At this point in time wherein, there are already a lot of vehicles and personal transportation systems, nobody can question the importance of safety when it comes to cycling. For years, laws have been governing the use of protective gears and the implementation of such is stricter now than before. That is the reason why manufacturers of mountain bike (MTB) helmets need to follow certain standards and guidelines that have been set by certifying bodies.
Although finding the certification can ensure that the product has a good safety rating, it is still important that bikers learn more about the material that has been used in its production. Such will help them better understand the level of protection that the particular helmet can provide them. With that in regard, the outer shell is the most important feature since it is the one responsible for primary protection. That is simply because it is the one that will be in contact with the ground or surface in case of collision, fall, and other forms of accidents.
Hence, let us look into the different materials used for the MTB helmet’s shell.
Thermoplastic or plastic that has been heated to be molded is the most common and affordable material, especially polycarbonate, used in constructing MTB helmets. Since this material is plastic, its protection level is not very high. Thus, to compensate such, most manufacturers incorporate thicker paddings or linings. With that in mind, it is expected that most MTB helmets made from this material have heavyweights.
Fiberglass-made MTB helmets are easy to recognize because of the natural weaving pattern that can be seen on the product. That is owed to the fact that the fiberglass used has been heated a few times and molded using cloth. Although this is harder than thermoplastic material, it has a somewhat lighter weight. As such, it is more comfortable to wear. In addition, this material also has good flexibility once it is exposed to impact.
Nonetheless, helmets made of which can be damaged easily when dropped but this feature is advantageous when it comes to crash or collision. That is because the force will be completely absorbed by the shell to a point that nothing is received by the padding. On another note, there are manufacturers that mix fiberglass with other materials like resin to simplify the process. That will result in a heavier and sturdier helmet.
Kevlar plus Carbon
This type of helmet shell material undergoes the same process as the fiberglass but the cloth used in molding the melted material is different, which is Kevlar. Using such has lessened the processing cycle that is why helmets made of this are lighter than fiberglass-made helmets. However, since Kevlar has a high level of tensile strength, manufacturers add carbon materials in order to achieve composite strength.
The three mentioned materials used in MTB helmets are all acceptable. For thermoplastic, bikers just need to make sure that they choose one that has multilayers of padding, while for fiberglass the thickness of the padding is not a concern. Nonetheless, when it comes to the highest level of safety, the ones made of Kevlar plus carbon is the best choice.