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How To Choose Your Perfect Cycling Helmet

How To Choose Your Perfect Cycling Helmet

Ride in confidence and protect your head. When you get the right lid, there’ll be no stopping you.

The best cycling helmet for you will fit the way you ride.

Want to get the edge on your mates at the next big event? An aero helmet can help you save watts. Even if you’re just sprinting to the next sign.

Heading out on the trails? Keep dirt out of your eyes with a mountain bike helmet.

Whatever your goals, we'll help you find the right helmet.

Why is it important to wear a helmet on a bicycle?

In some countries, it’s a legal requirement to wear a helmet on the bike. The UK isn’t one of them. But if you want to avoid head injury, a helmet is a good plan.

Crashes and falls happen to the best of us. A properly fitted helmet absorbs most of the impact. Wear one to reduce the risk of injury by up to 85%.

How do I choose a bike helmet?

Road, MTB, gravel, commuter? There's a helmet designed with your type of riding in mind.

What are your priorities? Need to save watts on the local TT with an aero lid? Or looking for extra ventilation as you tackle those big climbs?

As well as helmet style, there’s a few practical things to think about. Safety certifications, fit and price are all important.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand what you’ll need to look for.

What are the different types of bike helmets?

There are different helmets for every cycling discipline. If you can only choose one, think about the riding you do most often.

Here's what you need to know about the main types of bicycle helmet.

Road bike helmets

Are you catching up with the gang on the weekend club run? Got an eye on the podium? Or looking to smash that TT?If you’re a roadie, there’s three road helmet varieties to choose from.

Road cycling helmets

Long miles in the plan? Road helmets are lightweight with some aero features.

At higher price points, expect super-lightweight materials like carbon.

You’ll find most models feature numerous vents and ventilation channels. Great for hot summer days and long climbs.

Aero road helmets

Need to make some watt savings? Not keen on the full pointy-head look? An aero road helmet is perfect.

Popular with sprinters, it’s designed to reduce drag. It’s still lightweight but you often get less ventilation.

Time trail helmets

The most aero you can get. A top choice for triathlon and time trial. Where you can’t draft the rider in front, you need all the help you can get.

They’re the least ventilated of all road helmets – not great in the mountains.

But cutting-edge aero design and a sleek integrated visor might give you the edge. If that’s important.

Mountain bike helmets

For off-road, you’ve got two main options. Both prioritise extra protection and coverage over aerodynamics.

XC mountain bike helmets

Enjoy all day cross-country MTB adventures? An XC helmet protects your loaf and has plenty of ventilation.

To help protect your eyes, you’ll also get an adjustable or removable visor.

Full-face MTB helmets

Tearing up the downhill and enduro trails? You’ll need a bit more protection for that lovely face.

Some full-facers have a removable chin bar. That means you can wear it for more sedate spins too. Or just take it off between downhill runs.

Not a fan of mud in your eyes? Most styles are designed for goggle compatibility.

BMX helmets

Like MTB helmets, you can choose from full-face or open.

Targeting high-octane BMX racing? Get the best protection in a high-speed crash with a full-facer.

For flatland riding and dirt-jumping, go for an open-face helmet.

Helmets for commutes

There’s nothing to stop you wearing your weekend road helmet Monday to Friday.

But urban bike helmets are all about comfort and visibility. You can even get ones with lights to make you extra-unmissable.

Riding to work whatever the weather? More closed-in styles keep your head dry. And visors keep rain out of your eyes.

Are women's bike helmets different?

Most bike helmets are adjustable enough to accommodate most head shapes. The important thing is to get the right size.

Some women have smaller heads. So, you might find designs marketed to women start at a smaller size. They’ll typically come in a different range of colours too.

Long hair isn't gender-specific, but some women’s helmets can incorporate a ponytail. Most long-haired riders find a solution whatever helmet they choose.

The main thing is it fits you properly.

Which cycling helmet is safest?

Shopping in the UK? On North Sports, you’ll only find helmets with the BS EN1078 certification. It's based on the EU certification EN1078.

That means they've passed rigorous testing for shock absorption and field of vision. The straps and retention systems are also tested for durability and safety.

For those of you in the US, your helmet should conform to the US Snell B90/B95 standard. Australians need to look for the AS/NZS 2063:2008 certification.

But remember – certification aside, your helmet needs to be fitted correctly. And you need the right size.

What size bicycle helmet do I need?

All bike manufacturers have slightly different sizing systems. Thankfully, there’s only one way to measure your head.

Seen a helmet you like? Whip out that tape measure, then check the size guide. You’ll find one for each helmet on the North Sports website.

How do you measure for a bike helmet?

Wrap the tape measure around your head, about 2.5 cm above your eyebrows. Use a mirror or a friend to check it’s straight.

That gives you your head circumference at its widest part. Which is the only measurement you need to find your helmet size.

How do I know if a helmet fits properly?

It’s more than just looking cool. Your helmet should allow for good all-around vision as well as protection.

Here are your checkpoints for a perfect fit:

  • The upper straps form a V-shape just below your ears.
  • You can fit no more than two fingers between your chin strap and chin.
  • You can open your mouth for drinks and snacks without choking.
  • The gap between your helmet and eyebrows is no more than two finger widths.

Bought the right size but it’s not working out? Try adjusting the straps and the rear dial.

Still isn’t right? Then it’s not the one. Remember – you’ll get the most protection with the perfect fit. Don’t settle for less.

What does MIPS do for a helmet?

MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System.

Traditional helmets are designed to deal with linear forces. But the makers of MIPS argue that you normally land at an angle.

With MIPS, you get an extra liner inside the helmet. It creates a ‘slip-plane’ to reduce rotational forces in certain impacts.

MIPS helmets used to cost a lot more. However, as MIPS has become more common, the price has come down.

Is spherical MIPS better?

MIPS Spherical uses two layers. There’s an inner and outer shell that rotate independently of each other.

Interested in MIPS but need extra cooling for those summer climbs? MIPS Spherical allows for more ventilation channels and fans say it’s more comfortable too.

What is a SPIN helmet?

SPIN absorbs rotational impact like MIPS but it works in a slightly different way.

Developed by POC, it uses silicon pads placed at strategic points. In a crash, they can shift in any direction. They're also super-comfortable.

How long does a bicycle helmet last?

As your helmet ages, it becomes less effective. UV light, extreme temperatures and exposure to sweat and chemicals can degrade materials over time.

Inspect your helmet regularly for signs of wear. Depending on how much use it gets, you should replace it every 3-5 years.

Had a crash? Landed on your head? Then it’s game over for your helmet, no matter how new.

It might look fine but there could be internal damage that’s not immediately visible. And is your precious head worth the risk?

Some of our brands like Giro, Bell and KASK have crash replacement schemes. Contact our customer service team to find out more.

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