If you have been looking for bike helmets, you may have observed that they are different based on their intended use. In particular, mountain bike helmets are designed differently to offer the wearer additional protection.
Here are the features of mountain bike helmets that you can look out for when choosing one:
- Based on use:
Cross country: Your helmet will have to keep you cool for a long duration. Cross country biking helmets are sturdier than the helmets meant for road cycling (the outer shells tend to be harder) and have more vents. Additionally, some of the helmets are designed with your eyewear in mind, so your sunglasses don’t dislodge your helmet.
Trail: Helmets meant for the trail offer more coverage on the back and the sides of the head and have a longer detachable visor to shade your eyes from the harsh sun. Some helmets have a mount on the back for your eyewear.
Downhill: Helmets used for downhill riding come with chin-bars. They are full helmets. They have fewer vents and are not designed for prolonged wear in one session.
Shell: A helmet’s outer shell is hard and can be made of ABS, glass fibre, or carbon fibre. The material generally resists punctures and is designed to slide over hard surfaces at the time of impact.
Liner: The inner liner of most helmets is made of polystyrene reinforced with polymer webbings. Poor quality liner material can flake over time or crumble under sun exposure. Material that adheres to safety standards, such as the AS/NZS 2063:2008, will be durable and does not disintegrate with regular use.
Strap material: Straps are made of nylon or polypropylene and may stretch over time. Good bike helmets have adjustable straps, and newer helmets offer ratchets (usually an adjusting wheel) at the back of the helmet for fine adjustments.
- Inner lattice-work:
A feature indispensable to mountain bike helmets is the inner framework. Mountain biking is potentially more risk ridden, and the helmet is thus designed to reduce injury from multiple forms of collision forces.
A significant breakthrough in this direction has been the invention of MIPS, or Multi-directional Impact Protection System and the Wavcel.
If you turn the helmet over, you can see a framework beneath the foam that is designed to rotate slightly. Its objective is to redirect the torsion forces of an impact away from your brain, thus reducing the risk of internal injury. Some frameworks are also designed to collapse under the impact, absorbing some of the rotational forces.
- Basics of wearing a helmet correctly:
As with any helmet, look for the right fit – choose an appropriately sized one that is neither too tight nor too loose. Avoid wearing caps underneath the helmet. Place it level on your head so that the rim is just above your eyebrows. Adjust the straps so that the V shape of the strap sits just below your earlobe. Fasten the buckle correctly under your chin.
In Australia, despite a helmet mandate, over 50% of biking casualties continue to be due to head injury. Wearing a well-fitted helmet can reduce your chances of severe head injury by 70%. Don’t take your safety lightly; invest in a good helmet and replace it every five years or so or after a major collision. Consult your nearest bike supplies store to help you choose the correct helmet for your needs.