How to choose a road bike helmet

A road bike helmet is a potentially life-saving piece of kit that every rider needs. Road cycling helmets are built from next-generation materials and packed full of innovations that make them comfortable and very cool.

Choosing the best road cycling helmet involves knowing your helmet size, your preferred style and the features you need. If you’re looking for a new road lid, let’s get started.

This guide is for men and women and covers men’s bike helmets and women’s bike helmets.

How do I know I need a new road bike helmet?

Firstly, if you don’t have a helmet already, then you need one. Quite simply, you should never ride your road bike without a helmet.

If you’ve been in an accident, dropped your racing bike helmet, or can see any damage to the plastic outer then replace it.

Over time your road bike helmet can wear out. The padding inside can wear away or lose its strength, so even if you can’t see any damage, you should replace it every couple of years.

If your helmet doesn’t fit securely or comfortably, then it’s not fit for purpose, and you need a new one.

What size road helmet do I need?

It’s easy to find out the right size road helmet for you. You’ll need a measuring tape.

Facing a mirror, place the start of the measuring tape in the middle of your forehead. It should be a couple of centimetres above your eyes and above your ears. This is the widest part of your head. Wrap the tape around your head and take note of the measurement in centimetres.

It’s worth doing this a couple of times to ensure that your measurements are correct because you don’t want to order the wrong helmet size.

When shopping for a new helmet on the Halfords website, you can see all helmet sizes in centimetres. You will be given a range (55cm - 61cm for example). This is because road helmets can be adjusted to provide a perfect fit.

How to fit a road bike helmet

A road bike helmet should fit snugly and securely when the chin strap is done up.

You should be able to slide a couple of fingers under the chin strap, but no more. This gives you enough space to eat, drink and chat but will keep the helmet on your head while you’re riding. You should be free to turn your head in both directions.

A fit adjustment system on the helmet enables you to tighten up a band within the helmet to secure it to your head. Tighten this enough so that the helmet stays on your head, but not too tight or it could be painful or uncomfortable.

Aero cycling helmets and time trial helmets should be comfortable when you are riding low on the drops, or using aero bars or tri-bars. To get the perfect fit, you may need to try on a couple of different helmets.

You can learn more about how to fit a bike helmet here

How do I know my road bike helmet is safe?

All road bike helmets sold at Halfords conform to European CE EN1078 standards. This means that they have been tried and tested and will protect you in a crash.

If you are competing in events, your helmet may be checked before you can compete, so buy from a retailer you can trust.

How are road bike helmets made?

Your road bike helmet is a technologically advanced piece of kit. The primary protection is provided by an EPS liner that crumples if you are involved in an accident.

In most helmets, the EPS liner is made from shaped polystyrene, but in more advanced helmets can be made from carbon. There will be soft padding providing a comfortable layer between your head and the protective layer. This is covered by a hard plastic outer shell called a carapace.

Helmets can come in a variety of designs, with each manufacturer having their own chinstrap design and fit adjustment system.

Helmet safety features

Some bike helmets come with specific safety features, known MIPS and SPIN.

MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. The ‘slip pane’ technology within MIPS helmets can help to protect you in the advent of a crash by protecting your head from rotational forces.

SPIN helmets use pads within the helmet that help the head to move if you are involved in an accident. It can reduce the negative forces that impact the brain.

These two technologies are designed to offer greater protection in a crash. All road helmets at Halfords have been tested to provide a certain level of protection and are safe.

What’s the best road bike helmet for me?

Every rider is different, and the form and features you value will depend on how you ride, what you ride and where you ride. It will also depend on how much you are willing to spend!

Entry-level road helmets are perfectly safe but can be a little bulky. Spend a bit more, and you can choose from a range of lighter and more aerodynamic helmets, with technologies, such as MIPS and SPIN.

At the top of the range, you will find aerodynamic ‘teardrop’ helmets similar to those used by professional riders and time triallists. These helmets are lightweight but hardwearing.

Some road bike helmets also come with integral rear lights, offering greater visibility while riding at night.

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