What is the Best Cycling Helmet Should One Purchase?

 

If you are new to cycling, the first thing you should invest in is a good helmet. Why? Without adequate head protection, if you fall off your bike and hit your head on pavement, or on an obstacle on the ground like a rock, you run a risk of severe head injury, or even death. The reasons for riding without helmets vary. Some people aren’t really thinking of the risk they are taking. Some justify it saying helmets are uncomfortable, or don’t look cool. Whatever reason, there’s no excuse to ride without one. While there’s no absolute guarantee a helmet will eliminate risk of head injury from a fall, with a good helmet, your chances of reducing head trauma and possible death from one are increased. What is the best cycling helmet that you should purchase? Well, that depends on factors such as a price range that works within your budget, or even the type of riding that you do.

What is the Best Cycling Helmet Option for Starting Out?

 

If you venture into your local bicycle store or check online for helmets, you may find there is a surprisingly large selection of helmets you can choose from. So much so it may be overwhelming! There are the standard cycling helmets, with many selection options within that alone. There are full-faced helmets suitable for mountain bike and bmx riding. There are also aero helmets, which are worn by time trialists and triathletes.

The first thing you want to consider is what sort of riding you are looking to do. If you are going to be mainly on the road, and/or light trail riding, a standard helmet would be a good choice. If you are going to put your efforts on advance trail riding (see highly technical trails with obstacles such as large jumps), a full-faced helmet would be a viable option. Aero helmets will most likely be off the radar at this point if you are just starting cycling, or doing so casually, unless you are into maximizing performance and/or a triathlon competitor.

Some other factors to consider when selecting a helmet:

  • Fit. This is perhaps most important. You want to make sure you find the proper size, and that the helmet isn’t too loose. The protection the helmet provides won’t be as effective if the fit is not proper.
  • Cost. Helmets have a wide range of pricing, and there are decent helmets on the market that are affordable.
  • Certification. All helmets on the market should meet safety certification requirements (SNELL or CPSC for example). This certification proves the helmet meets safety standards via testing. If you find a helmet that is not certified (and you shouldn’t), run away as fast as you can from that one.
  • Color. Want to stand out while riding? Helmets come in a variety of colors, and if you feel so inclined, you can choose one which fits into your personal style or look!

Proper Fit is Key!

This was touched upon in the last section, but making sure the helmet is a proper fit can not be stressed enough. Helmets come in sizes most of us are accustomed to seeing with articles of clothing, extra small, small, medium, large and extra large with some models coming in a one size fits all option. These sizes go by the circumference of your head (either in inches or centimeters), so you want to measure around your head just after your eyebrows. If you have someone to help you with this, it is recommended.

Sometimes a helmet may be a little loose if you measured within the large size range. Some helmets have mechanisms (mine is a small turning wheel for example) on the back you can use to adjust fit. Or, you can wear a cycling cap or skull cap underneath to fill in space. When you first wear the helmet, you may need to adjust the turn wheel to get the helmet to sit comfortably on your head.

Make sure the straps are secure as well. You don’t want them so tight that they are uncomfortable, but you don’t want them real loose either. You can adjust the straps to find the proper fit. Over time, it is a good idea to check the fit of the straps.

 

Feels Like There is Nothing on My Noggin

I’ve been wearing performance road helmets for as long as I can remember. As the years have rolled on, helmets have become lighter, and lighter, and most have plenty of vents to allow air flow. In short, using the reasoning helmets are heavy and uncomfortable won’t fly.

Some helmets have more vents than others. Helmets with more vents allow increased air flow, and also make the helmet lighter, as there is less shell material. Often times helmets with more vents also tend to cost more, so you may need to take that into consideration.

Even helmets on the lower end of the price spectrum have plenty of vents, and are very light. Don’t feel that if you paid $50 for a helmet instead of $200 that you are going to be wearing a cast iron pot for protection. Quality abounds in many areas of cycling apparel and gear over a spectrum of price ranges. Helmets are no exception.

Do Some Research

With all the different choices one has for purchasing a helmet, you don’t necessarily want to make a blind purchase. Once again, remember that your safety can very well depend on that piece of important headgear. You can research helmet lines online, or you can go to your local bike shop, look at some possible selections, and ask a sales person about them.

There are several well-known brands on the market (Bell and Giro for example), that have been around for a long time and have an excellent track record of providing quality helmets. Some people do purchase by brand, and while that’s fine, you want to make sure you purchase a helmet by them that meets your qualifications such as fit, type of riding you plan to do, cost, etc.

Don’t hesitate to read available customer reviews, and compare/contrast features.

