Our opinion? Regardless of where you reside and whether your local laws require helmet wearing, if you’re riding an electric scooter, you need to protect your head. This may sound like a no-brainer, but with conflicting legislation surrounding helmet usage, many scooter riders are confused about whether wearing one is necessary. We believe it is.
It is one thing knowing that you should wear a helmet, but, with e-scooters being such a new technology, it’s difficult to determine what type of helmet is best to wear. And as it turns out, not every helmet can provide appropriate levels of protection for your needs.
So what shapes and types should you look out for? Are there certain safety standards a helmet must adhere to? Does it matter whether you pick a motorcycle-style helmet or one that is fit for urban cycling when you are actually riding an electric scooter? Read on to learn the key things you need to look out for and find out what is the best helmet for your scooting needs.
What do I need to consider when looking for a helmet?
There are currently no helmets made specifically for electric scooters, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to protect yourself. Not all helmets are created equal, so not every bicycle or skateboard helmet will be suitable for your needs – but there will definitely be one out there that is just right for you.
Firstly, it is vital that you pick a helmet that fits you, as ill-fitting helmets can be as dangerous as not wearing one at all. Measure the circumference of your head and look for helmets within that sizing category.
Another way you can avoid putting yourself at risk is by only buying a certified helmet that complies with recognised safety standards. When purchasing, check that your helmet adheres to one of the following: in the UK and EU, look out for BS EN 1078 or EN 1078; and for the US, keep your eyes out for US CPSC Bicycle, Snell B-90A, Snell B-95, ATSM F1952-15 (for mountain bike helmets) or NEN NTA 8776 (for e-bike helmets).
However, approved bike helmets do not prevent all concussions or other brain injuries, especially during slower crashes, or crashes at oblique angles. That’s why you should also consider MIPS, which stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. A MIPS helmet is constructed from two layers that rotate against each other, similar to the rotation of the brain’s own cerebrospinal fluid, which is the body’s natural defense against oblique impacts.
It's also important to ensure your helmet isn’t damaged – if it has been in a crash or been dropped on a hard surface then you should definitely buy a new one, even if the damage to it isn’t apparent.
What is the best type of helmet for me?
When choosing a helmet for your electric scooter, you need to consider both your speed and environment. There is no unifying body providing information about this, but it is generally accepted that bicycle helmets are acceptable for low speed rides, while a helmet offering full facial protection is best for higher speeds.
Commuter and urban cycling helmets
So if you are riding at speeds lower than 20 mph (32 km/h) – which you are likely to be if you are riding through the city – then a helmet meeting bike safety standards is the best option for you.
One of the biggest perks of open face helmets is the great field of view they afford in comparison to full-face ones. Open helmets are generally light, small and more comfortable than other types of helmets, making them suitable for commuting.
They are usually made from an expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam liner and covered in a hard plastic shell. Look for urban (or ‘commuter’) helmets which typically have smaller vents and a rounded shape, unlike road helmets which are known for their elongated, streamlined shape and multiple vents to facilitate heat dissipation.
Riding an electric scooter is not quite like riding a bike – you are not exerting the same amount of energy to keep it moving and therefore are not getting as hot. So cooling vanes to allow good airflow on a helmet are not strictly a necessity – in fact, they can be a liability, as you can get wet when it’s raining. So you’re free to select a more stylish helmet that doesn’t look like you're about to enter the ‘Tour de France’, whilst still benefiting from a good amount of protection.
Mountain bike helmets
If you want a little more protection on higher risk roads – for instance if there is a large amount of traffic or obstacles to navigate – then you should consider a mountain bike helmet. Like commuter helmets, these typically have fewer vents and are made of EPS foam with a shell of either plastic or a composite material, such as fiberglass or carbon fiber.
These helmets either cover more of the back and sides of the head, or are styled after motorcycle helmets and contain chin bars for added facial protection. With higher impact ratings than commuter helmets, mountain bike helmets also offer better ventilation and are lighter than e-bike or motorcycle helmets.
E-bike and motorcycle helmets
Plan to go off-road with your electric scooter? Reckon you will be riding at greater speeds than 20 mph (32 km/h)? Then an e-bike or motorcycle helmet will do the job.
Although much larger and heavier than the other types, full-face helmets are ideal for maximum protection during journeys at higher speeds and in higher risk environments. You should keep in mind that due to the more protective style, motorcycle helmets reduce some of your peripheral vision.
Being full-faced also means your face is protected from the elements – but of course, if you plan to ride your scooter in the city or for long trips, you will probably not want the weight of a hefty helmet putting strain on your head, neck and shoulders.
Choosing the best helmet to wear when riding can be a confusing process for many electric scooter riders. After all, there is a plethora of helmet types for different activities such as cycling and motorcycling, and a lack of scooter-specific helmets as well as a unifying body of information make it difficult to know what may work for your needs.
After reading this post, you should be able to browse helmets with more confidence now that you’re aware of key factors such as your typical speed and the environment in which you’ll be scooting most frequently.
However other than size, style, and whether it conforms to safety standards, the most important factor you need to consider when choosing your helmet is whether you will actually be willing to wear it. A bicycle helmet whose style and comfort encourages you to wear it all the time is always infinitely better than a full-face helmet that remains in your closet collecting dust!