Bicycle helmets are becoming increasingly popular. This is shown by current figures from the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt). Cyclists were also questioned as part of the annual “surveys on safety rates in road traffic”. Accordingly, the rate of helmet use among 11 to 16-year-olds rose sharply compared to 2019: from 34 percent to 54 percent.
In addition, older people aged 61 and over wore helmets much more often in 2020 than in previous years. Across all age groups, the rate rose to over a quarter (26 percent versus 23 percent).
In Germany, a bicycle helmet is only required to be worn on the fast S-Pedelecs that support speeds of up to 45 km / h, but not on bicycles and e-bikes (Pedelecs). But it still makes sense.
According to experts such as Jörg Kubitzki from the Allianz Center for Technology (AZT), wearing a helmet is “essential to avoid fatal head injuries”. The safety researcher says: “Our risk calculations show that over 50 percent of fatal injuries among cyclists in Germany are caused by head injuries.” The latter lead to their death more often than pedestrians or drivers.
Not all bicycle helmets are the same
Such assessments underline how important it is for cyclists to wear the right helmet. Because: The selection is now huge.
Special helmets for cycling disciplines, closed retro helmets in the look of the 1950s or slotted helmets for better ventilation, smart helmets with built-in GPS and fall sensors that can make emergency calls via a mobile phone app, and children’s helmets in all colors and types are available.
The CE marking in accordance with the “DIN EN 1078” standard guarantees a safety standard. According to the, every helmet model sold must be tested by the manufacturer so that the helmet complies with EU regulations.
“The helmets thus offer a minimum level of safety,” says René Filippek from the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC). However, only comparative tests such as those from Stiftung Warentest would provide more precise information about how well a helmet really protects. The technology expert advises searching through specialist magazines and the network for tests before buying.
The best helmet is of little use if it doesn’t fit properly
The helmet should fit correctly for full protection. “He has to stay in place in the event of a fall, otherwise he himself becomes a danger,” says Filippek. The helmet should cover the back of the head and temples, sit horizontally, comfortably and so tightly that it does not slip when you shake your head.
“The lower front edge of the helmet is then about two fingers’ breadths above the bridge of the nose.” He must not restrict the field of vision – that is why helmets with umbrellas, for example, are seldom suitable for bent-over racing cyclists.
To ensure that the helmet shell fits the head, different models should be tried – unless you buy another one that already fits. The adjustment wheel on the back of the head can be readjusted. Clever: If you are already thinking of winter, you can wear a thin cycling hat when trying it on.
In principle, the helmet must not be too tight, otherwise there is a risk of headaches. Only the upholstery should have contact with the head, not the helmet itself, says Thomas Geisler from the Bicycle Press Service (pd-f).
The chin strap must not be too tight either. The experts recommend leaving one to two fingers’ widths of air – “otherwise it is too difficult to look over the shoulder,” adds Filippek. The side Y-straps should be adjustable so that they encircle the ears.
Bicycle helmet for children
You should also pay attention to the weight when trying on, the helmet must not feel too heavy. The ADAC recommends that bicycle helmets should weigh between 200 and 300 grams.
The weight can usually be read off under the CE mark. Especially with children’s helmets, it is important that the child also likes the helmet, says ADAC spokeswoman Katharina Lucà. Otherwise the offspring could refuse head protection.
Expert Geisler advises those who wear glasses to make sure that the helmet does not press on the sides of the temple. Helmets with visors that protect against the wind and prevent watery eyes are also becoming increasingly popular. These are particularly popular among e-bikers.
What should I spend on a bicycle helmet?
According to pd-f information, you should plan around 80 euros for a good bicycle helmet, but there are good city helmets. Special helmets for cyclists are more expensive, racing cyclists and mountain bikers calculate best with 100 euros in the entry-level area, says Geisler. If the head protection is equipped with technology such as an integrated rear light or a special impact protection system, prices will rise.
But since their market launch, so-called smart helmets have become cheaper, in web stores it starts at 120 euros, but 250 euros are also possible. These “intelligent” helmets offer SOS functions, built-in loudspeakers and microphones for enjoying music, phone calls and navigation announcements from the mobile phone app, taillights, turn signals – some with handlebar remote control – and other functions.
As an alternative to the classic helmet, the Swedish manufacturer Hövding developed a bicycle airbag a few years ago. It is worn like a scarf; in the event of an accident it inflates at lightning speed and wraps itself around the head.
The Hövding protects against brain injuries better than many helmets, the manufacturer claims on its website, referring to tests by the French test institute Certimoov. But the Hövding 3, the current model, is not cheap at 350 euros. Special airbag vests that cyclists can put on in addition to head protection cost even more. They are designed to protect the upper body from injuries.
With good care, the helmet will last forever – right?
In order for the helmet to retain its protective function for as long as possible, it must be cared for. It should not be stored in direct sunlight or in the car in summer. In extreme cases, the helmet shell can deform under heat. According to the experts, snow, rain, sweat or sunscreen can also affect the material.
“The inner pads should be washed regularly by hand or in the washing machine at 30 degrees,” recommends Geisler. It is best to wipe the helmet shell with a cloth with lukewarm water and a little household detergent.
Because the material generally ages, however, experts, including from surveillance organizations such as the TÜV or the German Traffic Guard, recommend replacing it after around five years. A small sticker usually provides information about the production date. You should refrain from used helmets.
If the helmet came into contact with the ground when a bicycle fell, it must be replaced. “The expanded polystyrenes that ensure safety in the helmet have then fulfilled their duty,” says pd-f. Even if no external damage can be seen, the helmet can also have hairline cracks that can reduce the protective effect in the next fall.