Road bike helmets

Road Bike Helmets

Although every helmet sold in the U.S. must meet the same standards set forth by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), they’re not all made equally. Road bike helmets are different than those designed for general recreation or mountain biking. They’re more aerodynamic, lighter in weight and better ventilated than other types of helmets. Here’s how to choose the best road bike helmet for your needs.

What Types Of Road Bike Helmets Are Available?

Fully vented traditional helmets are what you probably think of when you imagine a traditional road bike helmet. They have a low weight and offer plenty of air flow. They’re ideal helmets for all-around road cycling. Fully vented traditional helmets are ideal for cruising in warm weather.

While these helmets are breezy and comfortable, they may not be as aerodynamic as some of the other types. If speed is your priority, you might want to consider looking at a different option.

Aero helmets are all about speed. They’re designed to be more efficient for fast rides. In fact, these helmets are tested at professional racing speeds. The faster you ride, the more efficiency you’ll gain from this type of helmet. In other words, if you don’t ride at pro speeds, spending the money on an aero helmet may not be worth it.

If you’re often biking in the cold, you might prefer this type of helmet, which doesn’t offer much in the way of ventilation. However, those who ride in a hot climate might not want to choose this as their only helmet.

Air vents increase aerodynamic drag, slowing you down. Reducing the number of vents is rumored to make you go faster. While this is definitely the case, it might not be necessary for everyday riders, especially if your body temperature rises as you speed up.

Some aero helmets have long tails, while others are stubbier. The long-tailed versions are excellent for cutting drag when you’re looking straight ahead. If you tilt your head down or to the side, however, you put the tail into the wind, reducing your advantage. Helmets with shorter tails are better suited for a wide range of conditions.

Semi-aero helmets are the industry’s attempt to balance aerodynamics and ventilation. Full aero helmets can be limiting. Therefore, manufacturers have combined breathability with a streamlined silhouette in semi aero helmets. If you only want to buy one helmet, this is probably the best choice for the everyday rider.

What Road Bike Helmet Is The Safest?

Because all helmets sold in the U.S. adhere to CPSC standards, the money that you invest in a helmet pays for comfort and other features, not safety. All road bike helmets have been tested for their ability to reduce G-force. This is determined by a drop test from a specific height. The straps’ capacity to stay intact during impact is also included in this standard.

Some companies that make road bike helmets have the products additionally tested by SNELL, a non-profit organization that tests and certifies helmet. SNELL’s standards are similar to the CPSC standards. However, SNELL goes on to test some helmets even after the initial certification, which CPSC doesn’t do. This ensures that retailers are following adequate quality-control procedures.

You may find MIPS Brain Protection Systems in some helmets. This technology allows the helmet to move a fraction of an inch upon impact. MIPS says that this may diminish the effects of a rotational force if your head is hit.

Road Bike Helmet Sizing Guide

When you’re buying a helmet online, you should measure the circumference of your head to help you choose the right size. Use a flexible tape measure, and wrap it around your head. Make sure that you measure the widest part of your head—usually about an inch above the eyebrows—and keep the tape measure level.

Every road bike helmet can adjust somewhat to accommodate variations in head size. If you fall between sizes, it’s safer to choose the smaller size. You can also wear a cycling cap to help the helmet fit better.

When you’re trying on the helmet, make sure that it doesn’t tilt back. The front of the helmet should almost touch your eyebrows. Once the helmet is on your head, you can make fine adjustments by turning the sizing wheel at the back of the head. This modifies the size of the internal sizing ring, which gives you a secure fit and can be corrected while you’re riding.

The chin strap should be tightened so that you feel pressure at the top of your head when you open your mouth. It shouldn’t be so tight that it’s uncomfortable. However, many people don’t tighten their chin straps enough.

Additional Features To Look For

The bells and whistles on a road bike helmet might not affect the product’s safety. They may, however, make the helmet more comfortable. They can also improve the way the product fits.

Some road bike helmets have a visor. These can protect the front of your head in a crash and keep the sun out of your eyes. Visors range from small extensions to sun-protective shields. However, a larger visor can obstruct your view when your head is tilted down in the aero position.

A removable visor can solve this problem. If the sunlight bothers you, though, you can also purchase a pair of quality cycling glasses.

Higher-end helmets tend to have more comfortable foam, webbing and padding on the inside. The chin straps may also be softer and feel better against your skin. Plus, pricier helmets may be lighter.

The interior padding should be able to be moved around with hook-and-loop systems. This allows it to be altered to fit your head. It might also have wicking properties, which will draw moisture away from your head.

Additional pads can be valuable for customizing the fit or replacing old or worn ones. Some even have antimicrobial material, which prevents bacteria buildup.

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