Kids' bicycle helmets review and compare

All models passed our impact tests.
 
Learn more
 
 
 
 
 
 

01 .Introduction

Kidsbikehelmets

Test results for 11 children's bike helmets from $10 to $70

We tested them for:

  • Ease of fitting
  • How well they absorb impacts (against the Australian standard AS/NZS 2063:1996)

Findings:

  • All models passed our impact tests. One sample did fail testing, but we re-tested other samples of the same model and they passed.
  • Some models were clearly easier to fit than others.

Please note: this information was current as of February 2006 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


Brands tested

  • ADURA Dragster HG-EDG
  • BELL Amigo US75B
  • BIG W No Limits MF-II
  • CYCLOPS Profile 1.0 62010
  • FLITE 900
  • GIRO Rodeo G116
  • HEADSTART Skins Flame 325
  • HUFFY HX 1.1 63000
  • MET Super Buddy
  • NETTI Pilot TR-1
  • ROSEBANK Tiny Tot TT2000
 
 

Sign up to our free
e-Newsletter

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.

 

While all the helmets passed the impact testing (see Absorbing impacts below) these six helmets scored best overall, in particular for ease of fitting. See Profiles - the best for details.

What to buy

Brand Price

  • FLITE 900 - $33
  • MET Super Buddy - $60
  • # GIRO Rodeo G116 - $50
  • ADURA Dragster HG-EDG - $44
  • # NETTI Pilot TR-1 - $35
  • # BELL Amigo US75B - $50

Try these first; you'll probably find them easiest to adjust. But if they don't fit your child or aren't comfortable, all the others on test are worth a try.

# Price & availability check Feb 2006

What about the rest?

The remaining five helmets passed our impact testing, but generally received lower scores for ease of use. For details, see Profiles - the rest.

Results table

Performance Specifications
Brand / model
(in rank order)
Overall score1 (%) Performance score2
(%)
Ease of use
score3
(%)
Use and care instructions Size (cm)* Warranty (years) Origin Manufacturer/ distributor Price ($)**
FLITE 900 (A) 80 79 80 OK 48–55 3 months Australia Playworks International 33
MET Super Buddy 80 65 90 OK 52–57 3 (D) Italy Cassons 60
# GIRO Rodeo G116 78 68 85 Good 50–55 1 China Pacific Brands 50
ADURA Dragster
HG-EDG
73 77 70 OK 50–52 1 NZ Apollo Bicycle Co 44
# NETTI Pilot TR-1 73 69 75 Excellent 50–53 1 China Netti Atom 36
# BELL Amigo US75B 70 70 70 OK 50–55 (C) 1 China Pacific Brands 50
CYCLOPS Profile 1.0 62010 68 79 (B) 60 OK 52–56 ns China Hunter Leisure 10
ROSEBANK Tiny Tot TT2000 66 75 60 Good 48–52 1 Australia Rosebank Products 30
HUFFY HX1.1 63000 65 72 60 OK 52–56 ns China Hunter Leisure 22
HEADSTART Skins Flame 325 55 70 45 OK 48–52 1 Australia Headstart International 13
BIG W No Limits MF-II 44 65 30 OK 50–54 ns Taiwan Big W 15

Table Notes

# Price & availability check February 2006
* The size tested; some models may also be available in others
** Recommended retail, as advised by manufacturers in July 2005. We found retail prices can vary considerably, so it pays to shop around
ns Not stated
(A) Now replaced by identical model 900C, made in China.
(B) One sample failed the load distribution test — see How we tested below. The scores shown are for the samples that passed.
(C) The latest models are labelled as size 50–56 cm, but the actual helmet size is the same.
(D) Three-year crash replacement program— see the profile, above left.


1 Overall score
This consists of:

  • Performance: 40%
  • Ease of use: 60%

While performance is important, all the helmets passed the standard tests — some just passed them slightly better. We therefore gave ease of use a higher weighting.

2 Performance score
This consists of:

  • Load distribution: 33%
  • Impact attenuation: 17%
  • Impact deceleration duration: 17%
  • Retention system: 33%

See How we tested below for more details.

