A new study examining the safety of cycling helmets has ranked 23 of the options available in the UK.
The research, funded by the Road Safety Trust and carried out by experts in Sweden, saw a total of 27 cycling helmets – 23 of which are available in the UK – under-go a five-step safety testing process.
The Swedish insurance firm Folksam carried out a number of tests in excess of the established standards in place. It gave four of the 23 helmets tested from the UK market a “recommended” safety rating, which meant they performed "better than average."
The testing involved a number of top-end helmets as well as a number of budget options, with kit from Giro, Bell, POC, Specialized being analysed, as well as Halfords and Van Rysel.
Out of the UK options tested, four models came to be "recommended" – the Bell Super Air R MIPS (opens in new tab) full-face mtb helmet, Bontrager's Specter Wavecel (opens in new tab), the Scott Vivo Plus MIPS (opens in new tab) (mtb) and the Specialized S-Works Prevail II with ANGi MIPS (opens in new tab).
Oliver Carsten, a trustee from the Road Safety Trust, said: “We hope that these test results will help to inform purchasing decisions by UK consumers, and also encourage helmet manufacturers to raise their game and bring to market new helmet models that perform at least as well as the best existing models.”
The research was commissioned by the Road Safety Trust, an organisation that offers out grants to help reduce the number of deaths on the roads.
Each helmet underwent five tests – two shock absorption tests and three oblique tests.
With the shock tests, the helmet was dropped from 1.5 metres up onto a horizontal surface, while in the oblique tests each item was dropped against at 45-degree inclined anvil. Computer simulations were then carried out to evaluate the risk of concussion.
To rate each helmet, researchers combined the results of all the tests and then compared them to the average result across all the kit tested – to be “recommended” the helmets needed to perform better than average in the shock absorption and the oblique impact tests.
Eight models were recommended, four of which can be bought in the UK - the full data set and more information is available here. (opens in new tab)
Carsten added: “All the recommended helmets from the current set of tests incorporate technology for protection against rotational forces, either in the form of Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) or in the form of competing technologies such as Bontrager’s WaveCel.
“In general, helmets with such technologies performed better than helmets without, but it is not the case that all the tested helmets with such protection are recommended.”
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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