When I was young, I never wore a helmet when I rode my bike. It was the 70’s and 80’s and I would just jump on my bike and go. Now I would never dream of getting on my bike without one.
With an e-bike, the speed is generally higher because of the assistance you get from the motor which makes it easier to go faster. This means your reaction time to avoid a potential situation needs to be quicker as you are travelling faster. Should you be involved in a collision the consequences are potentially more serious because of the increased speed. Do you really want to hit the ground with your head going at 25kms?
A friend of mine recently came off her bike and split her head open requiring 16 stitches and suffered some terrible bruising to her face. It has left her shaken up and a bit scared of getting back on her bike. Afterward, she told me, ‘I was just going to the shop, I just didn’t think I would need it.'
I think of my helmet, like the seat belt in my car. I would never dream of setting off in the car without doing my belt up first.
Ensure it fits properly
There is no point in a safety item unless it fits properly, only then can it be effective. Make sure your helmet is adjusted properly. There is normally a band around the inside of the helmet that is adjustable by a little knob which makes it tighter or looser around your head.
There is also the chin strap, which is adjustable and should not be too loose around your chin. If you can lift your helmet more than 3cms then your chin strap is too loose.
Which bike helmet should I choose?
There are so many brands of helmets, all offering different things. It is such an important safety feature, that I would always advise that you go and try different ones on in your local bike shop. Always ensure that it feels comfortable and that it is adjusted correctly, ask the shop team for advice.
All helmets in Europe must carry the CE label which shows it has passed the necessary safety tests.
Replacing your helmet
Manufacturers' advice says you should replace your helmet every 3 years. Why? because they make them and they know the limitations of their product.
I would suggest it is dependent on how often you ride your bike and how you look after your helmet. If you are unsure if your helmet is still road-worthy, get advice from your local bike shop.
If you have an accident and bump your head or if you drop your helmet and there is a crack in it, then I would suggest you replace it straight away.
‘Well, the Dutch never wear helmets’
This is another comment I hear a lot. You are right, there are very few Dutch recreational cyclists that wear helmets and their accident rate is surprisingly low. However, what makes cycling dangerous are roads and road users. Cars, lorries, motorbikes, and other cyclists are what cause the majority of accidents. There are ‘user error’ accidents as well and that is the highest cause of accidents amongst e-bike riders.
Generally, it is people's own ability or lack of experience that often leads to an accident. Most local bike hire shops offer e-bike basic riding courses, they are well worth the money.
Keep safe everyone and wear a helmet.