An investment in safety

A helmet is the most important piece of equipment you’ll need besides the bicycle. A helmet can not only help reduce the chance of serious injury, but also death. As a result, feel free to take the time you need to take some considerations in this article into account. Helmets aren’t all serious business though. A helmet should last you several years, so you also want to make sure you find one that fits your personal style if you feel so inclined.

The best cycling helmet when you are starting out can be of quality at a good value. As you progress as a cyclist, and you need to helmet shop down the road (and you will), you will be able to know exactly what you are looking for in a helmet. You may find you prefer more vents, or certain features for example. Starting out though, don’t hesitate to do proper research before making a purchase. Your life could very well depend on it.

 

 

 

 

Cycling For Beginners: Easing the Intimidation Factor

 

 

For those who are not cyclists, or may be new to the sport, cycling can seem intimidating. Most of us see those cyclists on the road, decked out in tight clothing, riding the fancy bikes blowing down the road with seeming ease. Indeed, they are very much out there, and heck, I get blow past by those people quite often! Perhaps the type of gear and accessories one thinks they may need to be good at the sport is another intimidation factor. Whatever you may feel is intimidating regarding cycling, it does not need to be. Cycling for beginners can be a different experience from those who are seasoned, but the experience you get as a beginning cyclist lays down the foundations for future success on the bike.

Cycling for Beginners – Don’t Stress So Soon

If you are someone who is new to cycling, welcome! Like most new ventures we embark upon, there is an element of excitement, and sometimes adventure. Cycling is no different. You can have an expensive bicycle, or one purchased at a retail store, but if your desire is to become a good cyclist, there’s no doubt a degree of excitement you have for riding these machines of two wheels!

Cycling for beginners can seem difficult, and in honesty, it is. You may see other riders on the road or trail, or join a cycling club and feel you’re unable to keep up with everyone else. It is important to go easy on yourself, and work your way up. Here are some ways to do it.

  • Start small. Don’t jump in right away into a 50-mile charity ride. Start with short, quick rides, and proceed to add distance and speed to them gradually.
  • Know your limits. It is always good to be aware of how you’re physically feeling. Always listen to your body. Take breaks as you ride, cut rides short, or even call someone to pick you up if you have to. Definitely do not push yourself on the bike. Know your limits, especially when just starting out.
  • Try to find others. This can be difficult, but try to look for riding partners who will be willing to ride with you. Riding with a partner is beneficial, for the other person can be encouraging, and provide tips. Also, look for cycling groups in your area that have leisure and/or social rides. These rides are usually ridden at slower paces and over shorter distances.
  • Consistency. Try to have a goal of how many days you’re riding a week, and stick with it. Of course, things come up that may cause you to lose a day or two of riding, but you definitely want to try to stick to whatever goal you may set for yourself.

If you keep the above suggestions in mind, you’ll find you will increase distance and speed quicker than you realize.

 

You Don’t Need to Break the Bank

Let’s be honest. There is a cost to entry to cycling. Besides the bicycle, you’ll need to purchase equipment such as helmets, gloves, and other gear and accessories. While sometimes it is better to pay the extra cash for a good helmet for example, you do not need to pay premium pricing for everything. If you are budget conscious, you should be able to find retailers that sell cycling gear at reasonable prices, especially catalog and online. Here are a few gear and accessory suggestions that won’t set your wallet back.

  • Gloves. There are so many brands that sell gloves out on the market, with various price ranges. From personal experience, I’ve found gloves I paid $10 – $20 for sometimes lasted longer than ones I paid at least $40.
  • Water bottles. Not only is this a necessary accessory, you can find them at inexpensive prices for basic bottles.
  • Saddle bags. Small capacity saddle bags are great for storing a cell phone, some cash, a spare tube, and tools like tire levers. A small bag that can fit under the bike saddle won’t set you back
  • Bicycle computer. Want to keep track of how you are riding? A bicycle computer is your friend here. There is a wide range of computers on the market, but there are inexpensive ones that can track basic stats such as ride distance, average speed, and cadence.

The point of the list is to show you that you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money, and there are less expensive options you can go with that would work great for you as a beginning cyclist.

 

What to Wear

You may see cyclists on the road wearing kits (the tight jersey and shorts). These kits are made of high performance materials, and cyclists can use them as a method of self-expression. Some cyclists wear kits of pro teams that ride in the Tour de France. In all honesty, a full kit is not necessary starting out, but that is up to the individual.

