Your guide to helmet safety
11 February, 2020
At Reid we're passionate about helping you stay safe while cycling. This article joins a series of helpful articles with useful information to support your enjoyment of riding.
Heading out the door to cycle to work, carve up the local trails or get some longer distance road rides in, we all reach for a helmet but hardly ever consider its condition, unless it smells terrible.
The humble helmet, often neglected, is the one piece of kit designed with the sole purpose of keeping your brain safe while riding, but have you thought about whether it would protect your head if you crashed?
The basics of the 'skid lid' are the same for all cyclists:
- It should be the right size;
- It needs to fit well;
- It needs to be in good working order;
- And, it is required by law.
When to replace a helmet
The Snell Foundation, a helmet certification agency, recommend replacing your helmet at least every five years even if it’s not damaged because:
“Glues, resins and other materials used in helmet production can affect liner materials. Hair oils, body fluids and cosmetics, as well as normal 'wear and tear' all contribute to helmet degradation.”
In practice how often you ride and how careful you are with your helmet will determine how regularly you need to replace it. If you crash, or give it a solid knock, always replace your helmet. Even if you think the helmet came away unscathed give it a good visual inspection inside to make sure there are no cracks in the polystyrene (the main protective element of the helmet). It may not look damaged but if there’s any doubt, throw it out and get a new one.
Which Type of helmet? Sport, Road or Mountain?
Cycling helmets come in three basic styles: sport, road and mountain. All types are designed and tested to meet the Australia and New Zealand standards that make sure it will protect your head from impact. Each type explained:
Sport helmets: An economical choice for recreational, commuter, road and mountain bikers. This style of helmet is typically well priced and often come in a wide range of colours and/or prints. A great everyday helmet, although ventilation for hot days or longer rides is limited.
Mountain bike helmets: Designed to ventilate well, even at low speeds, usually have a visor and generally cover more of the rear to ensure they keep their snug fit while riding over rough terrain and protect from more angles (branches and the like!). Also popular with road cyclists and commuters for the added sun protection.
Road bike helmets: This style of helmet is designed for speed and keeping cool, with generous ventilation, an aerodynamic design and light weight materials. While you can get really good helmets for under $50, the price can get up there if you're looking for every little advantage.
Choosing your helmet?
The most important element is making sure that it is the right size for your head and that it fits properly. We have more on this from an earlier post or you can watch this video by Global Cycling Network (GCN) which explains it very clearly.
If you have any doubts, drop into one of our stores and we’ll happily help you get a helmet that fits your budget and head.
Are all helmets equal?
As long as you buy a helmet in Australia or New Zealand, no matter the price they will protect your head as they all have to pass very strict testing.
Price dictates features. The cheaper it is, the heavier it is likely to be. Less weight, which is important for road cycling, or more ventilation for comfort on longer rides will usually require a slightly more expensive lid. But in terms of keeping your brain safe while riding, a $30 helmet meets the same standards as one that costs $400.
How does a helmet prevent brain injuries?
Brains can be injured when the brain tissue keeps moving inside your head and then stops suddenly when it hits your skull. Helmets allow the brain extra TIME and SPACE to slow down by absorbing some of the force and thus reducing injury. Read more on how helmets work.
Check out the options
Reid Cycles have a great range of quality helmets that have all been through rigorous testing and have earnt the BSI stamp of approval. We have helmets to suit all budgets and types of riding. Check them out here.