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  1. #1
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    Michael Schumacher - Ski Helmets

    I don’t know if anyone is following the ski accident of F1 race car driver, Michael Schumacher. It appears Michael was skiing in an area cluttered with rocks when he slipped and hit his head on said rock. They are estimating he may have been traveling 50 mph at the time of the accident because his helmet was split in two. All news reports state the helmet saved his life but did not protect him from the serious brain injuries he sustained.

    I created a thread years ago about Natasha Richardson who was in a ski accident that took her life. However, she did not have a helmet on and her outcome was fatal. I believe there was a medical opinion at the time that said would have lived if she wore a ski helmet.

    I spent the past two hours looking at ski helmets and they appear stronger and better constructed than bicycle helmets. In fact, POC has one with a face shield, a needed protection accessory lacking in bicycle helmets.

    I’m going to buy a ski helmet below by POC simply because I believe it’s a better winter helmet. I don’t know why bicycle helmets made by the same company look thinner, cheaper and offer less protection? In fact, cyclist should have more protection because we ride with vehicular traffic. This notion that cyclist need less protection than skiers is nonsense.

    I suspect there are two reasons why cyclists are given cheaper helmets to use by POC. (and others)

    1. Cyclists are willing to take more risk and use a helmet that offers less protection to keep the weight/heat down to a minimum.

    2. Cyclists have less money than skiers and are not willing to buy an expensive helmet so a cheaper one is constructed for their use.

    An argument can be made about the need to use a less protective helmet in the summer but why compromise during the winter?

    I don’t know what’s going to happen to Michael Schumacher in the long run. The helmet may have saved his life but now his quality of life is in jeopardy. I don’t believe he would have faired better with a bicycle helmet if you see the construction of the ones he used. I watched him race for most of his career and sad to see this happen.

    There’s also another lesson. They showed an area where the accident happened and it amazed me he made an attempt to ski there. I believe there is risk we all take in life and there is just unnecessary risk. I believe this was the latter.

    POC Helmet.jpg

  2. #2
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    IMO the biggest reason that bike helmets tend to be less protective than ski helmets is because of weight considerations. There's a big difference the posture on a bike and the length of time for the activity. It's not a big deal to wear a heavier helmet for the short duration of a ski run, but that same helmet will take a toll on the rider's neck when worn for a long time in the rider's posture.

    Absolute protection is only one consideration, wearability, heat, and comfort are some of the others and it's a question of finding a balance.
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  3. #3
    Urban Gearhead Brannigan's Avatar
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    When it is super icy on the roads when I commute in the winter I often wear my full face bmx helmet, car drivers tend to be less careful because they are protected by the car.
    I ride bicycles. I have a yellow one, a white one, a black one, and a red one. They make me happy.
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    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    My ride last night was at -10F and i wear a snowboard helmet at those temps. It is a Giro that allows me to close the vents which makes a huge difference. It has a snap/loop on the rear that I put a blinky on. It's much heavier than my normal road helmet but with all my cold weather clothing on I dont' notice it.
    Alaskans for global warming.

  5. #5
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Helmet Thread!
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    Yes, I know correlation is not causation, but brain injuries and deaths due to such have increased by something like 70% over the past decade, as has helmet use by skiers. Perhaps this is merely a cultural change involving riskier exploits, which may or may not be related to helmet use. Or, perhaps, there is something to the torsional effects of helmets argument.

    Now, off to the helmet sticky with this one.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    Yes, I know correlation is not causation, but brain injuries and deaths due to such have increased by something like 70% over the past decade, as has helmet use by skiers. Perhaps this is merely a cultural change involving riskier exploits, which may or may not be related to helmet use. Or, perhaps, there is something to the torsional effects of helmets argument.

    Now, off to the helmet sticky with this one.
    It might simply be a shift in recognition and diagnosis. While the diagnosis of death has alays been pretty good, that on non fatal head injuries has undergone a sea change in terms of recognition. Many more minor concussions that previously wouldn't have been reported now are, which creates the illusion of increased incidence.

    It's hard to factor the impact of the change in protocols, so it might make sense to compare deaths only.
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    Yes, I know correlation is not causation, but brain injuries and deaths due to such have increased by something like 70% over the past decade, as has helmet use by skiers. Perhaps this is merely a cultural change involving riskier exploits,
    There is an article about the increase in head injuries as a result of ski helmets being used. It doesn't mean the helmet didn't do it's job but that with people taking more risks, many do not understand the helmet's limitations.

