Cycle helmets: Need some stylish and safe bike headwear?

Julie Welch dons the latest lids and hits the road, gently

Sunday 19 August 2001 00:00
Comments

A bike helmet is not just about preventing serious head injury – it has to make you look the part. It's that Jason Queally style you're after, not Pizza Delivery Man. The more streamlined and flashy the better. But you don't only want something that looks fast, you want to feel comfortable. A good helmet should have lots of air vents – your scalp can get itchy and hot encased in all that polystyrene.

The jury is still out as to whether cyclists should be required to wear helmets by law. In countries where it is compulsory, the number of cyclists has dropped quite significantly, with a corresponding reduction in all the health and environmental benefits that cycling brings. The trouble is that bike helmets are lightweight and only do the business up to a point – they won't protect you at anything faster than 13mph. Some medics suggest that in an accident involving brain injury, a helmet – due to complex reasons we won't go into here – might actually make matters worse. It is also speculated that, as in the case of wearing a seatbelt in a car, the helmet gives you a false sense of security, so that you take more risks.

With that in mind, why wear one? The advice given by the Cyclists' Touring Club is to go ahead if it makes you feel safer – it's better than not riding a bike at all. "Some will say helmets save you from serious injury, and there are many times when they have increased protection," says the CTC's Cath Harris. "But they are not a panacea. Safe riding is the panacea." If you do decide helmets are for you, comfort is vital. Most helmets come with detachable foam strips to aid the fit, but the ideal is to find a shell that fits your head without too many add-ons.

For stockists, visit www.giro.com, www.specialized.com, www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk (Met)

Next week: mini-scooters

Specialized Allez
Detachable aerodynamic visor and quick-release-buckle retention system. Front can be lowered or raised by adjusting straps. Nice and light.
Price: £49.99

Specialized Air Wave
Good entry-level helmet. Not as flashy or well-ventilated as Allez, but light, well-made and durable. Useful little sticker indicates which end is the front.
Price: £25.99

Met Anaxagore
Very light (280g), well-ventilated, mean-looking beast. Chinstrap fiddly to fasten. Met offer to replace helmets at reduced cost if they are damaged in a bike accident within three years of date of purchase.
Price: £49.99

Giro Pneumo
Features Roc Loc system for fit, stability and ponytail compatibility. Light and sits securely on head. Triple Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is a wearer, and extroverts love the look, with long, beaky visor.
Price: £99.99

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