Definitive Cycling Helmet Guide

We all know we should wear a helmet whenever we go for a ride, even if it’s just a gentle spin around the block. What’s just as important as wearing any old helmet though, is making sure you have the right one for you; it needs to fit properly and offer the right amount of protection for your needs. No point wearing a full-face helmet on the road for example, and you don’t see the folks dropping in at Red Bull Rampage with roadie lids either! Here’s the definitive cycling helmet guide to help you get the right helmet for your riding!

Road & Urban

For the road, there are a couple of styles of helmet out, ranging from your traditional road-style lids through to more urban focussed styles that are toned-down to look a bit more casual. If you’re a pure roadie, then a road helmet with a decent amount of ventilation is the way to go, like the Met Rivale. Helmets like the Rivale offer excellent comfort, protection, and ventilation, making them great all-rounders. If your riding takes a more serious turn and speed is key for you, an aero focused helmet like the HJC Furion is a great shout, sacrificing a little ventilation in return for better aero performance, helping you save crucial watts in the pursuit of those KoMs! 

For riders who take a more relaxed pace or commute to work into the city, there’s now a huge range of stylish urban helmets that often feature integrated lights and other safety features to help keep you safe in heavy traffic areas. The Giro Escape and MET Mobilite are great examples of these stylish and safety conscious helmets.

MTB

When choosing an MTB helmet, it really pays to think of the trails you’re planning to ride, how much climbing/descending you’re going to be doing and how far you’re going. Riding lots of downhill trails for a few minutes at a time and taking the uplift bus or are you pushing the bike back up? If you are doing either of these then a full-face helmet is a good idea. If you’re racing XC or doing some serious climbs and logging lots of miles then a lighter open-face lid with lots of ventilation is what you should go for. 

In the middle of both extremes, are loads of helmets that offer excellent coverage and protection, with extended back sections to the back of your head, some even come with removable chin bars, like the Bell Super 3R, so you have the best of both worlds in one helmet! For most riders who frequent trail centres and big natural rides in the hills, an open-face helmet like the Fox Speedframe, Giro Source and MET Roam are great choices, offering great protection, comfort and ventilation that are also perfect for pedalling all day in.

Sizing

Now you’ve identified the style of helmet you need, it’s time to look at sizing. This is easily done by measuring around the full circumference of your head around an inch above your eyebrows. Most helmets are measured in centimetres and will likely have a range of sizes to choose from. 

Choosing the right size is key and we always recommend trying out different options in person at our shop. Does your hairstyle change often? Do you like to wear a cycling cap? Make sure you take any variables into account!

You’ll also find that while a helmet you like technically “fits” and gives a good range of adjustment, it may not feel totally comfortable. All our heads are different shapes and the actual fit and feel of a helmet can vary from brand to brand and even model to model, so it’s worth trying a few different helmets to see whether they suit the shape of your head, as well as the size. 

To MIPS or not to MIPS?

You’ll no doubt have come across the term MIPS in your search for a new helmet, but just what is it? MIPS or Multi-direction Impact Protection is a low friction layer that sits between the EPS foam and liner of the helmet and allows for 10-15mm of sliding motion in any direction. It’s proven  that this movement will reduce the transfer of rotational forces on your brain, which helps to reduce the chance of concussion and serious traumatic brain injuries. 

Not all helmets come with MIPS and if a helmet doesn’t have it, that does not mean it’s unsafe to ride in. Some helmets will even give you the option of a version fitted with MIPS and another without. We always think that you only get one head and it’s worth looking after, so if you’re budget allows you to get a helmet that not only fits you, but is equipped with MIPS as well, then it’s well worth the extra.

So, there you have it, our complete guide to choosing your new helmet! Once you’ve settled on your style and size, you can check our full range online or in store and try them out; you’ll be thankful when out on the bike that your helmet is the perfect one for the job!


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