Helmet Accessories and Add-ons
Summary: Helmet accessories and add-ons. We do not cover headlights.
The sections below: - or you can just page down
- Smart accessories
- Mirrors and rearview cameras
- Lights for visibility
- Visors and caps
- Finishes and stickers
- Everything else
Smart helmet accessories
This Korean company has an accessory known as Beat.Ahead that attaches to a helmet. It provides smart helmet functions including calls and music through vibration of the helmet, without earphones. It weighs 63g and lasts for 6 to 8 hours. It can issue voice commands to Siri and Google Assistant.
Ice Dot is a crash sensor mounted on the exterior of a helmet that attempts to sense when the wearer has crashed. It records helmet motion, not the impact to the head, but it senses velocity, torque and impact severity. When an impact sets it off, the rider has time to deactivate it. If not deactivated it uses the rider's phone to send a text message with GPS coordinates to the Ice Dot website reporting the crash, and the website passes the SOS along to your pre-entered contacts. There is an info sticker on the helmet with your unique identifier pointing EMT crews to medical info that you have loaded on the Ice Dot web page. The initial cost is $150 for the sensor and setup, and $10 per year after that. For those who just want to use a wristband, Ice Dot sells those along with the helmet stickers for $20, with a URL that EMT's can use to access your emergency data on the Ice Dot site. That service also has the $10 annual fee. The site is icedot.org. The sensor must be charged from a charger or USB port, and will run for 24 hours on a charge. Some riders who often ride solo in remote areas--that still have cell coverage--welcomed the announcement. Field reports will be needed to determine the ability of the crash sensor to react appropriately to real life crashes. For contrast with a simple paper system, see the MEIS below in the Other section.
O-Tus makes small near-ear speakers that attach to the helmet near your ears. We have not heard the sound quality. They would still inevitably affect your hearing what happens around you, a sense that we think is critical to safe bicycling. Not recommended, particularly because their mounting video recommends shaving some foam off the edge of your helmet so the adhesive on the mount will stick. To our shock, the technician actually takes a knife and shaves off some foam to make a more level mount, and to remove dirty foam that will not give a good adhesive surface. Since our message is "never modify your helmet liner" and nobody knows how much foam a user might take off, we would avoid this product.
Every vehicle on the road needs a mirror. We would mount any mirror with hook-and-loop to be sure it will readily detach in a fall. We do not recommend the ones that twine around the sidepiece of your glasses, since we have heard of a case where one of those detached in a fall and gouged the area near the eye.
Most helmet mirrors are tiny, like the
Cycle-Aware Reflex. They are close to the eye and actually show you most of what you need to see. But if you prefer a larger one, check out the Safezone Helmet Mirror. This one is 2.25" (57mm). That seems huge. We found that it blocks a very small piece of forward vision but is still usable. It is geeky-looking, not stylish. It is well made and seems heavy at 1.5 oz/43 gr. We recommend you not use the very strong mounting zip ties provided, but use hook and loop on the part that lies against the helmet so it will detach in a crash, even though the plastic ball-and-socket pieces in the arm will also detach. It seems expensive at $40, about twice what most small mirrors cost.
We do not cover headlights because most of them have blinding, unshaped beams and more mass than we think you should be attaching to your helmet. Rear LED blinkers get better every year and are easy to attach with hook-and-loop so they will detach readily in a fall. There are many good ones on the market that are bright, durable and water-resistant. There are also many helmets that come with lights installed: see our helmets for the current season page for those. They are more expensive to update as the LEDs improve.
Lights for visibility
Strip lights you can attach to your helmet or bike. We have never seen one in the field and don't know if they would help or not. Our sample self-destructed in about 12 minutes of operating time. See our page on the ideal helmet for our cautionary ideas on attaching anything to the outside of your helmet.
The Octoplus Kit is a starfish-shaped foam kit to replace helmet pads that claims to be universal fit. We don't quite believe that, but if your pads have disintegrated it may be worth checking out.
Visors and caps
Da Brim makes very large helmet visors and all-around brims for really good sun protection. Probably a little flappy in high winds or if you ride too fast, but they also have a front stabilizer for riding on a recumbent bike. If you can find it there once was a good review by Philip Boroff.
Finishes and stickers
Bicycle helmet stickers in graphic designs to add either reflectivity or florescent color to your helmet. There is one warning bystanders not to remove the helmet after a crash. We have examined a PET-shell helmet with their graphics on it for a year and found no evidence that the adhesive had damaged the shell. The reflectivity seemed decent to us but their florescent colors are not reflective.
Streetglo has reflective stickers and vinyl decals in at least nine colors and a large variety of designs, mostly intended for motorcycle helmets. The larger ones cover a full helmet. There is one warning bystanders not to remove the helmet after a crash. Some of their reflective materials come from 3m. Others come from Nippon Carbide Industries (USA), who certify that the material will not damage motorcycle helmet shells made of PET, Lexan and other plastics. They have now added bicycle kits, and their web page has some good photos of the results. That much material tends to be expensive.
This South African company has ear covers that attach to helmet straps. They can be used for protecting ears against wind, but they can also be used to mount ear buds to listen to music or whatever. That can be a dangerous way to ride, since it deprives the rider of essential feedback about vehicles approaching from the rear. Slipstreamz says their product places the earbud outside the ear canal and retains some ambient feedback, but we do not recommend using it that way. As a wind protector it compares to the Buschman Technologies product above. Whatever you do, don't emulate the Slip-Streamz website photo with the eyeglasses under the helmet strap. That presses the glasses into the side of your head, and creates a gap between strap and head that may have caused the rider to look for a wind spoiler in the first place.
Helmet covers and other add-ons are a special category. The lycra covers that are held on with elastic bands around the bottom are probably ok, since research years ago showed that they just slip off in a crash, and are actually beneficial for sliding until the cover disappears. But we have never seen any lab tests of the ones with horns or other projections, so we would not use one, and you are on your own with those. We have a page up on helmet covers.
Helmet covers, with reflective trim.
This is a system for adding personal medical identification to your helmet. It includes a small plastic envelope that sticks on the outside with a folded medical info sheet inside that you fill out. Don't lend your helmet to anyone. The helmet does not have to be removed to see the medical info. We don't like sticking things on the outside of a helmet, but at least this one does not require any electronic equipment and is relatively cheap.
Fidlock is the magnetic buckle that you may see on a wide variety of helmets, made by a German company in Hong Kong. It was originally sought out by triathletes who wanted the quickest possible buckle mechanism to reduce changing room time. There are several designs now. It is inherently anti-pinch. We have not seen complaints about it coming off by accident, or separating in a crash. It is a little heavier than a standard plastic buckle, but the weight is so far below the center of gravity of your head that you are not likely to notice it. It is not really an add-on, but your helmet choice may have one.