In Belgium, wearing a helmet is not compulsory. If you do choose to wear one, however, make sure to select one that will be most suited to your needs. Choosing a good helmet can prove to be complex. It must be lightweight, fit your head well and suitable for whatever activities you do.
Range of headgear
- Standard helmet
- City helmet – urban-style helmet
- BMX helmet – bowl-shaped, this protects the back of the head more than a standard helmet
- Full-face helmet – ideal for downhill or freeride mountain biking because it protects the whole head
Factors to consider when buying…
Safety standard approval
Check that the helmet bears the EN 1078 or EN 1080 label, showing European safety standard approval.
Choosing the right size is one of the most important factors when buying a helmet. The size is shown in centimetres (e.g. 53–56 cm) and is the circumference of the head at forehead level. The size of the helmet is correct if it stays on your head without fastening the chin strap. On most helmets there is a sizing wheel at the back so that you can adjust it to fit perfectly.
If you are buying a helmet for doing mountain biking, it is advisable to choose one with a visor so as to protect you not just from the mud but also from the sun. Some visors are detachable.
For optimal comfort, make sure that your helmet has lots of vents. BMX helmets have less air vents than standard helmets.
Check the date of manufacture of the helmet. After 5 years a helmet is no longer 100% effective because some of the materials from which it is made may have degraded.
The cost of top-range helmets is higher because these are lighter and come in a lot more sizes. The more snug the fit of the helmet, the more comfortable it will be and the better it will protect you. Features such as anti-insect mesh in the ventilation holes or more comfortable foam can increase the price of a helmet.
Position your helmet correctly
Your helmet must not be tilted forwards or backwards. It must cover the top of the forehead but also the back of the head. Firstly, it is important that the shell should be as snug a fit as possible. Then you should adjust the chin strap. The triangle formed by the straps should end just below the ear so that the helmet does not move. Check that the helmet is not obstructing your movement when you turn your head from side to side.
Replace your helmet when needed
If your helmet has had a large impact, replace it immediately. Even if it looks fine, the material designed to absorb impacts will have lost its effectiveness.
After a 5-year period some materials included in your helmet might have degraded, especially if it has been stored in a damp place. Likewise, if you notice, just by looking, that the helmet has deteriorated, you must change it.