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Bike Helmet Buying Guide

Woman Mountain BIking In Blue Helmet

Wearing a bike helmet is a must! We’ve created this simple helmet buying guide to ensure you get the right fit and style for your noggin.

Follow these simple steps to learn everything you need to know to make buying a helmet easy-peasy!

1. Choose your helmet style.

Most helmets are somewhat versatile. As long as they fit your head right, they’ll keep you safe. But if you know how you prefer to ride, you can take advantage of the design features specific to that style of biking and get more out of your riding experience. Plus, you’ll narrow down your helmet selection instantly, streamline your buying process, and have more time to ride!

There are three basic bike helmet styles:

  • Recreational Bike Helmets: Your basic helmet choice with all the essential features to keep your head protected. Great for the casual rider. Shop our recreational bike helmets here.
  • Mountain Bike Helmets: These helmets feature extended rear coverage, and extra comfort and protection to accommodate rough gravel riding. Perfect for the rider tackling off-road adventures. See our selection of mountain bike helmets here.
  • Road Bike Helmets: These helmets are built to be lightweight, aerodynamic, with ventilation and breathability. Made for cyclists that are logging lots of miles on the saddle and seeking optimal performance. View our road bike helmets here.

Once you have determined the type of helmet that aligns with your riding style, next up, consider if you’d like a helmet equipped with special technology.


2. Add-on advanced technologies.

Many helmets feature cutting-edge innovation to increase protection, comfort, and rider experience. While these helmets come with a higher price tag usually, the price can be well worth the benefits you’ll experience. Some upgrades to consider include:

  • MIPS technology: This technology has been scientifically proven to reduce rotational motion by absorbing and redirecting rotational energies and forces transferred to the brain from angled impacts to the head. To put it another way, the helmet can slightly rotate within itself and thereby lessen the impact the brain and reduce the likelihood of a concussion. We wrote an entire blog about it — learn more here. Shop the helmets that feature MIPS technology here.
  • ANGI: ANGi stands for Angular and G-Force indicator. It’s a sensor that measure forces that typically occur during a bicycle crash and it’s calls for help if you are not able to. Just pair the sensor with the Specialized Ride App, which is available for iOS and Android, and ANGi is ready to help. Read more on our blog here. Click here to see helmets we carry that feature ANGI.
  • Communication Features: Some helmets feature a wireless connection to mobile devices and even other helmets. This allows you to stay in communication with other riders, make and receive phone calls, or even listen to audio without using headphones or earbuds. The SENNA R1 is a great option for wireless communication built into a helmet.
  • Built-in lights and mounts : As helmets evolve to accommodate rider desires features like built-in taillights and camera/light/mirror mounts are becoming increasingly available. An example of a helmet featuring a built-in taillight is the Specialized Centro LED MIPS Helmet.

3. Get the right fit.

The most important thing when it comes to buying a new helmet is to make sure it properly fits your head. You’ll want it to feel both comfortable and snug. If your head has too much wiggle room inside the shell of your helmet you’ll be at risk of injury if you should take a fall.

Follow these steps to figure out your correct helmet size:

  • Measure your head circumference:
    • Find a flexible tape measure, string, or belt.
    • Wrap it around the largest part of your head (typically right above your temples).
    • Note the measurement (if you’re using a string or belt you’ll need to measure it against a yardstick or ruler).
  • Find your size based on the manufacturer’s helmet specs:
    • Each brand of helmet has a sizing chart to reference to help you find your size.
    • If you plan to shop in-store, arrive prepared already knowing your head circumference so you can hone your search and try on ideal helmets for you.
    • Most helmets comes in S, M, and L.
  • Adjust the tightness level:
    • Twist the dial at the rear of the helmet to easily make your helmet tighter or looser.
    • If the helmet you are considering doesn’t feature a adjustment dial, you can add or remove the interchangeable interior foam pads to achieve the right level of snugness on your head.
  • Buckle and adjust the chin strap:
    • The straps should surround each ear evenly forming the letter “V”.
    • The helmet should press down firmly upon the top of your head.
    • The chin strap should press against the underside of your chin with enough slack to allow the mouth to easily open and close.

Again, you want your helmet to feel snug on your head but still comfortable. Once you’ve achieved this — you are wearing the right sized helmet for your head!

Other helpful sizing tips:

  • Different brands fit differently: Your head is unique and so are the different helmet brand designs. If you can, try on a variety of brands to see which one fits your head best.
  • When in doubt, size down: If you are between sizes, size down for a more snug fit. Or, you can experiment with wearing a hat beneath your helmet (but know that this will increase heat when riding).

There you have it! Simple steps to get the right helmet on your head so you can ride safely and be protected! And know, these same sizing guidelines apply to your little ones as well so be sure to check that their helmets are correctly sized as well. We have more details (and photos) for fitting your kid’s helmet right here.

If you have a helmet already but wondering if it’s time to replace it be sure to check out our blog here “When to replace your bike helmet”. You’ll learn the determining factors for when a new helmet is needed.

Watch this helpful video to learn the steps for buying the perfect helmet for you online at shopERIKS.com. Or, swing by your local store to try on a few styles in person!