Commuting to work unfortunately can be dangerous no thanks to drivers that are also in a hurry to get to work and road infrastructure that isn't made for cyclists.
For this reason, we recommend buying yourself a good quality helmet for your commute to work to make sure you get home safe every night.
Helmet or not to Helmet?
Gosh where do we start?
The helmet or not to helmet debate has been around for a long time and not something we're going to go into great detail here. But it's important to cover off the debate at a high level to help inform you in your decision making to wear a helmet or not.
People that argue against the wear of helmets believe that drivers don't drive as careful around cyclists with helmets on. So as a result, they are more inclined to take more chances as they think you're safe as you're wearing a helmet. Instead, they believe if you're not wearing a helmet, this forces drivers to drive more carefully around you.
What do we personally recommend? You can never be too careful even if riding on bike tracks where there's no cars. Mishaps easily happen so why not take the precaution and protect one of the most vital parts of your body with a helmet. Just our opinion of course! 🙂
This video from The Guardian explores the topic in more detail:
What to Look for When Buying a Helmet
Depending on where you live, your country may impose different safety standards on helmets. For this reason, we'll try keep things high level.
Helmets are made for single impact which basically means that they must be replaced after a crash or hard blow. This is because the strength of the helmet is lost after impact and cannot properly protect your head against future accidents.
Most safety standards require you to use a helmet which includes a protective shell, liner and strap underneath your jaw to keep the helmet safely positioned.
Getting the right fit when buying a helmet is super important as this is what guarantees your safety. We recommend considering the following when considering fit:
- Shape - Shapes for helmets can surprisingly vary with European brands favouring a more narrow design whilst American designs generally favour a more rounded shape in their design. This may not bother you but is worth considering if you feel your head shape is slightly different to the average.
- Size - Like clothes, helmets are generally sized with small, medium and large. You will need to measure the circumference of your head to find the right helmet for you based on the helmet manufacturers website. We've found that helmet sizing can vary from brand to brand so be sure to double check.
- Tightening mechanism - Helmets use a tightening mechanism for the inner shell which helps ensure a snug fit for the back and lower part of your head.
Different helmet brands employ different ways of protecting your precious head while providing comfort. Some of these include:
- Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) is a safety technology found that has emerged on helmets in the last few years. Basically MAPS provides a low-friction layer that looks to rotate slightly during an impact to provide greater safety.
- WaveCel which is found on some Bontrager helmets and uses a honeycombed liner that absorbs both the impact forces and rotational energy that comes from an impact.
- Shearing Pads Inside (SPIN) is found on POC branded helmets uses silicone-injected pads that moves inside the shell to help redirect impact forces during a crash.
Type of Helmet
Helmets come in all shapes and sizes to suit your riding style. These include:
- Mountain biking
- Road riding
- BMX riding
- Triathlon riding
We generally find either road riding or commuting helmets are best for commuting.
For those of us that ride all year round and need ventilation during the summer months, be sure to consider a helmet with ventilation. This helps provide wind flow over your head which keeps you both comfortable and cool.
Most major helmet brands now include a minimal visor which helps keep the sun out of your eyes
A new trend (and great for us commuters) is the emergence of mounts on the helmet for you to connect your light onto for night riding.
Best Entry Level Commuting Helmet
Bell is a renowned international cycling helmet manufacturer that is known for their quality helmets. The Bell Faction is inspired by helmets you would normally see by BMX cyclists but has been designed for commuting.
We think the Bell Faction is good for anyone that has a short commute but would recommend something designed for road cycling if you're riding a longer commute. This is due to the limited ventilation and aerodynamics of the Bell Faction.
Best Street Style Helmet
Another helmet that takes its design from the BMX world, the Bern Macon is a 'street' style commuter helmet. The helmet is designed with a hard shell and hard foam inside.
The Bern Macon helmet comes with an adaptor on the outside so you can mount your favourite light on.
One thing we liked about this helmet was the ability to switch the visor for ear covers in winter. Unfortunately these need to be purchased separately.
Best Relaxed Helmet
Bern call the Brentwood their most popular helmet. Similar in design to the Macon helmet we previously reviewed but using a lighter design thanks to the zip-mold liquid foam injection construction. This helps with providing a more lighter helmet but also better strength according to Bern.
From our experience, we'd recommend this as more of a winter helmet due to the helmet having poor breathability.
If visors aren't your thing, the Bern Brentwood comes with a flip visor which means you can have it out when needed and hide it away when not in use.
Pro-tec Classic Helmet
With humble beginnings in the skate industry, Pro-tec have emerged as a player in the street style commuter helmet area.
We think the Pro-tec classic design is slightly better than the Bern helmet's previously reviewed but we'll leave you to make the call on that one.
Featuring 11 ents, the Pro-tec Classic helmet is bound to keep your head cool and comfortable when riding in the warmer summer months.
One thing we'd warn you about with this helmet is that it is not a certified safe helmet as with other brands. It will still protect your head however is not as safe as other brands which are certified.
Best Lightweight Helmet
Giro are one of the major players in the world of cycling helmets and with good reason. The Giro Reverb is a compact classic helmet that is made for those of us that are looking for a more 'street' style commuting helmet.
The Giro Reverb uses a lightweight design that comes with a built in visor to help keep the sun out of your eyes.
For those of you that like to be seen on the road, you'll be happy to know you can buy the Giro Reverb in fluorescent yellow.
One things we didn't like about the Giro Reverb was the lack of adjustable strap at the back of the helmet. This makes it difficult to dial in the fit of the helmet. Due to not being able to adjust the fit of the helmet makes it difficult to wear a beanie underneath the helmet in the colder months.
Best Winter Helmet
Giro Surface-S Snow Helmet
Have you been looking for a helmet to wear in the colder months of winter? You're in luck! Giro have released the Giro Surface-S which is also the big brother to the Giro Reverb.
The Giro Surface-S has been designed for winter so as a result, has limited ventilation in the helmet compared to others we reviewed. The helmet has been designed with 6 small vents which help push ventilation through to keep your head feeling comfortable. Also included are ear flaps which help keep your ears warm.