Passive security when we’re riding our bicycles
There are factors that determine the active security in our bikes, like tyres, wheels and brakes in perfect condition, or having good and powerful front and rear lights. There are other really important things to consider when we’re talking about safely riding our bikes: the passive security elements.
Obviously, the main one is the helmet… the most important element; the one that can save our life in a crash. Keeping this in mind, we’re never ever going to ‘‘save’’ money when we buy a helmet. A cheap helmet is like wearing nothing, and now we’re going to explain what you need to know before buying one.
It’s a fact that your head is the first part of your body to receive the impact in the majority of collisions. Orange Bikes is a bicycle shop but also a bike rental business. The first thing we did after choosing quality bicycles was to look for good helmets to offer our clients. (All cyclists are provided with a helmet when they rent from us.) It’s an aspect of the business in which we would never look to save money. It’s just too important for that.
A helmet consists of three main parts. The outer layer made of a special plastic that usually survives direct impact and the inner layer made of (hard, plasticky) materials that differ with each manufacturer, with extra sponge padding attached for comfort. This inner layer is extremely important as it absorbs the impact felt by our heads. Then there are the straps that should keep the helmet in place in the moment of impact. The manufacture of helmets has advanced, and now almost all helmets have straps that go from the nape of the neck (with inbuilt protection there) and from the front of the helmet, joining under the chin.
When buying a helmet the first thing to take into consideration is the fabrication method, which should always have been done using In-mold2 technology. This technology is designed to make the outer and inner layers at the same time, which makes the helmet much stronger where these two parts are joined. After this, check that the straps are made as described above, coming from front and back of the helmet to under the chin.
You should avoid buying any helmet which hasn’t been manufactured with this system. You can easily detect a cheap helmet; all you’ve got to do is look at where the outer and the inner layers are joined. If you can feel that they’re glued together, don’t buy this helmet.
It is also important to consider the way ventilation holes are made. Ventilation is important as it cools you down, but some designs compromise the overall safety of the helmet. Technology and design are quite advanced in helmets these days and you can find really safe helmets with excellent ventilation (We distribute Abus… they have some models with more than 10 ventilation holes, protected by nets to prevent bugs from flying in).
A removable sun visor is also a welcome extra in this sunny city of ours. Fasten your helmet safely to your head, keeping in mind possibility of impact and not the crazy fashion of leaving them dangling loose at the sides of your head. Wearing a loose helmet can be as bad, or worse, than wearing no helmet at all, because if it slips from position in an accident, it can damage your neck or face. Some helmets came also with a light that helps you to be visible.
To complete your passive security equipment, a pair of gloves and some glasses is also a good idea. Some good gloves will help you to avoid painful wounds on your hands if you have a crash and also gives you extra comfort when you’re riding your bike. The glasses are also very important; I can tell you how annoying and dangerous it is to be going downhill really fast and getting a mosquito in your eye. In town, glasses protect your eyes from the dust and fumes from car exhausts. A fluorescent jacket or vest is also a good accessory for your security. Have a safe ride!
Editor Manuel Aguilar,1