Thursday, 21 July 2011

Buying a new cycle helmet in Evans Cycles

Stuart in Evans Cycles (Milton Keynes) making sure I had a good fit
I have always been a bit ambivalent about wearing a helmet while cycling but have persevered in wanting to set a good example to B&H.  My existing helmet is one that I've never been happy with, just not fitting right.  So for a while now I've had in mind the idea of getting a new one.  As the old one never seemed to be a good fit, the chances are its effectiveness would be limited in the event of a crash, not to mention being uncomfortable in the meantime.

Having been unimpressed with my LBS in selling me the old bad fitting helmet and their approach, I decided to pay Evans Cycles, Milton Keynes a visit today.

I've always quite liked the attitude in Evans by the staff.  Willing to help but they're happy to let me browse.  So when Stuart, pictured above, came over to ask if I needed any help, I asked him to help me choose a new helmet.  He asked what kind of riding I do - i.e. road or off-road.  This makes a difference in the kinds of accidents cyclists have, apparently.  I started trying on different helmets as Stuart explained the first step in getting the make and size, which is:

Stage 1.  Get the right size.  Put the helmet on with the adjuster wide open.  Make it tighter by, in this case, turning a wheel at the back to bring the plastic straps in closer.  Once you have a snug fit, lean forward, like you're a keen new solicitor bowing when entering a Court room.  The helmet should stay on.  If it doesn't, try a different make.

Stage 2.  Providing the helmet is snug, it's time to adjust the straps.  The "junction" should be just under your ear lobe and slightly forward.  Getting this right was a real fiddle.

Stage 3.  Get the chin strap right.  You should be able to just squeeze two fingers underneath the strap fairly comfortably.

Stage 4.  Is it comfortable, does it sit right?  Does it wobble around?  If yes, try a different size or make.  Otherwise it's a good fit which is worth fine tuning a little more once at home.

I tried on about 3 or 4 until I got this one which was the one I bought.  There was absolutely no pressure to go up in the price range, even though I was prepared to.  Stuart explained the more expensive helmets are just as safe as the cheaper ones.  The extra cost is for extra ventilation and different designs, perhaps a little lighter.

The deal was done, 10% CTC discount granted.

Back home I compared it to the old one.  Interestingly it's the same size and make - Specialized - and a similar looking helmet at (from memory) a similar price.  The fit was completely different.  The design of the straps etc are clearly a big improvement leading to a nice comfortable fit.

Specialized Echelon helmet, £49.99 , available in various colours
Anything else?
Yes, a couple of things.  Firstly I get really bugged when retailers have different prices between the store price and the on-line cost.  On checking the Evans Cycles website , the cost is £10 cheaper on-line compared to the in-store price.  This is irritating, please stop it!

The second point is about the life span of a helmet,  Ideally helmets need replacing every 2-3 years; partly because of wear and tear and also because of the integrity of the construction will degrade.  Perhaps a bit of sales talk with some truth mixed in?

I'm happy with it so far.  Anything on the old helmet is a bonus.  Going to ride into work with it tomorrow morning so I might report later on the comfort having had it on for a couple of hours.
(PS nice cool run early this morning)

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