Anyone who has seen the 1976 film “A Sunday in Hell” will know this scene, those who don’t, you need to see it. A documentary about the classic Paris Roubaix race, in the iconic era of Mercx, De Vlaemink, Maertens and Moser, when racing was racing and helmets not used! There is a scene where they show a rider who has crashed, smashing his unprotected head on the cobbles, you can literally see his skull from the crash. An all too chilling reminder that our greatest asset needs protection and in 2012, there are a multitude of helmets you can buy to make sure you prepare for the unexpected.
The age of riding ‘sans-casque’ (without-helmet) has past, although the debate still rages on in some quarters! Common sense says that on increasingly busy roads you should protect yourself. A car or even Tarmac is brutally unforgiving. The 1970s can be as seen the golden era of cycling, with modern brands promoting this, but with lightweight, well-ventilated and good looking helmets available, why take the risk?
The question then arises, what makes a good helmet?
Safety is a key driving factor. It is after all why we wear them. A helmet which is strong and adheres to your specific country standards is of paramount importance.
The helmet must fit the shape of your head as well. Sounds pretty straightforward, but just like a pair of shoes, if the helmet is not comfortable you will not wear it. All brands have slightly different shapes, with numerous systems to hold the helmet in place at the back.
Ventilation is another key area. Even with the recent substandard summers we have seen in the UK, your head still releases the majority of your body heat. Block the air flow over your scalp and you will soon overheat, again making you less inclined to wear your helmet whilst riding.
Finally, looks. Come on, face it, we all dream of looking “pro” whilst riding. By choosing a helmet which you like the style of, you will not make the mistake of the Brownlee brothers in the Olympic Triathlon cycle style, looking like you have accidentally chosen a helmet for mountaineering or kayaking. We are cyclists, so let’s look like that. If you are happy with how you look in your helmet then you will wear it more!
With all this in mind here are three recommended helmets.
Good: Bell Sweep: This is a helmet which is feature packed for its price tag. 3 sizes and an adjustable rear retainer to allow you to get the perfect fit. It also has 15 deeply sculpted vents to keep your head cool. It has great looks too, as it has been used by many pros and it also comes with a peak if you want to ride off road.
Better: Lazer Genesis 2: A helmet with a real “Euro Pro” style to it. Used by many of the top names in the sport and currently ridden by Lotto, it certainly looks the part. It also has 19 vents to keep your head cool on the hottest mountain passes. With two sizes available and the fully adjustable Rollsys fitting system, (a retainer which is adjusted with two fingers), it is certain to be comfortable for all head shapes. The added X Static pads also increase the comfort of the helmet. Finally it comes in a multitude of colours to match all kits and tastes.
Best: Giro Aeon: Coming with a whopping 24 vents, this helmet will not only keep you cool but is also lightweight. Fit is sorted with 2 sizes and the fully adjustable Roc Loc 5 retainer. This is an adjustment system where you can tighten or loosen your helmet with two fingers on the bike, giving you optimal comfort all the time. It is also 49% lighter than Giro’s previous top of the line helmet, the Ionos. Coming in many colours and being used by many top professionals you will not be embarrassed to put this helmet on every time you ride!
To be a cyclist you have to be determined, let’s say “headstrong”. Our heads are not actually that strong when compared to Tarmac or a car, so how much is your brain worth? Investing in the right helmet is fundamental to many happy hours on the bike, leading to a long and rewarding life!