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What "codes" for skateboard helmets are important?

ASTM F1492†, Snell N-94†

Why are helmets so important?

For many recreational activities, wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a serious head injury and even save your life.

How can a helmet protect my head?

During a fall or collision, most of the impact energy is absorbed by the helmet, rather than your head and brain.

Why should riders wear a helmet?

Helmets come in a variety of colors and styles for every type of rider, and they're known to be so light, cool and comfortable that they practically disappear when you put one on. Since a helmet is the single most effective means of preventing and reducing the severity of head injuries there's no good reason not to wear a helmet.

Are all helmets the same?

No. There are different helmets for different activities. Each type of helmet is made to protect your head from the impacts common to a particular activity or sport. Be sure to wear a helmet that is appropriate for the particular activity you’re involved in. (See the table in this pamphlet for guidance). Other helmets may not protect your head as effectively.

How can I tell which helmet is the right one to use?

Bicycle and motorcycle helmets must comply with mandatory federal safety standards. Many other recreational helmets are subject to voluntary safety standards.

Helmets certified to a safety standard are designed and tested to protect the user from serious head injury while wearing the helmet. For example, all bicycle helmets manufactured after 1999 must meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) bicycle helmet standard Helmets meeting this standard provide substantial head protection when the helmet is used properly. The standard requires that chin straps be strong enough to keep the helmet on the head and in the proper position during a fall or collision. Helmets specifically marketed for exclusive use in an activity other than bicycling (for example, go-karting, horseback riding, lacrosse, and skiing) do not have to meet the requirements of the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. However, these helmets should meet other federal and/or voluntary safety standards. Don’t rely on the helmet’s name or claims made on the packaging (unless the packaging specifies compliance with an appropriate standard) to determine if the helmet meets the appropriate requirements for your activity. Most helmets that meet a particular standard will contain a special label that indicates compliance (usually found on the liner inside of the helmet). See the table in this pamphlet for more information on what to look for.

What about the aerodynamic helmets?

Full face aerodynamic helmets are designed to reduce drag to increase a riders speed. (Also see: Aerodynamics)

What are the CPSC Standards?

Helmet standards help to govern the design and integrity of helmets so that riders get products that are safe and well designed for the type of riding they enjoy. When it comes to standards for cycling helmets sold in the U.S., there are only 3 things to know:

  • All cycling helmets sold in the U.S. must meet the government's CPSC standard.
  • The CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) standard was developed with input from a number of sources, and it is based on the most recent analysis of usage and injury data for cycling.
  • There are two versions of the CPSC standard: one for Adult and Youth helmets, and one for Infant helmets (children 1 year old and under).

The difference between the two standards is the amount of coverage in the rear of the helmet. You can determine which standard a helmet meets by looking at the box label and inside the helmet.

How do helmets work?

During a crash or fall, the helmet's liner compresses to absorb impact energy so that the brain doesn't move around the inside of the skull with as much force. This reduces the likelihood of the most common brain injuries.

Each part of the helmet plays a role in the overall effectiveness of a helmet:

The Outer Shell

  • Every Bell helmet features a durable outer shell. Some models use a lightweight In-molded shell made of polycarbonate plastic, some use a hand-made fiberglass or carbon fiber shell. Though each type of shell has specific benefits, they all have the same basic mission:
  • Help distribute impact energy.
  • Help protect against penetration by sharp objects.
  • Help protect the liner from abrasions and knocks during day-to-day use.

The Interior Liner

  • Bell helmets feature EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam liners. The purpose of the liner is to:
  • Help prevent or reduce brain injury by absorbing the energy of an impact through its own compression or destruction.
  • Since the liner is designed to compress in the event of an impact, a helmet should always be destroyed and replaced after any serious crash - even if it appears undamaged!

The Straps and Fit System

  • Bell helmets feature tough Nylon straps and adjustable fit and stability systems that are designed to:
  • Fit the helmet comfortably and securely to the wearer's head.
  • Prevent the helmet from coming off the wearer's head during a crash.

What about "Multi-Impact" Helmets?

There are two reasons why we do not claim that Bell helmets are "multi-impact":

1. No helmet, regardless of the liner material used, can offer unlimited multiple-accident protection. 2. There is no way to predict how hard you might hit your head the next time you fall.

It's important to know that a "single-impact" EPS helmet must pass a rigorous series of four (4) high-energy impacts per helmet before it is certified for sale in the US. We also use several different kinds of hazards in the certification tests for our helmets; however, the impacts are not all to the same location. But the bottom line is that if a helmet is involved in any serious impact, the chances are that the EPS has given a part of its life to protect the wearer. That's why it should be replaced, even if it appears undamaged.

Are there helmets that I can wear for more than one activity?

Yes, but only a few. You can wear a CPSC-compliant bicycle helmet while bicycling, recreational roller or in-line skating, and riding a nonpowered scooter. Look at the table in this pamphlet for other activities that may share a common helmet.

How often should a helmet be replaced under normal wear and tear?

Bell has a general recommendation of replacing a helmet every three (3) years. If you have any questions as to the condition of your helmet please call us for information or to set up a free inspection.

What if a helmet becomes damaged?

If the helmet is visibly damaged (cracked outer shell, crushed or cracked foam liner or any other damage) or involved in a serious crash, don't use it. Damage to a helmet is not always visible! Some or all of the helmet's protective capacity is used up when impacted.

Will I need to replace a helmet after an impact?

