Electric Scooter Helmets: Ultimate Guide
- Read Time: 11 min
Protecting your head should always be your first priority whenever riding something on two wheels. Whether it is a bicycle, motorcycle, or an electric scooter.
You rarely see people skiing or snowboarding without one. Why? Because the knowledge and experience of what can happen, even at relatively modest speeds, is abundant. In fact, it is not considered cool to go downhill on slopes without one these days. More likely people will think you are an irresponsible person if you do.
The professional bikers on the Tour, complained when it was made mandatory to wear a helmet by the governing body (UCI) in 2003 following yet another fatality. They wanted it to be optional. They have no such thoughts anymore. The number of lives saved by such a simple yet effective thing to carry has been countless since. No biker would ever consider going without one today.
Why anybody would ride on an e scooter, especially privately owned ones, is beyond us. Many electric scooters are quite fast these days. And even if an e scooter has a relatively low top speed of 20 mph (32 kph), who would want to suffer a fall at that speed without a helmet?
So probably the reasoning goes: "It won't happen to me". Well.... the same thought probably was the mantra of all those who have fallen without a helmet. And it still happened to them. Make sure you are not the next in line.
But which helmet should you get? And what are the differences? Good question. Let's go through it.
Types of Helmets for Electric Scooters
Electric scooter riders basically have four different types of helmets to choose from. Each of the four categories has different versions and options available.
Today's bicycle helmets are quite advanced. Especially considering the design with many ventilation holes needed to keep the head cool. Putting holes in a structure means you basically weaken it but the bike helmet technology has managed to make them quite strong even so.
They are a good example of how using the right material can make a world of difference.
A typical bicycle helmet has two main parts: the hard outer shell and a soft inner lining. When you hit your head, the hard shell spreads the impact over a wider area. The inner lining then absorbs the energy evenly and thus, hopefully, minimizes damage to your head. Remove the helmet from the equation, and the entire impact would be concentrated on a small part of your head. This can result in a fracture or worse, damage your brain.
BMX is short for Bicycle Motocross. They basically look like a skateboard helmet. The technology is similar to bicycle helmets with a hard outer shell and a soft inner lining. It can be open-faced or with a chin bar for more protection. It doesn't have the same amount or type of ventilation slots as a bicycle helmet and offers more protection.
For maximum protection, motorcycle helmets are top of the class.
Here we have four things going on at the same time in case of an impact. The outer shell, the impact-absorbing liner, the comfort padding, and the retention system all work together. If hit hard, the shell and inner liner both compress, spreading the force of impact throughout the helmet. The more energy that can be deflected or absorbed on impact, the less of it can reach your head and brain.
The retention system, or chin strap, is extremely important. It is the only thing keeping your helmet on in a crash. This goes for all types of helmets. Making sure it is fastened properly is adamant.
Full Face Helmet
Wait what? Isn't the motorcycle helmet and full-face helmet the same? Well, yes and no. When we say full-face helmet, think motocross helmet. They have a chin bar extending out from your jawline and provide extra protection for your face. The chin bar is further strengthened in a full-face helmet. Riding with an open-face helmet can still result in injuries to your face, nose, teeth, and even your brain. The full-face helmet minimizes that risk.
Why are Helmets so Important?
As mentioned above, in short, the materials in your helmet will help to dissipate the force and energy of the impact, which reduces the force applied to the skull. The foam works to cushion the blow to the head, while the smooth, plastic outer shell allows your head to safely skid across the surface of impact without jerking your neck.
In a one-year study, published in January 2019, with a focus on emergency medicine required in electric scooter-related accidents in Los Angeles, it was found that only 4,4% of 249 injured riders wore a helmet! 40,2% were head injuries.
As an electric scooter rider, you must understand that you are vulnerable to collisions with cars, bicycles, and other fixed ornaments such as lamp posts and signs. Or it might be that hidden pothole that catches you out.
How to Choose an Electric Scooter Helmet
It depends on how and where you plan to ride. And definitely at what speeds. But more on that below.
What Level of Protection Do You Need?
If you plan to ride at 20 mph (32 kph) or below, more or less as a daily commuter, a bicycle helmet that meets safety standards should be fine.
