Let’s be honest: how many times have you fallen off your bike at the most inopportune moment? Yes, it may happen at any time to even the finest riders on the most basic of terrain. Broken bones, torn ligaments, a dislocated shoulder – you’ll probably get away with it and be allowed to bike again with those. But what about the head?
Even a little hit to the head might be fatal or keep you from ever having the chance to go cycling again. A helmet is the most critical piece of equipment, yet many riders overlook its use. No matter how nerdy you believe you are while wearing a helmet, it’s better not to be cool and live than to die in style. Helmets can save 48% to 85% of bike head injuries and save your life. So, how can you choose the proper MTB helmet and protect your head?
What Kind of Helmet Do I Need for Mountain Biking?
Many bikers wonder if they can use any kind of helmet while cycling off-road. The answer is a definite no. You should never go mountain biking while wearing a helmet designed for skiing, kayaking, skating, motorcycling, or even road biking. The severity and kind of impact ratings for these helmets will vary, depending on the sport. For example, motocross helmets can withstand heavier hits, so one may believe wearing one when mountain biking would give even more protection. According to experts – that’s not the case, as the helmet must deform upon impact.
The best and safest way to enjoy your biking lifestyle is with a quality MTB helmet from the range of a specialised brand like Fox. While exploring durable and comfortable Fox MTB helmets for your rides, you’ll find out that enduro, all-mountain, cross-country, dirt jumping, and downhill helmets are available for mountain biking. The sort of helmet you need will depend on the riding type; in certain circumstances, you may need or wish to have multiple helmets for road, trail, or downhill rides.
Types of MTB Helmets
There are two types of mountain bike helmets: full-face and half-shell. The distinctions are as the names suggest. Full-face helmets cover the whole head, including a chin and face guard that wraps over the front of the helmet for further protection. Half-shell helmets, which cover the top of the head, the sides above the ears, and the rear of the head, provide less protection and coverage than full-face variants.
All-mountain, cross-country, trail, and particular enduro riders often use half-shell mountain bike helmets. On the other hand, more aggressive downhill, enduro, and some BMX riders will usually choose a full-face model. Of course, you may use any mountain bike helmet for any style of mountain biking. Some models are simply more suited to some fields than others.
Half-shell MTB helmets are suitable for most mountain bike riders. They’re one of the most flexible helmet types, appropriate for road biking, commuting, pump track laps, and trail riding. Mountain bike helmets are comparable to road bike helmets in many aspects; however, current models often include a visor and ampler coverage than their road-oriented counterparts. These days, the greatest half-shells have additional covering for the sides and back of the head, a varied fit range, a rotating impact protection system, and an adjustable visor.
Downhill, BMX, and aggressive enduro riders should wear full-face cycling helmets. They cover the entire head and provide the highest protection of any cycling helmet. They’re intended for aggressive riding at high speeds when violent collisions are more likely to happen. Full-face helmets have a chin guard that protects your face in the case of an accident, complete head covering, and are frequently worn with goggles and are significantly heavier and less ventilated. They do, however, provide substantially greater protection than their half-shell competitors.
How Do I Choose a Mountain Bike Helmet?
Besides considering your riding style when choosing the best option, you should also consider comfort and fit, stability, good ventilation, superior materials, and a crash-proof design that will last longer and keep you safer. Even if you pay more for more vents, lighter weight, and funky design, a quality-proven MTB helmet, like those from the Fox range, will frequently offer superiority in all fields, which is crucial for comfort and safety. So use your common sense, and don’t be afraid to invest in increased safety and protection.
Protection is a paramount consideration when choosing a helmet. Recent innovations include designs with extended shells covering temporal and occipital lobes, such as the Dropframe design in Fox MTB helmets, providing enhanced protection.
Rotational impact protection systems have gained popularity across various mountain bike helmets. MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) was the first to introduce this technology, featuring a slip-plane liner between the foam and helmet pads. It allows the liner to move during impact, reducing rotational forces on the brain. While MIPS is the most common system, some manufacturers have developed proprietary systems for similar protection.
You must get the right size helmet to ensure an appropriate fit. Also, not all EPS shells suit every head shape. Some brands work better with oval-shaped heads, while others fit rounder heads. Brands like Fox offer EPS shapes that accommodate a more expansive range of head shapes.
Adjustments are crucial for a proper fit. Straps and fit adjustments enable customisation. Ensure your model allows for adjusting straps under the chin and below the ears to achieve the correct tension. Most helmets feature an adjustment at the back, often in the form of a dial, to tailor snugness.
Half-shell helmets prioritise ventilation. They feature large ports in the outer shell and foam liner to direct airflow directly to the head. Some helmets use air channels to improve ventilation by guiding air over the head from front to back.
However, not all ventilation systems are equally effective. The number of vents doesn’t necessarily correlate with cooling efficiency. Effectiveness is more about vent placement and overall design. In hot climates, a helmet with superior ventilation is more comfortable. Even in colder areas, good ventilation is an advantage during strenuous climbs.