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I hear often claims similar to "many cyclists wear their helmets the wrong way" and "wearing a helmet incorrectly significantly reduces it's protective ability".

My helmet is similar to the following one(only with vent holes). Note the two-stage straps on both sides (that is, one can tighten the helmet forward-up and backwards-up).

The manual featured a couple of crossed out pictures - don't tilt the helmet over your eyes (duh!) and don't tilt it so far back, that the forehead is bare.

I am in doubt if I am using my helmet correctly. What are the checkpoints to cover, before being positive that the helmet is not providing just a false sense of security?

For example, tightening. How tight should the helmet be? Must it resist grabbing it by hand and forcing it sideways around my head?

Another question of particular interest to me concerns the rear straps. Those seem to either hang (very) loose, or, if I tighten them and when I tilt my head (slightly) forward, stretch out and limit the movement (in an uncomfortable way).

enter image description here

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2  
Possible duplicate: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/1812/… –  amcnabb Mar 20 '13 at 16:51
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Take your protein pills FIRST! –  heltonbiker Mar 20 '13 at 17:56
    
As a general rule, helmets are designed so that if you can see while on the drops, you don't have the helmet fit right. –  Daniel R Hicks Mar 20 '13 at 21:13
    
I regularly see a chap on my commute who is wearing his helmet back to front, high on his scalp, with the rear vents positioned above his forehead. He doesn't do up the straps, ever. Maybe he needs your manual instead of you :/ –  hollsk Mar 27 '13 at 13:46
    
@hollsk, where you live, is it mandatory to wear a helmet? If so, possibly that guy is frustrated by this law and showing it. –  Vorac Apr 10 '13 at 7:09

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Checklist:

  1. Can I open my mouth with the helmet fully strapped? (is it too tight?);
  2. If I shake my head, does the helmet feel loose? (is it not tight enough?);
  3. Is my forehead protected?

There should not be much more than this!

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For me the answers currently are 1) Yes 2) Somewhat 3)To an extent. Id est nothing specific and measurable. –  Vorac Mar 21 '13 at 7:13

The manual pretty much sums it up. The helmet should sit naturally at the correct place without the straps. The straps are only there to hold it in place in a prang, when a bit of chaffing / bruising is the least of your problems. A small amount of slack (you should be able to fit two - three fingers between the strap and you) is best. If the straps are pulling the helmet out of position, loosen them.

Be aware that not all of us have the same sized and shaped heads, so it is possible your helmet is just not a good fit.

Note also the bike helmet only protects against brain injury. Theres plenty of scope for a large amount of pain and cosmetic damage - think what a face plant at 30mph would do, and still scope for massive brain injury with a properly fitting helmet.

Its a reasonable argument that wearing a helmet provide a false sense of security - essentially if you would not do it without a helmet, don't do it.

Your helmet is a very last resort - a "get out of jail" card that only works sometimes. Worth wearing? - I have a mate with a brain injury (non cycling) ... need I say more.....

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Why exactly "two-tree fingers" slack? –  Vorac Mar 21 '13 at 7:14
    
Only because any tighter is usually uncomfortable, any looser and the helmet will move around too much in a prang. –  mattnz Mar 21 '13 at 7:20

Here's a helpful blog post on the matter.

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3  
While this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. –  freiheit Mar 20 '13 at 15:28
    
Yeah, I thought about that, but didn't want to steal the whole thing. It has nice pictures and is pleasantly written. –  alex Mar 21 '13 at 1:02

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