Anatomy of a Bike Helmet
3 Important Connections
Bicycle helmets are a must have part of your cycling kit. Helmets were originally designed to reduce skull fractures. However one of the main injuries for cyclists is concussion. Depending on how tall you are a recent report by Allen St John for Consumers Report estimated that your head could hit the ground at between 9.5 – 13.4 mph.
Concussion is generally caused by your brain bouncing around inside your skull; so the more of the impact that can be absorbed the less movement of your brain occurs.
In a recent study by the University of Arizona they analysed the records of 6,200 people nationwide who had a Traumatic Brain Injury as a result of a bike accident. They found that wearing a helmet cuts the risk of severe injury by 58%.
You might see some helmets now with a something called a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS). Developed in Sweden, this improves the ability of the helmet to absorb the energy from the impact and hence stop your brain from bouncing around.
1: Inner Liner
This is specifically designed to reduce brain injury in the event of a fall by absorbing the energy of the fall rather than your brain.Typically made from some type of polystyrene that crushes and cracks on impact.
2: Outer Skin
Made of smooth substances so that you can slide along the ground if you get tossed off. Stops things from penetrating into your head as well because it is hard. It also helps to spread the impact around the helmets inner liner. It also reduces the wrenching of your head and neck.
3: Helmet buckles and retention straps
Typically the retention system is a type of strap harness inside the helmet. These days there are little knobs on the back of the helmet that can tighten or loosen the harness so that it fits perfectly.
The straps fall from this system into a y shape on either side of your ears and then are merged through a clip under your chin.
The straps are made from special material to make sure they are strong enough not to snap on impact.
Which Helmet Should I Buy?
It is really important you have the right helmet for the type of cycling that you do. Helmets are purpose made for the demands of each particular sport.
- Road Cycling Helmets are much lighter and have more vents.
- BMX helmets have greater protection on the sides and back of the head. They might also have full face elements added. They are larger and much heavier than other helmets
- Mountain Bike helmets are similar to BMX helmets with greater protection for off road use.
No matter what type of helmet you buy it should have been assessed by whatever authority grants safety standards in your country or region, and it should meet their rating. Every country is different but your cycling shop should know the answer to this. If they don’t then that is probably not the right place to buy your helmet.
For those of you who have long hair there are now helmets that have special pony tail sections in the helmet just for you. You just thread your pony tail through and it stops it being squashed against your neck.