So I just bought my bike for my first triathlon, and now I need to go get a helmet. I have a gift certificate for Target left over from Chanukah, and they have helmets with "true fit". My friend who is a more experienced rider says to go to the bike store though and get the expensive $60 helmets. He said "It's your head. What's your head worth?". Is there really a difference in helmets? They all seem pretty much the same to me, so long as you get one that fits correctly.
Congrats on the bike!
Most helmets sold in the US are certified by the CPSC (http://www.cpsc.gov/) to protect you if you fall. Doesn't matter how expensive or cheap the helmet is, they have to meet the same standard. Just check to make sure that it has a CPSC sticker on the inside. If it is not certified by the CPSC, do not buy it! Note: don't take that sticker off, it is required to participate in a triathlon.
What does that $150 helmet get you? Comfort and sexiness. And we know, image is everything!
Correct fit is important and the USA Triathlon rule regarding required helmet standards is pasted below. Nearly every helmet you will find will meet the CPSC requirements whether it's from Target or Rudy Project. As with all things triathlon, the more it costs, the cooler it looks. Your friend probably knows this and that's why he's encouraging you to check out the bike shop. Take a look at both places and buy what you can afford.
(a) Type of Helmet. All participants shall wear a protective head cover, undamaged and unaltered, which meets
or exceeds the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Helmets manufactured
prior to March 10, 1999 must meet or exceed the safety standards of (i) the American National Standard
Institute (ANSI Z-90.4), (ii) The Snell Memorial Foundation (Protective Headgear for Bicycle Users), or (iii)
ASTM F-1446 or F-1447, and which is clearly labeled by the manufacturer as satisfying such standards.
Removal of helmet cover, if required for that helmet to meet such safety standards, shall constitute an
impermissible alteration in violation of this Section 5.9(a). Any violation of this Section 5.9(a) shall result in
There was an article last year about a guy wearing a bike helmet from Wal-Mart. He was run over by a Mac truck and lived. A helmet is a helmet. Just make sure that it is approved by USAT. Some races check. [insert comment from Justin re. helmet certification].
If you are looking to save $$ on a helmet, head to Performance. But, a local bike store will fit you if you ask.
the saying of "how much is your head worth?" is a standard marketing line by more expensive companies to make you "think" that you can't do without their helmets only.. taht is marketing plain and simple, nothing more. Bell helmets and Arai helmets does this for motorcycle helmets.
you are right fit is of paramount importance.
you have to just check to see if the target helmet is a "CPSC" certified bicycle helmet, basically look inside the helmet and the packaging for the helmet for a certification sticker. If it DOES NOT have that sticker do not get it.
If it has that sticker then regardless of if its from walmart/kmart/target, etc or the local "expensive bike shop" it will protect your head the exact same way because it has to meet identical standards to get that sticker.
Why do you spend more for the "cooler" looking helmets?
as you go up in price you get 3 things usually, but not always.
1. the more expensive helmets usually are aesthetically more attractive, they come in cooler colors, better looking designs.
2. they are usually better ventilated as you go up in price, reason is that you are paying for all that r&d they had to put into making that helmet flow air that well.
3. usually the more you go up in price the lighter weight the helmet is. not by much but its a lighter weight helmet when holding in your hand, whether this is worth the extra 50-200$ is up to you.
Remember look for the CPSC certification sticker, you will see it as it will have the letters "CPSC" on the sticker saying it passes that standard.
ps. one last thing. just make sure that when you get it get it fit properly it should fit snug on the head and should not be easily moved on your head with your hands when buckled up.
Wow! This is SO helpful! Thanks to everyone for all the good advice. This will make my experience much better!
Welcome to the world of triathlons :) It's an expensive sport so you have to choose your battles accordingly. x2 on what Ryan said. You don't need an expensive helmet. All you need is a helmet that has the CSPC sticker on it. USAT requires that your helmet be CSPC certified in order to race. And like Ryan said, don't remove the sticker. You can be prevented from racing if that sticker is not there.
What's the difference between a $30 CSPC certified helmet versus a $130 CSPC certified helmet in terms of protection ? Nothing! The more expensive ones might be lighter, prettier, more knobs and padding for extra comfort but the protection is the same. When I go shopping for a helmet, I buy the cheapest one that I could find that doesn't make me look like a walking STD.
The only thing that matters is that the color of your helmet matches the color of your bike ... because that's important :)
Also, maybe this is a newbie question, but how do I know I've gotten a good fit? I know if I go to the bike store they'll fit me, but if I go use my Target gift card, obvs there won't be any experts to help. What do people think about the "true fit" helmets. Wait, do they even make those for grown ups? or are those for kids?
Everyone is right about fit and comfort. I think the expensive helmets really are worth it, especially when you start doing 6+ hour rides in 90 degree heat. Comfort and ventilation are a really big deal then.
Basically, it should be level, not exposing a lot of forehead, and snug. It should not move around when you shake your head.
Here are two web sites that probably do a better job of describing how to fit a helmet than I could ever do:
It should be snug fitting all the way around your head. So if it's loose enough where you can knock it around, then it's to loose. If it's so tight that you feel like you put your head in a vice grip, then it's to tight. Remember to have it fit comfortably, it's important because it's one less thing you have to feel while racing. Also Tuan is right, coordination is a big factor. If it matches your bike, that is a big plus. It won't give you extra time on the race, but it will make you look cool. And after all, it's not about how fast your are, it's about how cool you look in your pictures.
haha, well I got a yellow bike like Lance Armstrong (we're both from Austin!), so I guess I'll see if Target has a yellow helmet, but I'm pretty sure the adult ones only came in blue or red...
also blue goes very well with yellow