Bike safety: which helmets performed the best, and worst

Posted at 6:09 AM, Jun 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-26 06:28:13-04

Now that it is summer cyclists will be wanting to hit the pavement on their bikes. One key factor in keeping yourself safe is having the right helmet.

But, bike helmets are not created equal. CBS New's John Schiumo looked into new testing from the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Their research showed there is a big difference in how much protection helmets provide.

For the first time, testing of bike helmets has helped create safety ratings for 30 different adult models.

David Zuby from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said, "All bicycle helmets sold in the United States must pass government regulations but those tests are limited in what they evaluate."

This test developed by Virginia Tech researchers uses sensors to evaluate six commonly impacted locations on the helmets in a crash- at two different speeds- to determine concussion protection.

Most of the helmets were rated three or four stars out of five-classified as good or very good. But four helmets made the cut as the best available, Schiumo reported.

Those five star helmets are: Bontrager Ballista, MIPS, Garneau Raid MIPS, Bell Stratus MIPS and Specialized Chamonix MIPS.

All are equipped with MIPS, which stands for multi-directional impact protection system. It creates a protective low friction layer inside the helmet.

They range in price from $75 to $200.

"It's a safety product and if you're paying more money, you would expect that helmet to do better. That's not what we saw," Prof. Steve Rowson of the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab said.

Two helmets received the lowest rating- two stars, or adequate, they were the Lazer Genesis and Bern Watts.

Some cyclists even said they weren't aware helmets varied in protection but researchers said the tests will help consumers make more informed choices as deadly bike crashes increase.

More than 800 cyclists were killed in crashes in 2016- the highest number since 1991.