Will a more expensive helmet protect my head better?
In a word, no. All helmets labelled as bicycle helmets have to pass the same CPSC standards to be considered safe. That means that there’s no functional difference between the $40 and $250 models.
So what’s the difference then?
A more expensive helmet will be lighter and better ventilated. You’ll notice that many of the high-priced helmets in the shop are light as a feather and practically see-through. These helmets are carefully engineered to provide the best airflow and lowest weight—all while still protecting your head. That engineering is what makes them so high priced. Higher end lids will often be more comfortable, too. They generally come in different sizes (S, M, L) while the less expensive models will have one size shell and an inner adjuster to fit your noggin.
Can I keep using my helmet after I crash?
Nope! Helmets are designed for one impact only. The inside is made of polystyrene foam (the same stuff that picnic coolers are made of). When you crash, the foam inside crushes to absorb the impact. Once it’s flattened, it’s no use to you. Many helmet manufacturers do have a crash replacement discount, though—if your helmet is ruined in a crash within a certain time after purchase, you’ll get a percentage discount off a new one. Stop by and ask. We’re glad to help you out!
Do I ever need to clean my helmet?
Dude, have you ever smelled the inside of your helmet? Go ahead and try it, then meet us back here. YES, you should definitely clean your helmet periodically. Get a bucket full of warm water and some dish soap. Swirl your lid around, and scrub the pads and straps gently. Let it dry in a warm place. Most manufacturers will sell replacement pads and straps too. Replacing those is an inexpensive luxury that can make a yucky helmet feel clean again.
My helmet from 1977 is still good, right?
Wrong! Helmets degrade over time, due to sun, sweat, and the decay of the foam inside. You should replace your helmet at least every five years, or once you crash.