A lot of companies make bicycle helmets but at this past week’s Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, we saw some innovative helmets from Vittoria Shoes. Yes, the shoe company talked with us about helmets. Here is what Michael Musil, U.S. sales manager of Vittoria Cycling Shoes, had to say about the company’s new line of helmets.
KineticShift: How has the technology in the helmets changed in the past decade? One size certainly doesn’t fit all, but do the current models offer a better way of getting that “customized fit?”
Michael Musil: Technology has changed greatly. From leather hairnets to basic foam to hard plastic over foam to foam with a thin microshell to co-molded helmets and ones with carbon fiber that is structural to the design. The progression made them not just light, but more comfortable and yes, safer. Many helmets offer an internal skeleton to help make the helmet stronger and not just keep the helmet in one piece. Lighter, more ventilation, aerodynamic, stronger, more stylish, safer. All of these points add up to the helmets of today. Helmets of today traditionally come in multiple sizes. Say a Small/Medium and Large/X-Large. But in addition to a range of fits, the helmets of now also have some form of head retention system. It allows the helmet to stay secure on the riders head in the case of a frontal impact, but also allows for a better fit as the system has an adjustable portion on the rear of the helmet that can tighter or loosen the fit-usually with a dial of some sort.
KS: How long should a helmet last before it needs to be replaced?
MM: Many people say you should replace the helmet every 4 to 5 years even if you don’t have an accident. This is due to the UV Rays from the Sun beating down on the helmet. The Suns rays can break down the foam structure. As well as the helmet being left in a hot car. So in all reality, it all depends on many factors-use, accidents, fit, lack of safety features. So it all comes down to you, the end user and what you want.
KS: Should a helmet be replaced after a minor spill?
MM: Most companies say, yeah. Because they want another sale. But helmets now are very solid in design. They withstand many minor accidents, drops or whatever. The best thing to do is take a close look at the helmet. You can usually see where the impact occurred. If you don’t see an indent where the impact happened, and no crack emanating from under the impact point, you should be good to go. But keep an eye on it. This of course means, don’t go out and keep bashing the helmet to see if you can break it. It means try and avoid beating it up more and take care of it and it will keep the melon in one piece.
Thank you Michael for talking with us.