Tip #6: Correctly fitting your helmet
We all know that you have to wear a helmet when riding your bike, but do you know how to wear it correctly? An ill-fitted helmet will reduce its effectiveness.
1. Size. Make sure it fits your head size and shape well. Different brands fit differently, so when shopping for a new helmet, try a few different brands to see which works best for you. Most modern helmets have an adjustable dial at the back to fine-tune the tension. It should be tight enough to not move around on your head, but not so tight it will give you a headache.
2. Positioning. The front of the helmet should be 2 finger widths above your eyebrows. Note that if you have accessories fitted to or worn under the helmet, it may prevent the helmet from sitting low enough to protect your frontal lobe.
3. Straps. The chin strap should be tight enough to fit 2 fingers between strap and chin only. The side straps should be adjusted to form a V just below your ear-lobes, which holds the helmet in fore-aft position. Many people are unaware of this, and the side clips slip to the bottom of the straps over time. Check yours, and assist other rides if you observe this.
4. Age of helmet. The foam of the helmet becomes brittle over time and with sun impact, reducing its ability to take impact. Older helmets may shatter on impact, rather than crumpling and providing full protection to your skull. They say helmets should be replaced with each 5 years of use. Ideally store your helmet out of the sun/heat when not in use.
5. Accessories fitted to the helmet will reduce its effectiveness. The top of your helmet is shiny and smooth for a reason – so that if it hits the ground it will slide, rather than catching and twisting – preventing neck injuries. Having a fabric cover, a light or camera mount, or other item attached to the shell of the helmet will reduce the effectiveness of this feature.
Items worn or attached under the helmet may prevent it from sitting in the correct position on your head, also reducing effectiveness of protecting key areas of the brain. Rather than putting a visor under the helmet, consider buying a helmet which has a visor attached (which are designed to break away safely on impact).
6. Australian Standards. Our safety standards are higher than other parts of the world. It’s a legal requirement to wear an Aus Standards approved helmet here. If purchasing a new helmet from an overseas website or seller (or 2nd hand), check that is has the Aus Standards sticker.
7. Impact. If your helmet has had any kind of impact, it should be discarded and not used again. Some helmet brands will offer you a discount on a new helmet if you provide them with your (same-brand) crash-damaged helmet; they use it for R&D. If throwing out a damaged helmet, cut the straps or otherwise to make it unusable, to make sure somebody else doesn’t pick it up off your hard rubbish and start using it!!