Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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Strap Creep Loosens Bicycle Helmets

Summary: Straps "creep" through buckle slots during normal wearing of the helmet, and loosen your adjustments. If you want the best protection your helmet can give, you need to pay attention to that and secure the straps to keep them adjusted properly.

Why do you see so many loose bicycle helmet straps?

Some would blame the user and say the straps were never adjusted properly. While that is sometimes the case, loose straps are also caused by "strap creep" after the strap has been properly adjusted.

Strap creep occurs for several reasons. The helmet may not have locking side buckles ("tri-glides" in the industry). If so, those buckles will move downward, sometimes just when you put the helmet on! Moving the junction of the straps too far below your ear almost always makes the fit sloppy and allows too much foreword and back movement.

Strap creep can also be caused by the buckle under your chin moving. You tug a little on that buckle each time you put the helmet on. Some helmets also have a little give in the strap material, but usually not much. Finally, in a really cheap helmet the foam can compress a little over time with tugging where the strap passes over it while crossing the top of the helmet.

Put these little slips together and the strap you carefully adjusted last month may be loose now.

You can avoid some of the slippage by choosing a helmet with locking side buckles. But some of the ones that look like they lock do not, so lock the buckle and try moving it downward on the strap before you buy. One popular design with a small round button that turns to lock will only lock if you click it into locked position with considerable force.

You want the straps to stay adjusted. If you can move the side buckle with your hand, it will migrate in use. If your helmet has non-locking side pieces, or the buckle slips, you do have some options. The easiest is to put on a rubber band, wrapping it around the strap several times and then snugging it up under the side buckle, or just behind the main buckle. If you want a really permanent solution, you may have to sew the straps when you have the fit just right. If you use heavy thread you only need five or six stitches to hold it.

Strap creep affects the basic protection of your helmet. When the strap loosens, the helmet can slip back, exposing your forehead, or forward, exposing the back of your head. You can actually hit on your bare forehead while still wearing your helmet! And if your helmet is one of the elongated models, a loose strap lets that rear tail push the helmet out of position. The steps above are an extra chore, but worth it.

Now where is that perfect helmet that doesn't require all this fiddling and extra stuff? We have a page up on the Ideal Helmet, but it doesn't exist!

Here is our page on buckle types.

Here is our page on threading the straps through a standard Fastex/Nexus buckle.

Here is our page on finding a replacement buckle.