The sun’s out, the roads are clear and cycling season is back in full swing. It’s a great form of incidental exercise. If you live in a metropolitan area, it is often a faster way of getting from point A to point B than using public transit. After the brutal winter through which we suffered, we want to soak in as much vitamin D as possible, and biking allows us to enjoy the outdoors even as we commute. Plus, what’s better than an afternoon riding through the park with your family, watching the wind tickle your kiddos’ faces?
There’s an indescribable serenity and sense of old world romance that comes with riding your bike through neighborhood streets. That is, until someone opens his or her car door without warning and you’re sprawled out on the pavement, dazed and confused. And that’s not even the worst of it. Unfortunately, bicycling accidents, even fatal ones, are more common than we’d like to believe.
For this reason, when you’re lovingly selecting your tires, frame, handlebars and seat, it’s crucial you give buying protective gear just as much consideration. Helmets may not be the most stylish of accessories—you’d probably rather spend the money on a quaint woven basket or stylish and convenient frame bag—but helmets are absolutely essential. While they don’t prevent the things that cause a crash, they do offer a last line of defense when things go wrong. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, wearing a proper fitting, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) certified helmet could prevent 85 percent of cyclists’ head injuries. And, really, why take the risk?
In order for helmets to serve their intended purpose, you need to buy one that fits properly. We spoke with the experts over at Adeline Adeline, one of our favorite New York City bicycle boutiques, about what to look for whilst shopping for a helmet (and P.S., chic headgear does exist).
When buying a helmet, what’s the most important thing to keep in mind?
The helmet’s fit and comfort are the most important things to keep in mind when purchasing a new helmet.
How do you properly measure your head for a helmet?
When determining what size helmet you should purchase, you first need to measure the diameter of your head. Simply measure around the crown of your head with a measuring tape. Most helmets come with sizing guides based on this measurement.
Is there a most effective material/design?
Look for a helmet that uses what is called hard foam or EPS foam. It’s better for impacts at higher speeds. If you’re not sure, just check and see that the helmet is CPSC certified.
What brands would you recommend based on safety?
A brand that meets the US Helmet Safety Standards would be a good choice, the CPSC & CE EN 1078.**
How should a helmet fit?
A helmet should be snug but not too snug, think about when you buy a pair of shoes. You just know from the way they feel on your foot if they are a good fit for you or not. Your helmet should sit flat on the top of your head. You should be able to shake your head “no” and it shouldn’t move around on its own. It should be comfortably snug, but not so tight that it will give you a headache.
What are some of your favorite fashionable lines?
Our most stylish helmet brands are Sawako Furuno or Sahn.
Are there any other safety features of bikes that people shouldn’t overlook?
Reflective detailing is a nice touch for riding in the evening, some helmets come with this and some do not. At Adeline Adeline we sell Reflective Stickers in cute patterns that are a fun way to personalize your helmet while adding an extra bit of safety.
For some of our favorite chic helmets, click through the slideshow above.
**EN 1078 specifies requirements and test methods for bicycle helmets, skateboard and roller skate helmets. It covers helmet construction including field of vision, shock absorbing properties, retention system properties including chin strap and fastening devices, as well as marking and information.
A derived standard, EN 1080, covers helmets for young children. It addresses problems associated with the strangulation of children playing while wearing helmets.
CPSC standards regulate bicycle helmet performance in the United States. Any helmet sold as a bicycle helmet in the United States must meet CPSC safety standards. In brief, during CPSC’s testing process, helmets are tested to ensure that: (1) They do not block the rider’s vision. (2) They do not come off when the rider falls. (3) The straps do not stretch enough to let the helmet come off in an accident. (4) The helmet significantly reduces the force to the rider’s head when the helmet hits a hard surface. (5) Tests are performed on a minimum of eight helmets of each size and model. Helmets must meet all of the requirements of the regulation when tested, both with and without any attachments that the manufacturer offers.