The Road Helmet Gear Guide

Choosing the right helmet for you is one of the most important (and potentially life saving) decisions that you can make. It can alter your bike riding experience and could prove to be the difference in how well you fare in the event of a collision.

It is critical to make an informed decision about the helmet that you are about to purchase. You would want a helmet that safe and suits the way your ride, your style and your budget. Not all road cycling helmets meet the same safety standards or a designed for one particular use.

This helmet guide will explore different aspects of a helmet: the safety standards, safety tech, a fitting guide, the difference between road helmet types and functionality, as well as why we should replace an old helmet.

View the latest helmet range from each brand with specifications, weights, review summaries and the latest deals.

Helmet Safety Standards

It is important to wear a an approved-certified helmet whilst riding your bike. For a helmet to be certified, it must meet standards in regards to all aspects of helmet impact and retention, so that a cyclist can be adequately protected in case of a crash. A certification label can be found on the inside of a helmet.

It is important to note that a more expensive helmet may not be more safe than a less expensive model.

Three of the most important safety standards for helmets are:

CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission): All helmets sold in the USA have been required to pass the CPSC safety standard. CPSC is also accepted in Canada, China, Taiwan, Japan and Brazil.

EN-1078 (The European Cycling Standard): Applies to all helmets sold in 32 European nations. EN-1078 permits lighter and thinner helmets than CPSC and AS/NZS 2063:2008 standards because it subjects helmets to impacts from lower heights.

AS/NZS 2063:2008 (Australia and New Zealand standards): Applies to all helmets sold in Australia and New Zealand. The AS/NZS 2063:2008 standards are some of the most stringent safety requirements in the world.

Safety Tech: MIPS, WaveCel & Koroyd

As a minimum, you must check to make sure that your helmet has a sticker which indicates that it meets the required safety standards in the place that you live.

Many helmet companies have been developing and adopting the use of safety technology such as MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System), WaveCel and Koroyd. These technologies further help to protect a cyclist by reducing the amount of force exerted on the brain during impact, when compared to a standard bike helmet.

MIPS is a thin low friction layer built into a helmet and is based on reducing rotational force and the amount of force transferred to a cyclist’s brain during a collision. It does this by allowing the outer shell of a helmet to move/rotate slightly during impact. Reducing the energy transferred to a cyclist’s head results in less significant injuries and decreases the risk of concussion.

WaveCel (developed by Trek/Bontrager) is a thick layer comprised of cellular copolymer that flexes and crumples on impact, absorbing the force before it reaches your head.

Koroyd (used by Smith Optics) is similar to the WaveCel in structure and function.

Safety Tech: Helmet Crash Detection Sensors

There are a few helmet brands who have developed sensors which consist of an accelerometer and gyro. These sensors attach to the helmet and can detect an abrupt change in acceleration in the event of a collision. Through an app the sensor can alert an emergency contact and send them your location.

To learn more about helmet crash protection sensors please click on the following links Specialized ANGi and Coros Smart Helmets

The Different Types of Road Cycling Helmets: Traditional Road, Aero Road and Time Trial/Triathlon

The three main types of road cycling helmets are: traditional road, aero road and time trial/triathlon.

Traditional Road Helmet

Lazer Genesis

The traditional road helmet is designed with weight and ventilation in mind. Perfect for the everyday cyclist and road racers, these helmets are the lightest helmets that you can buy (~200g or less for top end helmets) and provide great ventilation at high speeds.

They are especially useful on warmer days or long climbs.

Aero Road Helmet

Giro Aerohead Ultimate MIPS

The aero road helmet sacrifices ventilation and weight in favour of aerodynamics and time gains. Helmet manufacturers have reduced the amount of air vents and have created helmets with smooth front surfaces thus improving aerodynamic performance which therefore saves a rider time.

Based on some research from manufacturers (and although this varies greatly between different aero helmets and manufacturers), the typical time gains are approximately 25-40 seconds based on riding 40km (25 miles) at 40km/h (25mph) when compared to a traditional road helmet.

