Styling Natural Hair For Cycling

It’s been a couple of years since I did a whole post all about hair… back in 2016 after reading an article about natural hair I was compelled to write this post where I shared my opinion and busted a few myths about looking after my hair. When I learnt to swim around the same time, it became evident that one of my biggest issues was learning how to look after my hair and also how to style my hair in a way that made taking part in certain activities easier. And one of those activities is cycling. And after sharing a post recently on Instagram about natural hair styles for cycling I realised I was not alone…

summer bike accessories on the brompton from mad dot com

Helmets For Afro Hair

I remember when my hair was relaxed, I lived with the constant fear of not looking after my hair well enough, and it “breaking”. This did happen once, when I decided to transition to natural hair I figured I might as well enjoy it so got my hair dip dye (bleached the ends) and eventually, yes my hair did break.

Afro hair has a tendency to be dry and brittle… you need to keep your hair moisturised at all times. When it comes to putting a helmet on your head, hairstyles such as these featured in the post serve to protect your hair from the elements and from the helmet itself.

Tip: always wear a cycling cap to protect your hair from getting caught in the helmet, especially the velcro bits! 

This means there is no specific helmet made for natural or afro hair, nor any afro helmet cover that I could find. As for anyone else, it comes down to the type of cycling and whether it’s a good fit for you.

I’ve found that because my hair is very thick I usually end up wearing a large sized helmet to account for my hair. Here are a few of the helmets I have worn and loved over the past few years:

Check Out The Helmets On Amazon:

Other recommended helmets:

Afro Hair Styles For Wearing A Helmet

Seeing as I am not an expert in styling hair I figured I would get some inspiration from somewhere or someone who knows more than me… that turned out to be Simply Gorgeous Hair, and Afro hair salon located in North West London. They, specifically, my stylist Emmah, were the creative brains behind the styles I’m about to share with you…

Style #1. Low Bun For Natural Hair

low bun for cyclists with natural hair close up front view
low bun close up from top
low bun with helmet and cap on

This was the first style that Emmah did on my hair. I went with my hair pre-washed so all she had to do was blow dry it using a comb attachment (which are a few quid on Amazon) to make it a little straighter and more manageable.

It also made my hair a little less “volumeous” (I think I just made this word up… I did. My mum confirmed it should be “voluminous”) …which gives makes my helmet sit a bit better on my head rather than just on my hair.

Emmah then created two cornrows at the front of my hair with a middle parting which fed into the low bun. The bun it itself was a little more intricate than a regular bun but the important thing was that it sat low enough to allow my helmet to sit properly too.

Natural Hair Inspiration board on pinterest
Hair I go… | Check out my Natural Hair Inspiration board on Pinterest here!

Style #2. Speed Plaits For Natural Hair

speed plaits for natural hair - salon view

Without a doubt, this was my favourite of the two styles. It also is the one that probably takes a bit more skill but it actually doesn’t take too long to complete.

Emmah started out by parting my hair in the middle then separating enough hair from the centre to make two S shaped cornrows. The remaining hair on each side was braided into a french plait using added hair extensions to give the length… I figured I might as well go all out… the longer the plaits the faster I would be?! Emma then adorned the french plaits with some gold thread and added a gold hair cuff to each plait.

sppeed plaits with helmet on

I managed to keep this style for around a week by wrapping my hair when I went to bed. I kept my hair and scalp moisturised throughout the week with various oil based products.

Ride with me?

If you happen to live in East London or Essex, then you have to come ride with me. As a Liv Ambassador and Breeze Champion / Ride Leader, I’m always putting together a calendar of rides which are free to attend.

I welcome all levels of cyclists and am happy to answer any questions you have about cycling either in person or just drop me a note on my social channels (linked below) or in the comments here on the blog…

…who’s down for a hair braiding workshop?!




  1. nikki mills
    July 23, 2020 / 06:58

    Thank you! I have been surprised my friend’s daughter (my 10 year old namesake) needed a new helmet but realise she needs a bigger one to accommodate her hair. I feel reassured that it’s not going to be dangerous to get a bigger one now and feel reassured that her long locks will be safe under a cap! Nikki, and wee Nikki, Paisley.

    • Elle
      September 3, 2020 / 21:20

      Awww hey Nikki! Thanks so much for stopping by and for dropping a comment. I think it’s super important to get a helmet that fits on our heads and accommodates our hair in order to provide us with full protection! And say hello to wee Nikki for me too ;P happy riding ladies! <3

  2. August 17, 2018 / 09:05

    They both look amazing and really suit you! I just plait my hair when on the bike – in face I live in plaits and messy top knots most of the time! We must go for a ride Elle, come and let me show you the trails in Stanmer and the beautiful South Downs!

    • Elle
      October 15, 2018 / 21:31

      Thanks Tess! …and you know I’m on my way for that ride soon 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read previous post:
Ideas To Help You Come Top of the Class

For those of you still living that student life, or like me, have made a return, you've either already had...