So when I realized that my trusty old blue chrome bike helmet was getting to be close to ten years old*, I jumped at the opportunity to personally test something you can buy at Magic Beans: a Nutcase G3 bike helmet! Nutcase kid helmets and adult helmets are exactly the same, in different sizes, and I commute to work by bike most days, so this review opportunity was… you’ll have to forgive me for making the joke in this context, but it was a no-brainer.
I went with a snazzy checkered model from the new Nutcase G3 product line, which has all the same safety features as the other Nutcase helmets we carry, with a few small upgrades: Nutcase G3 helmets are a little lighter, with upgraded ventilation, a bit more reflectivity, and a removable spin dial. Plus, there’s a cool removable visor, which was a big selling point for me – more on that in a minute.
I haven’t biked with this helmet yet (and I have no intention of testing it by landing on my head, so you’ll have to take my word for it that it offers superb protection for big and little bikers alike), but really, most of the virtues of a really great bike helmet can be tested just by trying it on and adjusting it. So, these are the things that I love about my Nutcase G3 Bike Helmet:
- The padded, no-pinch magnetic chin strap: My old helmet had a pretty bare strap with a typical snap-in buckle. Your standard buckle has a tendency to grab and nip skin, which is bad enough if you’re putting it on yourself, worse if you’re trying to put it on a child.
So I can’t praise the magnetic buckle on my Nutcase helmet highly enough: this clever doohickey practically fastens itself (which means that yes, your four-year-old can put it on without your help!) and has no edges to grab skin. It locks closed, so it’s a little tougher to open than it is to close, but it should be, right? It also has a nice foam chin pad, which fastens with Velcro and can be removed for cleaning, and it’s super-easy to adjust the strap length. My old helmet’s strap length had become impossible to adjust, and a good snug fit is important – you don’t want your helmet wobbling around!
- A perfect fit: That spin dial I mentioned above? That was one of the huge selling points for a Nutcase helmet for me – just turn a knob behind your head and it snugs closed or loosens up to allow a little room for, say, a pair of earmuffs. If you’re biking in multiple seasons, this feature will have you covered. It’s also, of course, a great advantage in a helmet for a growing child. And turning the knob and feeling your helmet conform neatly to your head just feels nice. Biking in the city can be nervewracking, and I love anything that makes me feel safer.
- The removable visor: The optional visor is there to protect against glare and against drizzles, and that was a HUGE selling point for me: I wear glasses, and New England weather is unpredictable. Wet glasses affect visibility, and again, I need my full range of vision when I’m biking the streets of Boston and dodging cars. Every rider will appreciate the benefit of having a little more shade to keep the sun out of their eyes, and bespectacled kiddos will love the visor that much more.
A small warning about the visor: mine doesn’t snap in, so when I was walking around with my helmet attached to my purse strap, the visor kept falling off. So, while it will stay on while you’re wearing it, keep an eye on it when you’re not; you don’t want to lose it.
- And, the ultimate selling point: Nutcase bike helmets look so cool! Kids can choose from a helmet that looks like a watermelon, one that looks like a turtle, one covered in sparkles, one covered in hearts, one covered in colorful polka dots, and more! You won’t get any argument when you ask your kid, whether she’s on her bike, her scooter, or her skateboard, to put her helmet on, and keep it on.
Being a kid at heart, I also absolutely can’t wait to show mine off. It’s so shiny! It’s so hip! It’s so stylish! I feel downright braggy.
And if you’re going to take your biking brood on the road around Boston, here are a few resources I hunted up to get you started:
- Our guide to proper bike helmet fitting;
- A list of scenic car-free bike paths for families to try out in the Boston area;
- A starter guide to your biking options, and things to remember about local biking;
- A very thorough guide for safer street biking with little guys and gals – lots of great tips!
* There is no consensus on how long bike helmets last, but I did a bit of research and felt that it was about time to get a new one. Considering that the most conservative estimate of how often you should replace helmets is every 3-5 years, though, your child will probably outgrow helmets before you have to worry about them no longer being effective.