If you’re browsing for commuter bike helmets, you probably don’t need convincing about their effectiveness. Whether your local law requires them or not, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. We can all agree that urban areas, with their amount of foot, bicycle and vehicular traffic, are epicentres of accident potential and there can never be too much prevention. Today, we’re going to look at a few rules you need to follow when picking out a suitable commuter helmet and go over a few product tips.
Correct size estimate is key when picking commuter helmets
As with everything that’s supposed to be worn very close to any body part, your first and most important task is to properly measure your proportions. Basically, an ill-fitting helmet has diminished function and protection and becomes an expensive piece of useless or, even worse, distracting plastic. That’s why you also shouldn’t borrow someone else’s helmet or lend your already adjusted one – unless your heads fall into the same size category and both parties are OK with making changes to the helmet’s setting.
First, you need to measure the circumference of your skull with a measuring tape. Start about 2.5 cm above your eyebrows and wrap the tape around the whole head, at its widest point. Keep the tape levelled and above your ears, check if it’s straight in the mirror if you need to. Et voila, the resulting number hits at your helmet size. Pro tip: if torn between two sizes, go for the smaller one. If the helmet feels larger anyway, you can wear a cap underneath or add additional padding.
The table below offers the usual sizing used in the industry, but always be sure to check the measurements the manufacturer you’ve chosen is using.
|Metric||X Small||Small||Medium||Large||Extra Large|
|Head Circumference||47 – 51cm||51 – 55cm||55 – 59cm||59 – 63cm||61 – 65cm|
Adjusting and fitting your commuter helmet
A well-fitting commuter helmet should be snug but not too tight. It should comfortably sit on your head about 2.5 cm above your eyebrows in order to protect the forehead and shouldn’t be sliding back. Many helmets have an adjusting wheel in the back, so play with that until the fit feels tight but comfy. Alternatively, adjust the inner padding.
Next, the chin strap. The sides of the strap should form a resting “V” shape around each ear and shouldn’t be pressing or chafing the ear in any way. To see if the strap’s tension is adequate, open your mouth wide – the helmet should press against the top of your head. If it doesn’t, adjust the strap until it does but avoid uncomfortable overtightening. A bicycle helmet should also under no circumstances obstruct your vision.
When talking about safety, it’s worth looking into helmets offering the MIPS technology. MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, which is a slip-plane technology developed by leading brain surgeons. It’s found inside of the helmet and is designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts.
Commuter bike helmets come with style
This category shouldn’t be underestimated. We’ve already established that this article focuses on urban and commuter helmets, but you’re sure to run into a multitude of styles while browsing the internet. It might be wise to consider all your cycling activities. Do you go on road cycling trips on the weekend? Get a road helmet that can be also worn in the city to save expenses. Do you sometimes partake in light and casual MTB outings? Get a helmet with a sturdier build and more protective features such as a peak or a (removable) visor. And if it tickles your fancy, a helmet matching the colour of your bike and gear isn’t something to wave aside either. Especially with safety equipment, if an item is more aesthetically pleasing, people are more inclined to wear it – and that’s a good thing.
Helmet care and regular replacement
A helmet shouldn’t be stored where heat tends to accumulate, such as in the attic, garden shed, car boot and other such places. Excessive heat might cause structural damage by creating bubbles in the plastic, rendering the helmet potentially dangerous to use. Also, avoid using chemical solvents to clean the helmet. A soft sponge and regular detergent are enough on the outer surface, the inner removable pads and parts will do with just soap and water.
One final tip: don’t forget to replace your commuter helmet from time to time. How do you know it’s time? Bike helmets are a single-impact item, so always assume that a helmet involved in an event of a crash isn’t suitable to be worn anymore. Even if it looks OK. Also, it’s recommended to replace your bike helmet every five years anyway as sweat, pollution and UV light may damage and weaken its components over time.
Now that you know all the basics, let’s look at some handy and stylish examples that you can compare against your needs and budget.
Giro Camden MIPS
Camden MIPS is a low-profile commuter helmet designed for city riding. It provides extended coverage, anti-microbial inner pads, integrated rear light and enhanced ventilation. If you’re looking for a helmet that won’t make your head look bulky while keeping it safe, this is the one.
POC Omne Air Spin Bike Helmet
POC made a name for themselves in the cycling industry thanks to their state-of-the-art gear and helmets, and the Omne Air Spin helmet is no different. Its optimal liner density and thicker core protection zones provide ideal all-around, multipurpose protection. It also comes in a beautiful range of shades.
This stylish and scratch-resistant commuter helmet will make a nice addition to your commuter setup. It’s supremely comfortable, has excellent airflow properties, durable build and detachable peak. Kask Moebius will meet both your safety and fashion demands.
Bontrager Solstice MIPS Helmet
This very light and durable helmet comes with a friendly price tag. It’s one of the most popular models sold not only due to the price but also for offering the most bang for your buck. The Solstice MIPS helmet is a great choice for casual rides to the office or when getting groceries.
Bern Hudson Bike MIPS Helmet
This sturdy and compact-looking helmet became the 2021 Innovation Award winner from Outdoor Retailer, which tells you a lot about its qualities. The Hudson MIPS helmet provides 25% more impact absorption compared to previous models and is also approved for e-bikes and e-scooters, making it the ideal micro-mobility helmet.
Thousand Chapter MIPS Cycling Helmet
An all-time commuter favourite, style- and price-wise. Its smooth, compact shape features the abovementioned MIPS technology, strategical active ventilation, a multi-use magnetic light, and even a secret pop-lock, so you can lock your helmet up with a U-lock and leave it behind with your bike. The Chapter MIPS helmet is also lightweight and includes an adjustment wheel.