Bicycle Helmet Ratings: Giro, Bell, Schwinn and Scott

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Comparison of Safe Bike Helmets for Older Kids and Adults: Bell Piston Review, Giro Revel Review, Schwinn Merge Review, Scott ARX Plus Review

In our previous blog on bicycle helmets, we covered some of the statistics involving brain injuries to cyclists.  While serious injuries are not uncommon for adults or kids, fatal injuries tend to be much more likely with increasing age.  That’s not only a big deal for tweens and teens, but especially for parents!  But how do you pick a helmet?  Here are a few tips:

  • Select one with a CPSC certified label.  This means it passed basic requirements and testing.
  • Make sure it fits correctly.  If it is too hard to adjust or doesn’t stay in place correctly, it may not be in the right spot to protect well after shifting around during a long ride.  Most helmets should fit snugly and should not move much front-to-back, side-to-side or twisting.  Have a question?  Try shopping at a local bike store and have an expert help you!
  • Select one for comfort.  If it is too hot, or pokes you or gives you a headache, you won’t wear it and it won’t protect you.  Ventilation and padding differ greatly and it’s not always the priciest models that are the best ones for you, because everyone has a different head and preference.
  • Choose a helmet for cycling or one labeled for dual or multi-sport use. Models specifically for other sports like skateboarding may not be as suitable for cycling use.
  • Select one you like.  Fashion may seem irrelevant for safety, but if you aren’t going to wear it, it won’t protect you.  Styles vary a lot, from motorcycle style with drab colors  to ultralight racing models with fancy designs.

Much like carseats, independent testing is difficult to find.  To my knowledge, only Consumer Reports® has done additional safety testing of select models in the USA.  Their ratings of 22 models are available to subscribers online and can be found in the June, 2015 issue of the magazine.  I don’t know if their testing is consistent with industry expert analysis, but much like carseats, it appears to be the only independent testing out there.

Consumer Reports also tested youth helmets.  Their top choice was the Bontrager Solstice Youth at $40, available online and at local bike stores and Trek stores.  For tweens, teens and adults, you probably need an adult sized helmet. Below, I have quick reviews on a few budget models that were recommended in CR’s ratings.  In addition to being best buys, all three received very good impact absorption scores.  All three have dial adjustments that ratchet to tighten and loosen the helmet.

Quick Reviews:

Giro Revel (Left), Schwinn Merge (Center) and Bell Piston (Right):

HelmetComparsionSide HelmetComparisonBack HelmetComparisonInside

I recently tested four helmets, ranging from $15 to $150.  Do you need to spend a fortune to protect your head, or does a bargain model work just as well?

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Bicycle Helmets: They’re Not Just for Littles

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SchwinnMergeWearing a helmet is a lot like wearing a seatbelt.  It can be inconvenient and even uncomfortable, especially to adults.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, 800 cyclists were killed and half a million had injuries severe enough to go to the emergency room in 2010.  Fortunately, according to the IIHS, helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, but Safe Kids USA estimates that less than half of children 14 and under even wear a helmet.

Bicycle related head injuries send more people to the emergency room than any other sport, more than football, baseball and softball combined!  And it’s not just kids being injured.  The IIHS states, “Eighty-four percent of bicycle deaths are persons 20 and older. During the past few years, no more than 17 percent of fatally injured bicyclists were wearing helmets.”

So, yes, make sure your kids wear a good helmet and make sure it fits them.  And the same goes for football, baseball, softball and skateboards.  The NHTSA has a great page on bicycle safety education with tips and facts. Safe Kids USA has an excellent video on helmet fit for kids, but it applies to adults as well:

 

Take it from me, the cost of NOT wearing a helmet can be unimaginable.  Based on the statistics, it is just as important to wear one yourself!  This not only sets a good example, but adults in their 40s and 50s are most at risk of dying from head injuries sustained in a bicycle crash.

I’m a survivor of a life threatening sports-related head injury.  When I was 10 years old, I was struck by a thrown baseball that hit me above the eye while running to first base in a back yard game. There was literally a big dent in my head, and the depressed skull fracture required immediate surgery.  I was told that had it struck me an inch in any other direction, I’d probably have died.  A batting helmet would have prevented the injury and the long scar that remains on my forehead, too.  So, it’s not too hard for me to imagine what could happen to my 10-year old son or to me if we don’t wear our bike helmets.

In our next segment, I’ll review a few reasonably priced bike helmets that provide good protection for adults and older kids.  There are also some new options in helmets that may help prevent concussions as well as other traumatic brain injuries.

Made ya look!

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When we hear the term “distracted driving” we usually think of people texting or talking on the phone when driving. There’s been many campaigns against the two, especially texting. We all know texting while driving is stupid, so don’t do it. But what about other distractions? There is always going to be some element of distraction when you are driving; it’s just part of life. That’s why it’s so important to drive defensively, be aware of your surroundings, and keep tabs on multiple things. If you think about it, driving is full of multi-tasking. You’re always listening (is that a fire truck coming up behind me?) and watching. You should be watching multiple things. The traffic signals, your position on the road, your route, the car in front of you, and if you are turning you may be watching for oncoming traffic in one direction and potential pedestrians in another. So what happens when we add in more items to occupy our attention, maybe items that aren’t conducive to driving?

We’ve already acknowledged phone use. What about the radio? “Not Taylor Swift AGAIN!”- click. Click. Click. Still trying to find a song that doesn’t make you stabby. Your eyes are on the road. But is your brain? What about food? Are you eating? I’m guilty of this. I leave my house for work at 6am and believe me, I like to eke out every last minute of sleep. Therefore I usually end up nomming on a cereal bar while driving. Simple bars are pretty easy to mindlessly eat but I’ve seen people dipping french fries while driving. How many of you have seen women putting on make up in traffic? Am I the only one that envisions her lightly tapping the brakes and sending her eye pencil through her cornea?

