Category: How To

What makes a good helmet?
Everyone has a different budget when it comes to buying a cycle helmet. If you’re willing to cough up the extra coin then you can expect the helmets to become lighter, better ventilated or have a better adjustable retention system.

But never fear! You don’t have to spend a fortune to get something that will keep you safe. All helmets must conform to standards that guarantee a certain level of protection. The debate on whether helmets should be compulsory continues to rage on. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, it’s undeniable that you’re better protected in some circumstances when wearing a helmet. Have a read through this guide to get an idea of what you should be looking for.

Fit
You want your helmet to strike that perfect balance between snug and secure. It doesn’t want to be so tight that it’s pinching you around the face. Meanwhile, if the helmet is too loose and you get into a crash, your head will still be moving around inside it. So you don’t want that either. Don’t be afraid to go into a shop to try some on. After all, it’s vitally important to get one that’s comfortable and safe.

helmet_wear

Main/outer shell
The main shell of most helmets is made out of expanded polystyrene. This will absorb the force of an impact if you ever hit one of those inconspicuous pot-holes. The outer shell holds the inner shell together and will also help to disperse the shock of a crash.

Padding
Inside every helmet are pads and cloth that are designed to keep your head comfortable and absorb sweat on those more challenging rides. As you can probably guess, your helmet will not smell like a bed of roses after extensive use. You’ll want to ensure that the padding is removable so that it can be washed as necessary.


Straps and head retention system

The straps should be adjustable and easy to use so that you can keep the helmet in the correct position. The ‘Y’ piece straps will help you adjust the position of the helmet on each side of your head so that you can comfortably clip it all together at the chin strap.

The head retention system is an adjustable harness at the back of the helmet that improves stability by grabbing the occipital bone at the back of your head. They are usually controlled by a wheel at the back of the helmet that can turned either way to tighten or loosen your back support.

Ventilation
As you go up in price you can get varying levels of ventilation. Strategically placed vents are cut into the helmet so that your head can remain cool as you ride. If you find yourself becoming hot headed during a ride – and it’s not a result of road rage – then you may wish to get a well-ventilated helmet.

If you’re shopping online, you can get a lot of great deals on bicycle helmets from retailers like Koo Bikes. They also supply a number of bike accessories such as locks, lights and air pumps if you’re in the market for something new. One final tip before you buy a helmet online; make sure that the helmet size matches your own head measurement to guarantee a helmet that ticks all the boxes.

Sorry to interject this article on you handsome and beautiful BikeCommuters.com readers. But I wanted to share a project I recently did over at our sister-site, MtnBikeRiders.com

I have given one of my mountain bikes a new moniker, Burt Reynolds. I’ve written a whole series of articles about his transformation and through out the months he’s gone through some major changes. I originally named him Burt Reynolds because the OEM paint scheme on the Redline D600 reminded me of the Trans Am in the movie Smokey and the Bandit. If you’ve been following us on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen a status update that stated I was able to strip one of my bikes down to the frame in less than 8 minutes, well this is the frame that I was talking about.
Burt Reynolds
I used 1.5 cans of Plasti-Dip that I bought at my local Home Depot. Things didn’t turn out so well the first time around. I had to peel off the first 5 coats and start over. The end result is what you see below.
Plasti dip bicycle

You can read up on all the steps that I took to get it what you see above. What’s great about Plasti-Dip is that you can over spray it and to remove that excess, all you have to do is peel it off.

Bicycles are fast becoming one of the most popular forms of transport among business commuters, and it’s easy to see why. Bikes are a low-cost alternative to cars and public transport in terms of maintenance, running costs, and their impact on the environment. The only real price tag associated with bike riding is the set-up costs. With a brand new bicycle ranging anywhere from $250 – $2,500 you might decide you’re better off riding the bus. This article explains how you can avoid some of these initial costs by buying your bike second hand, and introduces some of the best-known second hand bike shops from around the world.

The first places to look for a secondhand machine is online. Online classifieds have a massive range of second-hand bikes and accessories available for sale. If you’re looking for a bargain, this is where you’re going to find it. If you’re patient you can easily pick up a great deal on a bike that’s had low-usage, especially if it’s a must sell. If possible you’ll want to inspect the bike before you buy, to ensure you’re getting what you pay for. Also, beware of sellers trying to fence stolen property online, if you suspect something might be a bit dodgy, probably best to steer clear. Be sure to check for frame/component cracks, paint bubbles, excessive rust, or any other flaw that sets off alarm bells. Bikes are readily repairable, but remember that you’re looking for a bargain, not a restoration project.

www.quicksales.com.au
www.ebay.com
www.craigslist.com

Re-cyclery (California, US)
One of the very few second-hand bike stores located on America’s West Coast, the Re-cyclery offers thrift store prices on new and used bikes, parts, and accessories. Their knowledgeable and friendly staff can help you get the perfect set up including lights, tubes, and even clothing.
www.yelp.com.au/biz/re-cyclery-bike-thrift-shop-san-rafael

Greenpoint Bikes (New York, US)
Your standard neighborhood bike store, Greenpoint Bikes is located just off Manhattan Avenue in the heart of Brooklyn. These guys do great work repairing and selling second-hand bikes and offer a nice selection of parts and accessories to boot.
www.yelp.com/biz/greenpoint-bikes-brooklyn-2

Bicycle Recycle (Melbourne, AU)
Located in Moorabin, the Bicycle Recycle has been supplying Australians with second-hand bikes and accessories for over 25 years. With more than 100 second-hand bikes in-store, their range is sure to include a cycle that meets your needs, and their friendly staff are always there to answer any questions you might have.
www.bicyclerecycle.com.au

CERES Bike Shed (Melbourne, AU)
If you’re interested in getting your hands dirty why not build your own bike from quality second-hand parts? CERES Bike Shed is located in Melbourne’s trendy northern suburbs and offers you the chance to do just that. Great for anyone who like rummaging through various bits and pieces looking for that perfect part.
www.thebikeshed.org.au

Remember also to look in your area for a bike co-op; this can be a good, yet inexpensive, way to build up a secondhand bike and also learn some maintenance/assembly in the process. Take a look at this worldwide list of community bicycle organizations to see if there’s a co-op near you.

These are just a few of the options available for anyone looking to buy a second-hand bicycle in the US or Australia. If you live outside these areas and have some more places to add to the list please share them in the comments below.

Our good friend Ken Sturrock pointed out this gem on today’s CNN homepage:

Stranded Dave Matthews hitches ride with fan to show

Basically, singer/songwriter Dave Matthews went for a pre-concert bike ride. He flatted and didn’t have the things he needed for a trailside repair, so he had to hitch a ride from a passing motorist (who just happened to be a HUGE Dave Matthews fan).

Don’t be like Dave, ok? Be prepared for roadside breakdowns! We’ve written several articles over the years that give a good overview into skills and tools you should have on hand when you commute:

Tools for the New Commuter

Tool-less Bike Repairs

Regular Maintenance for the Bike Commuter

Be safe, be prepared, and learn some basic maintenance tasks so you’re ready for anything. If you don’t know how to do your own bike maintenance, now’s a great time to check out your local bike shop for classes or to consult your friendly community bike co-op for lessons.