A head start in safety terms

Does everyone wear a helmet? Always? Each time you go out?

Silly question, isn’t it? Today (almost) nobody rides out without a protective helmet, but only fifteen years ago things were very different and the questions we have just asked would not have invited the same replies….

Luckily, even though it is not yet legally compulsory, a helmet is a staple part of our cycling routine and riding without one would make us feel practically bare, as if we had forgotten to put our trousers on.

So, this is not a futile article that recommends you always use an “accessory” that could save your life, it is simply a collection of tips on which helmet might best suit your purposes.

We should point out that practically all the helmets available for purchase from specialist dealers are 100% reliable in safety terms, but if you want to double check, take a look at the label which should bear the EC EN 1078 type approval. This guarantees the minimum quality and sturdiness requirements.

Well, what should guide our choice then?

Looks? Yes, but not only. One basic criterion is your personal budget seeing as prices vary greatly, going from 50-60 euros to more than 200. Once you have decided on your price band, there are a few important factors to be borne in mind if you want to make a good buy.

Fit

A helmet is not unlike a pair of shoes or a t-shirt. It needs to be the right size.

Ordinarily, sizes range from 50 cm to over 60 – this measurement refers to the circumference of your head at its widest point, which would be at your mid forehead. To check your own individual size, just wrap a measuring tape around your head.

Once it is on your head, adjusted and strapped, it should be snug. When you shake your head, it should stay in place, but it shouldn’t feel tight either. It should sit level on the head, neither too high up or low down because its job is to protect the forehead too: there must be a 2-3 cm gap between the eyebrows and front rim of the helmet.

Fastening

Everyone’s head is different. The chin straps could be comfortable for some and ill-fitting for others. There is no rule.

The only way to find out whether the adjustability system of the helmet suits us or not is to try it: before buying a helmet, strap it on your head and decide whether it is comfortable under your chin or if it presses against your ears.

Ventilation

Obviously, the apertures and vents are there to stop the head from overheating. Heavy sweating can trigger an unpleasant and distracting itching sensation.

The more holes the merrier, provided that the whole structure holds together, which is, naturally, a matter of good design…..and price.

Talking about holes, one very useful feature is a bug guard: has a wasp ever been “sucked” into your helmet whilst you were darting downhill? Not a nice experience.

Weight

Helmets also fall within the scope of that “old cycling rule”: the lighter in weight, the heavier on the pocket.

In actual fact, helmets can only become so light because they are all made from the same materials and it must be sturdy enough to offer protection. Nevertheless, a few grammes less might be worth the money spent because the difference between a 200-gramme helmet and a 300-gramme one becomes all the more obvious after twenty or thirty kilometres. You might pay a higher price in the form of a sore neck and stiff shoulders.

It isn’t just the helmet

Let us wind this article up by wondering why helmets are such a key part of our cycling kit, whilst other accessories which are equally indispensable for our safety are not so commonly used?

A rear-view mirror, for example.

It has been proved that many bike accidents occur when a cyclist turns around to check behind, or when he suddenly shifts towards the centre of the road, perhaps because a car door opens or due to a pothole on the tarmac surface. In such circumstances, a quick look in the mirror to see if there is anything coming up behind us can mean the difference between life and death.

So why do so few cyclists use one? Who knows? It is a mystery to us. Perhaps people just have to get used to it, or maybe some “cool” cyclists are afraid of spoiling their look.

If the “hip guys and hot chicks” are holding back because of that, they have no more excuses because Selle Italia is now able to offer a specially designed solution. It is called Eyelink. It is a lightweight mirror with a refined and elegant design which fits perfectly onto the control panel and its special curved surface provides the cyclist with a wide viewing angle whatever pedalling position he adopts.

Think about it. Give the matter due reflection (it is a pun!)

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A head start in safety terms | Safety on the saddle – Selle Italia
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A head start in safety terms | Safety on the saddle – Selle Italia
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Well, what should guide our choice then? Looks? Yes, but not only. One basic criterion is your personal budget seeing as prices vary greatly, going from 50-60 euros to more than 200. Once you have decided on your price band, there are a few important factors to be borne in mind if you want to make a good buy.
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Selle Italia
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