Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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Hair and Helmets

Summary: "Helmet hair" is a problem. So are braids with beads or balls. There are a few solutions proposed at the bottom of the page.

Helmet Hair

One of the consistent problems in selling helmets is riders' concerns about managing "helmet hair." The combination of heat and humidity under a helmet in summer is disastrous for all but pixie cuts or very short hair. Although not caused by the helmet, drying in the sun and wind is another hair problem.

A different sort of helmet fit problem is posed by those who wear caps under their helmets or those whose hair styles disrupt the fit of a standard helmet.

Long Hair

What is a rider to do with long hair? A low pony tail seems the most practical, but hair on the neck is hot. Some use a French braid. Others use a higher pony tail, but thread it through the stabilizer on the back of their helmet.

A number of members of one Internet chat list seemed to agree that the low pony tail was the most practical, but the hair should be either held with a rubber band every few inches or put in a "Hair Glove" to keep it off the neck. Reportedly Harley Davidson makes a black leather bag with snaps, useful also for beards. The discussion brought out that there are many types of hair, and many different lengths, and the happiest riders are those with some imagination who develop a personal approach.

Beaded Hair

Hair styles that are thicker than plain hair affect fit: This is not a fad. It will not go away any time soon. Some people wear their hair in this style for months or years, not for the day. A helmet for them to use now has to work with the hair style, not ignore it.

The ideal solution for this problem would be a helmet that adjusts for braided, beaded or otherwise thicker hair. There is finally a helmet on the market from Bold Helmets that has a dome extending above the top of the helmet. It is designed for Sikh kids who wear their uncut hair in a topknot, but there is now an adult medium size as well. It may be the answer for some who need a place for more than the usual hair. The company was founded by the mother of Sikh children who did not like the idea of cutting out foam from the top of her kids' helmets an compromising protection to make room for hair.

In addition to the Bold helmet, a few helmets have pony tail ports that actually may work. In the meantime, we have heard from one helmet promotion program that they are fitting adult size helmets on riders with beaded hair styles, and tightening the ring fit headband below the beads and balls. This was confirmed by a seasoned bicycle educator with a lot of field experience as the only practical way to deal with the hairstyle when a rider in a class you are instructing has beaded hair. Fitting rings alone are too flimsy to keep a helmet in place in a crash, so careful strap adjustment is required.

We also have a page up on using caps under helmets, and a page on turbans.