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  1. #1
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    Why are helmets so styrofoamy?

    I recall stores used to carry helmets that were covered in plastic, where you couldn't see any styrofoam on the helmet.

    My no-name helmet is smooth all around. There's not even stryo on the inside of the helmet! It looks so much better this way.

    Problem is, I can't helmets these days with this type of design anymore. What happened? Are the manufacturers going cheap?

  2. #2
    Hardtail WorldWind's Avatar
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    brain smushey by helmet with no styro smoothey. No likey no mame from hat with no name-e.

  3. #3
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    Styrofoam has proved to be the best material for bike helmets. Beware of cheap/no brand helmets, also do not buy used unless you really trust who you are buying from as helmets should be disposed of after a crash. A good source on bike helmets is www.bhsi.org , also Consumer Reports carried out one of their excellent reviews on bicycle helmets in July 2004, interesting to note that price was not an indicator of superior safety ! Report however does not include many other excellent helmets, just because the choice is so vast but I think it is a good guide for first time buyers.
    IMO Try an helmet before you buy it, it should fit snugly and feel comfortable at the same time. I bought a Giro Eclipse earlier this year from a local LBS whom I trust for their advice, at $100 I probably could have saved $30 by shopping it on-line but the difference was worth the fitting because even after either a one or five hours ride I still forget I am wearing it and like it much better than my previous (and nearly as expensive) Bell helmet that placed some sort of pressure on my forehead (bought it at REI / different kind of service..). Same LBS recommended excellent helmets for <$35 but more for occasional road riders.
    In the USA, always look for CPSC standard compliance: http://www.helmets.org/standard.htm#CPSC

  4. #4
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    The styrofoam is light and crushable to protect your head and be comfortable to wear.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  5. #5
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    Bell helmets fit best on people who have rounder heads. I know because I have that problem and can only wear Bell helmets. People with a more ovale cross sections of their heads fit better in Giro and other brands. That is the problem that Cycliste mentioned with pressure on his forhead with a Bell helmet. I don't know how important this is from the safety point of view but it certainly contribute to the comfort of a helmet.

  6. #6
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    My feeling is that styrofoam is a pretty poor material for helmets. In my experience (about 6 broken helmets) they don't crush, they crack. While yes, this does dissipate some of the force, they are by no means living up to the claims made in the manual that they will crush down to 1cm thickness. A cracked helmet is a helmet that has failed imo.

    The real reason they use styrofoam is that it's dirt cheap to manufacture.
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  7. #7
    Hardtail WorldWind's Avatar
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    Any one still have a leather hair net?

  8. #8
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MERTON
    protec doesn't use styro foam
    I don't see anything from protec that I'd wear anywhere except on a BMX track, and they aren't very popular among BMX racers. The street guys and dirt jumpers like them, but not the racers. And some of them do use foam.
    Tom

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  9. #9
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    There is a difference between a bike helmet and a skatboard helmet.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  10. #10
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MERTON
    what's wrong with protec?
    Nothing wrong with them, they just aren't designed for road, commuter, or MTB use. They are designed for "X-game" type use, and they are great for that. Their BMX race line is actually pretty new for them I believe, and they look to be pretty nice full face helmets. Nothing wrong with them per se, they just aren't what most readers of this particular forum are looking for.
    Tom

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  11. #11
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    I should clarify, it's not the styrofoam itself that bothers me...it's the overt appearance of it throughout the helmet.

    My helmet is styrofoam but I don't see it because it's aesthetically coated with plastic.

    But now, a lot of current helmets just have that styrofoam hanging all out.

    Quote Originally Posted by atTheFillmore
    I recall stores used to carry helmets that were covered in plastic, where you couldn't see any styrofoam on the helmet.

    My no-name helmet is smooth all around. There's not even stryo on the inside of the helmet! It looks so much better this way.

    Problem is, I can't helmets these days with this type of design anymore. What happened? Are the manufacturers going cheap?

  12. #12
    Ride bike or bike ride? Hopper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atTheFillmore
    I should clarify, it's not the styrofoam itself that bothers me...it's the overt appearance of it throughout the helmet.

