With the beginning of cycling season approaching in the northern hemisphere, I figured I’d do my part to A) spread the word for noobs on how one is supposed wear a cycling helmet and B) to give seasoned cyclists a laugh….
First, lets get one thing straight: I don’t care if you wear a helmet or not. It’s your melon, do as you please. I wear one, every single time I throw a leg over a top tube. I’m not getting into a debate about whether or not one should wear a helmet. On one hand, I find it ridiculous that governments mandate their usage. On the other, that’s because I think you’re nuts not to, but whatever. On a third hand (heh), what I think matters very little to everyone except me and my immediate family.
That said, most noobs need to know there are right and wrong ways to wear a helmet.
There are wrong ways:
Notice the strap is loose and the helmet is about two sizes too big. That’s a noob me. About eight weeks into riding a bike for the first time since I was a kid, and my first cycling helmet ever) – I can’t hardly call me a cyclist yet, as cyclists generally wear a shirt or jersey of some kind. Wearing a helmet like that is fine, just as long as you don’t fall. If, on the other hand, you do fall, you may as well not be wearing one. There are more egregious errors than mine, though…
First up is no helmet. While a helmet really wouldn’t have helped much in the accident shown in the photo above, I doubt that guy was riding down the trail thinking, Wow, dude… I’m hungry. I think I’ll eat me some tire… Nom nom nom nom… The point is, a helmet is a lot like an American’s Second Amendment right – better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. It’s gotta make you wonder what he hit, too. I used a funny photo to depict the silliness of not wearing a helmet. I have another, far darker and difficult to disremember. A guy laying on a hospital bed waiting to get an 8″ long gash on the top of his head, extending down to his forehead, stitched up. It’s nasty.
The backwards brain bucket… I’ve actually seen this in real life, and more than once. Good God.
Now, we’ve dealt with the humorous, obviously wrong ways to wear a helmet, let’s take a serious look at how to really wear a brain bucket….
Okay, so the idea is this: Take two fingers, your pointer and the middle finger and place them starting just above the bridge of your nose, or right on the bridge (My personal preference is for the latter – it tends to look better). Your helmet should touch the top finger of the two. The temptation is to wear the helmet a little farther up the forehead, like so:
I went back in the archive for that one, and that photo was taken after 100 miles, after I’d already pushed the helmet up after hopping off the bike but it serves the purpose, you don’t want to wear the helmet that high on the forehead. Look at the straps, also. Tight to the face, but not too snug. The idea is to be able to tuck two fingers between the strap and chin, but three starts to choke you. That’s the proper “tight”.
As a final note, helmets do come in sizes. S/M/L/XL or a combination of those (L/XL)… Pick the right one for your melon, and it helps to know your hat size. I’m a 7-1/4 US or 58cm. I wear a medium helmet in most brands. After that first helmet debacle above, where I chose a color more than a size, I wised up. For the really new noobs, if you don’t see the right color and size at your local shop, chances are they can order the right one. Don’t be afraid to ask.