Magazine article Sunset

Bike Helmets: Take a Close Look for Safety's Sake

Magazine article Sunset

Bike Helmets: Take a Close Look for Safety's Sake

Article excerpt

BICYCLE HELMETS SAVE LIVES. That simple truth explains why California, Oregon, and many local governments around the West have enacted helmet laws. If any of those laws (or just plain common sense) has made you consider buying a helmet for your own riding, here's what to look for.

LOOK AT THE LABEL

Three organizations have done much of your safety homework for you, developing helmet standards for everything from strap strength to impact resistance. If you shop for nothing more than a helmet with one of their labels, you won't go far wrong. Buy from a dealer who will help you choose a helmet and fit it perfectly. ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and Snell (Snell Memorial Foundation) certifications have been around for years. ANSI simply supplies standards for manufacturers to meet. Snell has more rigorous standards, and actually tests helmets to make sure they comply.

ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) is newer. Like Snell, its standards are more stringent; like ANSI, it depends on manufacturers to do their own testing.

ANATOMY OF A HELMET

Body. Virtually all certified helmets are made from expanded foam (like polystyrene), which absorbs impact well. The newest and most effective kind, found mostly in expensive helmets, is called GECET (pronounced jee-set). Stronger than standard polystyrene, it can form thinner, sleeker helmets that still meet Snell standards. GECET also holds together better in multiple-impact accidents. …

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