Bike helmets play a crucial role in protecting cyclists from head injuries, but understanding the legal status, safety standards, and technological innovations surrounding them is essential. This article aims to provide distributors with comprehensive information to educate their customers on bike helmet safety. By exploring the legal aspects, safety standards testing criteria, European standards, Snell Memorial Foundation standards, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards, NEN standards, and helmet safety innovations like MIPS and SPIN, distributors can ensure they offer high-quality helmets that meet the necessary requirements for optimal protection.
Cycling is becoming an increasingly popular activity in the UK, with the number of bikes sold in Great Britain in 2021 amounting to around 3.25 million. While it is not mandatory to wear a helmet while riding a bike in the UK, it is worth noting that some race organizers or biking facilities may require helmet usage. The topic of legal intervention in helmet use remains controversial. Advocates argue that helmets have the potential to save lives, while opponents claim that mandating helmet usage might discourage cycling, leading to negative impacts on overall public health.
To ensure the effectiveness of bike helmets, various safety standards have been established. These standards define specific requirements and test methods for helmets worn by cyclists. They cover crucial aspects such as construction, materials, field of vision, shock absorption qualities, and the effectiveness of chin straps and fastening devices. Helmets of different sizes undergo impact testing at various speeds against different surfaces to evaluate their protective capabilities. The fastening devices are assessed through roll-off tests, ensuring the helmet remains securely on the wearer's head during a crash. Furthermore, these tests are conducted in diverse conditions, including hot, cold, wet, and after artificial aging, to evaluate helmet performance under various circumstances.
The British Standards Institution (BSI) adopted Europe's General Product Safety Regulations (GPSR) in 2005, establishing the EN 1078 standard for bike helmets. BS EN 1078 is the most commonly complied-with standard in the UK and is easily identifiable through specific symbols displayed on the packaging. Additionally, a related standard, BS EN 1080, was introduced in 2013 to address the unique requirements of helmets worn by young children, incorporating testing for quick-release systems to mitigate the risk of strangulation caused by fastening mechanisms.
The Snell Memorial Foundation, founded in 1957, focuses on creating helmet standards and is recognized worldwide. After the tragic death of sports car racer Pete Snell due to head injuries sustained during a crash, the foundation was established in his honor. The Snell B-90A and B-95 standards are highly regarded, as they involve more rigorous testing than the European standards. Helmets meeting these standards undergo harder impacts from greater heights and a wider variety of surfaces. For children under four years old, an additional standard, B-95C, is applicable. Helmets conforming to Snell standards bear a compliance sticker usually located on the inside of the helmet.
The ASTM sets standards for various products, including bike helmets. The F1952-15 standard, sought after by downhill mountain bikers, requires helmets to withstand greater force impacts compared to European and Snell standards. This is due to the increased risk of crashes associated with jumps, high speeds, and challenging terrain. Notably, the F1952-15 standard does not mandate full-face helmets. However, if a manufacturer designs such a helmet, the chin bar portion must pass the required impact test.
A recent development in cycle helmet safety standards is NEN's NTA 8776, which specifically addresses e-bike helmets. This standard builds upon EN 1078 and modifies the requirements to accommodate the higher average speeds of e-bikes. It also retains the ventilation requirements of EN 1078, considering the physical exertion involved in e-biking. Helmets compliant with NTA 8776 display the full mark of the standard on the packaging, inside the helmet, and in the accompanying manual. Distributors can refer to the list of helmets that meet this standard to ensure they offer e-bike helmets that prioritize safety.
Recognizing the importance of addressing rotational forces during impacts, two notable safety technologies have emerged in the helmet industry. The first is MIPS, which stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. MIPS helmets incorporate an internal plastic membrane that allows the head to move slightly in all directions within the helmet, redirecting rotational forces and reducing the risk of brain injury. The second innovation is SPIN, developed by POC, a renowned snow-sports and cycle apparel company. SPIN, which stands for Shearing Pads Inside, utilizes silicone pads that enable rotational movement, providing similar protective benefits as MIPS.
It is crucial to note that MIPS and SPIN are not standalone alternatives to the established safety standards mentioned earlier. Instead, they are additional safety features integrated into complete helmets available in the market. To ensure comprehensive protection, it is advisable for distributors and customers to select helmets featuring MIPS or SPIN technology that also meet one or more of the traditional safety standards. By combining these innovations with standardized safety measures, distributors can offer helmets that provide enhanced protection against rotational forces during accidents.
Bike helmet safety is a paramount concern for cyclists, and distributors play a vital role in providing high-quality helmets that meet the necessary standards. Understanding the legal status, safety standards testing criteria, and innovative technologies is crucial in offering reliable and protective helmets to customers. Distributors should prioritize helmets that comply with these standards to ensure optimal safety for cyclists.
Additionally, incorporating helmet safety innovations such as MIPS and SPIN can further enhance the protection offered by helmets. These technologies address the rotational forces associated with certain types of impacts, mitigating the risk of brain injury. MIPS utilizes an internal plastic membrane, while SPIN employs silicone pads to allow rotational movement of the head within the helmet. Distributors should emphasize that these innovations are supplementary and should be present in helmets that meet established safety standards.
By partnering with Huace Sports, a renowned helmet manufacturer committed to producing helmets that adhere to rigorous safety standards and incorporating innovative technologies, distributors can ensure they offer top-quality helmets that prioritize rider safety. Together, let's champion bike helmet safety and protect the well-being of riders on the road.