E-bike riders aren’t wearing helmets — and head trauma cases are through the roof

Women wearing a Lumos Ultra bike helmet with a built-in headlamp.
(Image credit: Lumos)

If you're planning on cruising around town on an electric bike anytime soon — whether on a rental or one of the best e-bikes in 2024 — you may want to think twice before doing so sans helmet. 

Reports of head trauma and other injuries resulting from e-bike accidents are through the roof, according to newly published research (first reported on by NPR). Even worse, many of those injuries were at least partially avoidable — helmet use on e-bikes declined a disappointing amount during that same period. 

Between 2017 and 2022, helmet use by e-bike enthusiasts in the US declined by 6%, according to a research letter titled "Electric Bicycle Injuries and Hospitalizations," published last week on the JAMA Network

During that same period, the number of recorded e-bike riders seeking medical attention for head trauma increased nearly 50-fold to just shy of 8,000 visits in 2022.

The same research notes that 44% of injured riders wore helmets. The other 66%, or roughly 5,300 people, did not. Statistically speaking, going helmet-less on an e-bike nearly doubles your odds of head trauma compared to wearing one, the study notes. 

E-bike are bigger, faster, heavier than road bikes

Compared to most road and commuter bikes, e-bikes tend to be larger, heavier, and travel at consistently faster speeds. Fortunately, whether you're zipping around on a purely pedal-powered device or one with electronic assistance, there's a simple way to keep your noggin a little bit safer: Wear a bike helmet. 

Need some guidance? We've got you covered. Check out our epic buying guide on all the best bike helmets available right now, including trendy opinions that look great and feature the latest safety tech. Or, if you're in a rush, find three of my favorite helmets for e-bike enthusiasts below. 

Three great bike helmets for 2024

Giro Register Mips: $33 @ Amazon

Giro Register Mips: $33 @ Amazon
This one sits at the top of our best bike helmet buying guide for a reason: It provides excellent comfort and protection for the money. Surprisingly lightweight, the Giro Register comes with a snap-on visor and a simple, yet effective back-of-head dialing system to adjust the fit. 

Lumos Ultra Mips: $120 @ Amazon

Lumos Ultra Mips: $120 @ Amazon
This is a great option for city cyclists, whether on an e-bike or other. The Lumos Ultra has a built-in headlamp and tail lights that can be controlled via a small remote that mounts to the handlebars. You can signal turns or stops with the push of a button. The Lumos is also quite comfortable and similarly features a rear dialing system to adjust the tightness. 

Abus GameChanger 2.0: $218 @ All City Cycle

Abus GameChanger 2.0: $218 @ All City Cycle
The Abus GameChanger 2.0 is a relatively new helmet that I'm still in the process of assessing for inclusion in our guide. Spoiler alert: After roughly 50 miles of riding, I have nothing but good things to say about it: The GameChanger 2.0 is comfy, ultra-lightweight and breathable. Of course, this Italian-made, aerodynamic beauty doesn't come cheap.

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Dan Bracaglia
Senior Writer, Fitness & Wearables

Dan Bracaglia covers fitness and consumer technology with an emphasis on wearables for Tom's Guide. Based in the US Pacific Northwest, Dan is an avid outdoor adventurer who dabbles in everything from kayaking to snowboarding, but he most enjoys exploring the cities and mountains with his small pup, Belvedere. Dan is currently training to climb some of Washington State's tallest peaks. He's also a big photography nerd. 

  • Joseph_138
    Let's be honest about what ebikes really are. Electric motorcycles. The Uk is having a big problem with pedestrians being mowed down in crosswalks by these things. Some of them travel as fast as a 250cc motorcycle, and are completely silent. Someone looks to cross, sees a bicycle off in the distance, and thinks it's safe, not realizing the guy on the bicycle is traveling at 40-45 mph, and the pedestrian get run over because they never expected a guy on a bicycle to cover the distance that quickly, and they had no warning, because there is no engine noise.

    Ebike riders should be required to have a motorcycle license, have registration tags, and carry insurance for the injuries they cause.