Maybe you’re on the hunt for just the right bike helmet, or perhaps you’re already rocking the one you love. Whatever the case may be, these four factors from the Snell Foundation should be taken into consideration whether you’re buying your first helmet and/or ensuring that the one you have fits properly.
1. FIT. Find a bike helmet that suits both the size and shape of your head. “A helmet should fit comfortably, sit level over the forehead and not have any ‘pressure points’ that would indicate it’s too snug or small,” writes Aaron Glick, a product and purchasing manager at PUBLIC Bikes. “The chin strap should be snug, but allow for a few fingers to fit in between the step and the chin, and allow one to breathe and open their mouth freely.”
2. COMFORT. Imagine wearing your bike helmet for hours, and ask yourself if you’d still be comfortable. Does it have enough ventilation? High-quality ventilation will increase the price of your helmet, but if it’ll encourage you to wear your helmet and bike more, it could be worth it. Do you feel any pinching? Better yet: Test drive your helmet for as long as possible, and see how it feels over time.
3. STYLE. If you look like a motorcycle cop in your helmet, you might not be as psyched about riding your bike. Pick a bike helmet that makes you smile so that you’ll want to wear it. Search for colors and patterns that suit your vibes or coordinate with your wardrobe.
4. SAFETY. The materials in your helmet deteriorate. Your sweat and hair oils erode at the glues and resins in your gear. To make sure your helmet is protecting you to its fullest, you should replace it every five years, according to the helmet safety nonprofit Snell Foundation. Check the age of your own helmet by looking for the manufacturing date, usually found on a sticker on the inside of your helmet.
Your pick of helmet is a personal choice. Just keep it fresh, and you’ll be good to pedal for five more years!