Bike helmets play an essential safety role when it comes to cycling. But as much as they are critical to reducing the risk of injury or death, why are bike helmets so expensive?
Bicycle helmets, though not all, are expensive because of the quality of the materials they feature, their sizing and adjustment flexibility, sophisticated ventilation technology, design and style variety, intensive research and testing, and celebrated brand names.
So, as I mentioned, not all bicycle helmets are expensive. Depending on the mentioned factors, they range from as low as $20 to $300 and above.
Riding a bike is fun. Whether you are running errands or exercising, there is a thrill that comes from speed while cycling. You, however, want to ensure you’re keeping safe while riding.
Cycling helmets have been used since the 1970s, replacing head gears, which offered little protection from impact, mainly preventing cuts and scrapes.
With time, there have been improvements in the design, ventilation, and quality of the helmets.
In this article, I will discuss factors determining how expensive a helmet will be and what to consider when purchasing a helmet.
Why Are Bike Helmets So Expensive?
When cycling, you want to ensure your safety in case of injury. Head injuries can be more fatal than most, making a bike helmet an investment worth your while.
A lot is put into the development and construction of bicycle helmets. The three main styles of bike helmets are standard, full-face, and multi-sport.
Each of these helmets varies in design and price, as well as the amount of protection they offer.
Research shows that a bike helmet provides 63-88% protection against fatal injury to the head, brain, and facial areas.
Unto their high costs; here are the reasons bike helmets are often expensive:
1. Type/Quality of Material Used
You guessed it right! The cheaper the helmet, the cheaper the material used during construction, and vice versa.
Most helmets available on the market are fiberglass or polycarbonate. Depending on each type’s configuration, these helmets will vary in thickness and durability. Their weight, though not much, is noticeable on the head.
Other lighter helmets are made from carbon fiber or Kevlar. Since these are expensive materials, helmets made from them are better quality and, of course, more expensive.
Most bike helmets in the market have EPS glued to the outer shell. This is primarily the case for helmets made from polycarbonate. During impact, the padding is more likely to come off, not forgetting that the glue makes the helmet a bit heavier.
The best bike helmets have the inner padding molded with the outer shell, mainly for carbon fiber or Kevlar helmets. That is referred to as ‘in-mold’ construction.
Such helmets are lighter in weight, with superior strength to withstand the shock from impact.
Molding the EPS to the outer shell increases the cost of production, which reflects in the product’s final price. Attention to detail is also required to ensure the helmet can absorb shock while maintaining the structure’s integrity.
2. Sizing and Adjustment
A helmet should fit perfectly without it feeling too tight or loose. Any bike helmet, regardless of its price, should have adjustable straps that clip in under the chin. That ensures that the bike stays in place during impact.
Cheap helmets are mainly made in one size, requiring the user to adjust the straps to find the right fit.
And since heads range in size and shape, it’s easy to end up with a helmet that’s too loose or hangs on top of the head, which wouldn’t protect you.
You must pick a helmet whose size and shape are perfect for your head. That could mean trying various brands from a wide price range, mainly in the more expensive category, to find the most suitable one.
3. Sophisticated Ventilation Technology
This might seem like the most irrelevant factor. While cycling, whether for exercise, recreation, or running errands, it’s easy to sweat.
Imagine how uncomfortable it would be with all that sweat and heat, be it under the sun or during cold seasons, to have it all on your head!
Ventilation helps airflow into the skull while letting off the heat and keeping your head cool.
A bike helmet protects the head against fatal injuries. However, it is challenging to design a well-ventilated helmet while ensuring it will offer maximum protection against injury.
The level of sophistication involved during the design and construction results in more ventilated helmets being quite expensive.
4. Design and Style Variety (The Details Are Expensive)
Everyone loves fancy. More expensive helmets look smaller, making the helmet a good fit while leaving you looking good.
Keen attention is required to ensure that while the helmet seems smaller in size, it has the right amount of padding, enough to offer sufficient protection.
The more complicated helmet designs are more expensive than ordinary ones. They have more features installed, such as slots for sunglasses and even electronics to keep your head position in check and monitor your heart rate.
Recently, some designs have been constructed with lighting for easy detection while cycling at night.
5. Intensive Research and Testing (The Time Put into it Makes Bike Helmets Expensive)
Highly intensive research goes into designing and constructing a bike helmet. It all requires significant investment to ensure that the design will not compromise the purpose of a helmet.
After the construction, the helmet is tested under different conditions to ensure it’s safe enough for the cyclist. After this, it is certified and released into the market.
Time and effort put into this is another reason why some helmets are more expensive, depending on how much research and testing goes into them.
