Spring has definitely sprung and I have put our snow boots away for good, at last! It’s time for bikes and scooters and that means protecting our kids from falls. Brooklyn has some of the worst sidewalks of all the boroughs. We do love our blue slate sidewalks, but, oh, how it heaves and cleaves. For us Brooklynites, that means serious head protection and possibly even elbow, hand and knee protection too. What brands are the best for toddlers up to “youth”? Consumer Reports came out with Kid and Toddler Bike helmet ratings to help answer that question. They tested for impact absorption, retention system, resistance to roll-off, ventilation, ease of use, and weight. Weight? Though it is given lesser value in the ratings, apparently it can lead to fatigue. Makes sense, I guess. They did not test any of those cool helmets I see zooming around Brooklyn (see PHOTO above). I would like to know how those would compare.
Let’s define what Consumer Reports mean by some of these categories first.
How well a helmet can absorb the forces, thus reducing the deceleration experienced by a head, during an impact. Based on helmet performance in laboratory impact tests at various impact speeds and impact surfaces under several conditions.
How well the retention system resists stretching, slippage or breakage when a sudden load is applied to the straps, such as what could occur during an accident.
Resistance to roll-off
Our judgment of how well a properly fitted helmet resists front to back and side to side movement to ensure that the helmet stays in place for the best protection.
The results for Youth:
Bell Trigger helmet for $35 got a rating of 65 and rated Excellent in the categories of Retention System, Ease of Use, Resistance to Roll-off. Impact Absorption was only Good. Ouch.
Schwinn Thrasher for $20 got a rating of 61 and rated the same as the Bell Trigger above, except it lost out in the weight category, which is why it has a lower rating.
The Bell Amigo for $30 got a rating of 60. It got a better rating for Impact Absorption (seems pretty key in my book), but faired less well than the others in ventilation and weight.
The results for Toddler:
Giro Me2 helmet for $30 got a rating of 63 and rated Excellent in the categories of Retention System, Resistance to Roll-off and Very Good for Impact Absorption.
Bell Boomerang for $30 got a rating of 63 and rated the same as the Giro Me2 above, except it was rate only “Very Good” in Resistance to Roll-off, but it had a better rating for Ease of Use.
The Specialized Small Fry for $40 got a rating of 53. It’s Impact Absorption was only Good, compared to Excellent of the ones above.
*******For a partial list of bike shops, go here. Though some of the smaller outfits that have moved in in the last year aren’t on this list. Feel free to add them in the Comments at the bottom of this post.