    My helmet is styrofoam but I don't see it because it's aesthetically coated with plastic.

    But now, a lot of current helmets just have that styrofoam hanging all out.


    They shouldn't have it hanging out, it should be soated in palstic. The idea is that if there is something smooth on the outside it will allow your head to continue skidding on the hard ground in the event of an accident. As oppoesed to stopping almost instantly and giving you neck damage.
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  13. #13
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    For what this information is worth. Many see styrofoam from the viewpoint of it's usage as a packing material.
    When I kept honey bees I had many styrofoam hives, and this was injection moulded styrofoam which is not dissimilar to helmets.
    Once I had the misfortune to lose a hive off the back of my trailor at some 40 mph. I could always telll which roof it was as one corner was chamfered down a bit from the skid.
    The hive remained strapped together and bee tight, the Queen was unscathed and nothing broke.
    I am quite happy that my helmet will scrape along the ground quite happily and in so doing will look after my bald bits.

    Shen

  14. #14
    H23
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    Quote Originally Posted by atTheFillmore
    I recall stores used to carry helmets that were covered in plastic, where you couldn't see any styrofoam on the helmet.

    My no-name helmet is smooth all around. There's not even stryo on the inside of the helmet! It looks so much better this way.

    Problem is, I can't helmets these days with this type of design anymore. What happened? Are the manufacturers going cheap?

    At some point in time, I think the 80's, some kind of certification system was developed for helmets. The certification requires that the helmets pass certain types of impact tests.

    I don't know if the hard shell helmets you are talking about were before that era, but I do seem to remember that people wore these things until the inside was all but destroyed. Perhaps the styro-only helmet is a way to ensure that people wear helmets that have some guaranteed nominal impact protection.

  15. #15
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MERTON
    protec doesn't use styro foam
    Yes they do. Under the plastic shell.?

  16. #16
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    There is a difference between a bike helmet and a skatboard helmet.
    Protek makes Bmx lids. Very nice, way more protection than an economy loaf style.
    But not for everyones taste, not areo.

  17. #17
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MERTON
    i thought they used a different type of foam.. because of the way they can handle multiple impacts and such.
    It does seem very dense. My protek bmx is plastic shell, styrofoam inner shell, removable cloth\ foam liner (washable) came witha second replacement liner. $50 on sale, great helmet. I jump my bike around a lot so I guess it doesn't look too overkill. It's a safety measure, not a 'wannabe' cool thing.

  18. #18
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    The protek is just a heavier helmet than is generally needed for road cycling. When I raced BMX, which wasn't but a couple of years ago, I hated wearing a helmet. Of course I always did on the track, it's the rules. You're out there in a 40 second sprint with 7 other guys over a course that is highly likely to make you crash. I had a brand new helmet...a $130 helmet, that in one crash, looking at it was frightening. I mean the gouges in this thing were scary. But it was still solid. A road helmet would have been shattered. I still ended up with a concussion.
    The outer plastic shell on road helmets is like a skin on it. They are light, and they are designed for long term comfort. They are designed to be destroyed on impact because roadies aren't supposed to crash often. BMX helmets are designed to take multiple impacts. They are heavier because the outer shell is a full shell.
    For what it's worth, while I hated wearing a helmet on the track, I don't mind my road helmet (Specialized Chamonix) at all.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  19. #19
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Good post Tom, I wear the Protek for car, curb poss impact, though I've only smacked a tree so far. Without, I would not be posting probably. Internal hemmoraging.

    you knock out cold wearing a helmet, go to a doctor.
    Possible to have subdermal hemotoma, (brain is bleeding) = death. You go to sleep...forever.
    Last edited by jeff williams; 10-12-04 at 09:43 PM.

  20. #20
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff williams
    you knock out cold wearing a helmet, go to a doctor.
    Possible to have subdermal hemotoma, (brain is bleeding) = death. You go to sleep...forever.
    What if you can finish the heat but not remember the second heat at all?
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  21. #21
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    card. just wrote my sig finally.

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