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Friday, September 4, 2009

Helmet Review...

I figured it's about time we talked more about helmets. Most people I see riding around L.A. don't wear them and you should (so should I). So to help you determine what the best helmet for you to be I gathered some very interesting and helpful information! Taken from this website (I really do think that everyone should read this), here is some reviews on various kinds, not brands of helmets in 2009.

Trends for 2009
"There are new helmets in 2009 that are worth a look if you need a new one. There are more new models appearing with the rounder, smoother profile that we think is best when you crash. But there is still no major advance in impact performance, ventilation or wearability this year that would compel you to replace your current helmet. Bell has announced a new True Fit system that is worth a look. Almost all of the helmets listed below meet national or international standards and offer good protection, although some standards are tougher than others. For the US market the CPSC standard is required by law for any bicycle helmet. Without comparative test data we usually do not know if a model exceeds the requirements of the standard and offers superior protection."

Rounder, smoother "compact," "city," "urban" or "commuter" models are still growing in number, and most manufacturers have at least one in their lineup now. The older elongated styles with long rear points are beginning to look dated. We are pleased that the fashion pendulum is swinging, and most of the newer models are fine even if not fully rounded.

A very interesting new manufacturer arrived on the scene this year: Kali. They have new capabilities for molding variable density layers of foam in shells that most companies cannot equal, and it would appear that they will add some interesting new products in coming years.

The higher priced helmets have big vents, but no verifiable advantage in impact performance. A helmet with less liner foam must have denser foam, a disadvantage in lesser impacts. You can pay more than $200 if you want to, but Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and other discounters have models that meet the same CPSC impact standard at an everyday price of $10. And for about $20 to $30 they have better looking and better fitting models. All three mentioned above have a round, smooth Bell Impulse for about $25 that is molded in the shell, a high quality construction technique.

Ring fit systems, the "one size fits all" solution, have taken over for most of the less expensive models. They work well for some, but not at all for others, who find that they have to tighten the ring uncomfortably to get a stable fit. You have to try them on to be sure. There are still models using fitting pads instead.

There are no new radical impact materials this year. Cascade introduced new liners in 2008 for their lacrosse and hockey helmets, but that construction has not spread to bicycle helmets yet. They use hollow bulging plastic cylinders that compress under load.

Carbon fiber is still found only in premium models, limited by variable fiber price costs. It does allow lighter construction, but there is so little of it used in a bike helmet that the weight saved is minimal except in heavy BMX helmets. Manufacturers are searching for ways to use titanium, another glamorous and expensive product that saves very little weight in a helmet. The kevlar craze is mostly behind us, but you will find some of that as well. In the 2009 economy it is not clear that high end frills will sell well.

Strap adjustment fittings--buckles and side pieces--badly need improvement. Most of them slip too easily, resulting in the "strap creep" that is responsible for many of the loose straps on many riders. We have noted the really good fittings below. You can check that when you buy just by tugging on the straps. You may have to sew your adjusted straps or snug rubber bands up under the buckles to make them hold.

Strap anchors on many helmets still stick up above the shell and are an unnecessary impediment to smooth sliding when you hit the pavement. The best helmets put the anchors below the surface of the shell, or at least recess the anchors to make a smooth surface.

Rubber finishes and a fabric finish were introduced in a few helmets in 2007, and have spread since. We do not recommend them for road use because rubber or fabric surfaces are likely to increase the sliding resistance of a helmet when it hits the pavement. We do not have lab tests yet to confirm that, but scrub one on pavement and see the difference.

Basics of what to look for:
1. Meets the CPSC bicycle helmet standard.

2. Fits you well.

3. Has a rounded, smooth exterior with no major snag points.

4. Has no more vents than you need. More vents = less foam.

On the site listed above there is a ton more information. So go and check it out and do yourself a favor, ride safe, be safe, and get a helmet! We promise it won't take your coolness points down!


  1. So, when are you going to start wearing one Alyson???

  2. soon! i'm actually trying to sign up for a program that gives you a free helmet figure not only would it be nice to get a helmet for free, but then i could blog about it.
    and who are you messenger man?