Of all the cycling kit you buy, it almost goes without saying that your helmet is the most important purchase you’ll make. But do you know it’s not a one-and-done buy?
Helmets need replacing every three to five years because sweat, sun and even some sun creams and insect repellents degrade the foam inside, making it brittle. While that might not be visible to the eye, it impairs the helmet's ability to absorb shock which is the entire reason for wearing one in the first place. Helmets, and regular replacements, are not a good place to save money.
One way you can save some money is by buying helmets secondhand. We inspect all our helmets for damage from small knocks over time or accidents but you need to know what to look for when assessing your own.
First check for dents or cracks in the outer shell, however tiny. Even minor visible dents could be hiding damage in the construction of the helmet. Then make the same checks to the foam inside. If it’s compressed anywhere, a previous impact means it no longer springs back and therefore won’t protect your head.
Fitting a helmet
Getting the full safety benefits from a helmet means getting the right size but also wearing it in the correct position. Determine your size by measuring the circumference of your head just above your ears and eyebrows. The helmet should sit about two fingers-width above the brow line, covering your forehead completely.
If it’s too big it will shift position and offer little to no protection. If it’s too small, as well as being so uncomfortable you might be tempted not to wear it, it won’t sit low enough.
Using the straps and the ratchet system, aim for a fit that allows you to tip your head forward and shake it without the helmet moving. First, loosen all the straps and the wheel at the back and put it on. With the helmet in position above your brow line, tighten the wheel for a snug fit. Then adjust the chin strap until it’s tucked under your chin, not hanging loose.
Avoid having the straps so tight you can’t fit one or two fingers in as that will irritate you and restrict movement. At the sides, the straps should fit just under your earlobes.
One last thing …
Make sure you’re wearing it the right way round! Helmets are sometimes a bit lower at the back than the front to protect the skull and any adjustment system will always be at the back.