We all know that we *should* wear a bike helmet when we cycle but often, they tend to be heavy, sweaty and ugly. Things are changing, however, with lots of lightweight and airy options on the market that won’t ruin your office look.
There’s no doubt about it, cycling is bloody brilliant. Once you’ve bought your bike and necessary accessories, it’s free, quicker than walking and allows you to move through way more green space than you would if travelling by public transport.
Oh, and it also offers tonnes of health benefits too. Not only is cycling great for your cardiovascular fitness, but it also works on your lower body and core strength without putting lots of pressure on your hips or knees. But none of that matters if you end up getting knocked off your bike and hitting your head.
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Looking at data from 64,000 injured cyclists worldwide, research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that wearing a bike helmet can reduce your risk of suffering a head or facial injury by up to 70%. Still not convinced you need to protect your noggin? How about this for a terrifying fact: if a person cycles at 20 miles per hour, they’re moving as fast as they would be if they jumped out of a second story window of a home.
Remember, it’s not necessarily about how good of a rider you are – wearing a helmet protects you when your wheel catches a stray twig, a car cuts you off or a pedestrian runs out in front of you, causing you to swerve off the path. One of the most common causes of bike fatalities is head injuries, which, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, accounts for nearly 20% of all cycling accidents.
How to pick your bike helmet
When choosing a helmet, you want to make sure that it fits properly, is visible and ideally should be more round in shape. If you were to fall, it’s better that the helmet is able to roll rather than get stuck. In other words, leave the sharp aerodynamic helmets to the velodrome experts.
Bike helmets can last up to a decade if you’ve not been in a crash, but as soon as you have an accident, it’s time to replace it.
Here are nine bike helmets to suit every budget and style.
The best chic helmet
Every cyclist needs a safety helmet, and Dashel has a range of stylish helmets made from recycled and recyclable materials. The sleek style is far from your typical lycra and teardrop brigade. A massive bonus: once your helmet has reached its lifespan, Dashel will partly exchange it for a new one and re-use the materials from your old helmet to make a new one. So, not only are you saving yourself from possible brain injury, but you’re also saving the planet. Win, win.
The best retro helmet
Sure, £199 might sound rather expensive, but if you’re cycling a lot then you may as well invest in something you’ll want to wear (and wear often). This luxury helmet has a classic British retro style with a subtle cream colour palette and a brown calf leather trim with strap holder.
The best sporty helmet
An ultra-lightweight helmet for ultimate comfort, the Rev Liv is one of the official helmets for the women of the CCC-Live Team (a road racing cycling team). Created with ventilation in mind, this helmet also includes the revolutionary MIPS brain protection system – a technology designed to protect the brain and reduce harmful forces in the event of a fall. This headgear is worth its weight in gold.
The best urban helmet
Designed for the city rider, this minimalist heritage bike helmet is all about keeping it simple. Think 60s Vespa meets 2020 technology. Complete with vegan leather straps, seven vents for staying cool and a built-in low-profile visor for keeping the sun out of your eyes – this is the perfect protection for commuters. Oh, and it’s got a secret PopLock for securing your bike helmet with your lock. Now, that’s handy.
The best practical helmet
Not only does this helmet look great, but it’s also incredibly practical. It has 13 vents to help you cool off when riding on warm days, plenty of foam padding for extra comfort and it’s got a visor that you can flip up or remove completely. Choose from fun shades such as Satin Rose Gold, Matte Muted Teal or Matte Black.
The best unique helmet
If bikes can be works of art, so can helmets. But this helmet’s modern design isn’t just for show – it’s collapsible! It reduces in size by 45% in one second so you can pop it into your bag when you’re not riding. As for keeping you safe, its unique construction creates micro-movements that lessen impact during a collision. They had us at ‘helmet in a handbag’.
The best budget-conscious helmet
If you’re looking for a helmet for under £45, look no further. This is the lightest helmet that Giro has made with an ABS shell (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). ABS plastic is mega-resistant to physical impacts, so it’s ideal for protecting your head against accidents. Inside, there’s an expanded polystyrene liner and sweat-absorbent pads for long-lasting comfort.
The best quirky helmet
Fancy cycling with a head of cherry blossom, birds or kaleidoscope patterns? Beautiful prints aside, they have magnetic buckles for easy attachment and release, a detachable visor and 360-degree reflectivity in case you’re cycling in the dark (make sure you’ve got a pair of bright lights too). If you can’t find anything in stock on the Nutcase website, Amazon also stocks more basic colours.
The best stylish helmet
All of Sawako’s helmets are beautiful, whether they’re bedazzled in glitter or done up in faux animal skin. This black style is covered in faux croc leather, has 11 air vents and complies with international standards (the European CE EN1087) – a key way of knowing how safe a helmet really is. That aside, has there ever been a more fashionable helmet?
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Images: Getty, courtesy of brands
Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.