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25Jun2022
Guide to Helmets & Helmet Safety

Guide to Helmets & Helmet Safety

By: Olympia Cycle & SkiComments: 0

Today, we're going to talk about helmets and helmet safety (because I got a brand new helmet this week and I want to show it off...It's actually really awesome!)

Recently, I met a young guy and he came into the shop without a helmet. I said, “Hey, where is your helmet?” He says, “Oh, I'm on my way to a dance, so I didn't want to wreck my hair.” It's not just young men. Sometimes it's old men too.

When I was at university, I had about a 45 minute ride to work through the River Valley in Edmonton, and every day I would pass the same guy riding to work and from work.  Every morning he was riding to work without his helmet on, strapped to his front handlebars, and every evening he was riding home with his helmet on his head. I'm quite sure he didn't want to ruin his hair for work, but he wanted to be a good role model for his kids when he got home.

Don't do that. Don't be that guy or gal. Wear a helmet.

Your hairstyle will be terrible if you're sitting in a personal care home drinking your meals from a straw, so please, wear a helmet. There are great solutions, and today I want to highlight some of my favourite helmet options in 2022.

My brand new helmet is kind of elite. I literally picked it up and thought it was going to fly away. It was so light. It’s the Smith Trace Road helmet. (And yes, it's pink and merlot). Here’s the thing about buying a great helmet; you end up paying more for less. Not only is it super light, the holes are really big; and wearing it this morning on my ride to work meant my head never overheated. In fact, it wasn't even that sweaty on the inside after an hour-long ride (which is kind of amazing). That's a sign that it's doing its job venting really well. 

Another thing I like about the Smith Trace is It's got choroid, which gives it added strength and some crumple resistance in the event of an impact. But the most significant technology on this helmet was introduced in the last decade, it’s something called MIPS – which stands for “Multi Directional Impact Protection System”. 

What is MIPS? Essentially, there is a plastic liner inside the helmet that gives a small amount of play between your helmet and head. The amazing thing is it's going to reduce my chance of concussions by up to 60%. That's a significant number.

Here's what a really smart brain surgeon discovered. He was working in the hospital and realised people were wearing helmets and still getting concussions – still getting brain injuries from riding bicycles. He figured he was a smart guy and should be able to figure out how to help fix this issue. And what he figured out was that most impacts on a bicycle helmet are not direct impacts; but glancing blows. You're not taking it directly on the head (like a football player might experience). Football players take a lot more frontal or direct impacts, but lots of the impacts cyclists encounter are glancing blows. What’s going to happen is the helmet is actually going to rotate during that hit. It's going to deflect the impact in the force on your head and decrease your chance of getting a concussion – and that's really cool.

MIPS is not just an expensive helmet option. Smith, Bell, Canada, like almost all of the helmet manufacturers, are putting MIPS in their helmets now because the guy who invented it didn't want to sell it to a brand. He wanted it to be available to all the brands.

PRO TIP: If your bike is grey or black; you can add some colour to your ride by purchasing a colourful helmet (and it's not permanent).  

How long does a good helmet last?

At Olympia, we don’t often ask the question “Do you have a helmet?”; because everybody's got a helmet of some kind, sitting in their garage. The one they got at a garage sale, or the old helmet they passed down to their kids. Here’s the thing – helmets have a lifespan. They're Styrofoam. They wear out. 

In order to keep your head as safe as possible, you should replace your helmet after every crash OR every 4 to 5 years. If you’ve worn the same helmet for more than 5 years, it's time to get a new one. Why? If you’ve been riding out in the sun, those beautiful rays will start to degrade the styrofoam. And if you’ve ever left your helmet laying around, chances are somebody's knocked it down the stairs. After repeated blows, and time in the sun, your older helmet won’t protect your brain the way it needs to – and protecting your head is the reason you're wearing a helmet in the first place!

Bottom line, helmets are good for one solid impact and then it’s time to replace it. The question is, “What helmet should I purchase?”

3 Great Helmet Choices in 2022

Below are 3 of our fan favourites for this riding season:

  • Giro Fixture – This is one of our most popular helmets. This particular model has MIPS and looks great. It's really affordable and can be picked up for under $100.

  • Giro Scamp – These are the helmets for little guys; and just like on the adult helmets, they've got a ROC LOC Jr adjustable fit system. This “brain lock” system consists of a rotary knob so you can make it fit exactly right. The big benefit is it's going to make sure you put your helmet on correctly (more on that a bit later). Many of us have been riding along the paths and we see somebody wearing their helmet too far back on their head, or they're wearing it backwards or whatever! This little feature is on all of our helmets, and it’s going to keep your helmet on snugly without giving you a headache.

    Let's see one more. Sure.

  • The Giro Syntax – Also a very nice helmet. It's a road helmet and comes in a variety of colours. It’s designed to be sleek, a little bit aerodynamic and keep you safe.

It really doesn't matter what brand of helmet you're wearing. Wear your helmet. Wear it properly.

What’s the proper way to wear my bike helmet?

Buying a great helmet (or any helmet) is your first step to improved bike safety. Step two is wearing it correctly. How do you know if your helmet is on right? Here’s an easy way to check:

  1. Ensure you can fit one or two fingers between your eyebrows and the rim of your helmet. 
  2. Check that your helmet is sitting fairly flat on your head. 
  3. Finally, adjust the straps. You want them to make nice V's around your ears. And when you buckle it up, you should be able to fit one or two fingers between the strap and your chin. (It doesn't have to be choking you, but you don't want it to loose. 

How long should I keep the same helmet?

 If you have questions about helmets, bike safety, or the MIPS system; we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or connect with us on social media. We’d love to help!

I'm Coach Robb and I'll see you on the trails.

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