How to Choose a Bike Helmet: A Comprehensive Guide

November 19, 2021
how to choose a bike helmet

Knowing how to choose a bike helmet can be difficult. How do you know if your mountain bike helmet is safe? How much should you spend on a new bicycle helmet? What are the different types of bike helmets? 

We have answers to all these questions and more! Read our step-by-step guide below on choosing a bike helmet for your needs.

A man who experienced a biking accident

Why you should wear a helmet while biking

When adult cyclists go to emergency rooms for traumatic brain injuries related to bicycle riding, 78% of the time, it's because they didn't wear a helmet. 

One study shows that wearing one reduces risk by 45%. Thus, you must wear a helmet to protect yourself from these kinds of danger, which, at worst, may lead to coma or permanent brain damage.

What are the different types of bike helmets and their benefits?

Road bike helmet

A road bike helmet is made out of lightweight material and designed to be aerodynamic. It typically covers less surface area than a mountain bike or BMX helmet, but it still provides plenty of protection for your head from debris and impact.   

The most common types of road bike helmets are hard shell (typically rigid), foam (soft and closed-cell), and hybrid (hard shell on top, soft on bottom). These helmets vary in weight and features like the ventilation system, adjustable straps, and visors.

Mountain bike helmet

A mountain bike helmet is a type of bike helmet that you wear when riding your bike off-road. That is why it has more coverage and is equipped with a visor: to protect you from the changing terrain as you bike.

Commuter bike helmet

A commuter bike helmet is an everyday bicycle helmet that you can use for casual riding. This helmet has more coverage than recreational or mountain bike helmets, making it ideal for everyday commuters. It also has great ventilation and is lightweight so that you won't feel weighed down while wearing it. 

Kids’ bike helmet

Kids' helmets are specifically designed to protect children's heads when they fall off their bikes. They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and designs. If you want to take your little ones on biking adventures, don't forget that their safety always comes first! 

Features to check when selecting a bike helmet

A bike helmet can be the difference between life and death. Thus, it is important to know what features to look for when selecting a helmet. Let's explore them! 

  1. Consider the helmet's material. Is it durable, lightweight, and comfortable to wear for long periods of time?
  2. Make sure your head can fit in the helmet comfortably without any pressure points or gaps. 
  3. Look at the helmet's shape. Does it cover your forehead and temples completely with no gaps in between? 
  4. Check if there are vents on the back of the helmet. They will let air flow through while you're riding.
  5. Think about safety features like a visor or face shield to protect you from wind, rain, dust, bugs, and others. 
  6. Pay attention to how easy it is to adjust the straps. They should fit snugly but not too tightly around your ears and neck. Also, make sure they don't slip off during rides.

Questions to ask once you are buying a helmet

When it comes to your safety, there is no such thing as overkill. Skimping on a helmet can be incredibly dangerous and could cost you your life. But how will you know if the helmet’s quality is good enough to protect you? 

Here are some questions that you need to ask before you make that purchase!

  1. How soft or stiff is it?
  2. How does the padding feel on your head? 
    • Is there enough of it for comfort? 
    • Will it stay on as your helmet moves through rigorous activity? 
    • Will it stay comfortable over time with sweat from wear?
  3. How durable are the straps' buckles, clips, and other attachments? Will they hold up to regular use in harsh conditions?
  4. Is it easy to take on and off while wearing bulky winter clothing or in an emergency situation?
  5. How well does it sit on your head, and how secure is the fit once adjusted correctly?
  6. How heavy is it? Is it easy to carry around in a bag when not wearing it? 
  7. How easily can you add any extra accessories (e..g, a visor or reflective strips) that might come with your new helmet?
  8. How easily can you clean the material without ruining its protective qualities?
  9. Will it still fit even after extended wear?

How to choose a bike helmet size that fits your head correctly

A poorly fitting helmet can be worse than wearing no helmet at all; it will not provide adequate helmet protection during an accident. Thus, it’s important to get a helmet with a correct fit. Here’s how you can do that.

