Cycle Helmet FAQ's in the UK

Here are some questions that people want to know the answers to when it comes to helmets and cycling. 

Should you replace your helmet every five years and if so why?

The answer is that it is recommended that you do replace your helmet every 5 years because of things like sweat, oils from your hair and the usual wear and tear that helmets go through from everyday use affecting the quality of the products that are used to make the helmets. There is also a breakdown of the helmet and its parts from the ingredients of cleaners used on cleaning of the helmets.

If I have dropped my helmet, do I need to replace it with a new one?

In most instances unless you can see visible damage such as a crack or a broken chin fastening strap, the helmet is probably okay. Most helmets are pretty durable especially if you bought a quality, certified, helmet. If the helmet hits the ground or falls to the ground repeatedly, or if the helmet falls when cycling at a high rate of speed by itself, then the quality may be compromised, otherwise under usual use, the helmet should be okay.

Helmets may have a better chance of getting damaged while on your head and hitting a very hard surface such as the ground, especially at a high rate of speed. If this happens, you want to have a professional examine the helmet for damage before using it again. There may be damage to the helmet that you are unable to see. If you are in doubt about the quality of your helmet after an incident like the ones mentioned above, replace it.

What about after-market (non-original) accessories for helmets?

Every year people ask about adding accessories onto their helmets such as adding new straps. When helmets are tested, they are only tested straight out of the box with the accessories that came on them, so because of that, we encourage only buying a whole new helmet. That way you know that the helmets are certified and tested, so look for certification on the box before buying a helmet. If the helmet is changed in any way, it may compromise the efficiency of the helmet so it cannot be guaranteed you are getting a completely safe helmet. Now to be clear, that does not include decorating or painting of the helmets.

It is safe to buy a helmet on-line?

Making sure a helmet fits the person well is the secret to good safety and protecting your head. Buying a helmet is very similar to buying a pair of shoes; each one fits a person differently. It is important for a helmet to fit you well and there is really no way to know how it will fit if you cannot try it on. Each person not only has a different head size, but the shape of their head differs from everyone else’s. Most online retailers will allow you to try the helmet and return it if it's not suitable. 

When I go to try on helmets, how will I know if it fits me correctly?

It is always a good idea to try on several different helmets to get an idea of how it fits your head and if it is comfortable fit. You also want to find a helmet that fits snugly everywhere. Buckle the strap and see if the helmet moves. Try to push the helmet on the back towards the front to see if it moves. Now try pushing the helmet from the front backwards, if it moves, it is too big. It should not move, it should fit snugly without movement. You also want to see if it fits too snugly; try it on for several minutes and see if it bothers you or starts hurting your head, if it does it is too small and not a good fit.

Is there anything that I shouldn’t do with my helmet that might damage it?

Do not place your helmet on anything with a pointed end or on a solid, hard object like the side mirror that could damage the inner lining of your helmet. When you want to clean the padding on the inside of your helmet, only use warm, soapy water such as dish soap or a small amount of clothes washing soap, never use any harsh cleaning chemicals that can damage the padding or other parts of the helmet.

Can wearing a helmet prevent damage to your head and brain injuries?

A good, quality helmet protects your head and provides extra space and time to avoid and reduce injuries to the brain. The immediate and sudden stopping is what causes the brain to be injured not an actual fall. It is how much the brain gets shaken around after an immediate stop that is so damaging. Picture yourself in a car that comes to a quick and sudden stop, your body is going to slam backwards against the seat then get slammed forward into the steering wheel. Your body might even do this more than once if the collision was hard enough and you were going an excessive speed; especially if you were riding without a seat belt.

Your brain is getting shaken up and bounced around inside your head. If you are wearing a helmet, it will give your brain protection against a hard impact so the brain doesn’t move around as much. The helmet also takes the impact and spreads the force across the helmet and the impact is given to the padding and protective liner so your head and brain don’t get as much of the impact as it normally would have. If it is a sharp object such as a rock, the helmet will take the brunt of the impact and spread it across the helmet instead of your head.

How do you fasten a double ring style chin strap on a helmet?

Pull the strap through both rings from inside to the outside of the helmet and then let go. Pull the rings apart, grab the free end of the strap and pull it back through only the inside ring from the outside to the inside. Now pull it tightly but comfortably.

What is a batch test, and is it better than RST?

Batch testing is a test to see if the helmet meets compliance requirements. It is a common form of testing used in Europe and other country's to see if something meets the Government’s Standards. They use it for companies that make large amounts of an item and they are required to test a certain percentage of the items to make sure that they fit the standard required for compliance. Another test that is good for helmets is when they are RST tested (Random Sample Testing) which means that they pick random units from an inventory to be sold to customers and test them.

What's the best helmet to purchase?

That is not an easy question to answer; some companies test their helmets better and under better circumstances than others. Some only test a few samples instead of the required percentage that is required by government standards. You want to look for a helmet that has been tested and certified by a recognizable agency, preferably a government agency, and has been crash tested or accident tested, that way you know that it will protect you and your loved ones against serious accidents.

How do I choose a good helmet?

Buy a helmet that you feel will do the job that it is intended to do. Decide exactly what you are buying the helmet to do then find the one that fits that need the best. There are a few things that are important to look for such as fit; you want to make sure it fits your head snugly and fits the shape of your head. Don’t go by just the size on the tag, try it on to make sure if fits properly because sizes vary from brand to brand. Make sure that it is comfortable to wear for more than a minute or two. It needs to be comfortable for long periods of time, not just a few minutes. Find one that you like and that you like on your head; if you don’t like the way it looks then you aren’t going to wear it. Find one that you feel is a good, heavy duty, quality helmet that is certified by a company or agency you are familiar with and offers certification for safety and injuries, especially head injuries.

We hope this information was helpful and answered some of the important questions you are asking. We hope you now feel more educated about helmets for cycling and feel better about the subject but please contact us if you've still got questions. Happy cycling!