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Using bike helmets: Now that's using your noggin

Aug. 30, 2012 @ 10:57 PM

Loki's horned helmet may keep "The Avengers" at bay for a while (although we think it's his menacing sneer that really works), but it wouldn't protect him in a bicycling accident. Those curved horns would probably snag something and break his neck. What does he need? A good-fitting helmet that meets U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards, comes in a bright color and has good air vents and thick, secure straps that are easy to adjust. The inside padding is generally made from crushable, expanded polystyrene. Because it absorbs impact well (soaks it up and dissipates it), once it meets the pavement or tree trunk, it's usually time for a new helmet.

Unfortunately, riders of all ages skip the helmet and pay the price: Every year 140,000 kids under age 14 end up in the hospital for traumatic brain injury because of a bicycle crash; and 91 percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 were not wearing helmets.

Whether you're a mountain biker, a commuter, a kid on the sidewalk or a long-distance cyclist, check out these helmets rated by Consumers Report testers. None of them won the "excellent for impact protection" award, but kids' Bontrager Solstice Youth and adults' Specialized Echelon were rated very good. (The round dome styles for skateboarders and cyclist scraped the bottom of the barrel.)

So, now let's pedal! Families who put in a couple of hours a week together on the bikes (while wearing helmets) stay trimmer and have more fun!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.