Bike Helmets: 5 Tips to Guide Before Any Ride

Bike helmets need regular maintenance checks. On a family ride around the park, boardwalk or town, ensure every cyclist wears a helmet. MK asked Joe Vitale, an expert on bike safety and owner of South Jersey sports superstore, Danzeisen & Quigley, to share his tips for safe riding:

Many helmets have an expiration date

“Most people don’t realize this, but it’s true,” Vitale says. Check your helmet label for the date — usually after 3-5 years. Over time, it’s normal for the plastic liner to break down and for the protective value of any helmet to diminish due to wear and tear.

Protect your investment

Frequent sun exposure can degrade the helmet, with UV light damaging both the interior and exterior, Vitale suggests cyclists “keep an eye out for fading.” To avoid deterioration and extend a helmet’s life, store it inside away from the sun.

Inspect for cracks and dents

Examine your helmet regularly, “especially if it was dropped on a hard surface, which can weaken the inside foam layer,” he adds. A compromised liner could “cause a helmet to loosen or break apart,” and if you do crash, “bike helmets need to be replaced after one severe accident.” They’re designed to reduce the force of one serious accident, so wearing a damaged helmet puts a rider at significant risk for further injury.

Make sure it’s a bike helmet

Sports helmets are designed to protect against different types and varying levels of impact, and one helmet style may not be safe for multiple sports activities. For example, a skateboard helmet will not offer the same degree of protection in a bike crash.

Ensure a correct fit

Poorly-fitted helmets are not as effective in an accident; a sports store cycling expert can assure a customer purchases a safe and properly fit helmet. For example, Danzeisen & Quigley offers free child’s fittings, even for helmets not purchased there. “A properly fitted helmet is step one towards safe riding,” says Vitale. To be confident, safe, and comfortable on the road or the trail, make sure your helmet is fit to ride.

Joe Vitale is an expert on bike safety and owner of South Jersey sports superstore, Danzeisen & Quigley.

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