  9. #9
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    There is an article about the increase in head injuries as a result of ski helmets being used. It doesn't mean the helmet didn't do it's job but that with people taking more risks, many do not understand the helmet's limitations.
    Or maybe the use of helmets are causing greater rotational forces that are one of the main causes of brain injuries.
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  10. #10
    I STILL miss East Hill :) Rollfast's Avatar
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    You don't deal with a lot of trees and boulders on Main St. It's mainly the horrible WALLOP, not the twisting.

    If you can consider an induced coma living I will take your word for it, no matter how you came across the proof...
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  11. #11
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    There simply isn't enough evidence in this rough data from which to draw any conclusions about helmets.

    OTOH-those treating him have scans from which the nature of the damage can be assessed. Impact injuries cause different damage than torsional injuries. Maybe at some time, they'll release information about the type of damage, but until then we're ghoulishly using this personal tragedy to promote agendas.
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  12. #12
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    I have a Smith ski helmet. It's not like a racy road bike helmet, but apart from the warm liner it's essentially indistinguishable from my Nutcase helmet. I wouldn't believe it's any better or worse safety-wise. More durable being knocked around and dropped but not any safer from a really big hit. I've worn it on the bike when I want to use my goggles, since it has the clip for them. It's still a half helmet and not a 3/4 like the one shown in the first post.

  13. #13
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    I used to wear a Bell Faction, similar frontal coverage, less on the ears. After a self-inflicted 12-14 mph face plant this summer I wear a full face helmet all year round. I'm not too worried about impact damage, in most cases the helmets are only tested for a 6 foot drop which is good for a 10 mph impact, I'm much more worried about road rash on the face. I came out of my accident with rash on the chin, whiskers through a scab are not pleasant. Weight is not a consideration, the helmet is much lighter than a motorcycle helmet and over tens of thousands of mile without a faring the motorcycle helmet never bothered my neck.
    My Bike: Black 1974 John Deere Men's Racer, with updates

  14. #14
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Couple of thoughts.

    First, the user's activity for a snowsports helmet is very different than for a bike helmet. You ski/snowboard in cold weather, may exert yourself heavily for only a couple of minutes at a time, weight and aero are largely irrelevant. That might be close enough to casual bicycle riding in cold weather, but it is very different from other types of cycling which may be done in hot weather, you may be working very hard for hours, and both weight and aero are important. That places obvious constraints on the materials, design and construction of the different helmet types. Do a hard 70 mile ride in hot weather in a snowsports helmet and you'd probably not finish or end up with heatstroke.

    Second, the demands on the helmet are different. Snowboarders doing stunts/half pipes fall frequently, their helmets may take repeated hits on hardpacked snow/ice. Skiiers may fall less often - depending on the type of skiing, of course - but your typical skiier is still likely to go down several times a day. Falls are routine. Compare to cycling where a fall is much less common - road racers may go down several times a season, while commuters and recreational road riders can go years between accidents. Helmets that are expected to take frequent hits but stay in service for years (football helmets are the extreme example) are designed and built differently from a helmet that is expected to take one big hit and be replaced. They are usually tested differently too. For example, testing for auto helmets includes multiple impacts (to simulate the head repeatedly impacting the rollcage/vehicle interior during an accident) versus motorcycle helmets that are tested with a single impact.

    Finally, most people ski or snowboard only a few weeks a year - 30 days/year on the slopes is a lot, unless you're a ski bum or live/work on the slopes - and are willing to put on all sorts of cumbersome gear to do it. There is no expectation that your ski gear should be compatible with daily life. But many cyclists will wear their helmet every day, they want that helmet to go on and come off quickly, not be heavy to carry around, etc.

    That explains why snowsports helmets and bicycling helmets are so different. It also explains why BMXers and MTB gravity racers wear helmets that look more like snowsports helmets than like standard cycling helmets, and why an urban commuter riding a few miles at 10 mph might choose a different helmet than a sport rider doing 70 miles days in the saddle.

    I am very sad at the news on Michael Schumacher. I've been a F1 fan for decades and consider him one of the legends of the sport. It seems pretty clear that without a helmet, he would have died instantly. The helmet gave him some chance at surviving, but we don't know if it will be enough. Felipe Massa sustained a serious brain injury when a suspension component struck his head, but he lived and returned to racing; without his helmet, he would have been dead in the cockpit. Ayrton Senna was killed when a component penetrated his helmet; the helmet wasn't enough. Helmets improve your odds; they don't promise a good outcome.

    That said, I do wonder if there is a market for a full face cycling helmet that is light and vented and aero enough for sport cycling use. The new aero helmets are managing to deliver adequate airflow without many large vents, and Giro has a model with a removable visor. Perhaps adding a chin bar and the necessary extensions down over the ears could be managed.

