biking accidents are head injuries. By simply purchasing a helmet that fits properly and wearing it, you greatly reduce your risk of a head injury should you have a crash. But just buying the cheapest helmet that fits your head and slapping it on before a ride really doesn’t protect you much. An ill-fitting helmet, or a helmet that you’re not wearing correctly, can be just like not wearing a helmet at all. In fact, in some cases, a helmet you’re wearing incorrectly can actually contribute to your injuries in a serious accident.
Finding the proper fit is crucial, so you’ll want to try on as many helmets as you can. Go to a store where they have many different helmets available, and they have each in different sizes. If you’re purchasing a helmet for a child, it’s even more important to get expert help to get the correct fit. So don’t go to a discount or mass-market store, but choose a dedicated bike store, instead.
Even if shopping for only yourself, get one of the trained experts to help you. This is especially important if you’ve never purchased a helmet before, or if you haven’t purchased one in the last four or five years, as helmets are drastically different today. Then you can enjoy biking more as you’ll be confident that you’ve got the right size and that you’re wearing the helmet correctly.
If you find a helmet that feels like a good fit but you don’t think will feel particularly comfortable for an afternoon of biking, ask about what comes with it. Some come with extra strips of padding available for you to place inside the helmet. And it could just be a matter of moving up or down one size. Make sure all the straps are comfortable. None should be too tight, and if they’re too loose, they won’t help hold the helmet in place properly to protect you in a fall.
Consider finding a helmet with a rear-retention system for the best biking protection. These are straps in the back of the helmet that go under the head at the top of the neck, and pretty much guarantee that the helmet is in the right position on your head. If you mountain bike at all, consider a helmet designed specifically for mountain biking. It translates to the best protection while road biking, while a standard helmet doesn’t have the extra durability of a mountain biking helmet.
Get on a bike while wearing the helmet to mimic the position you’re actually in while riding to see if you’ll have good visibility. The helmet that seems perfect while you’re standing upright in the shop might prove to be an annoyance if it blocks any of your line of sight while you’re leaned down on your bike. Visors are a great addition for off-road and rough terrain, though you shouldn’t rule out a visor for ordinary riding, especially if you ever ride in the rain.