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Safe on the bike: All things road bike helmets

What road bike helmets are there? What should I look for and which brands are the best? Here you can find all the information about the topic.

Safe on the bike: All things road bike helmets
Photo by Viktor Bystrov / Unsplash

Road bike helmets in Review

Wearing a bicycle helmet is not mandatory in Germany, but it protects you from injuries in case of a fall and can even save your life. In addition to the function as head protection, bicycle helmets now also offer a really chic design. When buying a bike helmet, you should consider various criteria to make the right decision. In our buying guide, we show you what types of bike helmets there are and what you should look for when you want to find the best bike helmet for you.

1. what types of bicycle helmets are there?

Basically, a distinction is made between softshell helmets, hardshell helmets and microheshell helmets.

Softshell helmets have only one shell made of rigid foam, also known as expanded polystyrene. The slim design makes them particularly lightweight and affordable.

Hardshell helmets as the name suggests, are made of hard plastic, more specifically acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. They offer more protection and are heavier than softshell helmets. Due to their robust material, such helmets are used mainly for mountain bikesbut also for motorcycles. In hardshell helmets, the outer shell is bonded to the inner shell in separate work steps.

A Microshell helmet is a mixture of a softshell and hardshell helmet. In this type of bike helmet, the hard foam core is covered with plastic. The smooth surface also has holes for good ventilation. Sound familiar? The microshell helmet with vents is also the most common type of bike helmet. The weight is between a softshell helmet and a hardshell helmet. Microshell helmets are usually made of lightweight, thin polycarbonate.

At in-mold helmets the outer shell of the helmet is molded from lightweight, thin polycarbonate together with the inner shell of expanded polystyrene.

Bicycle helmets with padding offer a particularly high wearing comfort. In addition to models for women and men, there are also unisex models. One of the most popular manufacturers of bicycle helmets is the Alpina brand.

In-mould helmet

2. bicycle helmets for different types of bicycles.

Not all helmets are the same: Depending on the type of bike, a different bike helmet comes into question. A normal microshell helmet without extras is suitable for leisure time. If you want to be particularly safe in the dark, you can mount a light on your bike helmet.

When riding with a mountain bike you should protect yourself with a special bike helmet. Mountain bike helmets cover more parts of the head and face than a conventional bicycle helmet and usually have a chin guard and, in some models, a neck support. Half-shell helmets with vents are a compromise between safety and ventilation. For maximum safety, you can also go for a mountain bike helmet with a visor, similar to a motorcycle helmet. A manufacturer for such half-shell helmets with visor is for example Kask.

Mountain bike helmet

For road cyclists good aerodynamics is particularly important, which is why road bike helmets are tested for their aerodynamic properties. Especially in time trials, the helmet should not be an obstacle to good performance and high speed, but should have as little air resistance as possible. A road bike helmet therefore has significantly fewer ventilation holes than a normal bike helmet and a particularly smooth surface. The ventilation system is particularly well thought out to allow sufficient ventilation with low air resistance. The slightly tapered shape of a road bike helmet at the back of the head ensures that the airstream flows backwards, which improves aerodynamics. A low weight is also important for a road bike helmet.

Road bike helmet

For time trials come so-called aero helmets are used. They are teardrop-shaped and run to the back of the head significantly longer and more pointed than a classic road bike helmet, as this reduces even more air resistance. In addition, there are also time trial helmets without a tapered tail, which offer low air resistance in any position of the head.

Aero helmet

3. what helmets do the pros wear in cycling?

Well-known manufacturers of road helmets are Giro, Abus, Uvex, Casco, Bell, POC and Lazer. Models of these brands are also used in professional cycling used. The most popular brands briefly presented:

  • Giro is a Californian manufacturer of sporting goods specializing in road bike helmets and ski helmets.
  • The versatile German company Abus you surely know: besides bicycle helmets, it also produces keys, locks and alarm systems, among other things.
  • Uvex is also a German company that manufactures safety products. In Germany, Uvex is the market leader for bicycle helmets.
  • Also the company Casco is based in Germany and is one of the leading manufacturers of bicycle helmets and goggles.
  • Bell is a company from California that specializes in the manufacture of helmets for mountain bikes and BMX, as well as motorcycle helmets.
  • The Swedish company POC is a leading manufacturer of helmets, goggles and accessories for cycling and winter sports.
  • Lazer is a Belgian company that produces various types of bicycle helmets from road bike helmets to time trial helmets, triathlon helmets and helmets for gravel bikes or even city bikes manufactures.

The best road helmets include the Uvex i-vo, Uvex Boss Race, Giro Savant, Casco Speedairo, Abus Airbreaker and Abus Gamechanger. Do you want to be on the same level as the pros in the cycling you should take a look at these brands and models and in any case go for a high-quality aero helmet if you are riding a road bike on the road.

4. what you should look for when buying a bike helmet

Head shape: In order for the bicycle helmet to offer the necessary protection, the helmet shell must be optimally adapted to your head shape. Otherwise, the helmet will slip into your field of vision or distract you from traffic when you try to adjust the slipped helmet. In addition, a helmet that fits crookedly or too loosely will no longer provide sufficient protection from a collision. To prevent this, your bike helmet should not be too big. But the helmet should also not be too small, otherwise you will get a headache and will not be able to concentrate on the traffic.

To choose the right bike helmet, measure your head circumference with a tape measure beforehand. For the right result, place the tape measure just above your eyebrows. Select the size of the bicycle helmet according to the circumference of your head. If you are between two helmet sizes, you should choose the larger one. When you try the bike helmet, you should also directly pay attention to the correct adjustment for the optimal fit. With the adjustable chin strap you ensure that the bike helmet fits tightly. With an additional adjustable ring on the bike helmet, which sits in the neck, you can readjust if necessary, so that the helmet sits optimally and neither slips nor uncomfortably presses. If you wear glasses, either because of a visual impairment or as wind protection, you should also wear them when trying on the bicycle helmet. The straps should also not be too loose or too tight on your head.

