Commuting 101: Get a Helmet

Next week’s Bike to Work Week may have inspired you to check out our site; if so, thanks for stopping by and I would encourage you to peruse our Commuting 101 section.

There is a lot of debate about whether or not you really need to wear a bike helmet; personal experience has shown myself and other readers of this site that you do. If you don’t have a helmet, or if yours hasn’t been worn in years and just doesn’t fit right, your best bet is to go to a bike shop or store that has someone knowledgeable about cycling to help you find the right helmet.

You’re going for a snug, not tight, fit when the helmet is placed level on your head. Most helmets come with an assortment of foam pads — use them.

Adjust the straps so that the triangles are just under your ears and tighten the chin strap up (again, not too tight). Now, if you push on the front of the helmet and it moves enough to expose your forehead, shorten the front straps. Re-tighten the chin strap if necessary. Grab the back of the helmet and act like you’re going to peel it off to the front; if it moves enough that it starts to cover your eyes, shorten the back straps. Rinse and repeat until you’ve got it right. If you just can’t seem to get it adjusted, you need a different model of helmet.

I’ve been shopping recently and was surprised to find out that the old adage “you get what you pay for” isn’t necessarily true when it comes to bike helmets. Consumer Reports has a nice list of ratings showing the less expensive models coming out on top and some of the more expensive helmets rated as unacceptable. You can see the Consumer Reports 2006 ratings HERE.

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