Safety is paramount: We all agree on that. But is safety all we need in a mountain bike helmet? Choosing a good helmet narrows down to the type of riding you do, from the cross country up to downhill. This article will discuss the key features that define a good mountain bike helmet to make it easier for you to choose your next purchase. And since you now own your dream mountain bike, why not accessorize it with the right headgear?
What Features Define a Good Mountain Bike Helmet?
Whether you are upgrading your current mountain bike helmet or looking to buy your first one, these factors will help you spot a great one.
A poorly fitting mountain bike will compromise your safety. See, a properly fitting helmet is almost synonymous with safety. You do not want your helmet moving around as you ride, especially on rugged terrain.
However, there’s no standardized test to determine a good fit since the manufacturers use pre-sized molds. You will know that a helmet fits you properly if it ticks the following guidelines.
- The straps should meet at a Y right below the ear when fastened.
- If it is a fully-fitted helmet, it should feel a little snug. However, with time, the squishy form padding will pack out and feel right.
- Ensure the inside of your helmet is entirely in contact with your head. Also, ensure it sits level and comes just above the brows without interfering with your vision,
- If you go for the one-size-fits-all type of helmet, ensure the tension is sufficient to make it move with the scalp.
- Also, ensure the helmet straps are tight enough and won’t move an inch further from the level.
- Finally, the buckle should be strong enough after fastening.
If a mountain bike helmet does not meet these criteria, it may not be good enough for your head. Sometimes it helps to try your helmet at the store before purchasing it. Moreover, online stores such as Amazon have a return policy should the helmet not fit.
The color: Style vs. Visibility
Safety is the most important feature, while comfort will come second, and the other factors follow. However, it would be best if your mountain bike helmet fits your style. Otherwise, what is the use if you do not like it? Whether you ride to work or for fun, your helmet should follow.
Traffic regulations recommend white, yellow, and orange helmets as they are more visible and reduce the chances of accidents. And while black mountain bike helmets may look hotter than the brightly colored ones, they are not as safe because other road users cannot spot them easily from a distance.
Besides, bright white helmets will keep you cooler than black ones since the black helmets absorb heat, making you hotter while riding.
A tight fit doesn’t necessarily offer better protection. So there is no need to compromise your comfort. The rule is to have a mountain bike helmet that doesn’t move around and shouldn’t pinch you. If it matches this snugness criterion, you are good to go.
A mountain bike helmet should be cool and match your style. There is wide room for this as your style will not be your friend’s. After exploring all the safety and comfort regulations, you want to ensure the helmet you settle for matches your style. Today, mountain bikes have evolved, and there is something for everyone.
There is, however, more to it than being stylish.
For example, does your helmet match your riding style? If you ride for recreational purposes, there are specific helmets for that. Similarly, a good helmet for you will be well-ventilated and lightweight if you ride on a dirt road.
However, note that heavy-weight helmets significantly impact your neck, which may have long-term side effects on your neck and back. Also, remember that road-style helmets often prioritize proper ventilation over added backside protection.
As you cycle, you want to stay as cool as possible. Unfortunately, some poorly ventilated helmets make this impossible. A good helmet should have vents that let the wind flow over your head. This prevents you from getting all sweaty. It also prevents dust accumulation inside your helmet, especially when riding on dusty terrain.
Furthermore, the more the vents, the lighter the helmet. Nobody wants a bulky helmet anyway. However, more vents may also be problematic as they sometimes increase the probability of a compromised impact.
The fact that you are searching for a good helmet shows that you deeply care about your safety. What good will a helmet be if it does not protect you well? A good helmet should cover your entire head, including your forehead. However, it should come up to an inch above your eyebrows.
While shopping for a helmet, consider getting one with Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) technology. MIPS helmets come with a low-friction layer that redirects rotational effects by letting the impact-absorbing foam liner rotate a little during an impact.
The rule of thumb is a good mountain bike helmet should follow the safety standards, such as Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) minimum safety standard. A helmet may come with other additional safety standards but should at least adhere to what the law specifies.
Remember, these safety standards do not guarantee that you will be 100% safe in case of an impact. They, however, will set you a step ahead in case of anything.
The primary purpose of your helmet is to protect you. And the one way helmets protect you is through cushioning.
The cushioning has to be proper to shield your skull during a crash. Ensure the inner cushioning can absorb any impact. A great way to confirm this is to check if the cushioning is flat. If it is flat, it will not take the impact in case of a crash or fatal accident.
As you use your helmet on the move, sweat will quickly accumulate in the interior. The situation is worse if you ride on dirt roads. Consequently, you need to clean off the accumulated dirt occasionally. A good helmet is easy to disassemble and clean.
A Convenient Visor
For obvious reasons, it would be best if you had a helmet with a visor.
Not obvious enough? Well, for starters, dust particles or insects will always fly in the air. If these get in contact with your eyes, they can cause an accident while you ride. Also, if you go trailing, flicking mud can quickly find its way to your eyes. It is even much better if the visor is detachable.
A good visor should be clear. Many people are attracted to tinted, smoked, or mercury-versed visors because they think they look stylish. However, a good visor should not hinder vision in any way. This is why you should always go for the clear ones. We also recommend you go for anti-scratch visors for the same reason.
If you commute in the mornings, you also want an anti-fog visor. This is especially good for you if you wear glasses. Some helmets come with a second double glazing layer that prevents fogging up the visors in cold weather.
Some of the features we love in our mountain bike helmets include:
- A Bluetooth that allows you to play music or communicate with other riders within range,
- A camera that lets you record your cycling,
- Light mounting,
- Space for sunglasses,
You, however, want to ensure that your helmet is compatible with your devices; otherwise, these features will be of no use.
Are More Expensive Mountain Bike Helmets Safer?
Not exactly. Like everything else, people will always think that the most expensive option is of better quality. However, according to tests on several mountain bike helmets, some $40 helmets have proven to be better than those that cost $300.
You, therefore, need to analyze individual features and not assume that the expensive option is better. Generally, costly helmets are more lightweight and well-ventilated but not exactly safer. You need to decide if these are factors you could compromise.
What About MIPS helmets?
MIPS believe their helmets are 10% better at handling rotational impact than those not equipped with this technology. However, you want to know that some helmets were better at handling rotational impact even before the MIPs technology was discovered. Despite this, we recommend you spend the extra $20 for the reduced rotational impact; it will be worth your money.
People Also Ask
Are mountain bike helmets different?
Every mountain bike helmet looks and feels different. The differences can range from the padding, straps, fitting, and coverage.
Why are bike helmets shaped the way they are?
Mountain bike helmets are circular to take the shape of the head. This shape helps achieve maximum snugness. And while the shape may appear hideous, it is designed that way to improve aerodynamics. In other words, the helmet is so designed that it doesn’t cause too much drag as you ride. Furthermore, this aerodynamic shape allows the helmet to cut through more air molecules to keep your head protected without lowering your riding speed.