This is not intended as an article on the pros and cons of bicycle helmet, because this has already been widely debated. If you’re reading this means that you have already decided to buy a helmet and you want to understand more, to understand the materials used, the certifications, the differences between the models and the safety measures adopted. We are here to help.
The Objectives of a Bike Helmet
Before explaining the structure and the materials used, we try to clarify a simple fact: all bicycle helmets have the same purpose, namely to protect the user’s head in the event of a collision. This absorption capacity, and security is guaranteed by the certification, looking so attentive that the characteristics of the helmet may be faithful to applicable European regulations. In a nutshell it means that a certificate helmet sold at a cheap price offer the same protection as another whose price comes to three digits. So why choose a more expensive model if it offers the same protection as an economic? Here the choice is subjective because what distinguishes them is the lightness, ergonomics, choice of materials, the capacity of ventilation, the resistance of straps and tighteners, comfort in general.
The Structure of a Bike Helmet
The helmets have changed dramatically and today have reached a degree of lightness and wear ability unthinkable a few decades ago. This is because the producers had to face a challenge: the mandatory nature of helmets in cycling races. Do you remember Marco Pantani who was shouting for joy after removing Ullrich Alpe d’Huez? Well, she wore a simple bandana. That was in 1997 and today it would be unthinkable, as UCI (International Cycling Union acronym) has made it mandatory helmet use for professionals. The eBicycleLights then had to work hard to make lightweight, streamlined, practical and virtually invisible helmets with safety lights for professionals. Innovations that have also benefited from the products for ordinary mortals like us.
A Bike Helmet is Structured as Follows:
- An outer shell: Usually polycarbonate (although some models are made of carbon fiber), painted and protected by a shiny layer to resist weathering. Being the most outer part and visible, and also the one that is more aesthetically cured and that, carelessly, influence the choice of a helmet rather than another;
- An inner shell in polyurethane or foamed, is joined through welding to the outer shell. This is the part that is deformed permanently during a fall or a collision, because it absorbs the kinetic energy developed;
- Rear attachment: usually consists of a wheel that works on two graduated segments. Turning the wheel you can zoom in or out the two segments, fixing the helmet firmly in the neck;
- Straps sanity, leather or rubber: to allow for the attachment of the helmet and prevent the undermining, or that the air do it slip away from the head during use.
The Behavior of the Helmet in Case of Impact
The brain damage occur because, following an impact, the brain moves within the skull. Using of mathematical formulas we can say that, since the human skull weighs 3kg and deceleration that can bear is of 30G, the energy maximum we can withstand is 9kN, extent beyond which permanent damage will report. The bike helmet must absorb the energy developed in the collision, so that it reaches the skull and prevents the brain to move, so it must be designed to a higher value than those 9kN previously calculated. When a collision occurs, the outer part distributes the energy over the entire surface of the inner shell, thus dampening the violence of the impact, since it is physically proved that the effect of a force decreases if we extend the area of action. The inner shell is deformed plastically, meaning without a return to the starting state. Deforming in this way absorbs the impact energy, preventing arrivals to the skull. The outer shell also being smooth and light, it reduces friction with the asphalt or soil and prevents sharp objects from penetrating inside, wounding the head of the rider. The straps must withstand the impact, keeping the helmet in place. Due to the plastic deformability of the helmet shells, in case of impact these should be discarded and replaced with another, since it has completely the absorption capacity weight.
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