Equipment Mountain Biking

Choosing a Bike Helmet in New Zealand

Mountain Bike helmet selection

Getting the right bike helmet could save your life!

All bike helmets sold in New Zealand and Australia must meet a government approved safety standard, so you can rest assured that no matter what you buy from a legitimate retailer, it will be safe.

(With thanks to Torpedo Seven for the following article on choosing a bike helmet)

Bike helmets are an absolutely essential piece of gear when you are riding a bike, not only because it is illegal not to wear one in New Zealand, but because bike helmets could save your life if you are in an accident. 

Bike Helmets come in three basic styles; street style, road and mountain. Different styles have features specific to their riding situation. All helmets are designed to protect a riders head from impact at the same time as being both lightweight and comfortable to wear. 

 

Helmet Construction:

The differences: There are 2 main types of bike helmet construction, hard shell & in mould construction. Entry level mountain bike helmets consist of a foam liner that is taped or glued to a hard shell exterior. This type of construction makes the helmet slightly heavier with fewer venting options.

The majority of medium to high end bike helmets will have an in mould construction. This means the interior liner of the helmet is built into the hard outer shell while it is still in the manufacturing mold. Therefore, creating one piece of material with a hard outer. In mould helmets are lighter, stronger and have more venting options.

There is generally no difference between the two options in terms of protection and overall safety.

The benefits: The main points of difference is hard shell construction bike helmets have a cost benefit (cheaper to buy), and in mould helmets have a weight and ventilation benefit. However, with the added benefits of in mould you can expect to see a higher price tag associated with the technology.

Helmet Construction Materials

There are also some lesser known technologies making there way in to bike helmet construction, the most prominent of those is the use of Koroyd (honeycomb material) in combination with EPS foam (in mould). The use of Koroyd in the construction of bike helmets allows manufacturers to drastically cut weight and volume, without compromising protection. 

Key Features of a Helmet

Liner: Most inner helmets are made of expandable polystyrene (EPS) foam, designed to dissipate the force of impact. EPS foam liners are an industry standard for action sports, have a low-profile and are lightweight. Higher end helmets are made out of lighter and stronger materials, therefore the more expensive the helmet, the more force it will absorb when your head takes a knock.

Shell: The outer component of a bike helmet is typically made of composite materials like fibreglass, or very hard plastics such as polycarbonate or ABS. The hard shell is designed to spread the force of an impact over a broader area

Ventilation: Vents are designed to keep you cool and comfortable while you’re riding. Road cycling helmets typically have a large amount of vents to enhance wind flow over your head and keep you cool. Having a large amount of vents also makes the helmet lighter.

Strap: Trail bike helmets usually have thicker straps for rough terrain, and road helmets have lighter and cooler straps. The strap should be comfortable, adjustable and easy to take on and off.

Weight: Higher end helmets are made out of lighter and more expensive materials. The lighter the helmet, the more comfortable it will feel when you are out riding.

Fit System: Some helmets will come in one size, compared to others that will come in S, M, L etc. All bike helmets will have an adjustable fit system to enable each size to fit a range of head sizes. That way you can adjust the fit of the helmet to your individual head size. Entry level helmets have a basic fit system with less range of adjustment. Higher end helmets will have an adjustable dial at the back of the helmet, which allows for a more precise fit. 

Finding the correct fit is essential! All helmets will have a size guide range that refers to your head circumference. If you are unsure of your size, be sure to take a simple measurement and refer to the size guide.

To discover the best way to get the correct fitting helmet, take a look at this video on bike helmet fitting. Although the soundtrack is a bit crazy, the video brilliant. 

https://youtu.be/QEeOqe8XPDU

 

When to Replace Your Helmet

Bike helmets are designed to absorb the impact when you hit your head. Therefore if you take a tumble and hit your head, your helmet will become damaged. Helmets are only good for one crash. You should replace your helmet after any significant impact, even if the helmet appears completely fine. 

If you’ve been crash-free, the general recommendation is to replace your helmet after five years use. This is because your helmet will weaken overtime, through exposure to sunlight and pollution. 

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