I do personally recommend a pair of cycling shorts. Yes, you may feel silly wearing them starting out, but they are made of breathable material, and the tight fit means you won’t experience having them get caught in the saddle when you are trying to swing your leg over it, and less wind drag. They also have padding in the saddle area, providing comfort.

You can also get a cycling jersey. Jerseys have a couple benefits of regular athletic shirts in that they usually have rear pockets to store small things, and have zippers to help keep you cool. Like the shorts, jerseys usually have a tight fit to prevent wind drag. Jerseys are not required, however. I find polyester athletic t-shirts work well, and like the fact they are slightly more loose fitting.

The good thing with jerseys and shorts are that there are many affordable choices on the market, and as mentioned, the choice is up to you regarding what you want to wear starting out. The key thing to keep in mind is you want to wear what works for your starting out. Don’t feel you need to get yourself a full kit, or an expensive kit starting out, which leads to my final point…

 

Be Yourself

 

You really don’t need to ride consistently at 20 MPH, or go on century (100 mile) bike rides to feel like you are a cyclist. It may be frustrating to be the one who keeps getting passed by other riders, but don’t let that get into your head.

All of us who ride do so for various reasons. Some ride to explore back roads. Others ride to train for competitive and/or long-distance rides, yet others appreciate the stress release riding a bike provides. You are considering, or have decided to take up cycling for your own reason. Embrace it.

 

Conclusion

The goal of this post is to help alleviate some factors that may prove intimidating to someone new to the sport, especially in relation to actual riding and cost. Those two factors seem to be what come up when people ask me about cycling. While I never encountered someone who felt put off by wearing a t-shirt and cargo shorts in a crowd of kit wearers, you never know!

Just remember that cycling is not as intimidating as it seems. Do not feel the need to go big at the start. Keep building on small actions and achievements as you go along, and you will eventually find yourself aiming higher. Always remember why you ride, and keep that motivation whenever you are on the bike. Sometimes that motivation alone is the driving force to break down any intimidation barriers.

Have fun out on the road!

 

 

 

 

Bicycling Accessories to Consider When Getting Started

So you have your new bike, and are excited to take it out and start riding, but should you? Before you take your bike out, there are some bicycling accessories you should seriously consider purchasing that will provide safety, can come in handy during a ride, and can track your progress.

Bicycling Accessories for Safety

Perhaps the most important bicycling accessory is a helmet, and not just any helmet. You want a helmet that fits properly. A proper fit will mean better protection for your noggin if you crash. If your helmet is loose on your head, it will not provide optimal protection in the event of an accident. They are available in a range of sizes, colors, and many are extremely light, with plenty of vents to allow air flow to help keep your head cool while riding. From personal experience watching my father get hit by a car pulling out of a driveway, he could have suffered head injuries, for his head hit a wooden fence as he fell off his bike. Fortunately, he was wearing a helmet that fateful evening.

Another bicycling accessory for safety are lights. As a cyclist, you want to be as visible as possible to motorists on the road. Ideally, you’d want to have both a front and rear light to go along with your reflectors. There are many options available for lights, with plenty of them being on the affordable end. Most lights run on battery power, but there are some available on the market do not need batteries, and instead can be charged via USB.

When on the road, you will encounter other cyclists, walkers and joggers. It’s always a good idea to make them aware you are going to pass them, and many times these days with walkers and joggers, they are often wearing ear buds. An optional accessory to let others aware of your prescence is a horn. Horns are inexpensive for the most part, and while it is not necessary to have one, a horn can come in handy to avoid startling those who are sharing the road with you when you suddenly blow by them.

Keeping Hydrated

Since cycling is a physical activity, it is important to stay hydrated. You want to drink, and drink often. Perhaps the most well-known solution most people think of is a water bottle. Not only is it the most common, but water bottles are also very inexpensive. With proper care, water bottles can last a long time.

Besides the standard water bottles, there are also water bottles that are insulated. These cost more than your standard water bottle, and the principle behind these bottles are they keep your drink cool.

The other option is a hydration pack. It’s a backpack, with a removable hydration bladder. I am a fan of these, because not only does the bladder usually come in various capacities, which are often more than water bottles; you can also store things like a cell phone, cash, bike tools, and other miscellaneous things you want to bring with your when you ride. Throw in some ice cubes in the bladder, and the drink will stay cool for a long time. I personally recommend a hydration pack, especially if you are trail/mountain riding, or are riding long distance on the road.

Uh Oh! Having Technical Issues

In my previous section on hydration, I mentioned bike tools. Many cyclists ride with as little gear as possible, however, I believe you should be as prepared as possible for mechanical situations that may arise. Flat tires in particular. There are some tools I recommend you have when you are out riding that may be able to help you do some quick fixes to get you back on your bike.

