Tag Archives: bike helmet comfort

Beyond Laws and rules, we should work to employ some common courtesy toward each other while riding our bikes on the road and trail.

Tips and tricks for riding on roads more efficiently and more comfortably

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Riding on Roads

Let’s get this out of the way first – Be Safe! With spring biking season soon here you will be riding on roads with pedestrians, other riders and cars. With more road traffic each year it is possible to have an accident even if you do everything correctly. So protect yourself in the easiest and most comfortable way possible, wear a helmet and review the following tips, wear a helmet that fits.

riding on road

Helmets are safe and fun

Comfort when riding on roads

Some riders experience upper body pain while riding on roads. some of the most frequent pain is associated with the upper body, and due to position and fatigue. The position most responsible for this pain is the shrugging of shoulders while riding. That shrug compresses all the muscles in your neck, shoulders and back and fatigues them needlessly. Fatigue comes into play starting at the hands. A firm grip on your bars is a great way to keep control of your bike, but if you hold on too tightly you can prematurely fatigue your hands, arms and shoulders.

riding on roads

Shrugged shoulders fatigues all the muscles in your neck, and shoulders

Rather than shrugging your shoulders and squeezing the bars into dust, try to relax your back (see picture) and shoulders and hold the bars firmly. By relaxing your upper body, you will preserve strength throughout your ride, making for mile after mile of pain free riding.

Vision and Route

Riding on roads

Cars, pedestrians, other riders, potholes, grates, as well as traffic lights and signs need your attention while riding on roads. The best way to keep yourself safe and in control is to direct your attention outside of your immediate area. Try to focus thirty or forty feet down the road rather than right in front of you. If you need to change direction or stop quickly, thirty feet is about the minimum distance you need to react. As you ride more, you will get comfortable with what your reaction time is. Additionally, knowing your route in advance leaves your mind free to concentrate on the things going on in front of you.

Control

Front brake

Your front brake is your most powerful tool in stopping. As a new rider we get taught that the best way to stop is to use both brakes evenly and that if we use too much front brake we are prone to crash “over the bars”. While going “over the bars” is a real concern it can be combated with a little practice. Not only can going “over the bars” be combated, but you will learn to stop your bike more effectively in the case of emergency. As you begin to stop, your weight shifts forward and adds more pressure to the front wheel. This pressure can do two things. If you brace properly with your arms, that pressure to the front wheel increases traction and stops the bike. If you do not support yourself moving forward, the increased pressure to the front wheel turns into a fulcrum. Practice stopping by finding a piece of unoccupied road you are comfortable with. Get up to speed and begin applying only the front brake (see picture below). Be cognizant about bracing yourself with your arms while stopping. Do this a little at a time, each successive stop should be a bit more power. Stop once you are applying enough power to stop, while the rear wheel is slightly lifting.

riding on roads stopping

As you brake harder, more pressure is applied to the front wheel

Rear Brake

The rear brake is far more susceptible to skidding than the front. While skidding a tire, you are not in complete control or reducing speed effectively. The bright side, is that a rear wheel skid is far more controllable than a front wheel skid. In wet, loose, or slippery conditions, a rear brake can be safer to use. The rear brake is also great to control your speed by small amounts.

Both Brakes

The ideal time to use both brakes is during turning. As you turn and brake you are sharing traction between turning and stopping the bike. It is very important to try and control your speed before turning rather than in the turn.

Cadence

Your chances of lifting 1000 pounds once is pretty slim, but you might be able to lift 100 pounds ten times and can more than likely lift 20 pounds 50 times. Riding a bike is the same way. If you try to shove the bike up a hill in your hardest gear the chances of making it are slim. Shifting your bicycle into an easier gear and pedaling faster (higher cadence) will propel you up almost any hill. Higher cadence riding is just one way to be more efficient on your bicycle.

Draft

Riding on roads drafting

Riders above are both working too hard. The riders below, are drafting well.

Another way to be more efficient is to use the work of others to your advantage. At lower speeds most of your effort goes to moving your own mass, but as your speed increases, more and more of your effort goes to moving the air around you. In fact, air resistance grows exponentially at a rate of about 7 mph. That said, the amount of effort required to move your bike at 14 mph is twice as much as at 7 mph. Also as you approach 21 mph that effort is four times more than going 7 mph. A way to save energy is to ride behind another rider who has already moved the air (see above). By drafting, you are riding in the slipstream of another rider. To draft, try to ride at the same speed ahead of you, and keep your front wheel within two feet of their rear wheel.

Be Prepared

Be sure to ride with the materials needed to get home. Train yourself to fix a flat and carry enough food and water to keep your energy up throughout the ride. Consider carrying packable rain gear with you as well. If you liked this info, take a look at our Mountain biking hacks also.

This year's Interbike show had a ton of great new bike helmets. Read on to learn about this year's best options for Comfort, Connectivity, and Visibility.

Bike Helmets showcased at Interbike featured comfort, connectivity and visibility

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Bike helmets are more than a good idea in this day and age, they are a necessity. This year’s Interbike show had a ton of great new options in multi-functional head gear. Overall, The helmets listed below are some of this year’s best options for comfort, connectivity and visibility.

