Mountain Bike Helmets - Some Buying Tips

An important consideration if you are beginning mountain biking is to make sure that you, and those around you are safe by following safety guidelines and wearing a good mountain bike helmet. This form of biking is more challenging than road biking as you will be riding in rougher terrain with, perhaps, steeper downhill slopes, and sooner or later you will come off your bike! When this happens you will want to make sure you have good protection for your head so wearing a mountain bike helmet is essential.

Inevitably you'll come off your mountain bike so how do you choose a mountain bike helmet that will offer the best protection? The most expensive helmets do not necessarily give any better protection than cheaper ones. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute 'The higher priced helmets have big vents, but no verifiable advantage in impact performance' although you may find a more expensive helmet more comfortable and definitely more stylish! A round, smooth helmet is recommended as this will help to prevent snagging on objects such as tree branches in the event of an accident. Rounder styles are also gaining in popularity over those with pointed rears. Mountain bike helmets vary in price from under $30 to over $100 so, if you are not concerned about style choose one at the lower end.

Should I buy a used mountain bike helmet?

Buying a used helmet is not recommended as any impact to it can cause damage that, although you can't see it, will make it less sturdy and it may not offer enough protection from a blow to the head. It's not worth risking your health, or even life, for the sake of a few dollars.

Should I buy a new helmet after an accident?

As noted above blows to the helmet result in damage that may not ne visible but that damages the helmet to such an extent that it does not give adequate protection, Always buy a new helmet after any severe blow.

Make sure your mountain bike helmet fits properly

In order to provide enough protection from head injury your helmet must fit securely. You will also want it to be comfortable for long periods of riding. Tighten the straps enough so that when you shake your head the helmet doesn't move. This will ensure that, if you fall off, the helmet will not be thrown off your head! It can't protect you if it comes off. Helmets also come with foam inserts which you can use to make it more secure and comfortable.

Mountain bike helmet safety standards

Your helmet should meet either Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPC), SNELL, CE (in Europe) or the stricter ASTM F1952 Downhill Mountain Bike Racing Helmet standards. A sticker inside the helmet will inform you of this. never use a helmet that does not comply with one of these standards.

Slip-plane technology for mountain bike helmets

New for 2010 is the slip-plane technology which uses an inner liner which, on impact, slides over the shell to reduce rotational force injuries. This will reduce the likelihood of concussion as rotational forced are the leading cause of this. At present you can buy smooth, rounded helmets with this technology but not so far any of the ventilated helmets.

Overall guidelines for choosing a new mountain bike helmet

1) It must meet one of the accepted safety standards.
2) A smooth round helmet that will not snag on obstacles is recommended.
3) Buy a helmet that is comfortable, well fitting and has secure fastening straps.
4) The helmet should be easy to clean, durable and not damaged easily.
5) Instruction must be easy to follow to adjust the helmet for the correct fit.


Your mountain bike helmet is an essential accessory for this tough sport. Take care when buying a helmet to make sure it is a good fit and that it is comfortable enough to wear for long periods. Following these guidelines will help to protect you when, inevitably, you take a tumble

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