It is a good idea to purchase a saddle bag. You want to find one large enough to fit the tools I’m about to mention. There are some saddle bags out there that are very small, and as a result, have limited cargo space.

One of the more common mechanical issues you may encounter cycling are the dreaded flat tire. On a given road, there is a good chance you will encounter potholes, broken glass, nails, and other objects in the road. In order to be prepared for possible flat tires, carrying a spare tube is highly recommended.

I carry tire levers with me on my rides. There are different styles of tire levers available, but they serve the same purpose – to separate the tire from the wheel. While inexpensive for the most part, they are invaluable.

A mini-pump is also a logical accessory to have with you. There are standard mini-pumps, which are small, but sometimes not quite small enough to fit in a bag, or jersey pocket. Mine for example, is attached to the bike via a mount. Some mini-pumps work with using carbon dioxide cartridges. These pumps for the most part are very small, and should fit into a bag, or pocket.

An optional tool you can purchase and bring along with you is a mult-tool. There are plenty of these in the market. Basic ones may only have various hex wrenches, and are inexpensive. More expensive muli-tools have in addition to hex wrenches, things like a chain tool, Phillips head screwdriver, and wrench. While it is not absolutely necessary to carry a tool with you (some do have heft), a basic one may be good to have if you find you need to tighten something on the bike.

Micromanaging Your Activity

 

Are you someone who needs to keep track of everything in an effort to gauge improvement, or just because? Well, there cycling computers that can gauge your cycling activity. These come in a wide range of prices, for those with basic functions to more expensive computers.

The basic style computers will track metrics such as distance, ride time, calories, cadence, and min/max speeds. These can be purchased at inexpensive prices, and will usually last a long time. The more expensive computers have high resolution color screens, and features such as GPS and pre-loaded maps. Just to give an idea of pricing range for computers, you can purchase one for $25, or one for $600. For most people, I feel a basic computer would be a good choice, but it does come down ultimately to the features that matter to you.

Having a computer is not mandatory, but is VERY useful for tracking progress.

Time to Ride!

The accessories I have mentioned in this post are just a small sample of what is available on the market, but are ones I recommend looking into before hitting the road or trail. When cycling, there are two machines working in tandem – the bicycle, and you, its operator. Often it is easy to take our bodies, and our equipment for granted, but it is important not to do so. We need to take care of ourselves on and off the bike, and give a little love to the two wheel friend who can take us places we never thought of.

Have a blast on the road, or on the trail!

 

 

 

 

About David

Welcome to The Everyday Cyclist! As a long-term casual cyclist of close to three decades, I have plenty of miles ridden under my belt.  My goal here is to provide some tips, advice, and opinions developed over my years on the road to share with fellow riders.  In particular, those who are new to the sport.

My Story – From Training Wheels to Now

I was a little behind riding bikes as a child, for it took longer than others to lose the training wheels! Once I graduated to two wheels, I’d join my family on short rides to a nearby pond. After that, I was riding around the neighborhood with my friends. Soon, I was riding the neighborhood loop by myself, often losing count of how may laps I rode. One day, when I was 12, my father purchased himself a new bicycle, and he handed the Trek he had ridden for several years down to me. It was my first “grown-up” bike.

That summer I joined him on rides around town, and eventually began increasing my distance. One positive result was I had begun to slim down. Another benefit was I was able to explore the back roads of the town and area in which I live, providing perspectives driving simply can not provide. I credit cycling for positive changes in my life, whether it was bonding with my father, weight loss, or learning side roads to avoid traffic before the advent of GPS!

Here I am, nearly three decades later. I still ride, and have included occasional mountain bike rides into my routine.

An Ambassador of the Sport

I feel after all these years it is time to give back the sport that gave me so much. While I do see an increase of fellow cyclists while out riding, I feel there is more that can be done to roll more people into the sport. For some, cycling may seem intimidating. For others, perhaps it may seem the price to participate is too high.

Well, it doesn’t have to be. I want newcomers to cycling, or those who’ve been away for a while and are looking to return, to feel that there is a place for them; that they don’t need to purchase very expensive stuff or need to ride 20 MPH. In cycling, just like in nearly every other facet of life, there are all types, and there is room for everyone.

Time to hit the road

Everyone needs a bike to start cycling, but what comes after that? Whether it is etiquette, gear, or technique, there is learning curve involved but it does not need to be intimidating. If a stocky, nonathletic type such as myself can do it, anyone can.

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

David

The Everyday Cyclist

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