Getting a first or new helmet for your child can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many choices on the market so it’s hard to know if you’re making a good one. Let us help you with this simple story. ‘Bike Helmets for Kids – What are the options?’ compares different helmets so you can make the right choice and know what to look for as they grow. Have a read of the six options below and consider what is the right solution for your family.
- Toddler/First Helmet
- Kids/Youth Helmet
- Multi Sport Helmet
- Youth Traffic Riding Helmet
- Kids/Youth Mountain Biking Helmet
- Youth All Round Helmet (including Mountain Biking)
Keep the following information about head growth in mind and never buy a helmet that your child can grow into. Firstly, a child must be able to sit up independently and wear a helmet to ride on a bike. This can happen anywhere from 9 months onwards. For more on this topic see Biking with Babies on Board. The average head size for a 1 year old is 46cm.
A kids head grows and changes. Each child will have different rates of growth and times when they are growing. So you can’t just guess size, you need to get a helmet that fits them now, not something they can grow into. Once you have the correct size helmet you need to fit it correctly to your child’s head shape. Most 6 yr olds have a fully grown head (this is an average your child may be different), from here on their face structure will grow and change but you will notice very little difference in their head circumference.
What this means for helmet buying is that children as young as 6yrs old can fit into adult size helmets. Please be aware of the weight of an adult helmet on a kids head – go as lightweight as possible if you choose to do this. “Youth” helmets tend to be an adults size small with kids graphics on them, cheaper components to keep the price down & lighter in weight.
Find the right kids/youth bike helmet solution and make sure their helmet fits then head for the great outdoors…Oh yeah if they won’t wear a helmet or refuse to keep it on then no riding. They are simply not ready to go for a bike ride so try again in a few weeks time.
Age Range – approximately 1yr to 4yrs Size Range – 45 to 49cm (x-small) & 49 to 53cm (small)
MUST have features: Lightweight – really important in this age range especially for 1-2yr olds, full head coverage (a shape that resembles a human head and goes low at the back of the head) and easy to use adjustable fit system.
GREAT to have features: Pinch guard on chin strap, ponytail compatible, bright colours for visibility, good ventilation
We Recommend…Giro Scamp
The Scamp is the best toddler/first helmet we could find in the market because it is extremely lightweight, 251grams, and starts from a head circumference of 45cm. It has fully adjustable straps as well as offering a rear dial fit system – helping you to manage a growing head. It mimics the shape of a child’s head coming down low and flat at the back of the head.
Low and flat at the back of the head means great head coverage and ideal for wearing in kids bike seats & using on balance bikes
Easy to use fit adjustment systems are really important for kids helmets to get a secure & stable fit every time they put their helmet on
Age Range – approximately 3yr to 12yrs Size Range – 47 to 54cm (child) & 50 to 57cm (youth)
MUST have features: Full head coverage (a shape that resembles a human head and goes low at the back of the head) this age range is riding independently and will crash more often than any other time in their lives. In mold construction will give a helmet the ability to absorb knocks, strength and durability. Lightweight and easy to use adjustable fit system so the helmet is secure and stable on their heads.
GREAT to have features: Good ventilation & sweat absorption, pinch guard on chin strap for the kids, bright colours for visibility in traffic.
We Recommend…Bell SideTrack Kids & Youth
The Sidetrack is the best kids/youth helmet we could find in the market because it has such a great shape and an easy to use adjustable dial system to get a secure fit every time they ride. It mimics the shape of a child’s head coming down low and flat at the back of the head. All this makes it a great helmet for when they first begin to ride a bike and to take them off road exploring with the family.
The Bell has great head coverage making it ideal for kids learning to ride and riding in new places
The Bell fit system is called Ergo Dial and is a simple rotating dial found at the back lower edge of the helmet
Age Range – approximately 2yr to 12yrs Size Range – 48 to 52cm (small) & 52 to 56cm (medium)
MUST have features: Full head coverage (a shape that resembles a human head and goes low at the back of the head) including ear/temple protection. Strength and durability, ability to absorb impacts. Certification for use in the sports you are participating in – snow, water, skate, biking
GREAT to have features: Good ventilation & sweat absorption, pinch guard on chin strap for the kids, varying pad shapes and sizes to enhance secure fit and as lightweight as you can find but also provide insulation in cold weather. A single hand chin buckle release is awesome when dealing with snow gloves.
We Recommend…Egg Helmets & Skin $179.00
Multi sport helmets give you the ability to use one helmet across a range of activities your family enjoys. There are not many of these helmets on the market that are specifically designed for children but we found Egg Helmets. They are certified for snow, water, skate and biking. The protection they offer is top of the line with a patented multi impact base helmet. The elastic Skins which are simply attached over the base helmet provide what every kid wants colour & fun. The helmet has an amazing chin strap, that fits into the side of the helmet rather than joining in the middle. It is released by pushing a button on either side of the helmet.
