How to choose a road bike helmet? What helmet for a child?

Is the bike helmet mandatory?

Since March 22, 2017, if the helmet is mandatory for children under 12, it is not for adults. Despite numerous government attempts and awareness campaigns that emphasize the essential aspect of the helmet, this obligation severely divides the community.
Associations such as the French Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB)  point out that among the injured cyclists,  47.5% are mostly affected by the arms, 32.6% to the legs, 23.3% to the face and only 16, 9% to the head.
Another argument, in Europe, only Finland has made the wearing of helmets mandatory (but no fine for infringement) and countries such as the Netherlands or Germany, where cycling is extremely widespread have not any obligation to wear a helmet …
Without questioning the effectiveness of the helmet, the associations want to raise awareness and educate all road users, while leaving the free choice of helmet use.
Wearing a helmet does not guarantee a 100% protection, because, beyond 30 km / h, its efficiency decreases sharply (in the city as in training, it is a speed easily reached by the cyclist or the vehicle which arrives in front). Not to mention that the helmets are often poorly positioned on the head or the wrong size …
In the absence of legislation and really convincing data on the need to make wearing helmets mandatory, everyone is free to decide for the moment according to their use, their environment, and their experience. Personally, I am adept at the saying “prevention is better than cure”, so it’s a helmet on my head every time I go rolling.

What criteria to choose your road bike helmet?

In addition to protecting our little skull, a road bike helmet must also be comfortable, aerodynamic (for the most competitive of us), practical, do not weigh a dead donkey and if possible, pretty (although the aestheticism in cycling, when we see the teams pro outfits … it does not seem to be a big concern for them).
Manufacturers offering many models, how to navigate? Because you can sweat (literally as well as figuratively) if you take an aero helmet to cycle. And what are the differences between a headset at € 30 and another at more than € 300?
Here are some tips to help you choose a road bike helmet for your practice and budget.

Which helmet for which purpose?

You already have an ATV or BMX helmet and you want to use it on the road. Is it possible? Yes, the safety standards are the same for all bike helmets. But is it a good idea? Not so sure.
If ATV, BMX or DH helmets offer more protection, especially at the back of the neck than a road helmet, they are especially heavier and have a visor. The position is not the same on an ATV as on a road bike, where one is leaning on the front, the visor can quickly reduce the field of vision. And in town, it’s not really recommended … Besides the helmets or bowls are much less ventilated than the road helmets. it may soon get hot! 
In short, you will understand, not all helmets are suitable for all practices. A short review of the different helmet profiles to see more clearly:

The traditional helmet

This is the classic helmet that comes immediately to mind when talking about road helmet: lightweight and well ventilated, suitable for long outings as the competition, the traditional road helmet is very versatile. It can accompany you on the road as well as cyclocross competitions or during your daily cycling trips.
Personally, I use two helmets:
  • a Cairn Prism for the vélotaf and the cyclocross
  • Btwin 900 for long road trips and triathlons
The Cairn is very light, comfortable and it even replaced my Btwin helmet for this winter!

The aero helmet

There, we talk about these big helmets that we cross on time trials or triathlons and that make you look vaguely like a fly. 
These helmets favor aerodynamics over all other criteria. Therefore, they are generally heavier, poorly ventilated (and aesthetically questionable). Reserved for wild sprints, criteriums and more generally competitors, these profiled helmets are capable of saving cyclists several watts. Provided, of course, to have the thighs to reach the speeds where these helmets are interesting.
If you’re chasing the clock, you’re a tough competitor favoring short distances, the aero helmet can be a good buy to complete your equipment. For others, a traditional or semi-aero helmet will be more interesting.

