A mountain bike (MTB) helmet is a specialised item of headwear designed to provide protection to riders during off-road cycling adventures. It is an essential piece of safety equipment that helps reduce the risk of head injuries and ensures the rider's well-being while navigating rugged terrains and challenging trails.
The primary function of a mountain bike helmet is to absorb and dissipate the impact energy in the event of a crash or fall. It features a hard outer shell made of durable materials such as polycarbonate or carbon fiber, which can withstand high-velocity impacts and protect the head from direct hits against rocks, branches, or other hard surfaces. Inside the shell, a layer of impact-absorbing foam, typically made of expanded polystyrene (EPS), helps cushion and distribute the force of an impact across a larger surface area, minimising the risk of skull fractures and brain injuries.
Mountain bike helmets are designed with several key features to enhance their effectiveness. They have adjustable straps and retention systems that allow riders to customise the fit for maximum comfort and stability. Ventilation ports or channels are strategically placed to promote airflow and prevent overheating during intense rides. Some helmets also incorporate visors that shield the eyes from the sun, rain, or debris, while others provide extended coverage at the back and sides for enhanced protection.
When choosing a mountain bike helmet, it is crucial to consider safety certifications. Reputable helmets should comply with standards such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the United States, the European/UK EN 1078 standard, or other relevant certifications in different regions. These certifications ensure that the helmet meets rigorous safety requirements and has undergone extensive testing to guarantee its protective capabilities.
Riders should also pay attention to the helmet's fit and comfort. A properly fitting helmet should snugly encase the head without being too tight or too loose. It should sit level on the head and cover the forehead, with the chin strap securely fastened. Comfort features such as padding and adjustable retention systems contribute to a pleasant riding experience and can be crucial for long rides.
Ultimately, while it is not mandatory for adults to wear mountain bike helmets when cycling in the UK, the potential risks and benefits of wearing one strongly favour making it an essential part of your mountain biking gear. Prioritising your safety and well-being by wearing a helmet is a smart choice that can help prevent or minimise the impact of accidents and ensure a more enjoyable riding experience.
All competitive events and most private bike parks will require you to wear a mountain bike helmet when riding.
Cycling, especially off-road mountain biking, involves inherent risks due to the challenging terrain, varying weather conditions, and potential obstacles encountered on trails. Accidents can happen unexpectedly, and falls from a bike can result in serious head trauma. Wearing a helmet significantly reduces the risk of severe head injuries, including concussions and skull fractures, which can have long-lasting consequences.
Furthermore, wearing a helmet sets a good example for others, especially children, promoting a culture of safety and responsible cycling. Children under the age of 16 must wear a helmet by law while cycling on public roads in the UK, so wearing a helmet as an adult demonstrates the importance of protective gear and encourages younger riders to do the same.
It is worth noting that not all mountain bike helmets are created equal and it's essential to choose a helmet that meets safety standards and offers proper protection. Look for helmets that comply with recognised safety certifications such as the CE EN1078 mark, which indicates that the helmet meets UK & European safety standards. Additionally, ensure that the helmet fits correctly and is securely fastened to provide optimal protection.
Mountain biking enthusiasts often encounter rough terrain, high speeds, and technical challenges that increase the likelihood of accidents. Wearing a mountain bike helmet can make a significant difference in reducing the severity of head injuries. Even experienced riders can benefit from wearing helmets as they cannot control external factors such as unforeseen obstacles or the actions of other riders on the trail.
Please click below to browse a selection of the best MTB helmets, or read on for more advice.
With a wide range of options available in the market, finding the right helmet can be a daunting task. This guide aims to provide you with the necessary information to make an informed decision when purchasing a mountain bike helmet.
Measure your head.
Use a soft measuring tape to measure the circumference of your head, approximately 1 inch above your eyebrows - imagine the rim of a baseball cap, this is the measurement you need. This measurement will all allow you to follow the manufacturer guidelines to get the correct size.
Most helmets come in sizes such as small (55cm), medium (57cm), large (59cm), and extra-large (61cm). Refer to the manufacturer's sizing chart to find the appropriate size for your head circumference. Child sizes are also available and are measured in the same way.
Look for a helmet that offers adjustable fit systems, such as a BOA dial or strap adjustments to ensure a snug and comfortable fit. Helmets should be securely fitted so they don't move around on your head, but not so tight that they cause discomfort or pain.
Features to Consider.
1. Look for helmets that comply with safety standards such as CPSC (US), EN 1078 (Europe/UK), or ASTM F1952 (downhill).
2. Shell construction: Opt for helmets with a durable and lightweight outer shell, such as in-mold or hard shell construction.
3. Ventilation: Consider helmets with ample ventilation to keep you cool during intense rides.
4. Impact protection: Look for helmets with features like MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) or similar technologies designed to reduce rotational forces during impacts.
5. Visor: A removable visor can shield your eyes from the sun, rain, or branches, and is especially useful for trail riding.
6. Straps and buckles: Ensure the helmet has adjustable and comfortable straps with secure buckles for a proper fit.
7. Padding and comfort: Helmets with well-padded interiors and moisture-wicking liners provide comfort during extended rides.
8. Compatibility: Check if the helmet is compatible with accessories like goggles, camera mounts, or lights if you plan to use them.
Mountain bike helmets typically range from £30 to £400, depending on the brand, features, and materials used.
If your helmet sustains an impact during a crash or shows signs of damage, it's crucial to replace it, as the structural integrity may be compromised.
Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for cleaning and caring for your helmet to ensure its longevity.
While safety and fit are paramount, don't forget to choose a helmet that matches your style and personal preferences.
Investing in a well-fitting and high-quality mountain bike helmet is a crucial step in ensuring your safety while riding. Remember to consider sizing and fit, key features, reputable brands, and other relevant factors discussed in this guide. By making an informed choice, you can ride with confidence and peace of mind on your mountain bike adventures.