If you still want more protection, staying at 20 mph or below, you might opt for a BMX helmet. They are tested for higher impact ratings. Open face or chin bar is also an option, also called a downhill helmet.
If you have a proper fast electric scooter (anything above 20 mph basically, many do 40+mph (64 kph) nowadays), and you want maximum protection, the right choice for you is a motorcycle helmet. Sure they are heavier and bigger but also the safest bet.
A full-face helmet is great protection and definitely something you will want if you plan on riding off-road and in areas where you might get hit in your face by twigs and branches. Downhill mountain bikers use them as they want to protect their face when they tumble, and they do, frequently. It comes with the territory. Many off-road electric scooters are already on the market and a downhill or BMX helmet is the way to go if you plan on riding in that type of terrain.
- Below 20 mph, bicycle helmet
- 20 mph but more protection, BMX or downhill helmet
- 20 mph and higher, motorcycle helmet
- Offroading at minimum 20 mph or below, full-face helmet
Measure your Head Size
Getting the right size is important. You need to measure your head. But remember, this is not an exact science, the shape of your head is as important as the measuring itself. The following sizes are an approximation based on average head sizes.
Most helmets are measured in cm. Make sure to convert to cm if you measured in inches.
- Have someone help you to get the measuring right.
- Measure the circumference of your head with a measuring tape.
- Measure approximately 0,5 cm (1 inch) above your eyebrows
Things to Look for When Buying a Helmet
When looking for a helmet, make sure helmet safety standards are being met and only buy certified ones.
You might want ventilation depending on where and how you ride. The head gets very sweaty very fast in a closed environment and if you commute in a very hot area, it might be nice to have some vents.
Weight and size are also important. A bigger heavier helmet offers more protection but it has that extra weight you need to carry.
Electric Scooter Helmets Standards
All helmets sold in the U.S. must meet a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard. The CPSC recommends the use of bicycle helmets along with knee and elbow pads for powered electric scooters.
There are more standards though and it can be a bit of a jungle to navigate through them. Let's see if we can help.
EN 1078 (Bicycle): This is a European standard that is not legal to sell in the U.S. since it doesn't meet the minimum safety standards required in the United States.
US CPSC (Bicycle): The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the minimum standard for bicycle helmets in the U.S. It was adopted in 1998.
Snell B90A (Bicycle): The Snell Memorial Foundation is a nonprofit organization created to provide a high-quality safety standard for helmets. This is similar to the CPSC standard.
Snell B95 (Bicycle): This is the toughest of the Snell bicycle standards. Very rigorous and few helmets get this certification.
ASTM F1952 (Downhill bicycle): ASTM is short for American Society for Testing Materials, currently known as ASTM International. The ASTM F1952 is a downhill helmet standard that is more rigorous than any bicycle standard and it includes testing of the chin bar when present.
ASTM F2032 (BMX): This is a BMX helmet standard that is similar to the ASTM F1952 standard.
Dutch NTA-8776 (E-bike): The NTA-8776 is a standard that complies with the requirements in the Dutch Technical Agreement (NTA) 8776. These requirements have been drafted by an international project group under the management of NEN. It looks like a bicycle helmet but covers a larger portion of the head and has a higher impact speed absorption. Testing is more rigorous than with any of the bicycles, downhill, or BMX standards.
DOT FMVSS-218 (Motorcycle): Needless to say, The US Department of Transportation (DOT) FMVSS-218 minimum standard for a motorcycle helmet, is more demanding than any of the other options.
Snell M-2010/M-2015 (Motorcycle): Considered the gold standard for helmet testing and is recognized by every major racing body. The M-2010/M-2015 meet the most rigorous helmet standards.
Electric Scooter Helmet Law
Does the law require me to wear a helmet on an electric scooter? That depends on where you are riding. Many countries and states still don't require by law that e scooter riders must wear a helmet. But some places do and/or have specific age requirements for it. You need to stay updated as laws are ongoingly subject to change.The Comprehensive Guide to Electric Scooter Laws
There is no excuse for not wearing a helmet and protecting your head as best as you can. Many options are available and the feeling of riding with a helmet is so much better than without one. Personally, I feel "naked" if I step on an electric scooter or take my MTB for a spin without one.
And regardless of what the law says, your own law should always be to wear a helmet whenever riding your electric scooter.
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