Have you watched a bike race lately? If so, you’ve certainly noticed that all the riders wear helmets. There are two good reasons for that: it protects you in case of an accident, and it’s the law in New Zealand! While some people complain about the comfort of a helmet, there’s simply too much risk involved when riding a bike to skip it.
Thankfully, manufacturers have been working hard over the past few years to make helmets lighter, cooler, and more comfortable. Check out our guide to choosing the perfect helmet.
If you teach your children right from an early age to wear a helmet, they won’t even consider riding without one later on. Make it a normal part of riding, and set the example by wearing one yourself.
As with all safety devices, like seatbelts, lifejackets, and goggles, the most important thing is to ensure a helmet fits. Every family member should have their own helmet. There are a few keys to wearing a bike helmet safely:
Your helmet should be snug, but not tight. A bike helmet should be adjustable to fit your head. Many kids’ helmets have liners or pads that can be added or removed for a perfect custom fit.
Many riders wear their helmet too far back. It should sit level on your head, with the front arriving just above your brow. If your helmet is too far back, your forehead won’t be protected in a fall.
Tighten the chin strap so there’s very little play in your helmet. If you can push it forwards, backwards, or side to side easily, it could move if you take a tumble. Make sure the straps aren’t twisted and that your ears aren’t trapped underneath: this creates discomfort.
Make sure you check that your helmet meets all national safety requirements. Don’t buy a used helmet if it has been modified, or if the safety information tag has been removed or is illegible.
There are a few other things to think about when purchasing a bike helmet. Depending on the type of riding you do — mountain biking, road racing, general sport use — you want to think about the weight, ventilation, and buckle type. Features like adjustable or removable sun visors can be a plus if you do a lot of riding.
For children, once you’re sure their safety is covered, let them have fun. A cool design, fun colours, and custom stickers will help them appreciate their helmet, and encourage them to wear it all the time. Or maybe they want one to match yours and feel like a grownup.
One last thing to remember is that after any fall, you must closely inspect a helmet. Even a relatively small fall can create a crack, and render it less effective the next time. If you’re not sure, you can ask a professional bike shop to inspect it. If you have any doubt, err on the side of caution and replace it.
Once your whole family is equipped with a proper fitting helmet, you can get out and enjoy many kilometres of safe and exciting bike riding! And be sure to check out our editorial section. It’s where you’ll find the latest reviews, new, interviews and more.