A Guide To Women’s Cycling Helmets
January is TBI Awareness Month so it would be appropriate to cover the subject of Bike Helmets.
All of today’s bicycle helmets … are indeed optimized to protect against traumatic brain injury (TBI) and death, according to Helmets.org.
There was a time, not long ago, when many of us did not wear a helmet when riding our bikes. Nowadays through experience and science we have a better understanding of the risks. That is why we, at Wisconsin Women Cycling, require all participants to wear helmets on our rides. Not for our protection but yours. We hear lots of rationalizations for not wearing helmets but we’ve been riding for a long time and we’ve experienced, seen, and heard all kinds of amazing saves by cycling helmets. That is why we always promote their use.
Read on for some more information on why and how to choose “the right helmet for your head”!
Insurance for your brain: Often a hazard is unpredictable causing you to lose control. You just never know what might happen. When you’re sitting on a bicycle, whether in motion or not, it may not seem like a long way to fall but hitting your unprotected head may cause a concussion or worse. For this reason we feel it’s smart to get a properly fitted helmet and wear it on every ride.
Fittings: The first step is knowing what you’re using it for; Road, Urban, Mountain Biking, etc. Your local bike store carries a wide variety of well-designed helmets. Talk with them about your needs so they can fit you with the right helmet for your head.
Better than Ever: Modern helmets are light, airy and super comfortable. When you visit your local bike store and try some on you’ll probably agree that you hardly even know it’s on your head. In addition to the safety aspects, helmets provide shade from the sun, cooling airflow and they make you look like a safe cyclist. They have nice, bright finishes and elegant shapes. Newer models have features so you are seen on the road and on trails too. And, equally important, they’re more stylish and functional. Though I have one stashed away with my old riding gear, gone are the days when you wore a Styrofoam cooler on your head. For all of these reasons, most cyclists today wouldn’t dream of pedaling down the road or trail without a nice helmet.
Features and Fit: Helmet technology today for women, men, and youth is the same so, in general, you’ll always get top safety and features. The more and larger the vents results in a lighter helmet. These generally are at a higher price point since it’s it take more engineering to make a safe helmet with larger holes.
Regardless of style or price, helmets offer fitting systems inside for a safe and comfortable fit.
Models and Differences: Once you’ve found the helmet that fits your head, you should choose which model you like. Entry-level models usually have more of a universal fit with padding inside that’s washable and replaceable. As you look at the models with more features you’ll get into full-on retention systems, like harnesses that cradle your head and are adjustable. Recently MIPS technology or sliding-resistant helmets have come on the market.
All helmets have straps and buckles that hold them in place. These are adjusted to hold the helmet square on your head and low over the forehead for protection. It’s worth comparing and trying them on because some strap and buckles may work easier or be more comfortable to you. You might also appreciate having a visor on your helmet to shade your face and deflect things if you ride off-road. Some visors are removable and/or adjustable to position them just right.
Again, talk with your local bike store expert because there are helmets aimed at different style of cycling; from road riding, to mountain biking, to commuting, to even dirt jumping and gravity. In general this means that different styles offer features that are specific for that style of riding. For example, a commuting model might include a visor and reflective patterns, a racing model will be more aerodynamic and ultra-light, and a gravity helmet would cover more of the head and face.
- Make the time to get the right helmet. Don’t compromise ‘the right helmet for your head’ with what your friends are wearing, the graphic it has or what color is available.
- When to replace your helmet. In general, cycling helmet manufacturers, including Bell, recommend you replace your helmet after 3 years. Definitely replace it immediately if you answer “yes” to any of these…
- Did you crash in it?
- Is it pre-2008 and does not meet ASTM or Snell standards?
- Does it look like it is worn out?
- Eye-wear. If you wear eye-wear when cycling or plan to purchase some it’s a good idea to try your eye-wear on with your helmet to see and feel how it fits. Usually the eye-wear’s temples or the helmet’s straps need adjusting for a proper fit and comfort.
- Hair and the helmet’s fit. Most manufacturers make their women’s helmets a little smaller in diameter for women’s slightly smaller heads. However, don’t forget to take into account the amount of hair you have. Women with long, thick hair need larger helmets. And if you go from long to very short hair, you may find that the helmet is now too roomy.
- Hair styles. If you wear a low ponytail, it should sit comfortably below the helmet’s retention system, though many can wear it above. Some women with short to medium hair find pigtails more comfortable. Many women with hair too short for a ponytail find that wearing a cycling hat, a do-rag, bandanna or sweatband is a good way to keep their hair back beneath a helmet. Also, if you are riding a bike with dropped bars, be sure when your down on the bars looking forward that your hair-do does not get in the way and move your helmet. Try different styles until your helmet fits properly and it is comfortable for you.
- Try a youth helmet for very small heads. Despite the typical smaller diameters of women’s helmets, some women with very small heads will best fit a youth helmet. Fortunately, the quality, safety and styling on youth helmets is just as nice as on adult models.
- Many styles to choose from. Women’s helmets have moved beyond pink to more elegant and fun colors and graphics that match bikes, jerseys and more. You can even find covers for your helmet to give it that personal look. Keep in mind that some helmet brands or models only differentiates a woman’s helmet from the men’s version by the color or graphics.
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