Multi sport helmets offer a good return on your investment as you use them all year for all your activities
The Egg offers a full head coverage, extremely tough yet lightweight helmet. Good fit is achieved through the pads
YOUTH TRAFFIC RIDING HELMET
Age Range – approximately 8yrs to adult Size Range – 50 to 57cm (small), 54 to 61cm (medium)
MUST have features: Full head coverage (a shape that resembles a human head and goes low at the back of the head) including MIPS (multi directional impact) protection. Strength and durability, ability to absorb impacts created by in mold construction & liners. Easy to use fit systems that provide the ability to have a secure & stable helmet every time it is put on a head.
GREAT to have features: Rear light vent & bright colour. The helmet is acting as a visibility aid, drawing driver attention with the rear light on flashing mode.
We Recommend… Giro Tremor (small), Giro Fixture (med)
If you are choosing to let your child ride on the road whether that is to school and back or around town to see friends, perhaps to get to a training session their helmet should provide them with added safety. The Giro Tremor/Fixture has that ability. Not only does it have a great fit system & MIPS technology, it has a rear vent light. This light is great for use in traffic and will always be with them whenever they put their helmet on their head.
Great head coverage and bright colour options are all necessary safety features for riding in traffic
The vent light is easy to insert & secure once in place
KIDS/YOUTH MOUNTAIN BIKING HELMET
Age Range – approximately 6yr to 12yrs Size Range – 50 to 57cm (one size)
MUST have features: Full head coverage (a shape that resembles a human head and goes low at the back of the head) including MIPS (multi directional impact) protection. Strength and durability, ability to absorb impacts created by in mold construction & liners. Easy to use fit systems that provide the ability to have a secure & stable helmet every time it is put on a head
GREAT to have features: Good ventilation & quick dry padding for sweat and temperature management, easily removed for washing. Visor removability
We Recommend… Giro Tremor
As your child steps up to the challenge that is mountain biking so should their helmet step up in its ability to protect their head and the features it offers. The Giro Tremor does just that. It has the best dial fit system we could find in a kids helmet along with the added protection of MIPS technology. The internal pads are made from the same fast drying, sweat wicking fabric as adult Giro helmets. Eighteen vents & 5 airflow channels throughout the full head coverage design allows for great air movement and keeps the helmet lightweight (306gms).
MIPS offers another element of impact protection to increase their safety while riding technical tracks
Roc-Loc Sport fit system is top of the line for achieving a secure & stable position for your helmet
ALL ROUND/ MOUNTAIN BIKING HELMET
Age Range – approximately 10yr+ Size Range – Small 51 to 55cm, Medium 55 to 59cm, Large 59 to 63cm
MUST have features: Full head coverage (a shape that resembles a human head and goes low at the back of the head) including MIPS (multi directional impact) protection. Strength and durability, ability to absorb impacts created by in mold construction & liners, density/quality of foam. Easy to use fit systems that provide the ability to have a secure & stable helmet every time it is put on a head.
GREAT to have features: Good ventilation & quick dry padding for sweat and temperature management, easily removed for washing. Visor removability, google compatibility, bright colour options to increase visibility in traffic.
We Recommend…Giro Cartelle (Girls) or Giro Chronicle (Boys)
When your teenager chooses to ride a bike all over town during the week and spends time off road in the weekends you want a helmet that is up to the task of being well used. The Giro Cartelle & Chronicle (adult helmets) deliver on all the features we ask you to find in a performance helmet. They have a Roc Loc 5 dial system that includes vertical adjustment this means you can get as good a fit as possible no matter the shape of their head & hair! Three sizes also helps with getting a helmet to fit their head correctly. MIPS is another element of protection from impacts at angles. This will help when preteens/teens start exploring intermediate and advanced off road tracks.
MIPS offers another element of impact protection to increase their safety while riding technical tracks
Roc-Loc 5 fit system allows for vertical adjustment as well as horizontal tightening
GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR HELMET…
As you may have gathered from reading the information above it is not enough just to get the right size helmet for your child or teenager you must also take the time to fit the helmet to their head shape. This involves getting it low, level, secure & stable…
PLEASE READ How to Size & Fit a Kids Bike Helmet
WHEN TO REPLACE A HELMET
- when it becomes too small – refer above it needs to fit down onto the head, maximum 2 fingers above eyebrows
- after any type of crash or impact. If the helmet has done its job it will have absorbed the force of the incident so if they say they hardly knocked their head or didn’t feel it bump, it doesn’t mean the helmet is safe to use again
- the more it’s used the more it will deteriorate. Every time it is dropped or bumped or absorbs vibrations it is reducing its ability to protect them! A rough guide line for well used kids helmets is 3-4 years
INSPECTION & SAFETY
- regularly inspect for damage, wear & tear, cracks, splitting, dents, the shell separating from the liner, breakage in the MIPS, fraying straps, broken buckles
- never remove a MIPS from the helmet
- replace the pads to ensure good fit over time
- store in a safe place out of direct sunlight
- gently with warm soapy water. Pads can be removed and placed in a washing machine but do not put in a tumble drier
- do not put helmet in the dish washer (can’t believe I just wrote that bit of advice but there you go)
Other resources to help make you SMILE when you goRide