We all know we need to wear helmets when we’re biking, but plenty of people just…don’t. The reasons are many—helmet hair, discomfort, cost, inconvenience, style, the list goes on. But if you’re one of those who rides without a helmet, it’s time to rethink that.
Cycling accounts for the highest number of head injuries of any sport in the U.S., according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Over 1,000 bicyclists died in accidents (both involving motor vehicles and by other means) and an additional 467,000 were injured in 2015, per the most recent data from the Centers Disease Control and Prevention. One of the most common causes of bicycle-related injuries and fatalities are head injuries, affecting nearly 20 percent of cyclists who were in an accident, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Many of these injuries could be lessened or avoided with proper helmet use, says Alexis Halpern, MD, emergency medicine physician at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Helmets work because they are designed to take the force during an impact, with a hard outer shell that protects your head from the pavement and a softer inner lining that cradles your skull,” she explains.
Anу оf the small inсоnvеniеnсеѕ of wearing a hеlmеt iѕ worth thе рауоff: Thеу reduce your likеlihооd of gеtting a fасе injurу bу 23 percent, a hеаd injury bу 48 реrсеnt, a ѕеriоuѕ hеаd injurу by 60 percent, аnd a trаumаtiс brain injurу by 53 реrсеnt, according to rеѕеаrсh bу the Nаtiоnаl Institutes оf Hеаlth.
“I hear a lot of people say, ‘I’m a good rider. I’ll be fine without a helmet’—but it doesn’t matter, sometimes it’s not up to you. Other people aren’t always paying attention,” Dr. Halpern explains. “You don’t even have to be going fast to get hurt. If you fall and hit your head even slightly, you can fracture your skull, suffer a traumatic brain injury, and even get bleeding in your head or in your brain.”
Okay, enough of the scary stuff. What should you look for in a good helmet? First, hit up your local bicycle store for a professional fitting. Even if you don’t buy a helmet there, you’ll have a better idea of what a properly fitted helmet should feel like, Dr. Halpern says.
Then, look for these features on your helmet:
● It has a sticker certifying it adheres to the safety standards set by the US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). An ASTM or Snell certification shows the helmet meets safety standards beyond the minimum set by the CPSC.
● It has a snug fit. Again, a bike shop pro should be able to help you determine if your helmet is snug enough. “It should feel like it will definitely stay in place if you bump it, but not so tight that it gives you a headache,” Dr. Halpern explains.
● It’s adjustable. After you find the right size of helmet for your head, look for one with a dial in the back and/or straps that allow you to adjust it so it doesn’t move around at all on your head.
● It covers your forehead. One of the most common mistakes Dr. Halpern says she sees people make is pushing the helmet too far backwards. It may make it feel less intrusive but it can’t protect your face from that position, she says.
● It’s well-ventilated. A helmet that is solid will trap heat and moisture, so look for one with vents cut into it. You’ll be more comfortable and more likely to wear it.
● It has MIPS technology. MIPS stands for multi-directional impact protection system and is designed to protect your head no matter which way you hit the ground. (Essentially it’s a feature that ups the safety of your helmet.)
The following helmets are safe, comfortable, and pretty dang cute, so protect your noggin with one of these headpieces on your next ride.
1 Unisex Reverb Helmet
This helmet comes in a variety of chic colors, plus a chin strap allows for a better fit and a visor provides improved visibility.
2 Thousand Bike Helmet
This retro-style helmet features a chin strap for added stability and a pop-out so you can lock your helmet to your bike.
3 Bell Adult Draft Bike Helmet
This affordable helmet doesn’t sacrifice safety and is highly rated for both impact and concussion protections.
4 Venture Bike Helmet
With several fun colors and patterns to choose from, plus MIPS technology, this solid helmet is a great blend of fashion and function.
5 Hi Viz Solid Matte Helmet
This helmet comes in tons of cute colors too. Nutcase also offers tons of other cute patterns for commuter helmets, some with little visors on each help protect your eyes and face from the sun.
6 Lenox EPS Helmet
Removable ear warmers keep you toasty when riding in cooler weather.
7 Echelon II
Perfect for road cyclers, the Echelon II is was designed with increased ventilation in mind and provides riders with six adjustable height positions.
8 POC Omne Air Spin Helmet
This lightweight helmet is great for cruising or commuting in comfort, and it boasts EPS foam for safety and comfort.
9 Giro Syntax
A solid mid-priced helmet, the Syntax offers top safety features in a lightweight helmet. It comes in four sizes and six colors for a customized feel.
10 Bell Spark Helmet
This helmet incorporates some of the best safety technology to give you a secure, comfortable fit in a sleek, low-profile design.
Another very reasonably priced helmet, the Chamonix is highly customizable, helping you get your most precise fit. It also comes in seven different colors.
12 LAZER Helmet Next+
The simple, clean lines and vibrant color of this helmet make it easy to love. And ventilation on top stops you from getting super sweaty while you commute.
13 Adult Helmet
Boasting a sleek design and lightweight comfort, this helmet features over 13 vents to make sure you stay cool on even the hottest rides.
14 Session MIPS Cycling Helmet
This lightweight helmet has plenty of vents to keep you cool and an antimicrobial layer inside to help keep smells to a minimum. It also offers a visor and attachments for a Go Pro or other camera, making it ideal for mountain bikers.
15 Stratus MIPS Sport Helmet
Ranked one of the top helmets for impact protection by Consumer Reports, this helmet is built to feel light on your head and keep you cool.
16 Mojito Helmet
With 35 bright color choices and four sizes, you can customize this helmet to be exactly what you like. It doesn’t skimp on safety or comfort and is one of the top-rated helmets on Amazon.
17 Arx PLUS Bike Helmet
This helmet gets top marks for exceeding safety standards while still being light and comfortable. It uses MIPS technology for solid protection.
18 Triple Eight Bike Helmet
You don’t always have spend major $$$ to get a quality helmet. This lightweight one from Triple eight comes with removable, moisture-wicking Sweatsaver Fit Pads and an easy-to-adjust chin strap for optimal comfort.
19 Crocodile Black Helmet
This chic commuter helmet is super luxe and lightweight; it’s even been spotted on Pippa Middleton!
20 Aether MIPS
This helmet not only has MIPS technology but has an added “aura” or reinforced band across the top for extra protection in high-impact accidents, making it a great choice for serious riders who routinely bike at high speeds or on dangerous terrain. It comes in three sizes and 8 bright colors.