How to Choose a Bike Helmet

A bike helmet’s primary purpose is protection in the event of a crash, collision or fall. Most bike helmets will offer a good balance of protection, ventilation and comfort. Although they are not required to be worn by UK law, a good helmet is an essential part of any rider’s kit and almost all cycling events will require you to wear one. In this guide we will look at the different bike helmet options available and which ones will be best suited to your choice of riding.

There is a such an extensive variety of bike helmets out there that it can be daunting if you’re just getting into the sport and looking to buy your first helmet. From aerodynamic time trial helmets to full face downhill protection, the options can seem endless. We’ll break down the categories that bike helmets fall into and also look at the most up-to-date features and innovations that are shaping development and what to look out for when buying a new helmet.

Finding the right size helmet for you

A bike helmet should fit closely and comfortably on your head while providing protection in the most important places. Finding a helmet that fits correctly is vital for your safety, if a helmet is too big or too small it will not protect in the way that it is supposed to. To identify what size helmet you require couldn’t be simpler – take a tape measure around the circumference of the widest part of your head, which is about 2.5 cm above your eyebrows. Take this measurement 2 or 3 times so that you can be certain it’s accurate. Once you have your measurement you will now have a good idea of which size helmet you need. When trying on a helmet for the first time make sure to adjust the retention system on the helmet so that it is tight but not restrictive and adjust the chin strap so that you can open your mouth comfortably but cannot slide the strap out under your chin. The table below gives a good idea of what size helmet to look for based on your head measurement.

 

Helmet safety features and what to look for

All cycle helmets sold at Wheelbase adhere to EN 1078, the European safety standard for all helmets for pedal cyclists. Compliance with this standard ensures a helmet has been tested for a number of criteria including field of vision, shock absorbing properties, retention system properties including chin strap and fastening devices, as well as marking and information.

MIPS

Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) is a ‘slip-plane’ technology which works inside a bike helmet to reduce the rotational forces that occur as a result of impact. The science behind MIPS is that it mimics the body’s defence for protecting the brain from rotational forces during impact. The MIPS liner inside the helmet will slide very slightly upon impact which redirects the transfer of energy and reduces the rotational forces that could potentially cause injury to the brain.

The feel and fit of a MIPS equipped helmet is no different from a non-MIPS equipped one. Identified by the signature yellow MIPS logo, almost all of the major helmet brands now produce multiple MIPS equipped helmets.

KOROYD

Designed as an energy absorber, Koroyd is a unique protection system that is completely breathable and works as an energy decelerator when impacted. Thousands of co-polymer extruded tubes are welded together to create a structure which sits inside the helmet’s outer shell and, upon impact, compress in a controlled manner to reduce the impact forces.

Koroyd is used extensively in Smith helmets and has recently been introduced into Endura’s range of helmets.

WaveCel

Exclusive to Bontrager, WaveCel is a collapsible cellular structure that absorbs the energy from an impact and works effectively to prevent concussion. Developed by a biomechanical engineer and an orthopaedic surgeon who wanted to solve the problem of traumatic brain injuries in active people, it’s the first advanced helmet technology ever to receive funding from the US National Institute of Health.

Bontrager Specter road helmet with WaveCel technology.

Types of bike helmet

Bike helmets are designed to be specific to a cycling style or discipline, whether that be time trialling, downhill mountain biking or city commuting. The design features of each helmet will take into account the unique demands of a particular style of riding.

Road bike helmets are designed to be lightweight and aerodynamic whilst being comfortable for riding up to 6 or 7 hours over long distances. Road bike helmet retention systems will be easily adjustable even when riding to offer greater comfort and flexibility. There are generally two categories of road bike helmets – those designed to reduce aerodynamic drag and the other focusing on ventilation for warm weather and mountainous riding.

The Kask Valegro is one of the most lightweight and best ventilated road helmets on the market.

Mountain Bike helmet will have protection as its foremost concern, above all else. When riding out on the trails you’re likely to be surrounded by rocks, trees and other things that can do some nasty damage should you come tumbling off the bike. Trail helmets are the most commonly worn here in the UK and they offer extended protection around the back of the head, are generally well ventilated and feature on out-front peak for additional shielding.

The Smith Forefront 2 MIPS is a full coverage helmet ideal for all-mountain riders. Featuring Koroyd® for added protection, it’s been optimised for ultimate ventilation.

Full-face MTB helmets are favoured by downhill riders for added protection as they reach incredibly high speeds off road.

The Fox Proframe is one of the lightest full-face helmets available and features the MIPS impact protection system for ultimate protection. 

For leisure riding and commuting it’s generally accepted that most types of helmet will do the job, with the exceptions being a full-face MTB or aerodynamic time trial helmet. Commuting in an MTB helmet offers the benefit of a front visor for additional eye protection while a road helmet will help keep you cool in the heat of the city. Many urban specific helmets come with visibility enhancing features such as an in-built LED display on the back of the helmet.

The Specialized Centro Led MIPS helmet is packed with features for city riders and commuters including all around reflective webbing and decals for improved visibility.

 

There is such a wide array of Kids Helmets to choose from now that it can be difficult to know you’re getting the right one. We’d recommend getting a helmet as soon as a child takes to two wheels, that way they’re used to the association of riding a bike with wearing a helmet. As with adults, ensuring you get the correct size is vital, so it’s always best to try on a few options. The look  of the helmet will differ slightly depending on the age of child it’s designed for, for infants a bike helmet will offer more coverage at the back of the head whereas helmets for older children will be more similar to an adult ‘lid’.

The Endura Hummvee Youth helmet is one of our most popular and is backed by Endura’s product guarantee and crash replacement policy. Its lightweight, versatile design and and micro-adjustment system make it a comfortable fit for young riders.