As you’re going through your checklist for back to school, if you have kids who will be riding their bikes, they’ll need a good helmet. The experts at Consumer Reports say it’s important to know if you need a new one, and if so, their tests reveal a great option that will keep your child’s head well-protected.
Check your bike helmet: First, let’s go over how to know if you need a new bike helmet. Consumer Reports’ Kevin Loria says bike helmets are most effective at preventing injury when fitted and adjusted correctly -- and the helmet itself hasn’t been injured.
“If you’ve been in a crash, you need to replace your helmet as soon as possible,” he said.
Loria warns a helmet can look fine after a crash, but there could be damage in the helmet that you can’t see.
Even if you’ve never been in a crash, you may still need to replace your helmet. Consumer Reports says you should replace your helmet every five years or so since the protective foam and plastic materials can break down over time.
Another way to tell if it’s time to replace: Give the helmet a good, thorough examination inside and out.
“One obvious sign is if you see any cracks in the foam,” said Loria. “A more subtle sign you may need a new helmet is if the colors have started to fade. It’s likely a sign that the helmet could have been weakened by heat and sun exposure over time. And check the chin straps too to make sure they’re in good shape.”
Recommended child’s bike helmet: If it’s time for a new helmet, Consumer Reports experts rigorously evaluate helmets in the lab, testing how well they absorb impact at about 14 miles per hour to simulate how a biker might fall in an accident.
“We repeat the test four times. We impact the helmet on the front, side, rear and crown to simulate a rider falling off their bike and hitting those parts of their head,” said Peter Anzalone, the senior test project leader at Consumer Reports.
At under $50, Consumer Reports recommends the Bontrager Tyro for kids -- which gets top marks for impact absorption, ventilation, and ease of use.
You’ll also save money if you need to buy your child a new bike helmet. Florida law makes youth bicycle helmets tax-exempt all year round.
Recommended adult bike helmet: In its latest round of testing, Consumer Reports says the best bike helmet for adults is the Bontrager Starvos WaveCel for $105. It got perfect scores for impact absorption, fit adjustment, and ease of use.
By the way, if you choose an adult bike helmet that’s $50 or less, you won’t have to pay tax through Labor Day because of Florida’s Freedom Summer Tax Free Holiday.
CONSUMER REPORTS: Best bike helmets of 2023
Recommended bike lock: Not only do you need to protect your head, you also need to protect your bike. To do that, you need a good bike lock.
“In our tests we found that U-locks offered the best security against thieves,” said Loria.