Last weekend, I was preparing to go cycling up a nearby suburb. Only the night before, I realized that I had lent my helmet to a friend.
Sadly, the only thing I had in hand was a ski helmet. Therefore, I had to do some research to find out if using other helmets for cycling was a good choice or not.
Using other helmets for cycling is not recommended as this could put you at risks with some major protection elements missing in them. Furthermore, you could have chances of having severe injuries or even casualties in an accident.
However, if you are willing to accept the danger while being super cautious about it, you could use other helmets at your own risk.
Well, there are certain things you need to understand while using your helmet.
I have gathered information about why it is best not to use other helmets while cycling, the specific helmet designs and their purposes, their safety standards, and so on.
Some similarities amongst the helmets could be possible, but you may want to reconsider using other helmets once you find out in detail.
Why should you use a bike helmet while cycling?
It is best not to use other helmets while cycling because they are not built in the form that a cyclist needs them to be.
All bike helmets are made to protect the riders’ skull in accidents, are properly ventilated, and reduce drag while riding.
To know why it is not wise to substitute bike helmets with others, you must first learn about their design and why they are designed like so.
You may not find all the features included below in other helmets, which is why you may not use them to replace the cycle helmets.
Bike helmets have their specific design for comfort and safety. So let’s look at how a cycle helmet is actually made.
A good amount of research and science has been involved in creating a bike helmet. The primary focus goes to your head’s protection.
Wearing the helmet should keep it absolutely safe at all times. Hence, everything else is built following that.
A helmet has two parts – a hard outer shell and a soft inner foam liner. The shell spreads impact force over a larger surface area, and the inner foam absorbs the impact energy.
Usually, the shell of a helmet is made with ABS plastic, fiberglass, polycarbonate or Kelvar.
On the inside, the foam is generally made of EPP or EPSP that can absorb impact energy well. Its crucial function is to minimize the impact that our skull receives to keep it in one piece.
Cyclists love speed, so they want helmets that would not create drag. Hence, aerodynamics is another feature of a cycle.
This round shape of the helmet lets air molecules slide over and around the helmet instead of being caught within it. Thus, it decreases drag in the helmet.
You will find good racing helmets with even better designs having better anti-drag properties.
One more thing to note is proper ventilation in the bike helmets that keep you cool as you cycle.
The helmets are ventilated so that the body heat travels out through them whilst letting the cooler air in.
Also, some traffic officers could sign you a cheat for not using the right kind of helmet, as per the laws in your area.
Why is it Best Not to Use Other Helmets?
Let’s look at some other helmets and understand why they should not replace a bike helmet.
Can you Replace a Motorcycle Helmet with a Cycling Helmet?
This one has both a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ for answers. You can use motorcycle helmets for cycling as they provide very good protection. However, they are not well ventilated, and their build is not very favorable.
You will be highly safe in a motorcycle helmet as it has excellent protection to absorb front impact very well. As it is known that many cyclists fall on their front, this helmet could give the utmost safety.
However, the motorbike helmets do not have plenty of ventilation as motorbikers don’t generate much heat. Hence, it’s not so necessary for them. You’d be sweating buckets if you went cycling in a motorbike helmet on a good sunny day!
This definitely doesn’t sound pleasant or hygienic. So it would be a ‘thumbs-down’ from my side.
Also, a motorcycle helmet is heavier for a cyclist to use while cycling. This could cause soreness or other injuries in an accident and also make the cyclist feel less comfortable.
One very crucial thing to remember is that a motorcycle helmet hugely decreases your peripheral vision. So, you might have to keep turning back your head. Thus, this keeps getting tedious and riskier.
Remember, motorcycle helmets are big and bulky. Imagine wearing this helmet while cycling. WEIRD! I am sorry to break it to you, but you could degrade your style-meter if you went cycling in a motorbike helmet.
Can you Substitute Horse Riding (equestrian) Helmets for Cycling Helmets?
You should not rely much on using a horse riding helmet while cycling. You could be very careful and still use it. Nonetheless, it’s not a good idea overall.
A horse-riding helmet is usually designed in a way to absorb back and side -impacts and less of the front effect. This is because horseback riders are more likely to fall, hitting the sides or backs of their heads on the ground.
However, in the case of a cyclist, he usually falls on the front of his head during crashes or mishaps. That is why he needs a helmet that can absorb the front impact well.
Also, the bike helmets are made to take care of skid falls, but the horse-riding (equestrian) helmets are not necessarily designed to provide safety during skids.
In addition, bike helmets are cheaper compared to equestrian helmets. So even while you fall, the loss of bike helmets is much more affordable than any other helmets.
You may find these equestrian helmets more stylish and well ventilated and opt for bike riding. But, my research suggested not doing that.
However, if you ask me to choose between a ‘horse riding helmet’ and a ‘no helmet,’ then I’d tell you to go for the helmet. Both the helmets are ASTM certified but for different types of impact.
Can You Use a Ski Helmet While Cycling?
You could choose to use a ski helmet while cycling, but let me warn you that you are going to feel uncomfortably hot if you do so.
Ski or snowboarding helmets are meant for protection in cold temperatures.
Of course, they do provide protection. However, they don’t have proper ventilation, which is very crucial for cycling.
Ski and snowboarding helmets are made to keep your heads warm. While you could use these helmets in very cold weather, it is not usually recommended while cycling. So, I got my answer here.
However, a ski helmet is very robust and durable, so even if you have an accident, it may not require you to get a new helmet.
How Safe are Helmets?
To give you a one-liner answer, helmets provide you head safety, but it is not a replacement for disciplined riders and safer streets.
According to a study of ‘International Journal of Epidemiology’ done in February 2017, using helmets significantly minimize the risks of head injury. They also concluded that fatal head injuries were lower when cyclists wore a helmet.
However, they also added that using helmets does not eradicate injuries completely. Also, you do suffer concussions, as helmet manufacturers fundamentally emphasized on prevention of skull fracture and took less care of concussions.
The concussion risk amongst cyclists is something to take note of seriously. As per The New York Times, 2013, cycling showed the highest concussion rate out of all sports, including American football.
What’s worse is, the impacts of a concussion can stay with you for years. They could also be permanent.
So, to sum it up, wearing a helmet is not the solution to all injuries or accidents. However, it does protect you against a brain injury. So always put your helmet on.
With my research and analysis, I have understood that wearing other helmets while cycling is not that big of an issue. However, it would not be the best option, either. And this does not matter whether you are an amateur or a professional.
Sometimes, simply by the outer look or without much knowledge, you might fall for using just any helmets. In such cases, I would suggest you to do a proper study on what type of helmet you would be using, where you would be cycling, and things like that.
All in all, I would recommend you to use the helmets meant for their respective purposes. Say, use a horse-riding helmet for horse-riding, a bicycle helmet for cycling. Every kind of helmet is designed in the way of how it should work, and we must keep that in mind.
Keep the planet green, happy cycling!