Have you noticed that bike helmets are in vogue? While more and more bikers are wearing helmets these days to protect them from serious injury, most of them are not wearing it correctly. This means you have invested in the protective gear but due to improper adjustment, you are not getting the full protection you deserve and paid for – how disappointing is that!
Not all kinds of heads are of the same size; similarly, a bike helmet comes in different sizes. You need to make sure the one you are purchasing is the right fit for your head. A bike helmet that is properly fitted can reduce the risk of any head injury by as much as 85%, and the risk of a brain injury by as much as 88%.
Step by Step Guide
Getting yourself a helmet is the first step towards your safety, but you need to make sure it is the right one for you. According to a study, bikers who have an improper fit helmet are twice as likely to suffer head injuries than those who wear properly fitted helmets. Moreover, bike riders whose helmets come off during an accident are 3 times more likely to have a serious head injury and end up in hospital emergency rooms than those cyclists whose helmets remained fastened during a crash or collision.
So how should a helmet fit? Here is your step-by-step guide on how to perfectly fit and wear your bicycle helmet.
- Measure your head. It is better to start with your head circumference measurements to get an idea about the size. Then try on the helmet to see if the helmet fits properly. The helmet should not rock from one side to the other while sitting flat on your head. Some helmets have a universal fit ring where you can adjust the ring size for a proper fit on your head. Most helmet manufacturers these days provide helmets with sizing pads that you can use to comfortably fit in. Make sure you remove the helmet padding for your growing children once the helmet feels tight for their heads. You may check helmet sizings on the website of the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.
- Position the helmet. The helmet should be properly positioned so it protects your head, especially your forehead. It should sit level on your head and slightly low on the forehead. A good idea is to check if there is a width of around two fingers between your eyebrows and the helmet. Another good way to know if you have positioned the helmet properly is that you should be able to see the bottom rim of the helmet if you look up.
- Adjust buckles. Most helmets these days have straps that can be pulled from the back to adjust (shorten or extend) your chin straps. You may find it easier to take your helmet off first and then adjust the buckles. Once you do, try your helmet on again and see if they are properly adjusted.
- Adjust the sliders. Your side straps should be V-shaped around and under your ears, slightly on the front side. If possible, lock the slider so the straps do not shift places.
- Buckle your chin strap. When you buckle your chin strap, it needs to be tight enough to be a snug fit but comfortable enough for you to open your mouth. Try putting your finger under the strap. The perfect chin strap only has one to two fingers’ space (and no more) when buckled up. The chin straps will loosen over time so make sure you check their adjustments often and tighten them up when required.
- Final checks. Make sure to check the following before riding bikes.
- Is the fit right? Open your mouth as wide as you can, just like a big yawn. Does the helmet pull down on your head? If it does not, refer to step 5 to tighten it properly.
- Is there a gap of more than two finger-widths above your eyebrows? If yes, you need to unbuckle your helmet and move the slider forward to shorten your front strap. Once done, put on your helmet, readjust your chin strap, and repeat this check.
- Does your helmet swing forward? If your helmet moves forward into your eyes (remember the maximum two-finger rule), unbuckle and adjust your back strap by tightening it up. To do so, move the slider towards your ears. Don’t forget to re-buckle, adjust your chin straps, and examine this again.
- Does the buckle slip? Make sure that all the four straps go through the rubber band and are close to the buckle to ensure that the buckle does not slip.
Helmet use is as important for the bike rider as a seatbelt is in a car ride. Though they may have slightly different functionalities, the core reason we wear them is the same – our safety and protection.
The Do’s and Don’ts to Fit the Bike Helmet Correctly
Once you know how to wear a bicycle helmet, check these do’s and don’ts to make sure your helmet is providing you (or your child) with the maximum protection that you aim for.
- The front of the helmet should be low on the brow side covering your forehead and the overall helmet should have an exact fitting on your head.
- If the helmet is loose, it will either fall off in an accident without protecting your head or will slide back making your forehead exposed. Make sure you fasten the side straps just below and in front of the ears.
- Ideally, fit your bicycle helmet while looking into a mirror. This will give you a better idea of your helmet’s position. A well-fitted helmet means that your skin comfortably moves with the helmet. Once your helmet is on, try moving your helmet in all directions and notice if the helmet is tighter or looser than required. Only head out when you are completely satisfied with your helmet’s placement.
- Replace a bike helmet when it is too old, damaged, or has been in an accident/ crash.
- Go for a helmet that currently fits you (or your child) and not one that you plan to grow into. If you feel your child has grown out of his/ her helmet, buy a new helmet.
- Buy a helmet that you (or your child) find attractive and feel comfortable wearing.
- Wear a helmet each time you ride a bike, even if you plan to ride for a couple of minutes.
- Parents should wear bicycle helmets for their safety, and also set a strong example for their children. Studies suggest that if the parents wear a bicycle helmet, 98% of the children wear it as well. For parents who do not wear bike helmets, this percentage drops down to 30%.
- Buy a helmet that is bigger and swings on your head with the hope that one day you or your child will grow into it.
- Wear a helmet or make your child wear one if it is too tight. If you feel your helmet used to fit your head and it is not fitting anymore, it may be because the old helmet has lost its fit or your child has grown out of it, and hence it needs to be replaced.
- Expose the forehead by placing the helmet too far back.
- Expose the back of your head by placing the helmet too forward.
- Ignore the straps if they are not properly secured.
If you have purchased a bike, you need to purchase a bike helmet to make sure you protect yourself and your child from all kinds of head injuries. As high as 75% of bike-related deaths in children can be prevented using a helmet. According to a study, more children between the ages of 5 to 14 go to the hospital emergency for bike injuries than for any other sports. A bicycle helmet that is properly fitted can reduce the risk of any head injury by as much as 85%, and the risk of a brain injury by as much as 88%. Now that you know how to wear a bike helmet properly, what are you waiting for? Get yourself a nicely fit helmet and then enjoy the ride!