Kids. For the love of everything holy, the kids. Endless talking, crying, kicking of your seat. Liam, bless his heart, screamed for the duration of every car ride from birth to 18 months. It’s seriously a miracle I didn’t drive over a bridge. For those of you with babies that are currently doing this, my heart goes out to you. I promise it does end. Stay away from bridges.

Seriously though, your kids are probably the most distracting “items” in your car. The grabbing of a dropped sippy cup or toy at a red light. Handing them snacks. Turning around to threaten them with removal of everything near and dear to them if they aren’t quiet this instant! So what can you do? Not much. Sure, you can give them busy books or play music or let them watch the evil DVD players. But I guarantee you they’re still back there, taunting you.

We can’t completely rid ourselves of distractions. It’s life. But we can take action to minimize them as much as possible. Eat before you leave your house or when you arrive to your destination. Set your GPS before you start driving, not while you are leaving your neighborhood.  Ladies, you’re beautiful the way you are without a pencil through your eyeball. Keep your car neat and clean with everything in a visible place so you aren’t rummaging at red lights to see if you remembered to bring whatever it is you need.

Think about your distractions. Think about what you can do to minimize or remove them. You’re worth it, your kids are worth it, and your friends on the road are worth it. Remember, you’re only as safe at the most distracted driver out there. If that isn’t an incentive to spread the word, I don’t know what is.

SCOSCHE MagicMount Review

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Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 10.48.28 AMI have a confession to make: I use my cell phone in the car.

Before you jump on me, though, I use it in place of a navigation system. I don’t play Candy Crush while I’m driving.

The problem I’ve had, though, is finding a good way to mount my phone so I can glance over at the map. Until recently, I’ve had to keep my phone in a console down low under the dash board, meaning I’d either have to grope around and raise the phone up when I needed to see it, or I’d have to glance very far down, without even my peripheral vision on the road. Not safe.

I’ve tried a couple cellphone mounts before, the kind that stick to my windshield with a suction cup, and then have a clamp to put the phone in. I found the suction cups fell off a lot, and it was a pain to get the phone in and out of the clamp.

Then I found the SCOSCHE MagicMount system. There are various mounts available, but they all contain a powerful magnet that clings to a metal plate you stick onto your phone or set inside of your case. This means that the phone can be put on or taken off the mount in a split second.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 11.17.46 AMI chose the dashboard mount, which sticks onto the car with powerful 3M adhesive. The nice thing about this mount is that it can be placed on a horizontal or vertical surface, or even a curved surface. The face of the mount can swivel in any direction, meaning you can place it pretty much wherever you need it. There are also mounts that use the suction cup, a gooseneck that sits in a power outlet, and one that clips to a vent.

FullSizeRender-2Each mount comes with two adhesive metal plates about the thickness of a business card. The small plate can adhere directly to the back of a phone or phone case. Or, if you’re like me and aren’t thrilled with the idea of sticking something to your phone, you can simply place the larger plate (without removing the cover from the adhesive side) between your phone and its case. I worried it might not be strong enough, but it’s worked perfectly on my CandyShell case and my husband’s Otterbox.

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Since I needed two of the large plates (one for my phone and one for my husband’s), I ordered a replacement kit, which comes with a small and large plate for the phone, a mini-size metal plate for any other small object you might want to display, plus extra 3M adhesive for the mount. All together, the original mount and replacement kit were less than $30. Once we figured out where we wanted to stick the mount, we were installed and ready to go in minutes.

We’ve been using the MagicMount for several weeks now, and I still get a little nerdy thrill each time I pop my phone onto the mount. It’s just so easy! It’s also nice that if you’d prefer a landscape view, you can just turn your phone before sticking it on—no adjustments necessary.

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Here’s a video showing how easy the mount is to use:

There is one important warning: Because the mount uses a strong magnet, you shouldn’t use it if your phone case also holds credit cards. It’s fine for smart phones, though, and since the metal plate you put on the phone isn’t magnetic itself, you don’t need to worry about it co-mingling with credit cards in your purse or pocket.

Now, readers of this blog probably have two main concerns with this product, and I’ll address them.

1) What about projectiles???

Yes, in a crash, the mount and/or phone could theoretically come off. That could happen with any mount, though. I’m not sure if it’s more or less likely with this one, but so far this one hasn’t fallen off at all, which is more than I can say for my previous clamp-style suction-cup mount, or the suction cup that holds our Garmin unit in our other vehicle.

And I have another confession: My car is not otherwise free of projectiles. I try not to keep excess stuff in there, but at any given time, we have water bottles and travel mugs in the cup holders, and my kids usually have books, toys, or tablets to keep them entertained. My phone would be somewhere in the car anyway.

2) Isn’t it a distraction?

Sure, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Like I said, I’m not texting or watching movies on it. I have a map displayed, which is no different than a display on a car’s built-in screen or a stand-alone navigation unit (except that it’s better positioned, in my opinion). Can I guarantee that other people won’t misuse it? No, just like I can’t guarantee they won’t misuse any other mount, or skip the mount all together and text away while driving. Anything has the chance to be misused–it depends on the person using it.

I can’t say how well this device will hold up over time, but so far I’m loving it.

CarseatBlog was not compensated in any way for this review, not even with samples. I spent my own money, and I’d do it again…and probably will when it comes time for holiday shopping. I’ll give the gift of magnets. The SCOSCHE MagicMount system used in this review can be found for under $20 at Amazon.