How to Pick the Right Bike Helmet

Photo: C. Nagel

Bike riding is one of the most fun ways kids and adults get exercise. Despite all that fun, accidents can and do happen. One of the easiest ways to protect you and your loved ones from a serious head or brain injury is to always wear a bike helmet. Here's the lowdown on how to pick the right one and when to replace it.

Get the Right Fit

  • Chin straps must be fastened under chin at all times. No more than two fingers should fit once it's strapped. You might get a little resistance from the kids about keeping it clicked, but stick to your guns and don't negotiate.  
  • Side straps should form a "V" just under and in front of the ears.  
  • Helmets need to be worn every time you ride.
  • No hats on underneath the helmet.  
  • Helmets should sit level on the head and cover the forehead.
  • Keep it snug. You shouldn't be able to tilt forward and back, or side to side.
  • Check out the pictures of a correct fit for your helmet.

When to Replace It

Safety helmets need to be replaced if your child has a big accident or hits a hard surface while wearing. 

Love That Purchase

Make buying a helmet a positive experience.  Now is the time to indulge in that bright color your kids are begging for. Decorative stickers, especially reflective ones, are a great way to become more visible to people driving cars.

Look for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) sticker or Snell Memorial Foundation endorsement to verify the helmet meets current safety standards. 

Be a Role Model

Most adults today never wore a bike helmet when they were young. Times have changed and it's now the norm. Be sure to buy a bike helmet for yourself and wear it!

It's the law

Hawaii is among many states nationwide that has a helmet law for bicycle riders. In the Aloha State, it is mandatory for all riders under the age of 16 to wear a bike helmet. If you are traveling to visit friends and family, check to see about that particular state law before you go.

Happy riding!


Caitlin Nagel is the Honolulu kids' nutrition and exercise Examiner.

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