Tuesday May 15, 2012 | 04:20 PM

Whether you ride the trails, compete in local criterium events or pedal around your neighborhood with your 8-year-old, safety is always the priority. And for anyone on a bike, safety starts with your head.

Specialized-Racing-Bike-Helmet-Prevail-White.jpg Fortunately, you don't have to spend a lot to get a helmet that meets U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. Most helmets intended for all-around cycling start at about $30. On the high end, road racing helmets can set you back $200.

The difference in price usually comes from the style: Racing helmets are much more aerodynamic and generally have larger ventilation holes for more airflow and less weight; sport helmets are smooth and rounded and often come with detachable visors. Both types can be adjusted, either with a sizing system built into the helmet or with foam padding that can be added for a more snug fit.

Here are three things that will help tell you if a helmet fits correctly:

It should stay level on your head and not tip back to expose your forehead.

The chin strap should be snug under your chin. Opening your mouth wide should pull the helmet down on your head.

The straps should form a "V" under your ears. Sliding one finger under the strap will ensure it isn't too tight but if you can slide two fingers under it it may be too loose.

Here's a quick video tutorial:

There are a few key guidelines you should also follow when buying a helmet:

Helmet.jpg

Look for the CPSC sticker. It's rare that you won't see it so if you don't you may be looking at a skateboarding or roller derby helmet.

Try it on and get an employee of the shop to help check the fit.

Don't buy used. You may save money but you won't know if the helmet has been in a crash.

Choose a helmet with a removable visor. Then you'll have the option of keeping it on or taking it off.

Check the vents. More vents mean a cooler head and a lighter helmet, which could make for a more enjoyable ride.

Click here to see the top six helmets as rated by ConsumerSearch.com, complete with expert and user reviews.

 

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