We see many cyclists riding a variety of bikes in The Villages especially in this COVID-19 “season.”  One of the more disturbing sights is that many of our non-bike club riders do not wear helmets.  Usually, they are just “riding in the neighborhood,” where the asphalt roads and concrete curbs are softer than on the main routes – or so they appear to believe.

Safety is the cornerstone tenet of the Bicycle Friendly Advocacy Council, the Sumter Landing Bicycle Club, the PANTHERS Tandem Club, and The Villages Bicycle Club.  Safety is so important that all our bike clubs require helmets for each rider on club-sponsored rides.  Wearing a helmet becomes a habit that morphs into our non-club rides as well, because no one wants a head injury.

The most familiar style of helmets used are ROAD and MOUNTAIN.  ROAD helmets are light weight for our relatively flat environment.  MOUNTAIN helmets are a little heavier but afford slightly deeper layers of protection on the sides and back to help in a rearward or sideways crash. They also have a visor for sun shielding.

There are several common helmet technologies available:

  • The Structural Foam helmet consists of a lightweight foam shell that conforms to the head of the rider. A suspension system and pads provide comfort.  A strap and buckle fastener keep the helmet on the rider’s head.  The foam works well protecting the skull, but in a violent fall, the brain can impact the inside of the skull and incur damage.
  • The Multidirectional Impact Protection System (MIPS) helmet combines a foam shell with a thin polycarbonate layer between the shell and the suspension/comfort pads. The polycarbonate allows the helmet to slide a small amount upon impact.  This sliding spreads the impact across a broader area, thus reducing the concentrated force on the skull and brain.
  • The WaveCel is a newer innovation, proprietary to Bontrager/TREK. The WaveCel uses a foam shell but adds both a polycarbonate layer and a crushable honeycomb structure.  Upon impact, the sliding and crushing spread the force of impact to provide a “crumple zone,” much like a car.  Bontrager advertising claims a five-fold improvement in crash survivability.

For effectiveness, the helmet must fit your head properly.  A perfect “fit” is the V-2-2.  The “V” conforms the strap to your head.  The “2” finger measurements keep the helmet level and comfortably secure.  Whichever style or technology you chose, a helmet only works if worn, which can mean salvation in an accident.

Rose Jordan is a Florida State certified helmet fitter.  She teaches bicycle safety to adults and children as a volunteer.  She is a retired resident of The Villages.