Cycle Helmets Explained
A Guide To Different Helmet Styles
So, you’ve chosen your bike. You've done the research, found the model of your dreams and are ready to step into the world of cycling - but what’s next? A quality cycling helmet is essential for cycling, but much like your shiny new bike, finding a model that suits your requirements is equally important. The vast array of bikes, accessories and components on offer can be intimidating - from time trial to downhill, the differences in the kit are expansive, so it pays to know what to look for when it comes to your discipline of choice.
This article delves into the differences between the disciplines to help you choose a helmet that suits your needs, highlighting what features and styles to look for in your next lid.
Cycling is a sport full of acronyms, technology and standards, and cycling helmets are no different in this regard. Often a bicycle helmet won’t state its intentions on the box, and it can be hard to tell the differences between the models best suited to individual disciplines. However, how they work is shared amongst them all, with their design purpose being to lessen the forces transferred to the head during an impact.
Because of this, helmets must be replaced after a significant impact, with many companies offering crash replacement discount schemes to get you back behind the bars as soon as possible.
The materials that constitute a helmet, such as foam and glues, can break down over time, a process accelerated by micro knocks, poor weather conditions, chemicals and oils. Because of this, the recommendation is that cycle helmets be replaced every three to five years, ensuring optimal protection for when you need it most.
Road cycling is a discipline that encapsulates many sub-genres, such as cyclocross and gravel riding, and subsequently features an array of helmet choices. The hallmarks of a road cycling helmet are a lightweight, well-ventilated design, which provides lasting comfort mile after mile. In comparison to other disciplines, the intake and exhaust vents are often oversized to prevent overheating, while coverage is reduced over that of a mountain bike helmet.
As dictated by trends and style, peaks are a no-go, as they sacrifice vital, second-shaving aerodynamics. Sunglass storage is included in many models, offering a secure place for your eyewear when not in use. Splitting the difference between road and time trial models, aero helmets keep drag to a minimum and are well-suited to those seeking outright speed, such as racers and triathletes. Although more aerodynamic, they feature less ventilation as a compromise, making them less suitable for hot, summer use.
Time Trial and Triathlon Helmets
Born in the wind tunnel, these sleek designs cut through the air, eliminating excess drag to minimise wind resistance. Bringing more than just marginal gains, the watts saved by these state-of-the-art helmets can make or break your race, shaving crucial seconds off your time. A compromise of these streamlined designs is their reduced airflow, with the lack of vents further boosting their aerodynamic performance. Many time trial helmets include integrated visors, which are faster than conventional sunglasses, helping to create a seamless transition between the helmet and the rider's body.
Mountain Bike Helmets
To safeguard the user on high-speed trails, mountain bike helmets focus on protection and comfort, and are well suited to long days in the saddle. Much like the array of road models available, there is much variation between mountain bike helmets, with certain models suiting particular terrains and ride styles.
Lightweight cross-country models draw inspiration from road cycling and feature lightweight, well-ventilated designs to prevent overheating on long rides. Conversely, all-mountain and enduro helmets offer enhanced coverage and goggle compatibility, helping to boost confidence on technical terrain.
These helmets feature a peak to reduce glare, which also has the benefit of keeping rain and mud away from your eyewear.
Full Face Mountain Bike Helmets
For protection you can count on, full face helmets deliver the security and confidence you need to push your limits on rowdy trails. Designed for use on lift-access trails where pedalling isn’t required, a full face helmet offers maximum protection for big-mountain and bike-park style features. Although they share an aesthetic, these helmets utilise different protection standards to motocross helmets and are surprisingly lightweight for their enhanced coverage.
The added safety of a full-face helmet doesn’t stop at just the chin-bar. Many models utilise the latest in slip-plane technology to limit the risk of concussion, along with break-away peak designs to reduce leverage forces on the neck.
As the gap between downhill and enduro tracks grows ever smaller, lightweight, well-ventilated full-face helmets have come to market.These are more suitable for all-day riding and aim to keep the rider cool on the climbs between stages, without compromising safety. Additionally, these are well-suited to the additional speed offered by electric mountain bikes, seeing soaring popularity within this segment.
Commuting and Hybrid Helmets
Designed to offer enhanced protection for urban riding, commuter helmets combine style and functionality to deliver lasting comfort on your ride to work. Whilst both mountain bike and road helmets can be worn, these helmets take a fashion-forward approach to their design, without sacrificing safety. To prevent sweat from building up, ventilation is key, and some models even feature built-in bike lights to enhance visibility on the road. Many models take their cues from skate and BMX, providing increased coverage to reduce the risk of injury on busy roads.
No matter your discipline, there is a cycling helmet out there to suit you. Having the correct model for your style of riding affords a host of benefits, helping to keep you cool, comfortable, focused, and most importantly, safe. Wearing a suitable helmet reduces the risk of injury in the event of a crash, and with a wide range of cycling helmets on offer making the right choice has never been simpler.
Shop our wide range of cycling helmets today and enhance your performance and safety on any terrain.