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Choosing a Helmet

The most important choice you have when it comes to helmets is choosing to wear one every time you ride. This means that not only does your helmet need to be safe, it needs to be one you will be comfortable wearing. While there is a lot of expensive helmet technology out there, there are still plenty of options that are cheaper and provide just as much coverage for your head.

For more tips on choosing a new helmet, we asked Ian Carsten, owner of Randy’s Recycled Cycles, to share some of his insights and opinions.

What are the most important considerations when choosing a helmet?

Really it’s the safety rating. For people riding in the city I like a multi-impact, not a one crash and done. We really like to see the best fit. Your winter helmet should have a bit more room to leave room for extra layers, your summer helmet should be a bit snugger. I really like to have a thicker helmet with fewer vents in colder weather, so I don’t have any excuse, either to not ride or to ride without a helmet.

Are their specific brands you recommend for urban commuters?

POC is a huge brand, very reliable, good warranty, good crash rating. Also Kali, Lazer, Giro and Cateye.

How much should people expect to pay for a decent helmet?

At least $50, some of the cheaper ones are better than nothing, but anything below this price is just styrofoam that absorbs the impact by breaking. A helmet that relies on compression will spread the impact from around the point of impact throughout the entire helmet and do a lot more to protect your brain. Virtually any helmet is better than none. Anything above bottom-tier is significantly better than the cheapest helmets, 3-star and up is pretty good. (See the Forbes helmet crash-test data he was referencing here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyamohn/2018/06/26/first-ever-bicycle-helmet-ratings-released-only-four-earn-5-stars/)

What helmets do you personally wear, and why?

Triple Eight, Lazer as well. I find something with a decent crash rating, and then find a style I like.

Any anecdotes you’d like to share about you or someone else’s experience where a helmet made a difference?

I’ve been very fortunate in that any crash I’ve had the helmet didn’t come into play. Being downtown we see a lot of low-speed intersection collisions, we see a lot of accidents where people would have banged their head on a curb or sign, definitely could have been concussion-worthy but their helmet saved them.

After helmets, the next biggest thing is lights. (Stay tuned for more information about this)


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