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Bike Helmet Differences

Bike Helmet Differences

All bicycle helmets sold in Australia are required to conform to Australian Standards and so any style or brand of helmet will provide a minimum guarantee of protection.

Bike helmets come in 5 basic styles: sport (also called multi-use), road ,mountain and BMX/Dirt Jump.  All types are designed to protect a rider's head from impact whilst being lightweight and comfortable. 

The main differences between these bicycle helmet styles are:

  • Sport (multi-use) helmets ($40-$90): An economical choice for recreational, commuter, road and mountain bikers. Quite often will have visors. Air vents are designed for hot air to rise through the top of the helmet due to the lower speeds of a normal cyclist.
  • Road bike helmets ($90-$300): Preferred by roadie enthusiasts for their lower weight, generous ventilation and aerodynamic design. Generally do not have visors because they can impede vision when used with drop handlebars. Air vents are designed to push air through the helmet out to the rear.
  • Mountain bike helmets ($40-$200): Usually come with a peak as standard which, in an urban context, can come in handy for keeping the sun and rain out of your eyes. MTB helmets will tend to have larger vents, designed to let in more air at slower speeds – ideal for commuters too. Styling wise, mountain helmets are increasingly coming on-stream in more subdued colours and matt finishes, which may work well with urban cycling fashion. 
  • Dirt Jump & Freestyle BMX helmets ($40-120): These are usually a hard-shell design with a thick polycarbonate lid lined with polystyrene foam and padding. Many urban riders use BMX or Skate style lids due to their ability to withstand abuse. Standard bike helmets are ‘single-impact’ designs, whereas BMX and skate helmets are far more robust. But this sturdiness comes at a price – BMX lids are usually heavier and less well vented than standard road and mountain bike helmets.
  • Urban Bike Helmets $40-$150 A number of helmet manufacturers now produce commuter or urban specific designs. Their styling is subtly different and colourways tend to be either more subdued – designed to better complement normal everyday clothing, or "out there" to reflect the personality of the wearer. Some models sport features such as removable vent covers for winter riding, reflective trim, peaks and lighting attachment points.

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