Bike Helmet Caution (aired 8/7/04

Every year, more than 60,000 bicycle riders wind up in emergency rooms with head injuries. Wearing a helmet is the best way to protect yourself. Consumer Reports just tested helmets for bike riders of all ages.

Anthony Sikorsky wears a helmet whenever he bicycles and he insists that anyone who rides with him does, too.

“You've got to protect your head. Your head is probably the most vulnerable part of your body.”

Consumer Reports just tested dozens of bike helmets for both children and adults.

This device checks how well a helmet protects you if you hit your head in an accident.

All the helmets passed the impact tests.

But some problems turned up during a second test that Maurice Wynn uses to check the strength of the straps and buckle. Here's how the test works.

"We raise this weight a fixed distance. And then we drop it. And when we do, it yanks on the strap and buckle system."

Here's the test in action.

This strap and buckle did fine.

The straps didn't stretch and the buckle stayed intact. So the helmet passed.
But several other helmets failed the stress test.

"We ran the test with 12 of these toddler helmets. With four of the helmets the buckle broke. If that were to happen in an accident, the helmet could come off your child's head."

Consumer Reports does not recommend the Trek Little Dipper.

Also not recommended, two adult helmets that had problems in the same test. They are the Specialized Telluride as well as this one from Bell, the Influx.

But Consumer Reports found plenty of good helmets.

The $45 Louis Garneau Zen is top-rated.

For children, a good choice is this $30 helmet, the Specialized Airwave Mega.

And for toddlers, the top choice is the Bell Boomerang, which also costs $30.

Then do what Anthony does and make sure the helmet fits snuggly. That's the key to preventing injuries.

"Good boy."

If you're in a bike accident and hit your head, Consumer Reports says you should replace your helmet. Let the helmet manufacturer know you're getting a new one and you might get a price break. Many companies offer a discount on a replacement helmet if you've been in an accident.

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