Consumer Reports rates bicycle helmets

May 17, 2012 7:50:19 AM PDT
The days are longer, homework assignments are shorter and kids are heading out for bike rides. But not all bicycle helmets are created equal.

Consumer Reports looked at which helmets provide the best -- and worst -- protection for children and adults.

Brent Mather learned firsthand just how important it is to wear a bike helmet.

"I was hit by a car several years ago," he said. "And if it wasn't for the helmet, I'm pretty positive my injuries would have been far worse."

Consumer Reports tests bike helmets - both adult and youth sizes - to see how well they'll protect in an accident.

Because a helmet can't do any good if it doesn't stay in place, testers perform a test to assesses whether the chin straps will stretch, brea, or open upon impact.

All 13 bike helmets passed.

To see how well a helmet will protect your head upon impact, Consumer Reports performed another test to simulates what happens when a helmet impacts different surfaces. It included a flat surface like a street, a rounded triangle like a curb and a hemispherical surface, which simulates hitting a rock.

Two adult helmets did poorly - the Nutcase Street Sport 8 Ball and the Bern Brighton Thin Shell EPS for women.

On the plus side, two helmets rated very good for impact resistance. Those were the Specialized Echelon for adults - which costs $60 - and for children, the $45 Bontrager Solstice Youth.

But a helmet can only protect when it's worn properly.

Make sure it's level on your head, with no more than one or two fingers-width above the brow. The straps should form a "V" under each ear, with the buckle centered under the chin. Lastly, when you open your mouth, the helmet should pull down.

All this will help ensure your next ride is a safe one.

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