Bike Helmets: History and Evolution

We all know how essential bike helmets are and how potentially helpful they have been in saving many lives. It is interesting to note, however, that helmets were not always considered an essential part of bicycle riding. This mindset came long after people had already started riding bikes.

The main reason helmets were not widely adopted back then could be due to less traffic and the absence of modern roads. With the increase in traffic and use of asphalt in road construction by the 1860s, road accidents increased, and so did their intensity. A fall on a macadam or concrete road would result in a more severe head injury than on any other surface. 

Around the 1880s, when high-wheel bicycles were most commonly in use, people started wearing a headpiece for protection. A pith helmet was the only choice that riders had back then. It was also known as the safari helmet and was constructed using lightweight cloth and shola pith. These helmets usually needed to be replaced after one impact collision because of how easily they would break.

With the advent of the 20th century, cyclists felt the need for more robust, better suited, and designed helmets. This is when leather helmets came into being. These helmets had a leather halo, with padded straps across the head in different patterns. The padding was filled with cotton or wool, hence, it would provide a cushion to the head in case of a fall.

The Beginning of the Modern Helmet:

The Snell Foundation was the first group in the 1970s that started looking for ways to standardize helmets. The inventors of ‘Bell Biker’ were the first to offer a modern helmet. Bell MotorSports was the first to coin and manufacture the idea of using a Lexan shell with an expanded polystyrene (EPS) inner liner. It paved the way for modern helmets and added features and innovation.

Standards of Safety for Bike Helmets:

Z80.4 was the first set of standards devised by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1984. These standards helped to filter out less safe helmets from the market. Subsequently, this also helped people notice and understand the importance of a helmet complying with specific safety tests and standards. 

By the 1980s, aero helmets with their sleek and aerodynamic design were on the outset. They became even more popular in the 1984 Olympics when Steve Hegg wore one. 

The 1990s and Beyond:

Like in many other materials, advancements happened in bike materials too. New, lightweight plastic was now used as a shell for helmets. From ABS to PET, many different forms of plastic were utilized. 

By the 2000s, the shape and construction of the helmet remained the same. The new advancements in technology, however, paved their way in this industry. The long tapered tail of the aero helmets has now become a trademark. From helmets that can fold to helmets equipped with airbags, GPS, walkie-talkie, and music streaming, we can say that helmets still have a long way to go.

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How to choose helmet features that suit you best?

When it comes to picking things for your toddlers and kids, one goes through a hundred thoughts? Will they like it? Will they wear it? What if it doesn’t have enough safety and technology features? Are they going to love the color and design? Well, of course, they should wear it because they come as a necessity and not as an accessory. On the other hand, you also want to make sure that they want to wear a helmet.

The variety available in the market may confuse you. Therefore, we have compiled a list of essential features that must be in your check-list before making any purchase.

Size Matters

Helmets that do not have a proper fit do not provide adequate protection. So make sure your child’s bike helmet fits nice and snug. If a helmet is too loose, it will keep falling down on the forehead and hinder your kid’s vision. If it’s too tight, it will make his head sweaty and uncomfortable. Therefore, always make sure that you buy the right size. 

It is ideal to take your child along to check his size. Certain brands also provide sizing pads with helmets that can help aid in better fitting. A universal fit ring is also available with some helmets that make the job even more easier.

Does it offer full protection?

All helmets manufacturers claim that their helmets provide the best safety. It is, however, important that you check out certain things yourself. A helmet has two basic parts; an outer plastic shell and an inner liner. If standardized and good quality material is used, the helmet will stand the test of time. 

With certain advancements, such as MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) technology and WaveCel, liner materials shock absorption power has increased manifold. 

One important thing to note is that it is not always true that an expensive helmet will provide better safety. There are designs and models available in the market that are quite inexpensive and offer great protection against head injuries.

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Is it CPSC certified?

The CPSC has devised specific rules and standards for you to choose a helmet for your kids wisely. The certification is usually written on the inner side of the helmet.

       Other features to consider:

  1. Make sure the helmet has ventilation holes at the top and sides. These help the sweat dry quickly and also keeps the head airy. 
  2. The buckle must always be pinch-free. Whether it is a magnetic buckle or a simple strap, make sure it does not pinch or hit your kid’s face while riding his bike.
  3. Any pointed edges or sharp design features should also be a no-no. In case of a fall, your child may get further injured from these corners. 
  4. Many kids like to have a sun-shielding visor. Some helmets can provide you with that option.
  5. It is always wise to choose helmets that either has a glow-in-the-dark paint on them or come with reflective stickers. They help car drivers see your little rider in the dark more easily.
  6. Modern helmets come with communication gear, helmet cameras, breath deflectors, and GPS. 
  7. Kids’ helmets come in various colors and designs. From bear-shaped helmets to T-rex themed helmets, you can find a wide range. However, safety features must always be a priority.

To conclude, it all depends on your choice, liking, and budget. Although it is just head protection equipment, a helmet is a lifesaver as any injury to the head or brain can be life-threatening. Also, many states have bike helmet laws, so make sure you are in compliance. Get peace of mind while making your kids wear a bike helmet every time they go out.

Compare All Best Bike Helmets

In the market for a Bike Helmets? Check out this guide comparing the features of some of the best ones in our opinion.

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