  1. The first thing you need to do is measure your head size and shape with a tape measure or a piece of string. 
  2. Compare your measurements to the helmet sizing charts of your preferred brand. Then, try on the helmet you like.
  3. Once you have found a helmet that fits properly, make sure that there are no gaps between the bottom of the chin strap and your neck; this could cause injury if you were to fall off of your bike. 
  4. Lastly, make sure that it doesn’t feel too tight or loose because either can put you at risk for injury.

How much does it cost to buy a high-quality road cycling helmet?

The average cost for a new bike helmet is $30 to $75. How much you will spend depends on your personal preferences. However, keep in mind that when it comes to safety equipment such as helmets and pads, expensive doesn't necessarily mean better quality. So before buying the most expensive biking gear out there, make sure that it fits your riding style and needs.

Tips for wearing a bike helmet properly

The first step is to place the front edge of the helmet on your head. Make sure that it covers most of your forehead so that you can see out from underneath without moving the bottom of the helmet. 

Next, adjust both straps by sliding them until they are snug against each side of your chin. Then, fasten the snaps or buckles.

Finally, make sure that the bike helmet fits properly onto your head by giving it a quick shake from side to side and front to back. Make sure it doesn't move more than an inch in any direction. Otherwise, it means you haven't adjusted the straps correctly, so you need to refasten them.

Maintenance after choosing a road bike helmet 

Once you have chosen a helmet that's right for you, make sure to follow these tips when caring for it.

  1. Never put your helmet in direct sunlight; extreme heat can degrade its protective qualities over time.
  2. If possible, use a storage bag or case so that dirt and debris won't get stuck on your helmet.
  3. Check your bike helmet for any cracks or dents before and after each ride; these can affect the integrity of the protective properties.
  4. Don't hang a bike helmet from its strap; this could damage the foam lining inside.
  5. Make sure to store your bike helmets in a dry place so that it doesn't become damaged.

When should you replace your helmet?

How long have you had your mountain bike helmet? If it is older than five years, then the chances are that its protective qualities are now less effective. 

In addition, if the colors on your helmet are fading or peeling off, this means that the polycarbonate shell has started to degrade. As a result, it won't offer as much helmet protection, so it's time to replace it with a new one.

Finally, if you crash in a helmet, then get rid of it immediately and invest in a new one.

A man cycling with this bike alone

Other ways to stay safe when cycling

Staying safe while biking isn’t just about the gear. So what are other ways to protect yourself? Here are ten things that are important for cyclists to know.

  1. Carry identification in case you are injured or involved in an accident.
  2. Ride defensively. Look out for other vehicles and pedestrians. Don't swerve into traffic without looking first, and use hand signals to communicate with others on the road.
  3. Know your bike's limitations. Make sure it is in good condition before riding it, and avoid carrying heavy items while cycling.
  4. Keep pedaling at all times. Coasting can lead to injury if you fall off balance or hit something unexpectedly.
  5. Avoid wearing headphones when cycling; they may distract you from sounds around you that could alert you of danger.
  6. Don't wear jewelry. It can get caught in the chain and cause injury.
  7. Don't ride in the dark. It's dangerous, and you won't be able to see anything.
  8. Avoid riding through puddles or over wet surfaces. 
  9. Wear a bright-colored jacket so that drivers can see you better at night. Also, wear reflective clothing for visibility during the day. 
  10. Be aware of your surroundings. Don't get distracted by your phone while cycling on busy streets. Also, always check behind yourself, and don’t just pay attention to what is ahead of you. 


Selecting a bike helmet is an important step in ensuring safety while cycling. A bike helmet can protect you from the most severe head injury. To maximize its benefits, make sure to choose the right type and size of helmet that best fits your needs.

We hope you'll consider everything we discussed here when making your selection. We're here to help if you have any questions about what bike gear and accessories are best for you and your needs. 

For more reviews and buying guides, read our other blog posts. Your enjoyment while riding is our priority. Remember: “It's better to be safe than sorry!”

Cycle Buddy

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