That depends on the severity of the impact and whether the helmet can withstand one impact (a single-impact helmet) or more than one impact (a multiple-impact helmet). For example, bicycle helmets are designed to protect against a single severe impact, such as a bicyclist’s fall onto the pavement. The foam material in the helmet will crush to absorb the impact energy during a fall or collision and can’t protect you again from an additional impact. Even if there are no visible signs of damage to the helmet, you must replace it. Other helmets are designed to protect against multiple moderate impacts. Two examples are football and ice hockey helmets. These helmets are designed to withstand multiple impacts of the type associated with the respective activities. However, you may still have to replace the helmet after one severe impact, or if it has visible signs of damage, such as a cracked shell or permanent dent in the shell or liner. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance on when the helmet should be replaced.

How can I tell if my helmet fits properly?

A helmet should be both comfortable and snug. Be sure that it is level on your head—not tilted back on the top of the head or pulled too low over your forehead. It should not move in any direction, back-to-front or side-to-side. The chin strap should be securely buckled so that the helmet doesn’t move or fall off during a fall or collision. If you buy a helmet for a child, bring the child with you so that the helmet can be tested for a good fit. Carefully examine the helmet and accompanying instructions and safety literature. A helmet must fit right and be worn properly in order to be effective. To offer the best value and fit possible, Bell makes helmets in a wide range of sizes and styles.

What can I do if I have trouble fitting the helmet?

You may have to apply the foam padding that comes with the helmet and/or adjust the straps. If this doesn’t work, consult with the store where you bought the helmet or with the helmet manufacturer. Don’t wear a helmet that doesn’t fit correctly.

Why do some models come in multiple sizes and others in just one size?

Bell's three-size helmets are designed for the more serious and demanding rider. They are designed to optimally fit the rider with a shell size as close as possible to the rider's head size. Our Universal Fit helmets are for more casual riders who don't want to spend a lot of money, but want top-notch protection. Universal Fit helmets are targeted to a wider range of head sizes and feature our ErgoDial fit system. In many cases a rider may fit into more than one Universal Fit category.

Three-size helmets (Road and Mountain category models)

  • Large = 59-63 cm
  • Medium = 55-59 cm
  • Small = 51-55 cm

Adult Universal Fit Sizes (Adult Fusion Sport category models)

  • Universal = 54-61cm
  • Universal Women's = 50-57cm

Youth Universal Fit Sizes (Youth Fusion Sport category models)

  • Universal Youth = 50-57cm
  • Universal Child = 50-55 cm
  • Infant T = 47-52cm

Large Universal Fit Sizes (Extra Large Fusion Sport category models)

  • Universal Large = 58-65 cm


Step 1: Size It

1. Know your sizes. You can find a list of Bell helmet sizes in this clinic or in the Bell catalog. 2. If the customer doesn't know the size they need, measure the circumference of the customer's head by wrapping a measuring tape around their head just above the ears and level front to back 3. Once you've determined the correct size, put the appropriate helmet on and check to make sure that it fits the customer's head snugly but comfortably. If it does not, you should replace it with another size or model that does. The helmet should be positioned low enough in the front to protect the forehead.

Step 2: Adjust the Fit and Stabilizing System (GPS or ErgoDial)

Bell helmets come with an adjustable fit and stabilizing system. These systems enhance the fit and stability of the helmet, but they are not a replacement for the helmet's straps and fit pads. To adjust the system while the helmet is on a customer's head:

1. Turn the GPS or ErgoFit dial clockwise to tighten the fit, or counter-clockwise to loosen. 2. The system should grip the head snugly, but not too tightly. 3. Make sure the customer is comfortable by asking them (or their parent) if the helmet feels secure and comfortable.

Step 3: Adjust the Chinstrap and Buckle

1. Fasten the chinstrap buckle and tighten the straps until the helmet fits snugly. How snugly? The customer should be able to open their mouth wide enough to eat without feeling choked or pinched. 2. Make sure the chinstrap is well back against the throat (NOT on the point of the chin) and that the loose ends of the strap pass through the rubber O-ring near the buckle (this helps to keep the strap from sliding loose and/or the helmet from sliding around or coming off accidentally). 3. Make sure that customers understand that the chinstrap buckle should be fastened and the strap pulled snugly before riding.

Step 4: Adjust the Interior Pads

1. The helmet fits correctly when it is held firmly but comfortably in place by the fit system, straps and interior fit pads. The fit pads inside the helmet are held in place by "hook and loop" fasteners, so you can adjust the fit of the helmet by moving the pads slightly, or by using any combination of the different thickness pads provided with the helmet.

Step 5: Check the Fit

1. Once you think the proper fit has been achieved, have the customer grab the helmet and twist it to the left and to the right. If the helmet fits, the skin on the forehead will move as the helmet moves. If it does not, the helmet may be too loose. Snug the fit system or try a different size. 2. Have the customer grab the helmet and try to remove it by rolling it forward and backward. If they can roll it off the head completely, roll it so far forward that it blocks vision or backward far enough to expose the forehead, it doesn't fit correctly. Adjust the straps and/or fit system and try again. 3. If you cannot adjust the helmet to fit properly according to these instructions, DO NOT USE THIS HELMET. Replace it with a different size or model.

Helmet Maintenance

Cleaning Helmets

Helmets are made of materials that can be damaged by many common cleaners. Petroleum-based solvents or cleaners are especially dangerous. For best results, clean the helmet using a soft cloth or sponge, warm water and mild dish soap. Salt build-up on straps is best removed using a sponge and water.


Do not use a spray of any type. Place the helmet into an airtight plastic bag for 48 hours. Then, discard the pads and use a soft cloth or sponge, warm water and mild soap to clean the surface. Safely discard the plastic bag and replace the pads (you can call us for replacement pads).

Storing Helmets

Excessive heat can damage the helmet (Heat damaged helmets will appear to have uneven or bubbly surfaces). After each use allow the helmet to air dry and then store in a cool, dry place.

Painting and Stickering Helmets

We strongly advise against painting, stickering or otherwise modifying a helmet because all of these things can damage the helmet and/or reduce it's protective capabilities.