Monday, 20 May 2013

To lid or not to lid... A baldy's guide to helmets

This weekend I bought a helmet for the first time in years. I already had a Bern helmet which is great for an upright bike or transportation cycling, but too hot and heavy to wear for more than 30 mins to an hour.

I’m largely not in favour of wearing a cycle helmet. I wouldn’t wear one to run, walk or swim in. They are tested for very specific impacts that do not reflect the realities of a bike crash. However they are designed to protect my head if I fall off at low speeds, which I have done three times since I went clipless two years ago. I have also had a few near misses where I may well have had a small impact with a vehicle or the floor once I had almost slowed to a stop.  

I went to three different shops and tried pretty much everything on. I need something I can wear for very long periods of time. I also have no hair, so I need to be able to get a helmet on over different types of hat. It also needs enough padding to not have hard foam in contact with my skull. I also have a medium circumference head that is oval front to back. A lot of bike helmets are round in shape inside.

I’m keen to wear a helmet for my long rides on open roads. Traffic may be heavy and I might be tired or it may be dark. There is no way that I’m riding 200km in the dark without a lid.

I originally thought the new Mavic helmets might be ok as they have well thought out padding for a road helmet, but these proved to be too round (I have the same problem with bowler hats). So Mavic is fine for bald heads that are round in shape.

I had a Giro helmet 10 years ago and this i found too hard at the contact points so that I got headaches after about an hour.

Specialized helmets look like I have a mushroom cloud coming out of my head, as they sit very high.
I ended up with a Kask K50 Evo. At £79 it sits mid-range. There is enough padding and a very adjustable set of anchor points. Whilst it is a little round I can get it on over different cycle caps, and I’ve worn it for an hour without any significant discomfort. I did have to ask the assistant if it came in a colour other than the revolting pearl white and snot green on display. The answer was yes. Black or plain white.

I know my other half is happier with me wearing a helmet and maybe this is a compromise I need to make on a road bike. If I get a Brompton for pottering down side streets I’d be tempted to ride without, but for now I’ll stick with the lid.

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