Biking Essentials:Helmets and Safety Gear

Even the most experienced rider can take an unexpected spill. A properly worn bike helmet can be the difference between a few scrapes and bruises and more serious, even life-threatening, injuries.

Buying a bike helmet:

  • Buy a helmet that meets the consumer safety standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Make sure it fits snugly. Most helmets come with fitting pads to adjust the fit to your head. These are important because a helmet can only protect your head if you wear it properly

Guidelines for properly fitting bike helmets:

  • Start by opening the adjustable parts of the helmet, typically the straps are at the back of the helmet.
  • Place the helmet on your head. It must cover your forehead and the back of your head.
  • Adjust the back adjustment until it fits snug on your head. It should not be too tight so that it’s uncomfortable, but it should not be so loose that it rocks and shifts when you move your head. Adjust the straps around your ears and under your chin. The two-finger rule: The buckle should be centered under your chin and should be tight enough that you can only fit two fingers under the strap. 
  • When the strap is tightened, the front of the helmet should be low on your forehead, only one or two finger widths above your eyebrows.

Other safety gear:

  • Sunglasses – Keep the road glare out of your eyes and protect them from dirt and dust.
  • Gloves – Gloves not only keep your hands warm, they can also give you a better grip on the handlebars.
  • Rear-view mirrors – A rear-view mirror is useful because it allows you to monitor what is happening behind you without turning your head. You can get rear-view mirrors that attach to your bicycle, helmet or glasses.
  • First-aid kit – You can purchase ready-made kits. You may never need it, but they can come in handy.
  • Bike lights and reflective gear – Bike lights, reflectors and reflective tape will help make it easier for others to see you. You want to make sure you can be seen from all angles at all times, day or night. Lights and reflectors are available at local bike shops and other stores.

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