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HELMETS 101

Todd Poquette
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Resources
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February 17, 2017

WHY WEAR A HELMET?

helmets are so light, cool and comfortable that they practically dis-appear when you put one on, and they are the single most effective means of preventing and reducing the severity of cycling-related head injuries (anywhere from 45-85% of the most commonly reported brain injuries for cyclists). Plus, they are available in a variety of colors and styles for every type of rider, so there is really no good argument against wearing a helmet.

HOW ARE HELMETS MADE?

Most cycling helmets are made with three basic components: 

  1. A tough outer shell (usually polycarbonate, ABS plastic or laminated fiber like carbon fiber) 
  2. An impact absorbing interior liner
  3. An adjustable fit/stability system with straps

HOW DO HELMETS WORK?

During impact, as from a fall or crash, the helmet’s EPS foam liner compresses like an airbag to absorb energy so that the brain doesn’t move around the inside of the skull with as much force. By absorbing this energy, a helmet reduces the likelihood of the most common brain injuries, such as concussions and hemorrhaging.

STEP 1 - Sizing a Helmet Correctly 

To determine the correct size, you should measure the circumfer-ence of the head. To do this, just wrap a measuring tape around the head, keeping the tape just above the ears and level front to back.

Once you’ve determined the correct size, you can check to make sure the helmet fits comfortably and securely. If the helmet you own now doesn’t fit on your head with just a little room between your head and the headband when the fit system is loose, you should replace it with one that does. You should always wear the helmet positioned low enough in the front to protect your forehead, but not so low that it hinders your vision. Once you’ve got a helmet that is the right size and positioned it properly, you can adjust the fit for best comfort and security.

STEP 2 - Adjusting the Straps at the Side of the Helmet

With a proper fit, the front and rear straps should join at a point slightly below the ears.

To adjust the strap positioning, open the adjusters on the straps, put the helmet on and slide the straps through the adjusters until they are located comfortably under the ears. Make sure there is no slack in any of the straps. Then, close and lock the adjusters.

STEP 3 - Adjusting the Chinstraps and Buckle

It is important that the chinstrap is comfortably snug and sits back against the throat, NOT on the point of the chin. It should be snug enough to prevent rolling-off, but loose enough so that the rider is able to open their mouth wide enough to eat.

Make sure the loose ends of the strap pass through the rubber O-ring near the buckle. If it does not, the strap may slide loose and the helmet can come off accidentally.

STEP 4 - Adjusting the Circumference 

A helmet should fit snugly on the wearer’s head, so that the skin on the forehead moves slightly when the helmet is moved back and forth. It should not cause a headache or be uncomfortably tight.

To adjust the fit tension while the helmet is on the wearer’s head, rotate the dial adjuster on the back of the system to tighten or loosen the fit as needed.

To adjust the fit tension you must remove the helmet, and move the snap anchor forward or back to adjust the fit as needed.

For safety reasons, we recommend that you do not attempt to adjust the fit of a helmet while you are riding.

Step 5 - Adjusting the Height of the Fit (for some helmets)

 

You can adjust the fit even more on helmets that offer height adjustment which allows the helmet’s fore/aft tilt to be optimized. Simply slide the system’s occipital pads (at the back of the helmet) up or down for comfort and best coverage. Experiment until you get a fit that is most comfortable.

Step 6 - Checking the Fit

Once you think a proper fit has been achieved, grab the helmet with both hands and twist lightly it to the left and right. If the hel-met fits properly, the skin on the forehead will move as the helmet moves.

If it does not, the helmet is too loose.

Next, grab the helmet with both hands and try to remove it by rolling the helmet forward and backward. THIS IS IMPORTANT. If you can roll it off the head completely, roll it forward so far that it blocks vision, or backward far enough to expose the forehead, it doesn’t fit correctly.

If you cannot adjust the helmet to fit properly according to these instructions, DO NOT USE THIS HELMET. Replace it with a different size or model.

Once you are satisfied that the helmet fits correctly and that all straps are properly adjusted and tightened, take a short test ride. Pay attention to overall comfort and helmet stability while riding. Make any minor adjustments to improve comfort and stability.

HELMET CARE GUIDELINES

Cleaning Helmets helmets are made of materials that can be damaged by many common cleaners. Petroleum-based solvents or cleaners are especially dangerous. For best results, clean the helmet using a soft cloth or sponge, warm water and mild soap (such as a mild dish soap).

Storing Helmets

Excessive heat can damage the helmet (heat damaged helmets will appear to have uneven or bubbly surfaces). After each use al-low the helmet to air dry and then store in a cool, dry place. 

Painting and Stickering Helmets

It is strongly advise against painting, stickering or otherwise modi-fying a helmet because all of these modifications can damage the helmet and/or reduce its protective capabilities.

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