Fitting tips: First put the bike helmet on your head without closing the straps and shake your head in different directions. Even without tight-fitting straps and closed chin straps, the strap should sit stably on your head.

Weight: If the bike helmet is too heavy, it presses on your head and strains the spine. Therefore, you should make sure that the helmet has a sufficiently low weight when trying it on. A light weight is especially important for professional cycling to keep the total weight as low as possible. On the other hand, helmets that are too light lose their protective effect. A good compromise is a weight between 200 and 300 grams.

Design: When choosing a bike helmet, you have many different designs to choose from. With a bicycle helmet in bright colors or equipped with reflectors or a light, you will be seen particularly well in traffic. If that doesn't suit you, you can of course also opt for a helmet in subtle colors. If you like the design of your bike helmet, it is even more fun to wear it.

Approval mark: Every bicycle helmet sold in Europe must bear the test mark EN 1078 test mark. You will find the test number printed inside the helmet. When buying a bike helmet, you should also make sure that it has a TÜV test mark and has been tested by TÜV for safety and quality.

With an E-bike bikes are particularly fast on the road. However, apart from the European standard EN 1078, there is currently no standard adapted to the special requirements of e-bikes. The Netherlands, where people are known to love cycling, is playing a pioneering role here: There is the standard NTA 8776which is specifically geared towards S-pedelecs. The criteria for awarding the standard include field of vision, ventilation, damping and mounting systems. The NTA 8776 standard is to become the model for a new European standard. Manufacturers supporting the work on a standard for e-bike helmets include Abus and Bell. If you own an e-bike, you can protect yourself particularly well at high speeds with helmets bearing the Dutch test mark.

5. road bike helmet Review to help you decide

To help you decide on a model and brand, you can read test reports from Stiftung Warentest or other providers of road bike helmets. Criteria for selecting the test winner include the weight, the protective effect, the wearing comfort and the ventilation system. Lightweight road helmets that have been awarded "very good" in tests include:

  • Smith Sport Persist,
  • Giro Isode MIPS
  • Giro Aerohead MIPS
  • Specialized S-Works Prevail ll
  • Mavic Ksyrium Pro helmet
  • Abus Viantor
  • Bell Formula MIPS
  • Abus Gamechanger

6. how much does a road bike helmet cost?

The prices for a bicycle helmet vary greatly. You can get an ordinary bike helmet for relaxed rides with the city bike for about 50 euros. The price range for a good racing bike helmet with aerodynamic design is between about 60 euros and 120 euros.

However, since it's your safety that's at stake here, you shouldn't save money in the wrong place. The investment in a well-fitting, robust bicycle helmet is worthwhile in any case.

After a few years you should replace your road bike helmet with a new one, as the material can be damaged by weather influences damaged over time: It becomes porous and its protective function is thus extremely impaired over time. Even if you have fallen, you should get a new bike helmet, because the fall may also have formed fine, barely visible cracks. Always play it safe and regularly invest money in a high quality bicycle helmet. Accordingly, you should not sell your old bike helmet, of course, but dispose of it. If you buy a new bicycle helmet, it should be new and not used. The purchase of a helmet is the wrong time to save money.

7. what is a MIPS?

In bicycle accidents, strong rotational forces act from different directions. Depending on how one falls, the cyclist's head may hit the ground differently.

A novelty on the market are bicycle helmets with so-called MIPS (Multi-directional impact protection system). This is a yellow framework made of plastic inside the helmet. In helmets with MIPS, this inner shell shifts by 10 to 15 millimeters in the event of an impact, thus slowing down some of the rotational forces in the event of an oblique impact (multi-directional impact) to prevent serious head injuries. This device takes into account the fact that when you fall by bike, you usually hit the ground with your head at an angle, rather than head-on. Conventional helmets, on the other hand, usually absorb only static impacts that do not involve rotational movement. However, it is precisely the influence of such rotational forces on the brain that is life-threatening. Most of the road bike helmets listed above that are rated "very good" are equipped with a MIPS. Not only bicycle helmets, but also motorcycle helmets, ski helmets, riding helmets and other helmets are available with a MIPS.

If you want extra safety, this helmet is a good choice, as long as it fits comfortably. Mostly MTB helmets and road bike helmets are equipped with a MIPS, but also for all other types of bike it is worth equipping with this system. So far, unfortunately, a bike helmet can not be retrofitted with a MIPS, so before you buy a new bike helmet, you should consider whether you want a model with MIPS. However, bike helmets with a MIPS are significantly more expensive than models without, as the system is still relatively new. However, it is expected that in the future the MIPS will be standard equipment in bicycle helmets and other helmets, and accordingly cheaper.

8. where can I find the right helmet?

Since you should definitely try out a bike helmet before using it, the easiest way is to go directly to a bike store or sports store. However, you have more choice online, for example on Amazon. If you measure your head circumference beforehand and deal with what features your bike helmet should have, you can already make the right choice online. Whether Uvex or Abus road helmet or another brand: Even if you order your bike helmet online, you should of course try it on.

Of course, the best helmet is useless if you don't have the right bike... So if you're looking for a new, high-quality bike for yourself, then take a look around our buycycle store! We have thousands of second-hand bikes on our marketplace, so there's bound to be one for you. If you have any questions or need advice, you can always contact the buycycle team at any time. Until then, we wish you, as always: Happy browsing, happy cycling!