The 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Bicycle Helmets

Experienced cyclist turned writer with 7+ years working in bike shops, overseeing retail and workshop operations.

As a cyclist, investing in a high-quality road bike helmet is essential for riding safety and comfort. However, selecting the right helmet can be daunting, with many available options. 

To help you make an informed decision and avoid common pitfalls, I’ve compiled a list of the top five mistakes cyclists make when buying a road bike helmet based on my experiences.

Mistake 1. Choosing the wrong helmet size or fit

Selecting a helmet that doesn’t properly fit the shape and size of your head can lead to discomfort, reduced protection, and a higher risk of injury in the event of an accident.

Follow these guidelines to ensure optimal helmet fit,

  • Measure your head circumference using a flexible tape measure, positioning it just above your eyebrows and around the widest part of your head.
  • Consult the helmet manufacturer’s sizing chart to select the appropriate size based on your head circumference.
  • Try on multiple helmet models and brands, as each may have a slightly different shape and fit. A helmet should feel snug but comfortable without causing any pressure points or pinching.
  • Adjust the helmet’s retention system and straps to achieve a secure and comfortable fit, ensuring the helmet remains stable on your head during rides.
More reading : How to Wear A Bike Helmet Correctly

Mistake 2. Ignoring safety standards and certifications

Purchasing a helmet without considering its safety certifications or compliance with industry standards can compromise the level of protection it provides.

To ensure you buy a safe and reliable helmet, follow these guidelines,

  • Look for helmets that meet established safety standards, such as those set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the United States or the European European Committee for Standardization (CE).
  • Check for additional certifications or safety features, such as the Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), which can offer enhanced protection against rotational forces during impacts.
  • Research helmet models and read reviews to understand their safety performance and real-world crash test results.
More reading : A Guide to CPSC, EN 1078, AS/NZS 2063

Mistake 3. Focusing solely on aesthetics

Prioritizing the appearance of a helmet over its safety features, fit, and comfort can result in a less effective and enjoyable riding experience.

Follow these guidelines to avoid sacrificing function for form,

  • While it’s natural to consider the appearance of a helmet, prioritize finding a model that fits well, meets safety standards, and offers the desired comfort and ventilation.
  • Choose a helmet with a color or design that complements your bike and riding attire, but don’t let aesthetics override the importance of safety and comfort.
  • Remember that a well-fitting, comfortable, and safe helmet will likely be worn consistently, providing ongoing protection during your rides.

Mistake 4. Overlooking ventilation and comfort

Disregarding the importance of helmet ventilation and comfort to avoid an uncomfortable riding experience, especially during hot weather or long rides.

Follow these guidelines for a comfortable helmet fit,

  • Review the helmet’s ventilation system, considering the number and size of vents and the internal channeling, which can help promote airflow and keep your head cool.
  • Try on the helmet and evaluate its overall comfort, including the padding, retention system, and strap design.
  • Review reviews and gather other cyclists’ feedback to understand how a particular helmet performs in real-world riding conditions.

Mistake 5. Neglecting to replace a damaged or old helmet

Continuing to use a helmet involved in a crash or has reached the end of its lifespan can compromise its protective capabilities and increase the risk of injury.

Follow these guidelines to ensure your helmet remains effective,

  • Replace your helmet immediately if it has been involved in a crash or has sustained any significant impact, even if there is no visible damage.
  • Be aware that helmets have a recommended lifespan, typically around 3 to 5 years, depending on the helmet brand and usage. Over time, the materials can degrade, reducing their ability to protect you in a crash.
  • Regularly inspect your helmet for signs of wear, such as cracks, dents, or compromised foam. Replace the helmet if you notice any damage or the retention system no longer functions properly.
  • Always store your helmet in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, to prolong its lifespan and maintain its protective capabilities.
  • Keep track of the purchase date and consider setting a reminder to replace your helmet when it reaches the end of its recommended lifespan. This timeframe can vary depending on the manufacturer, so consult the documentation that came with your helmet for specific guidelines.
Bernard Lu at Mr.Mamil

Bernard Lu has 7+ years of experience working in a bicycle shop, overseeing the retail and workshop operations. He’s a qualified bicycle mechanic who understands a cyclist’s needs and speaks the same cycling lingo.

If you meet him at the cafe, he will happily talk to you for hours about all the intricacies of bikes and cycling tech. Just buy him a coffee next time you see him.