Bike Safety

kid's bike helmet

CONSUMER REPORTS has been picking BELL HELMETS , GIRO HELMETS , TROXEL HELMETS (Pro Action) and recently a Louis Garneau model as being their "Best Buys". Their article on helmets doesn't cover most of the other brands on the market, though. I recommend that you find a helmet that fits you well, is round and smooth on the outside, and has at least an ATSM or CPSC STANDARDS sticker inside.

Who makes the coolest helmet?

Marketing hype aside, ventilation depends on the size of the front vents.
CONSUMER REPORTS has RATED some helmets on the market, but not many, and nobody else publishes coolness ratings. You can look at most helmets and see 90 per cent of the ventilation story. Most riders will not need all the vents you see in the most expensive GIRO HELMETS and BELL HELMETS .

What will I pay for it?

K-mart and Ames discount stores have smooth, round,
ATSM standard rated helmets on sale regularly for $8 (regularly $10), and most discount stores are under $30. Local bike shops have some of the Consumer Reports picks for $35 to $125.

Is a cheap helmet as safe as an expensive one?

Maybe. Probably. Almost. Maybe safer. Virtually all of them meet the
ATSM standard, and all must meet the new US standard by law if manufactured after March, 1999. (Helmets made earlier will still be on sale, and should be cheap.) If money buys you a better fit, more stable on your head in a hard crash, then the more expensive helmet is worth it. If it buys you a spiffy-looking squared-off poorly-rounded exterior with points to snag, definitely not.

What about helmet standards?

Helmets are tested to standards for things you can't judge in a store: impact performance and strap strength. This year
ATSM is the benchmark standard, SNELL B-90 is similar, and SNELL B-95 is a little better. The old 1984 ANSI standard is dead but unfortunately not buried. In February the U.S. CPSC standard (similar to ATSM ) was approved, and by 1999 every helmet on the U.S. market must meet it.

Kid's helmets?

There are lots of helmets for kids from one to five. There are no tiny helmets on the market because nobody recommends taking a very young infant on a bicycle. Kids appreciate vents, and most toddler helmets have sets of fit pads of different thickness to adjust for growth.

Where can I find a helmet for my big head?

Several manufacturers have extra large helmets, but
BELL HELMETS has the largest. The Kinghead model fits up to size 8 1/4 heads. Your local bike store can order it.

How can I tell if my helmet is on backwards?

On some helmets it isn't easy. Some helmets have a "Front" sticker. The brand is normally on the front, The nape straps go toward the back.

When do I need to replace a helmet?

a) Did you either crash with it on or drop it? Replace it!
b) Is it from the 1970's? Replace. it!
c) Is the outside just foam or cloth instead of shiny plastic? Replace it!
d) Does it lack an
ATSM or SNELL sticker? Replace it!
e)Can you not make it fit correctly? Replace it!
f) Do you hate it? Replace it!

Who has

Twenty-three states and more than 55 localities in the US have laws on the books. Australia and parts of Canada have helmet laws also.

How well do helmets work?

Very well indeed, as long as they are fitted securely and buckled when you crash. They can prevent up to 88 per cent of cyclists' brain injuries. Ask any club cyclist, whose shared experience with other cyclists has shown them the pattern clearly. The down side is that many helmet users are not securing their helmets level on the head and adjusting the straps carefully. Those cute kids with helmets tilted back have their big, vulnerable foreheads right out there ready to crack. The best clue as to whether the helmet is seated properly is to see if the bottom of the front part of the helmet is touching the top part of the eyebrows.

On a personal note, the purchase and wearing of a bicycle helmet even if I was going just down the block has saved me countless times during these past twelve years of my bicycle ministry. I have had several near cracks of the helmet onto the pavement after some spills. In 1997, wearing a helmet actually saved my life during a robbery. My attackers used a pipe on me when they knocked me out. I survived the assault even though I sustained a minor concussion.


Bicyclist in Sunset


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