The semi-aero helmet

The hybrid class between the traditional road bike helmet and the aero helmet to combine the benefits of aerodynamics with the benefits of lightweight materials. This is the current big trend of the helmet industry, models like Giro Synthe and Kask Protone belong to this category. 
A semi-aero helmet can be a smart choice if you only want one helmet for your training and competitions. You will benefit from a bicycle helmet well ventilated, light while being aerodynamic. In addition to being practical, these helmets are aesthetically successful. Bonus style to shine in the grupetto 😉

The urban cycling helmet for cycle bike with style

Essential for the cyclist who uses his bike to get to work every day, urban helmets are still a category apart. Comfortable, practical, they must above all be reassuring. Less ventilated than a classic road bike helmet because used on short trips, they are often round, bowl-shaped, with a short visor to protect from the sun and rain. Design is important and you can find matte finishes, leather or even carbon on the most upscale models. 
Some, like the Abus Hyban, even incorporate a lamp in the back for optimal visibility.

How to find the size of your bike helmet?

This is the most important criterion in choosing a bike helmet! The latter must be perfectly adapted and not move on your head, without shaking your forehead, temples, and throat. Too loose, a helmet will not hold in place and will not protect you. Too tight, you will have irritation and pain. An adapted bicycle helmet must be able to be worn for hours without embarrassment.
To find your height, simply use a tape measure and then pass it around your head in the middle of the forehead and on the most convex part of the back of your skull (the occipital hump) while passing over ears. A small explanation in the image: 
Once your measurement carried out, here is an indicative guide of the different sizes (which can vary according to the marks so read well the label inside the helmet):
  • S: 48 – 56cm
  • M: 52 – 58cm
  • L: 59 – 62cm
  • XL: 63 – 64cm
If your helmet has detachable foams of different sizes, it will be easier to adapt to your body type. It must be checked that the foams at the forehead and the temples are well positioned to fulfill their role of maintenance and that they can properly absorb perspiration, thus preventing it from falling into your eyes. 
Regarding the side straps, they must cross under the ears. Keep enough strap length to adjust your settings in the winter, so you can do a cap or a helmet cap.

Adjusting your road bike helmet

To properly adjust your bike helmet so you can wear it for hours without worry, here are some simple tips:
  1. Loosen the rear adjustment knob as far as possible
  2. Position your bike helmet on your head and tighten the knob until the helmet is tight without disturbing you. You must not feel any pain or you will not be able to bear it during your bike ride!
  3. Move your head from left to right and make some quick movements of the head (as if you say “yes-no”): the helmet must not move and must follow your movements like a second skin. If it tends to turn around your head, just adjust with the rear wheel, always without hurting or constrain you at the forehead and temples. 
    Very important also, the helmet should not be worn on the back of the skull. The front of your helmet should arrive just above your eyebrows.
  4. Finally, adjust the chinstrap (the strap at the throat) and the side straps to prevent the helmet from jumping from your head. The straps should be close to the face but not too much to avoid friction and their crossing must be under the ears.

Weight, materials, details that make the difference (price)

The difference between an entry-level bike helmet model and another high-end bike is about weight, materials, and finishes. Depending on the level of the range, you will have helmets ranging from 230 g, such as Kask Protone or Giro Synthe to 270 g for a classic B’twin helmet. 
For a budget ranging from thirty euros to … nearly three hundred. In cycling, the gram won is expensive!
The most common technique for reducing the weight of bicycle helmets is in-molding, which consists of molding the outer shell directly onto the inner layer of polystyrene, thus making them completely integral and creating a much more rigid (and lightweight) set. The outer shell provides strength while the internal structure absorbs shocks. 95% of the helmets use this technique.
Other details that make the difference are the internal foams that can be removable, with antimicrobial treatment (not to impede perspiration) and machine washable; the chin strap can be leather for comfort; openings specially provided for spectacles; gel inserts to increase comfort and support, the number of ventilation channels (the Giro Synthe and the Kask Mojito have 26 where a B’twin has 16).
You can find very good helmets from € 50, or if you want to spend more, the Kask Mojito around € 100 is a good alternative. There is a bike helmet for all budgets and for all heads, no excuse not to wear one!

Which road bike helmet to choose for a child?

Since March 22, 2017, bicycle helmets are mandatory for children under 12 years old. So if you transport or accompany a child under 12 years old without a helmet, you risk a fine of 90 euros. Take care of the equipment pitches!
The ranking is achieved by retaining weight, ventilation, comfort and its price for a child helmet size.

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