Why wear a helmet? I'll get to that in a minute. But first, how do you select a helmet? First of all, know that all helmets meet the same safety standard; a cheap helmet meets the same certification criteria as a more expensive one. So why would anyone buy an expensive helmet? For some people it's a matter of brand status or style. Fore me, it comes down to fit, comfort, and coolness.
I'm still using the same type of helmet I started with last year. It's a cheapie, costing about $30. When I bought it, it fit me great, was much cooler than any other helmet I had owned, and fit me well. In almost a year of use, though, the velcro that holds the headband in is starting to not have as much grab as it used to. I'll probably be getting a new helmet soon. But the type of helmet I have did a good job when it needed to (see below).
From that experience, my advice to anyone who is getting on a bike after being away from bikes for any length of time is to make sure you get a helmet. I think I was most at risk for an accident when I was just starting up again; it takes a while to become re-accustomed to being in the saddle and dealing with traffic.
I will probably be replacing that helmet soon, and having owned a cheapie, I'll be looking for one that fits a little better, has more secure adjustment and straps, and has better venting for coolness.
The following was first posted on my Doohickie blog on February 14, 2008:
The ups and downs of bicycle commuting
(or, taking it on the chin!)
I had my first mishap with my bicycle commute today (didn't take long, did it?) On my second attempt at riding my bike to work, I hit a hole that I didn't see and flew over the handle bars ZOMFG!
The damages: My helmet did its job and my skull is intact. My chin hit too though:
leaving my jaw swollen and giving me a temporary underbite this morning. It's better now, just a little sore. I also scraped my right wrist:
So far, that doesn't hurt too much. I also bumped my left knee and left pinky finger; they're sore but they'll be okay.
My bike..... well, I bent the fork:
I need to figure out what it's gonna take to fix it (possibly repairable or else a new fork).
Being healthy hurts!
A postscript: The helmet I bought, a $30 bike shop house brand model, broke on impact. It had a full replacement warranty. So even though it was broken when it was 6 days old, I got a replacement for free.
The bike was a bigger problem than I first thought. Shortly after the crash I noticed the frame itself was bent and for the cost to repair it I can buy a comparable one. It's a shame, since I bought that bike new in 1984 and it was still in excellent shape when I crashed it.
Coming soon: Step 2: Be seen!