There are many types of biking–from BMX to road racing to mountain biking. Each type requires its own specialized equipment and techniques. The need for safety, however, is common in all forms of cycling. In BMX,, knee and elbow pads are necessary. Road bikers rarely take such precautions, because they are prone to an entirely different set of injuries. The same is true with helmets. While one helmet may be excellent for mountain biking, it may not be as effective on the half-pipe.
Road biking helmets are primarily designed to protect the top of your head. They have an elongated, streamlined shape, typically with vents running along the top. Made of foam with a hard plastic shell, road bike helmets are meant to absorb a blow to the head if you fly over the front of your handle bars.
BMX helmets are primarily designed for full coverage from a variety of injuries. This means full coverage on all sides of the face. BMX helmets often have a chin bar and full ear coverage. They also usually have bolted-on visors.
Commuter helmets are more rounded than road bike helmets. They look like hockey helmets, with a flat, round front over your forehead and deep coverage on the back of your head. Commuter helmets are often designed to be used with attachments, such as rear-view mirrors.
Mountain biking helmets are like modified road bike helmets. Their streamlined shape is often similar to road bike helmets, but the mountain bike helmet has more features that make it suitable for rugged trails. The most important feature is the straps, which are more adjustable than on the road bike version. A mountain bike helmet is designed to stay firmly in place while you are being constantly bounced around. Mountain bike helmets typically have visors and more coverage in the back of the head.