Helmet Buying Tips
Bike riding, rollerskating, skateboarding—no matter what your sport, a helmet is essential for your safety. Check out these tips for buying the right helmet for the right sport.
A helmet should be as much a part of your bike accessories as brakes, wheels and pedals. Think you don't need one? Consider these facts from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:
- 86 percent of those bicycle deaths involve persons 16 and older.
- The most serious injuries among a majority of those killed are to the head.
- Helmet use has been estimated to reduce head injury risk by 85 percent.
Now that you know you need one, here's helmet buying information from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.
- Standards: Since 1999, the helmet must meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) bicycle helmet standard. (Look for the CPSC sticker.)
- Design: The helmet fit you well (snug but not tight), with a rounded, smooth exterior and no major snag points in back. (Pick white or bright color for visibility)
- Style: Helmets come in several styles: typical road, mountain, commuter, skate, BMX, downhill racing, chrono, youth, toddler and women's helmets.
WHN Expert Tip: Comfort and Style
"Choose a helmet like you would any piece of apparel. Look at how well it fits you, how well you think you look in it. It's important that you think it looks good on you and matches your own personal style." Randy Swart, director, Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.
- Standards: If they meet the CPSC bicycle helmet standard they can legally be sold for bicycling and roller skating. (For aggressive or trick skating, the CPSC recommends helmets that meet the ASTM F1492 or Snell N-94 standards.)
- Standards: Helmets for aggressive, trick, extreme skating or skateboarding should meet the ASTM F1492 skateboard helmet standard. (Some of the best skateboard helmets are "dual-certified" to both the ASTM and CPSC standards.)
- Design: The exterior should be a hard shell (to hold up under multi impacts), have a strong strap and buckle (to keep it in place), and preferably be lined with Expanded PolyPropylene (EPP).
- Style: Most skateboard helmets are black, but other colors are available.
When should you replace your helmet?
- If you can see marks on the shell or measure any foam crush at all.
- If you have crashed or dropped your helmet on a hard surface.
- If it doesn't have a CSPC sticker (bike/skate helmets) or ASTM F1492 (for trick skateboarding).
Need more? Visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute or download CPSC's "Which Helmet for Which Activity?" brochure.