3 Ease of use score

  • Based on how easy the chin and side straps are to adjust
  • Extra points were given to helmets with an adjustable nape strap or an extra set of padding, as these should be easier to tailor for an exact fit

How we tested

Absorbing impacts

We put the helmets through the key tests of the Australian standard, including:

  • Load distribution: How well the helmet spreads the energy of an impact
  • Impact attenuation and deceleration: How well the foam absorbs the energy of an impact
  • Retention system: Tests the strength of the helmet's straps, to ensure they won't stretch too far or break too easily


Results of these tests make up the helmet's performance score (see the table above).

The only helmet to fail any of the above tests was the CYCLOPS Profile 1.0. During the load distribution test, the test anvil penetrated all the way through this helmet. Given that the standard is mandatory, it's surprising to find a helmet that fails - we were expecting only to be able to say which helmets passed the tests by a greater margin and so might offer better protection.

Samples from each batch of every helmet sold in Australia are tested to ensure no manufacturing problems creep in from one batch to the next. Generally, four out of every thousand helmets are tested; if any of them fail, a further eight are tested. If any of these eight fail, the entire batch is scrapped. The manufacturer of the CYCLOPS told us its helmets are batch-tested according to regulations and it's never had such a failure before.

In case the sample tested was faulty, we bought two more CYCLOPS Profile 1.0 helmets and tested them. Both passed the load distribution test.

All the other helmets passed the key tests of the standard easily, though some absorbed impacts better than others.

Fiddly to fit?

To assess ease of use, our lab looked for:

  • How easy the chin and side straps were to adjust and buckle up
  • Nape strap - a dial or slider on the rear of the headband - to help get the best fit
  • Extra set of padding for precise fitting and more comfort

Major differences appeared in our ease of use assessment, where helmets lost points for having no nape strap, fiddly buckles or difficult strap adjustment. However, because helmet fit varies a lot from one person to another, some lower-scoring helmets may fit your kid well, so they're still worth considering.

This article last reviewed October 2005.

Profiles - the best

 # FLITE 900

Price: $33

  • It has a nape strap but no visor
  • It's marketed with a wide variety of patterns, such as cartoon and movie characters
    # Now replaced by identical model 900C

MET Super Buddy

Price: $60

  • Scored best for ease of use
  • It has a nape strap, a non-detachable visor and an extra set of padding, though we found the nape strap a bit hard to adjust
  • It’s covered by a three-year crash replacement program: if it’s damaged you can send it back (with the original receipt) for a replacement helmet at half the current retail price plus $10 freight

# GIRO Rodeo G116

Price: $50

  • It has a nape strap, a non-detachable visor and comes with extra padding

# ADURA Dragster HG-EDG

Price: $44

  • It has a nape strap, and has the most ventilation of all the tested models
  • It has a non-detachable visor
    # Current model has an upgraded shell

# NETTI Pilot TR-1

Price: $36

  • It has a nape strap and a non-detachable visor

# BELL Amigo US75B

Price: $50

  • It has a nape strap and a detachable visor
  • It’s also the only model that advises helmets should be replaced after three years

Profiles - the rest

CYCLOPS Profile 1.0 62010

Price: $10

  • It has no nape strap and didn't score as well as the top models for ease of use

ROSEBANK Tiny Tot TT2000

Price: $30

  • It has no nape strap, but comes with an extra set of padding

HUFFY HX1.1 63000

Price: $22

  • It has no nape strap, but comes with an extra set of padding

HEADSTART Skins Flame 325

Price: $13

  • It has no nape strap or extra padding

BIG W No Limits MF-II

Price: $15

  • It scored poorly for ease of use
  • It has no nape strap, no extra padding and its straps are hard to adjust
  • It's also quite heavy for a kid's helmet, due to its hard shell

