Enduro MTB Bicycle Helmet Buying Guide
One of the most essential pieces of equipment after the bike when riding Enduro is the Helmet. The likely hood of falling off and hitting our heads is often depending on how hard we ride, but in many cases those unforeseen moments can occur where we loose control and we are off. In these cases we cant control where we land with our head, but we need to know our head will be as well protected as possible.
Full Face Vs Open Face
European and World Enduro racing rules specify a full face helmet on all timed runs, which means that on transfers it is not necessary to wear a full face, with many riders opting for taking a open face on their back packs and switching helmets before the race run.
At race speeds these rules make sense, but what about normal everyday riding. Well in our experience in varied climates and if as a rider it is possible to contain your excitement and speed then a Open face is normally absolute adequate for riding. However there is nothing like the protection of a full face helmet to protect you when something jumps up out of the trail and grabs you, sending you flying. It’s all about personal choice, but we would always recommend maximum protection if the trail going is tough and or your bike skills are not the best.
Open Face Enduro Helmet Features
Most of the features of an Enduro helmet are designed to reflect the nature of riding Enduro. One of the key features that has evolved is the lower part to the back of the helmet that provides extra protection to the back of the head. Often Enduro helmets have a well designed retention system that keeps the helmet securely in place, in our experience we prefer simple systems like that from URGE, but there is no doubt that systems like that from Troy Lee Designs with their new A1 helmet are also excellent.
Another key element is ventilation, XC helmets tend to be better ventilated and lighter weight, but due to the nature of Enduro riding most Enduro specific helmets are slightly heavier and more protective, this includes a less open venting system, that in theory allows a lower chance of rocks or sharp objects through. Helmets are often designed around safety standards that describe the magnitude of impact. Knowing what Enduro riding can entail, the risk of impacts can be of greater magnitude, therefore especially when picking up a helmet like the Troy Lee Designs A1 the thickness and strength of the EPS material used in the helmet construction is noticeable and definitely offers the wearer a greater sense of security and protection.
Full Face Enduro Helmet Features
One mistake many riders make when picking up an Enduro helmet is to use a Motorcross helmet. Although it seems like a good idea Motorcross helmets are designed around different safety standards which include impacts that are of a greater magnitude than those likely to be encountered when riding Enduro. Speaking to David from Kali Protection his thoughts were clear, “The helmet needs to deform on impact to protect the wearer, this deformation is what distributes the energy away from the head and prevents injury.” He went on to say, “If using a Motorcross helmet, the impacts are likely to be too low for the helmet to actually deform, therefore the energy will pass into the users head. We design our helmets so that they deform properly at bicycle speed impacts and protect the user properly.”
A correctly designed Enduro full face helmet then is important, light weight, ventilation, and a good style, on top of the aforementioned safety standards. Unfortunately the world of safety standards is not as clear as it should be and have not be created with the Enduro bicycle rider in mind. Therefore it would be better to look at helmets in terms of basic structure. Many companies offer Downhill helmets and these are the designs where most people start at for Enduro full face helmets.
Unfortunately ventilation is not always as high as an Enduro specific full face helmet such as the Enduromatic from URGE. So a full face helmet being used for pedaling up hill might leave the user hotter and more uncomfortable. In our experience though in temperatures of 18 degrees and below a full face helmet can be used without too many problems for pedaling. Full face helmets often depend on forced airflow through the helmet as part of their ventilation design. The modern designs though are always evolving to improve this feature.
So when looking for a full face Enduro helmet we would recommend light weight as a key factor, again in our experience Kali with their full face helmet designs have some of the most advanced technology in helmet design out there. The use of EPS that is directly bonded to the harder outer shell of the helmet plus their very advanced cone based construction, allows them to reduce weight significantly and at the same time remove any air gap between the shell and the foam. This means that any impact is not amplified as energy passes through the join in materials, thus dissipating more quickly and retaining a high level of safety to the wearer.
Helmets apart from being essential when riding, are probably one of the least studied quantities in Enduro mountain bike products, we accept the safety standards blindly and without question without actually looking at how a helmet will perform when being used with a certain style of riding. It is important when selecting an Enduro helmet that fit and temperature control are ideal for the user, recommend brands for many of the above reasons are, URGE, KALI, Endura, Troy Lee Designs, Specialized (Full face), 661, Mavic and Scott. All have Enduro Specific lines that meet many of the requirements of Enduro riding and in our experience offer the quality and safety features necessary for all levels of riding.