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How to choose the right helmet

How to choose the right helmet

Clearly, the most important thing when choosing a cycling helmet is how it looks. If you don't like how it looks on your head you probably won’t wear it.

Manufacturers have got the message and now make some cool looking helmets. The only other thing that will make you wear a helmet is falling off your bike and smashing your head on the pavement. Which I don't recommend (note how we’ve side stepped the ‘why you should wear a cycle helmet debate’ and you now want a cycle helmet).

This is how to choose the best helmet for you. In fact this is how you choose any bit of bike kit:

  1. Start with some research. For your chosen cycling discipline, just search ‘best cycle helmet for: road/mountain/urban cycling’ and a review from Bikeradar and other cycling websites will be top of the search results. Read up, fix a price point and compile a short list (including the helmets you most like the look of).

  2. Next it’s really important that you try on as many of your shortlist as possible. One brand’s small is another’s large size. Plus the one you really like the look of might be great for roundheads but not if you’ve got an oval shaped head.  The best place to try a large range of helmets on are the national cycle chains like Evans Cycles or Cycle Surgery.

  3. The other good thing about the national chains is that they price match, so make sure you’ve got your smart phone with you and you can use Google Shopping to make sure that you are paying the best price.

So, how much should you spend?

As with everything, you get what you pay for.  Buy cheap, buy twice. This is especially true with cycling.

It’s not entirely clear whether the safety standards that bicycle helmets comply with have much merit, but as a minimum make sure that the helmet you are considering is labelled BSEN1078. Even better, a Snell Foundation B90 (or higher), a substantially stronger standard.  Play it safe (no pun intended) with recognised brands like Giro, Bell, Poc, Specialized, Metz or Bontrager. 

If you’re going on long rides in the countryside – we’re talking 100 miles or so - then you might want to go light and airy. It will be more expensive but better to invest in a top of the range helmet rather than spending your money trying to shave off bike weight with a carbon brake lever!

If you’re likely to bang your head (i.e. mountain biking or commuting), spend less – about £50-60, as you will likely be in the market for a new one soon enough (although good brands will have a ‘crash replacement’ service). 

If you’re still finding it hard to justify the cash on a piece of expanded foam and plastic, you can wear a ski or snowboard helmet if you’ve got one. I’ve seen people on bikes wearing horse riding helmets.

It doesn’t really matter what helmet you wear… as long as you wear it.



the author

Ben Walder

Ben is a keen cyclist, road and mountain biking, runner, skier and even enjoyed a brief flirtation with boxing. He’s cycled John O Groats to Lands End, London to Paris in 24 hours, 5 countries in 3 days and ticked off some legendary climbs from the Tour de France. When he’s not dragging his mates out on cycling adventures across Europe he’s being dragged around by his 2 young daughters to karate, ballet, gymnastics, tennis and swimming..