Trends in protective headgear for cyclists tend to follow what is popular, not necessarily what is most effective at keeping people safe. However, the whole point of wearing a helmet is your safety, and fashion should be in a distant second place as far as important considerations go when buying safety gear.
Given that many of the worst injuries and a significant number of fatalities on bicycles each year involve cyclists who did not have protected head coverings, you may think that any helmet is better than no helmet. While that may be true, if you’re going through the effort to put on a helmet, don’t you want to maximize the amount of protection it offers you?
If your helmet is more than a few years old, it may not offer the best protection possible. Even if your helmet is newer, certain styles of helmets, including the trendy urban-style helmet, offer less protection in the event of a bicycle crash than other styles.
The problem with the urban-style helmet
The urban-style helmet has become one of the most common cycling helmets in the last few years. You may own one yourself, or you may have crossed paths with people wearing them on the open roads or bike paths. An urban-style helmet has a design inspired by motorcycle helmets, making it seem edgier than standard bicycle helmets.
Urban-style helmets may seem like they offer excellent protection, as they typically have a solid plastic outer casing like motorcycle helmets. However, their design is often flimsy, with a brittle outer layer of rigid plastic topping a thin layer of protective foam that may not do enough to reduce the force of a collision.
While these helmets may be on-trend and popular, the primary goal when wearing a helmet is to be safe, not to look cool. Upgrading to a newer helmet with better padding could protect your brain in the event of a crash with a motor vehicle.
Older helmets are also dangerous regardless of design
The older your helmet is, the less protection it may offer in the event of a crash. The outer plastic that serves as the immediate barrier between your head and other surfaces can become brittle with age. Drastic temperature changes common throughout the year in Colorado exacerbate and speed up the embrittlement process.
Additionally, the interior padding can degrade with years of use. Finally, small traumas to the helmets can have a devastating impact on their overall function in an emergency. Even if you haven’t experienced a catastrophic accident while wearing the helmet, if it has taken multiple, minor blows, it may not offer enough impact protection in the event of a serious crash. Choosing to upgrade to a new helmet every year or two is likely the best way to maximize the protection your helmet offers you.