The primary purpose of wearing a bicycle helmet is to protect you from head or facial injury in the event of an accident. When you’re shopping for a bicycle helmet, you may have several safety features in mind, like the material of the helmet’s outer shell or the type of padding it has.
Bicycle helmet features aside, ‘what color bicycle helmet should I get’ is one safety consideration that is often overlooked when shopping for a new helmet.
It’s not just a matter of deciding what helmet color looks great on you or which one complements the color of your bike. You’ll want to choose the best bike helmet color for visibility. Why? Read on to find out.
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Does Bike Helmet Color Matter?
While it’s true that the color of a bicycle helmet adds visual interest, it’s also important to know that the color affects how safe your bike helmet is. Bikes are much smaller compared to other vehicles, like cars and trucks. They are less easy to spot, especially on a busy road. When you’re out riding your bike, you need to equip yourself with high-visibility gear so it will be easier for other motorists to see you more quickly.
According to a study mentioned in the WHO Helmet Manual, wearing a white helmet lowers the likelihood of an accident compared to wearing a black helmet by 24%. The results of the study also say that helmets in lighter shades help reduce the risks of accidents by 19% versus dark-colored helmets.
Researchers who completed the study were quick to mention that their findings may not be applicable to all settings as tests were conducted in New Zealand. However, it encourages wearing white or light-colored helmets because they are easier to spot during the day, in low-light conditions, and at night.
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While further research on the relationship between color and safety could be done, we can base our judgment on what science says about light and color. Simply put, the colors that we see are a product of the interaction between the photoreceptors in our retina and our brain.
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Light travels through space as wavelengths and some wavelengths are more visible to the human eye than others. Colors such as green, yellow and blue are easiest to see during the daytime, while at night the most visible color is yellow.
What Color Bicycle Helmet Should I Get?
If you ask other cyclists what they think is the best color for a bike helmet, you’d likely get many different answers. Some will say black, while others will prefer white. Some will opt for shades of green, blue, or yellow.
But, the answer to this question depends on what you want to achieve while riding. Is it style over safety or vice versa? The weather conditions and the type of environment you’re navigating can also affect your choice.
A white bike helmet is a popular choice for riders who want to make themselves more noticeable on the road.
White is highly visible at night and in low-light conditions. It also stands out in multi-colored environments, making it a great choice if you’re commuting in the city or riding around the neighborhood.
If you’re searching for a bike helmet that can easily match riding gear of any color, solid black is a great option. Black is a versatile color and it complements any bicycle color. It also won’t look awkward when paired with bright-colored, dark-colored, or patterned safety gear. The downside of a black bicycle helmet is that it’s the least visible color at night and in low-light settings.
If you’re biking on forest or mountain trails, your white helmet will contrast with the colors of the trees and foliage. However, a white bicycle helmet will have poor visibility in snowy areas.
For daytime rides, fluorescent or neon colors are a suitable alternative to basic white. For example, green is a good choice because it’s the most visible color for cycling in daylight. However, it may not be a good choice for mountain bike riding as it can easily blend into the surroundings.
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Red is another good color for daytime rides. Because red has the longest wavelength among all colors in the electromagnetic spectrum, it can be seen from a distance.
Best Bike Helmet Color For Visibility
As mentioned above, yellow is the easiest color to see at night and from a distance. Again, we have science to explain this. At night, the rod cells in our retina are more active. These photoreceptors are more sensitive to yellow light than other colors in the visible light spectrum. This is also the reason fire trucks and taxi cabs are often painted yellow.
If your head looking like a bright yellow dot at night isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you might wonder what other colors are considered high-visibility. Fortunately, there are alternatives.
Other colors that are visible at night are green, orange, and red. Like yellow light, these colors have medium to long wavelengths, which make them noticeable in low-light or dimly lit areas.
So, to answer the question, “Does Bike Helmet Color Matter?” The answer is yes. To be seen easily by fellow riders and vehicle drivers on the road, it is recommended that you wear either a white or a brightly colored helmet. Fluorescent colors are also a good alternative as they reflect absorbed light, making them highly noticeable during the day.
That also answers the question of “What color bicycle helmet should I get?”
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When choosing a helmet color, it is also important to consider the weather. For sunny days, you can wear a bike helmet in white or in shades of cream, beige and yellow. If it’s raining, an orange helmet or a red helmet are also good options because they can be seen from a great distance.
Another consideration in choosing the best bike helmet color for visibility is your surroundings. Choose a color that will pop out or break background colors so you can easily be spotted. As they say, “Be seen, be safe”.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do High Viz Helmets Work?
A. As research studies suggest, wearing high viz helmets increases the chances of you being seen by other riders and vehicle drivers. High viz colors like neon yellow, green, or orange attract attention instantly as they are also associated with safety colors.
But why is it that not everyone is receptive to wearing high-viz helmets? Not to generalize, but the reason for this is riders are conscious about the way they look. For some, wearing bright colors such as yellow or orange makes them less cool or less attractive.
Q. How Can I Make My Bike Visible at Night?
A. When night crawls in and you still find yourself on the road, safety becomes a priority. To be safe, you need to be visible. Adding enhancements like bright decals or reflective stickers can help make you more visible. But static enhancements alone won’t cut it.
A research study suggests that bio-motion, or adding moving lights to parts of your bike or clothing can increase visibility. For example, you can add flashing headlights or taillights to your bike. The visible motion of the flashing lights will alert other motorists of your presence.
Q. Should Your Helmet Match Your Bike?
A. Matching your bike helmet with your bike earns you plus points in the fashion stakes. But is it necessary? Not really. When shopping for a bike helmet, always go for what’s within your budget, what fits you comfortably, and what can give you optimal protection. If you find a color that matches your bike, then it’s just icing on the cake.