What to look for

  • Australian Standard 2063:1996 certification (look for a label inside the helmet). You shouldn't find any helmets these days that aren't certified, though they might not all carry the easily recognisable five-tick Australian StandardsMark (see right) - manufacturers have to pay to use that. Most state governments require bike helmets to meet this standard. The only exception is WA, where helmets certified to the US Snell Standard are also permitted. The Australian Standard is one of the toughest in the world.
  • Easy-to-adjust straps, including a nape strap on the headband
  • Clips and buckles with pinch guards - but make sure they don't make the clips hard to use.
  • Light weight
  • Good visibility
  • Bright colours or reflectors, so your kid is easily visible when riding
  • A sun visor, detachable or integrated
  • Good ventilation - most helmets have adequate ventilation, but if your youngster spends a lot of time riding, you might need to look for a helmet with better ventilation. If your kid feels too hot, they might be tempted to ride without the helmet.

Types of helmet 

  • Soft shell: A foam shell with a fabric cover or no cover at all. None of the helmets we tested are of this type
  • Microshell: Has a thin plastic cover over the foam. This is usually glued or taped on, but some models are in-mould, where the foam is injected into the shell and bonded with it. All the tested helmets except the BIG W are microshell.
  • Hard shell: Has a thicker plastic cover over the foam. These aren’t necessarily stronger helmets, but might withstand everyday wear and tear better than other types. The BIG W is a hard shell.

Fitting a helmet

Fitting a helmet correctly is vital. The toughest helmet in the world won't be much good if it slips around on the rider's head when they fall off their bike. So how do you ensure the helmet is a good fit?

  • First, if in doubt, get expert help. Any good bike shop should be able to help fit a helmet correctly
  • Get your child to help choose the helmet if possible, rather than just being there as an unwilling victim. That way they'll get one they're happy to wear, rather than something daggy that they'll take off as soon as you're out of sight
  • Place the helmet on their head so that it sits level, with the rim just above the eyebrows
  • Tighten the nape strap if it has one and adjust any extra padding so that the helmet fits snugly. It shouldn't slide around on the head or press uncomfortably at any points
  • Adjust the straps so that the 'V' sits just below the ear and is even on both sides
  • Do up the chinstrap, snugly but not uncomfortably tight
  • Now try to roll the helmet forward and backward - it shouldn't move very far. Adjust the side V straps or chinstrap if necessary. If the helmet still moves around too much after tightening the straps, try another size or model
  • Once you've got the helmet fitting properly, make sure your child understands this is the right way to wear it. Many kids push their helmet back on their heads when riding. This is dangerous as the helmet isn't securely in place and their forehead is too exposed in the event of a fall. Let your kids know how important it is to wear the helmet properly: it helps protect them, and it's the law.

When to replace a bike helmet

After a crash or any hard impact, even if the helmet seems only lightly damaged. The real damage may not be visible

  • If the shell is cracked, or the foam is cracked or crumbling
  • After a few years of use, even if otherwise undamaged. UV light will decay the helmet. Three years is recommended as a typical lifespan for bike helmets. For this reason, avoid buying secondhand helmets; you just can't tell if they're OK. And, of course, replace the helmet when your youngster outgrows it.

Babies on bikes

We tested helmets for young cyclists, but what about infants or toddlers in seats on the back of a parent's bike? They have to wear a helmet like any other cyclist, so find and fit one as recommended above. If you can't find one to fit, don't take your kid out on your bike.

Even littlies riding a trike or similar around the backyard should wear a helmet. Not only is it safer, but it gets them into the habit of wearing a helmet right from the start.

Generally, the advice is not to take kids out riding on a baby bike seat or trailer until they're at least a year old. This is for two main reasons:

  • It's hard to find very small helmets suitable for kids this young. Also, they need to be strong enough to support their head under the weight of the helmet and under the acceleration and deceleration of the bike
  • The jolting from the bike is bad for the baby's neck and brain. Baby seats are usually positioned over the rear axle, and the baby can't absorb the bumps with their legs like an older bike rider can.

Good riding

Where to go for advice on road rules and safe bike riding for both kids and adults:

  • Check your state government's roads and traffic authority for the latest in road rules for bicycle riding. They vary from state to state
  • Bicycle organisations. In particular, Bicycle Victoria offers lots of advice on choosing children's bikes and cycling
  • Kidsafe Australia