The 365 Cyclist

Cycling Year Round in Canada

Helmets; Road vs Mountain

Scott and I were talking helmets the other night. I’m pretty much of the position that I’ve got one and I wear it. What else is there to talk about?

Well my eyes have been opened up to the world of helmets. Call me a little slow but I have just been tuned into the fact that there are different helmet designs for road biking vs. mountain biking.

In hindsight this should have been obvious. The awakening quickly prompted me to visit the garage and check my head gear.

Now recognizing that I am the owner of a mountain bike helmet I begin to rewind some of my recent road bike rides. Surely the added wind drag of my mountain bike helmet has suppressed some of my pedaling potential on the road bike. It explains a lot.

As a result of my helmet discovery I am now in skull cap awareness mode. For the short term I am going to be very observant of the fast riders. Certainly they must be wearing some aerodynamically modified speed enhancing head protection. It is very possible that some of the helmets have wing profiles in the venting system providing lift to the rider and a reduction in gravity.

It is probable that soon I will need to do some helmet modification or in the worst case, upgrading. It could be the performance advantage that has been eluding me.

As a starting point, I found some helmet basics for reference from How to Choose a Bicycle Helmet: Expert Advice from REI. The basics are:

Helmets come in 3 basic styles—sport, road and mountain bike helmets. All types are designed to protect riders from impact while being light, comfortable and stylish.

Giro Ionos Road Bike Helmet

Giro Xar Mountain Bike Helmet

  • Sport helmets ($35-$55): Economical models that work well for commuter, road and mountain bikers as well as skateboarders and inline skaters.
  • Road bike helmets ($60-$230): Their appeal lies in their low weight, generous ventilation and aerodynamic design.
  • Mountain bike helmets ($50-$130): Built to offer maximum protection from trailside obstacles. Typically these helmets include visors and more extensive rear-head coverage. Special retention systems provide a firm and secure fit on rough terrain. Cyclocross riders often seek out these helmets.

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