6. The Brand Factor – Brand Name Makes Bike Helmets Expensive
Branded products are found to be more expensive. That is because there’s the cost of packaging, advertisement, and sponsorships offered by certain brands.
Famous bike brands, especially those known to produce high-quality bikes and bike accessories, used high-quality materials to construct helmets.
They also have a wide range of helmet designs and sizes. Some bike helmet brands, such as Steelbird of India, even customize helmets.
Are Bike Helmets Mandatory?
It is important to observe safety while cycling. Wearing a helmet is one way to stay safe since it offers over 60% head protection from serious head injuries in case of an accident.
Mandatory bike helmet laws mainly target young people aged 18 years and below.
States whose helmet laws are enforced are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, District of Colombia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and several others.
Generally, it is crucial for you as a rider to research bike helmet laws in your state, as they differ from one state to the other.
Why Are Bicycle Helmets Shaped That Way?
Bike helmets come in three different shapes. Some are round and semi-circular, and others have a wide round front part resembling a teardrop. Each of these helmets offers a different type of protection.
While the Expanded Polystyrene(EPS) inside the helmet cushions the head to protect it from direct impact, the helmet’s outer shell is essential in spreading the impact force to a broad area.
These different helmet shapes ensure the force is spread, protecting the skull from fracture. Since each shape protects the head differently, as earlier mentioned, it is essential to pick a helmet ideally suited for your needs.
For instance, recreational cyclists prefer semi-circular-shaped helmets since they are less likely to encounter serious accidents when tumbling downhill.
Road bike helmets (Check on Amazon) are mainly meant to protect the front part of the head. This is because most accidents that cyclists encounter on the road are head-on collisions, which is why the helmets are designed thicker in the front.
Mountain bike helmets (Check on Amazon) are mainly round in shape to cover the head entirely and offer overall protection since MTB accidents are more serious, involving rolling downhill.
Are Expensive Bike Helmets Worth It?
All bike helmets, cheap or expensive, are subjected to mandatory assessment to ensure they are of the right quality, can absorb energy during impact, and the cyclist’s view is not blocked while riding.
That means that all bike helmets provided they are certified, provide enough safety in case of an accident.
That said, why are some bike helmets so expensive?
You’ll fancy an expensive helmet if you are more into fashion and trends. Some have adjustable padding, removable chin bar, heart rate monitors, and other electronics installed to measure your head position while riding.
Expensive helmets also come in more shapes, unlike more pocket-friendly ones, which only have a basic shape. Meaning it’s easier to find a helmet that fits perfectly in the expensive helmet selection.
Another reason some bike helmets could be more expensive is the material used for the helmet’s outer shell and padding.
Lighter helmets are more suitable while riding, mainly made of pure carbon fiber or Kevlar. These helmets last longer than standard polycarbonate helmets.
During production, the outer shell is sometimes molded with padding, making them lighter, unlike those joined with glue, which tends to come off during impacts.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Much Is A Good Bike Helmet?
A bike helmet goes for as little as $20 to as much as $500. But, any helmet within $40-100 is good enough, so long as it is certified.
2. Why Are Cycling Helmets So Expensive?
Before being released, a bike helmet must meet some safety requirements and be certified. That means much research goes into their development to ensure they have the correct standards.
Bike helmets also have a long lifespan of up to 5 years due to the manufacturers’ quality materials, which are often expensive.
3. How Much is A Bike Helmet?
A good bike helmet ranges in price from $40 to $100. You can spend as much as is comfortable for you when purchasing a helmet.
However, a helmet should be replaced after some time, especially if it wears out. Investing too much money in a bike helmet might hinder you from replacing it with a new one, considering the high investment you might have put in.
4. Are More Expensive Bike Helmets Safer?
No. All bike helmets must be certified to meet the required safety measures, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires.
Any bike helmet, provided it’s comfortable, fits perfectly, and has good quality padding to absorb shock, is considered equally safe, whether cheap or expensive.
5. Do More Expensive Bike Helmets Protect Better?
No. Some bike helmets are more expensive than others simply because of the style and material used, alongside some additional features.
However, for a helmet to offer sufficient protection, it has to be safe (and certified), fit perfectly, be comfortable, light in weight, well-ventilated, and of good quality.
If you want to cycle for a long time, staying safe is very important. One way to do that is by wearing a bike helmet while riding. Ensure that it is certified, fits perfectly, is well-ventilated, is light, and, most importantly, is suitable for the riding you will be engaging in.
So, why are bike helmets so expensive? In this article, I have mentioned factors such as material quality, ventilation, sizing and adjustment, brand and design of the helmet, and research put into the construction.
How much you should invest in a helmet is a personal decision. There are, however, some factors to consider, such as replacing a worn-out helmet.
I hope this article helps you in your next helmet purchase (Check on Amazon).