Types of Bicycle Helmets and Their Safety Quality

Biking is something I love most and have been practicing it since my childhood.

I am fortunate to live in a neighbourhood filled with people who enjoy riding their bikes daily. We have developed ourselves into a dynamic group that values cycling.

There is although one thing that sometimes comes into the discussion in our group. Few group members believe that a safety helmet is unnecessary while riding their bikes around the community.

It’s always better to take precautions. Therefore, many including me, disagree with this and make it a ritual to wear our safety gear before cycling. 

We need to understand that different bicycle helmets do not provide the same protection. I know this seems very commonsensical to declare, but I have personally witnessed many people diverting towards helmets with low costs. A variety of bike helmets provide different safety qualities and are used in different situations.

Now, there is no correlation between a helmet’s price and the safety it offers. Its design, material, and structure are what determines it. 

Furthemore, The crucial importance of a helmet needs to be understood. Helmets have consistently proven to be a life-saving medium in cases of small and major accidents.

My attention to safety and precaution led me to conduct intensive research regarding different bicycle helmets and their safety parameters. 

Through this article, I have tried to compile all the information I have gathered through my research. Hopefully, It will help you choose the perfect bike helmet for you. 

Types of Helmets

All the different types of helmets can be clubbed together into four categories. Helmet’s divisions directly correlate to the kind of bike you own or plan to buy and the terrain you practice your bike in. Following are 4 types of bike helmets.

Generic/ Recreational Bike Helmets: 

  • Used for casual riding. 
  • Grants Basic Impact Protection
  • Cost-effective in nature

Road/Racing Helmets

  • Lightweight
  • Aerodynamic in nature

Mountain Bike Helmet

  • Adequately ventilated
  • Extended rear head coverage

BMX Helmets

  • Heavier and bulkier design
  • Maximum coverage 
  • Fewer vents

Make a record of all the features you would want your helmet to possess. Are you looking for advanced designs or some special features like a built-in camera?

Just keep in mind that all these features might make your helmet price go higher.

Generic/ Recreational Bike Helmets

My bike group and I use these types of helmets. They are known to provide you with basic safety measures. 

Types of Bike Helmets
You can use these types of helmet for normal bike riding.

These varieties of helmets are usually popular with people who use their bikes for commuting. You will generally spot these kinds of helmets off roads where people often come to enjoy cycling as a recreational activity.

It is very inexpensive and costs the least among all the other varieties of helmets. These helmets are generally heavier and lack aerodynamics. Therefore, making them inappropriate for Road or Mountain biking experience.

Road/Racing Helmets

Road helmets or Racing helmets, as the name suggests, are designed to support the biker’s experience in bike races.

It is light weighted and has an aerodynamic structure. Generally made from plastic, it has foam as its interior, giving the helmet enough padding to avoid injuries through any impact.

Including vents on the side, these helmets are also attached with chin straps to provide extra protection.

All these features add up to an adventurous and safe experience while racing your bikes. 

Mountain Bike Helmet

Given the terrain mountain bike helmet’s tackles, two important features are always present in it. These two features also give them a stark difference feature from other bike helmets.

These two differences are :

  • Extra impact cushion on the rear end of the helmet
  • Visor

The major reason for mountain bike helmets to have padding on the rear end is because most bikers, while cycling around the mountains, in a case of an accident, fell on the back, injuring the rear of their heads. 

To minimise the impact of potential accidents, helmet designers specifically added more cushion or padding on the mountain helmets’ back.

A visor is a moveable part attached to the front side of the helmet. It’s a kind of sun shield or glasses used to protect the eyes from harsh light. 

Riding on mountains exposes the eyes to intense sunlight. Hence, a visor protects and enhances the vision of the rider. It is a very crucial part of a mountain bike helmet.

The helmet is also made of plastic with padding and foam on its interior. It also similar to the race bike helmet consists of air vents for coolness.

Depending on the style of your biking, the type of your helmet will change. If you bike around uber rocky and unsteady terrains, your mountain bike helmet should be covering your full face with extra chin support. 

The more adventurous your style of biking, the more rigid and secure your helmet is.

BMX Helmets

The full form of BMX is bicycle motocross or bike motocross; a cycle sport performed on BMX bikes. BMX bikes are for dirt tracks consisting of jumps, turns, and other challenges.

Through the above paragraph, we can gauge the massive intensity as well as risk in BMX riding. Therefore, BMX bike helmets have the most protective features comparative to any other bike helmets.

You must have seen standard BMX helmets used by roller skaters and skateboarders in your nearby parks.

BMX helmets can be distinguished from other helmets by their round structure with an extremely hard exterior. They tend to have smaller vents and are known to be heavier than different available varieties.

Types of Bike Helmets
BMX helmets are more heavier and provide all round protection.

BMX helmets bear a passing resemblance to a motorcycle helmet. Like a motorcycle helmet, they offer all-around Protection covering the back and sides of your head. The helmet also provides face protection in the form of a glass shield.

If you are into BMX racing, you are required to use extreme safety measures. Please don’t invest in any generic helmets while indulging in BMX racing. Use a sturdy BMX helmet and enjoy this daring, adventurous sport.

Few other options:

The other distinguishes for bike helmets that I came across during my research were Female bike helmets and toddler/kid bike helmets.

I concluded that a female bike helmet was like any other bicycle helmet with the added benefit of bright colours and design. This choice is provided from a marketing point of view to sell more bike helmets.

Types of Bike Helmets
You can find variety of bike helmet available in market.

The toddler/kid bike helmet is, as the name suggests, specifically made for the comfort of small children as any standard bike helmet will be too big for them.

Here I have listed few cool helmet design that you might be interested in.

You can find this variety of helmets in all the four categories I had mentioned above. You can choose your bike helmets according to your biking style and individual preferences.

Do bicycle helmets have an expiry date?

It’s a constant debate and dilemma about when you need to replace and buy a new bike helmet. Most bike helmets are made from a very strong material, making them durable for a long time. 

The durability makes it confusing for people to understand when to buy a new helmet because there might be no physical damage to indicate it.

Experts suggest changing your bike helmets every 3 to 5 years. 

Your helmet might not show any signs of damage or cracks. The helmet might also haven’t experienced any crashes or accidents. 

The interior foam and the helmets’ dome start deteriorating and losing their strength through continuous use.

All big brands producing quality helmets will provide you with a time limit to use your helmets and replace them eventually.

Please adhere to these instructions to have a continual amount of safety during cycling.

Riding a bike has personally been a calming as well as an adventurous hobby. But we cannot put a blind eye towards the possible hazardous situation it might cause.

I always believe in precaution before cure and have been advocating and following it in my daily life. Wearing a helmet while riding my bike in my neighbourhood (one of the safest places) is one way I do it. And I wish my peers get inspired by this and choose safety over comfort eventually.

People should also understand that there is no such thing as an unsafe helmet. Any form of protective gear is going to minimize the effect of a crash or an impact. But for our advantage, we should invest in the bike helmet that specifically caters to our trail or route and provide maximum security.

 Almost all the helmets manufactured in the United States of America is complied with safety standard tests before launching in the market. Look for these safety standard certifications before choosing to invest in a helmet.

Following are some organisations that provide safety standards certifications for bike helmets.

  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
  • ASTM International (formerly “American Society for Testing and Materials”)
  • The Snell Memorial Foundation(Snell B-90, B-95)

These are the most commonly used safety standard certification for bike helmets in America. Make sure you choose helmets that have met the proper safety standards.

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