Shopping guide for a bicycle helmet
Use these tips next time you head out to the store for a new helmet.
- Certification. Make sure the helmet meets the standards of the consumer Product Safety Commission or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
- Snug fit. When your helmet is the right size, it won’t slide from side to side or from front to back on your head.
- Level fit. The helmet should sit squarely on top of your head, covering the top of your forehead. If the helmet is tilting in any direction, it does not fit.
- Stability. Look for a chinstrap that is undamaged and buckles securely. When the chinstrap is fastened, the helmet should fit firmly, and should not rock on your head.
- Visibility. Chose your helmet color with safety in mind. You want a color that is easy for motorists to see.
- Kids helmets. If you are buying a helmet for a child, buy one that fits now. Do not buy a helmet with “room to grow.”
Taking the time choose the right helmet and ensuring a good fit sets you up for the best outcomes if you do have an accident. Just wearing a helmet reduces the risk of serious head and brain injury by 85 percent.
Get a good helmet fit for safe cycling
We love these great tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to guide you when figuring out the right helmet fit:
- Size: Measure your head to find your size. Try on several helmets in your size until one feels right. Now put the helmet level on your head and adjust the sizing pads or fit ring until the helmet is snug.
- Position: The helmet should sit level on your head and low on your forehead—one or two finger-widths above your eyebrow.
- Side Straps: Adjust the slider on both straps to form a “V” shape under, and slightly in front of, the ears. Lock the slider if possible.
- Buckles: Center the left buckle under the chin. On most helmets, the straps can be pulled from the back of the helmet to lengthen or shorten the chin straps. This task is easier if you take the helmet off to make these adjustments.
- Chin Strap: Buckle your chin strap. Tighten the strap until it is snug, so that no more than one or two fingers fit under the strap.
- Final Fitting:
- Does your helmet fit right? Open your mouth wide…big yawn! The helmet should pull down on your head. If not, refer back to step 5 and tighten the chin strap.
- Does your helmet rock back more than two fingers above the eyebrows? If so, unbuckle and shorten the front strap by moving the slider forward. Buckle and retighten the chin strap, and test again.
- Does your helmet rock forward into your eyes? If so, unbuckle and tighten the back strap by moving the slider back toward the ear. Buckle and retighten the chin strap, and test again.
- Roll the rubber band down to the buckle. All four straps must go through the rubber band and be close to the buckle to prevent the buckle from slipping.
Replace any helmet that is involved in a crash, damaged, or has been outgrown, or every 3 to 5 years. For more, check out the entire guide from the NHTSA.
More Safety Tips
Dr. Santos suggests steps you can take at home when you need back pain relief.
Dr. Santos explains his personalized approach to diagnosing and treating back pain.
Ask the Expert: Shoulder Video Series