Although they are generally not for the everyday cyclist and those living in hot climates, they can be handy in really cold weather or when smashing out a fast ride.

Time Trial/Triathlon Helmet

Kask Beluga

The time trial helmet is all about aerodynamics and are built for speed. Ventilation is usually minimal, even when compared with an aero road helmet.

Most manufacturers have helmets with long “tails” which enhance the air flow over the helmet and require the rider to be in a specific position to take full advantage of the benefits.

Most manufacturers also have short “tails” where the helmet is shorter with the long “tail” cut off. These helmets allow the rider to move their head without negatively affecting the aerodynamic performance of the helmet.

What should I look for when buying a bike helmet?

As mentioned above safety, first and foremost is the most important aspect to look for when purchasing a helmet. Make sure that the helmet complies with the safety standards in your region and check to see if there is any added protection from the force exerted on the brain during a crash, such as MIPS, Koroyd or WaveCel. Wearing a comfortable helmet that fits snug and well for any length of time is a must. The helmet fitting guide below provides a step-by-step approach on how to correctly fit a bicycle helmet.

A lighter helmet usually aids comfort, reduces neck fatigue and allows a rider to be less consciously aware that they are actually wearing a helmet. Regardless of the helmet type, ventilation is always important as it helps to cool the rider down and reduce perspiration and fatigue levels.

How often should helmets be replaced? Should I replace an old helmet even if it still looks fine?

Safety and your health comes first! A helmet is one of the most important accessories that a cyclist can have. So it makes sense that the helmet should be in the best condition that it can be in, to ensure that a rider is protected in a crash.

A helmet used by a cyclist riding multiple times a week should be replaced approximately every three to five years, even if it hasn’t been involved in a crash. Over time the EPS foam, glues and solvents naturally degrade, which is brought on more quickly from the weather and from general wear and tear. Therefore the helmet may not perform in the way that it should in a collision, exposing the rider to more serious injury or possibly even death.

Without question a helmet needs to be replaced after a crash, even if it is fairly mild. Cyclists need to think of a helmet like a car bumper. After a crash, the integrity of the EPS foam is compromised and will not bounce back.

Some manufacturers do offer crash replacement programs which can give a rider a discount in the event of a collision.

Fitting Guide: How to choose an appropriately fitting helmet

It is essential to have a good fitting helmet. If a helmet doesn’t fit properly then it won’t be comfortable or do a proper job of protecting your head in the case of an accident.

Unless you know the sizing of a helmet brand inside out or have previously tested different models, we would ALWAYS recommend trying on a particular helmet in a physical bike store prior to purchasing (and besides it also helps to support your local bike store!)

Check out the video from GCN below

Step 1: Measure the circumference of your head by wrapping a tape measure around the widest part of your head, starting approximately 2cm above the eyebrow line. Compare your measurement to a helmet sizing chart. Select the appropriate helmet size. Keep in mind that helmets vary is size, shape and design from one manufacturer to the next.

Step 2: It’s time to try on the helmet! The helmet should fit – level on your head, snug and should remain in place. Make sure that the helmet cannot move from side to side.

Some helmets come with extra padding which vary in size/thickness. These pads can be used to create a more secure fit.

Step 3: Once the retention system is properly tightened and the chin strap (buckle) is closed, you should only be able to fit one to two fingers between the strap and your chin. Tighten or loosen the strap if needed.

The strap should make a “V” shape, so that the point meets just below your ears. Slide the strap up or down if needed.

Step 4: Make sure that there are no pressure points. This may mean that the helmet is the wrong size or the wrong shape for your head.

Step 5: Push the front of the helmet up and back with your palm. Adjust the fit if it moves more than an inch.

Step 6: Shake your head in all directions. Adjust the straps if the helmet shifts.

Step 7: It’s always worth checking if your glasses/sunglasses fit correctly whilst the helmet is in the correct position.

Step 8: Finally, make sure that the helmet is comfortable to wear and you’re good to go!

View the latest helmet range from each brand with specifications, weights, review summaries and the latest deals.