The Bolle bike helmets

Bolle is a company born in France in 1888. Through their first 70 years they worked almost exclusively in industrial production before launching their first tinted eye wear product in 1956. From that point forward they have pioneered the world with sunglasses, goggles and now cycling helmets. Bolle’s newest helmet, “The Trackdown”, is a prime example of their innovative approach to bike helmets. Within the Trackdown, they use a MIPS system to protect against rotational forces during a crash, offer ample ventilation and incorporate a clever “Sunglass Garage” into the helmet. Additionally,there is also a fleece liner designed to replace the helmets pads during cooler months.

Helmets

Bolle’s “Trackdown” helmet, Fleece liner, and “The One” helmet with liner and vent covers

Stay tuned because we plan to review “The One” helmet from Bolle in the coming months. Like “The Trackdown” it uses a fleece liner, but they also add vent covers to make it even more cold weather sensible.

The Coros Omni Helmet offer hands-free connectivity to your ride

Coros is a new brand on the scene with a unique approach to helmet connectivity. By connectivity, I mean a hands-free connection to your smartphone while riding. Make no mistake, there are plenty of ways to answer your phone or listen to music while riding. Where Coros has completely changed the game is they allow you to listen to the world around you while still being connected to your device. How Coros achieves this is through Bone Conduction Technology that activates your eardrum through vibration applied to the cheekbone. This leaves your ear open to receiving all the surrounding noise, while still listening to your favorite music. Additionally, the new Omni helmet incorporates LED lights into the rear to aid in visibility. Furthermore, those lights have a photoreceptor to turn on automatically when light levels are low.

Bike Helmets

Coros Omni Bike Helmet

Bike Helmets

The Omni Bike Helmet, with photo receptor covered and lights on.

Bike Helmets

Coros Omni bike helmet and Bone Conducting device (inset)

MagicShine Genie adds lights to its helmet

While talking about integrated lights, it would be impossible not to discuss the MagicShine’s Genie helmet. This helmet is the brainchild of one of the leading light makers on the market. They have integrated a 350 lumen headlight into the front of the helmet with a 20 degree swivel. For the back of the helmet, MagicShine uses 32 LEDs to light a rear blinker mounted to the helmet. The most amazing thing about this helmet is the fact that beyond the headlight and tail light, this helmet has handlebar activated turn signals, allowing you to easily signal your direction without taking your hands off the bars.

Helmets

MagicShine Helmet and remote (inset)

Helmets

Left turn signal, Right turn signal, and Both lights on

In the next few years we will be seeing more connectivity, more visibility and greater safety from all bike helmets. Based off the recent developments from the brands above, I think they will be leading the way.

Need to go get a helmet? All the reasons to buy nicer helmet with fit features and ventilation to keep you cool and comfortable.

Consider Buying a Nicer Helmet That Adds Comfort to Bicycle Safety

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

While talking with a neighbor over the weekend, he told me “I need to go get a helmet….to set a good example for my son.” Knowing my background in the cycling industry, he proceeded to ask a few questions about what he should get. In our conversation, I mentioned an earlier article “Riding safely with your kids” and reviewed all the reasons to buy a helmet and how to find the right one. Then I added some additional reasons why buying a more expensive helmet is a really good option.

A Nicer Helmet Adds Comfort to Safety

First, all bicycle helmets sold in the US need to pass CPSC tests. These tests are the baseline requirements for helmet safety in the US. So, if all helmets pass the same tests, why buy a nicer helmet? Well, there are more safety features that are available for helmets, like MIPS. This makes a helmet safer, but the way it makes MIPS safer is not yet specifically tested for. So the first reason to buy a better helmet is safety.

Ventilation and weight

Beyond Safety features, the most compelling reason to buy a nicer helmet is ventilation. Ventilation is the reason helmets become more expensive. As an example, the larger holes in the helmet required for better ventilation makes it more difficult for the helmet to pass safety testing. So, to pass testing more complex molds need to be used to make the helmet, more steps are required to make the helmet and more technology is added to make the helmet. All this added process, makes the helmet both better ventilated as well as more expensive. Also, more expensive helmets are much lighter than their basic counterparts. Overall, a lighter and more ventilated helmet will be more comfortable.

The helmet on the left has a very small amount of ventilation compared to the helmet on the right

A Nicer Helmet Offers More Comfort

Another great reason to buy a nicer helmet is comfort. Nicer helmets are made in many sizes that fit different sized riders more comfortably. Additionally, they use retention mechanisms that hold the sized helmet on your head properly, so the helmet is touching your head as little as possible.

Example

As an example, Lets look at Specialized’s line of helmets. Beginning with the Align ($40), you have a well ventilated one size fits all helmet. Moving on to the Echelon 2 ($70), that helmet has larger ventilation ports, as well as 4 sizes to fit riders better. Finally, we look at the Prevail ($200) which has the largest vents, lightest weight, as well as a Kevlar, internal, roll cage to hold the helmet together on impact. It has the most refined retention mechanism and comes in many sizes to fit riders comfortably.

From left to right: Specialized Align ($40), Echelon 2 ($70), Prevail ($200) and cutaway example of the Internal Kevlar Roll Cage

Testing Helmets

First thing to do is make sure the helmet you select from the many brands available Is comfortable and fits well before you purchase it. Once you find a few helmets that seem comfortable, take them for test rides on your bike (most shops will allow this if you leave an ID behind). Concentrate on what helmet is most comfortable and best ventilated. Then, buy what feels great!