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.
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?