So you are shopping for a helmet and realize that there several kinds available so what is the difference between bicycle helmets and skating helmets? Every helmet has been designed for a
particular sport or hobby.
In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has set up standards that helmets must abide by for each activity or sport. Following is a summary of how each is made and what the manufacturers have provided for typical skateboarding and cycling.
Skateboarding Helmet Basics
Skateboarders will have many crashes, so they need a good sturdy helmet to withstand the repeated
abuse. Because of this, the skateboarders helmets are made of a thicker plastic. Additionally, the interior foam is made of Expanded Polypropylene (EPP). This foam will retain its shape and can protect for multiple hits. Right skateboarding helmets will meet not only the CPSC’s standards but the ASTM standard F1492 as well.
Skateboard helmets are rounded to match the curvatures of the head. Because of the thick plastic and resilient foam they are heavier than their bicycling counterparts. Skaters helmets don’t have many vents either and typically will be hotter than a biking helmet.
Bicycling Helmet Basics
Cyclists aren’t expected to crash near as frequently as skateboarders. Because of this, their helmets are made of a thinner plastic and less resilient foam. Even saying this they still must meet certain standards. These standards help to ensure the protection of the riders head and most importantly brain.
The biggest difference is if you have a crash that causes a head hit be prepared to replace your
helmet. Additionally the lightweight design and additional ventilation is made to help keep your head cooler.
Can I wear just one type of helmet?
The short answer is yes, but it depends. For bicycling and recreational roller blading and skating this is true. However for both bicycling and skateboarding the answer is yes if you want to wear a skateboarding helmet only. Research has found (and this doesn’t take a rocket scientist long to
figure out) that skateboarding, even recreational, can have more active head hits than other
activities. Just be prepared to have a heavier and hotter load on your head while riding.
The bottom line is if you ride your bike for many hours you would be better off having just a bicycle helmet for this purpose. The weight and ventilation will reduce fatigue and overheat when compared with skating style helmets.