When it comes to thermal comfort, the head is one of the most sensitive body parts. According to studies, the head is responsible for up to 1/4 to 1/3 of total body heat loss in warm climates, although it makes up only 7-10% of the body’s surface area. The head contributes most strongly to the perception of overall body comfort, especially in warm conditions.
One of the most common reasons bicyclists give for not wearing helmets is the discomfort and excessive heat that helmets create. A recent study among German helmet users indicated that 57% of them complained about excessive sweating – far more than impaired visual field (9%) or perceived head pressure (10%). Other factors certainly play an important role, such as design, convenience, vanity, social perception, cultural norms and fashion. Similar results were found in the survey conducted by Working Group 2.
The bottom line is, cyclists are not likely to wear a helmet that is uncomfortably warm. Dramatic improvements can be made in helmet design, based on scientific, state-of-the-art developments in thermal comfort. More comfortable helmets can potentially increase helmet use among bicyclists.