    I know that Michael's accident is making me think about my own choice of helmet. I bought my helmet because it was light, had lots of vents, was attractive, and was fairly cheap (sound familar?). I then have hung various lights and battery packs and blinkies and cameras on it, and am using it for 4+ years now without any thought of replacement. I'm thinking I should get a new helmet, figure out how to mount less stuff on it, and plan on replacing it every few years.
    Last edited by jyl; 01-02-14 at 12:00 AM.
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  15. #15
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Incidentally, I just looked at the Consumer Report ratings for bike helmets. Unfortunately they only tested 13 models. But the two "urban" style helmets, I mean the ones that look like skateboard lids, received the lowest scores for impact absorption, as well as for ventilation and fit adjustments. All the helmets passed the CPSC impact standard, but CU also tests to a tougher standard.
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    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Just on TV this morning doctors on Schumacher's case said if he was not wearing a helmet, he would be dead.

  17. #17
    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    Or maybe the use of helmets are causing greater rotational forces that are one of the main causes of brain injuries.
    Or maybe not.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

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    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    I don’t know why bicycle helmets made by the same company look thinner, cheaper and offer less protection? In fact, cyclist should have more protection because we ride with vehicular traffic. This notion that cyclist need less protection than skiers is nonsense.

    I suspect there are two reasons why cyclists are given cheaper helmets to use by POC. (and others)

    1. Cyclists are willing to take more risk and use a helmet that offers less protection to keep the weight/heat down to a minimum.

    2. Cyclists have less money than skiers and are not willing to buy an expensive helmet so a cheaper one is constructed for their use.

    An argument can be made about the need to use a less protective helmet in the summer but why compromise during the winter?
    While winter temps might be a great excuse to wear helmets with better protection, POC does offer the same Backcountry Receptor MIPS in both their Bike and Ski line. I suppose if I wanted a dedicated winter helmet, I could opt for the ski helmet, but personally, I'd go for a four-season helmet with the Backcountry Receptor style.



    -------------------------------

    And... here we are on a bike forum reading a cautionary tale about a guy who drove cars for a living who sustained a head injury while skiing.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

  19. #19
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    Weight Comfort
    Helmet is USELESS if not worn

    Shumacher-GREAT DRIVER-maybe as good as Senna-
    but his condition-extremely iffy-he will probably live-but how much brain damage-it will be a while before it is clear how many neurons actually died-how much and which-parts of his brain were damaged
    This could be extremely grim-or maybe he will fully recover-getting state of art care-just depends on how much damage was done by the hit-and how much resulted from the swelling-which kills more neurons by "squeezing off" blood supply and by distorting brain cells
    Fingers crossed-
    Don't down hill ski where there are trees rocks ski lift supports or people to hit-in other words-don't down hill ski at over 5 mph-cross country ski
    It is FUN but...

  20. #20
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    ...and I was also thinking, at least he didn't get hit in the face by a flying shock absorber.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    There's a big difference the posture on a bike and the length of time for the activity. It's not a big deal to wear a heavier helmet for the short duration of a ski run, but that same helmet will take a toll on the rider's neck when worn for a long time in the rider's posture.
    The problem with this is that you don't remove the helmet between down hill skil\snowboard runs, so it is likely that you'll have the helmet on for several hours at a time. You'll have the same issue with a heavier ski helmet as with a heavier bike helmet. After a fall on the slopes last year when I hit my head and saw the preverbial stars, I wore a helmet skiing for the first time this year, a rental. It was by far the most uncomfortable helmet I have ever worn. Being a rental probably had much to do with that. But it's weight was not an issue.
    If you don't know the way, you shouldn't be going there.

  22. #22
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    But wearing a heavy helmet while sitting upright and relaxed on a chairlift is different from wearing a heavy helmet in the drops with your back flat and your neck bent backwards.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    I wear my Giro ski helmet during the colder weather for a couple of reasons. It does provide more protection, I can adjust the ventilation more easily and it has ear covers.

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    Yesterday I saw the scene on the news. There were more rocks than poles on a slalom course.

    And the moral of the story is .... ALL Helmets do VERY LITTLE to protect your BRAIN.
    They might happen to stop your skull from cracking and scalp from bleeding.... and help you look good in the coffin.

    I was a lousy motorcycler and skiier for a couple years and banged my touque on the hard snow a couple times. A bicycle helmet would have made it Worse. Snow and ice falls are Fricking dangerous compared to street cycling.

    As for F1 ... Only VCers could love that stupid no passing car PARADE sport.

  25. #25
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
    As for F1 ... Only VCers could love that stupid no passing car PARADE sport.
    Just cannot resist a stupid side slap, can you. Yet it does not seem to be the VCers saying how much they like his racing.
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