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Old 05-12-11, 06:40 PM   #1
Retro Grouch 
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New helmets

Since I cracked my helmet last Sunday I ordered new Bell Citi helmets for me and Mrs. Grouch. I was a little concerned they would be cheap or dorky looking because the price was only about 1/2 that of other helmets that looked decent to me.

Not to worry. The Citi is a molded in the shell helmet with up-to-date fitting and strap adjustment features. As helmet prices go it looks like a pretty good deal to me. I also bought designed-to-fit visor mirrors for both of us. I'm pretty happy.

As an aside, I had questioned in my own mind the necessity of wearing a helmet on a recumbent since there is less distance to fall. At zero miles per mile we went down hard enough to crack my helmet, ruin our Sunday ride, and keep me out of work for a day. Concussions are funny things. It has taken until today (Thursday) for me to really begin feeling normal. The good news is that, since I was wearing my helmet, I don't have to defend myself to all of the people who ask.
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Old 05-12-11, 08:17 PM   #2
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What color? Posting a pic for you...
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Old 05-12-11, 09:37 PM   #3
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We bought citis two years ago and like them. They are a bit heavy, but we found our biggest complaint is heat. The ventilation is poor. We think to cut price, they left out slots, obviously an economics decision. All in all, still a great deal. and yes, they are bright yellow!
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Old 05-12-11, 09:43 PM   #4
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I've the Bell Metro, does the citi have the small fitting in back that allows you to attach a small light easily if desired. The Metro does, but I don't think they are produced any longer.
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Old 05-12-11, 11:16 PM   #5
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OK, I don't want to reignite the helmet/no helmet debate - I'm sure your injury would have been worse w/o a helmet, but at zero MPH from a recumbent, shouldn't a standard issue helmet be good enough to prevent a concussion?

It seems to me that helmet safety technology is stagnant. When you go to buy a helmet, you are always told that all the helmets are equally safe because they all meet the same testing standards. The manufacturers do not want to claim more than this because they would then open themselves up to liability against said claims. So they also have no motivation to improve unless stricter standards are set. Thus, all helmets offer some amount of protection, but they could be doing better....
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Old 05-13-11, 04:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
OK, I don't want to reignite the helmet/no helmet debate - I'm sure your injury would have been worse w/o a helmet, but at zero MPH from a recumbent, shouldn't a standard issue helmet be good enough to prevent a concussion?

It seems to me that helmet safety technology is stagnant. When you go to buy a helmet, you are always told that all the helmets are equally safe because they all meet the same testing standards. The manufacturers do not want to claim more than this because they would then open themselves up to liability against said claims. So they also have no motivation to improve unless stricter standards are set. Thus, all helmets offer some amount of protection, but they could be doing better....
I agree.

One might even use my accident as an argument that the helmet doesn't do much. On the other hand, it convinced me that wearing one is a prudent precaution. I'm convinced we could do better. Maybe we need some kind of technology breakthrough before helmet makers can make a significant improvement.
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Old 05-13-11, 05:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
OK, I don't want to reignite the helmet/no helmet debate - I'm sure your injury would have been worse w/o a helmet, but at zero MPH from a recumbent, shouldn't a standard issue helmet be good enough to prevent a concussion?

It seems to me that helmet safety technology is stagnant. When you go to buy a helmet, you are always told that all the helmets are equally safe because they all meet the same testing standards. The manufacturers do not want to claim more than this because they would then open themselves up to liability against said claims. So they also have no motivation to improve unless stricter standards are set. Thus, all helmets offer some amount of protection, but they could be doing better....
It's a balancing act. Any more expensive or intrusive and people will not wear them. Too light and too comfortable and they no longer do their job. The task is to simply trade distance (crush of the foam) for a lower acceleration level to the head. Too little crush distance and time and the g load to the brain is too high Too much and it runs out before the impact event ends and suddenly the g load is too high. As with all other bike components, more money buys lighter weight.

Helmets are pretty remarkable for the price and inconvenience paid for the safety imparted. They work best for just the sort of accident in the OP. They are a one shot insurance policy that Might help when needed. They are nothing more than another layer of less than perfect protection between you and disaster.

If you want to buy total protection, you may not enjoy what you get. Anyone seen the going price on an Indy Car drivers helmet lately?
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Old 05-13-11, 06:19 AM   #8
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RG, Good for you to replace, rather than reuse a damaged helmet... I see a handful every charity ride I take. The Bell bicycle helmet division was bought by Giro around ten years ago. At that time Bell stopped a program of returning a crashed Bell helmet along with a description of how it was damaged for a $5 credit, which I thought was a great idea for development (I missed out on the program by a month.).

WRT my helmets, I follow the same rule that applies to motorcycle helmets and that is to retire the helmet after five years of use. It takes fortitude to retire a $600 motorcycle helmet with another $600 helmet when there isn't anything apparently wrong with the old helmet! I haven't checked on bicycle helmets lately, but the EU has developed a more stringent requirement than the latest US' DOT (which the US may adopt) for motorcycle helmets. Essentially though the helmet manufacturers, regardless of intended usage are primarily working on comfort items which sells more helmets and has more people wearing them, hopefully.

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Old 05-13-11, 06:42 AM   #9
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Replace your helmet? From the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

Quote:
Is it newer? With what standards sticker inside?

Newer helmets from the late 1980's and the 90's may or may not need
replacement. First look to see what standards sticker is inside. If it's ASTM
or Snell, the helmet was designed to meet today's standards for impact
protection, and you may even find that Consumer Reports tested it in one
of their articles


. Most manufacturers now recommend that helmets be
replaced after five years, but some of that may be just marketing. (Bell now
recommends every three years, which seems to us too short. They base it
partially on updating your helmet technology, but they have not been improving
their helmets that much over three year periods, and we consider some of their
helmets since the late 1990's to be a step
backwards


, so we would take that with a grain of salt.) Deterioration
depends on usage, care, and abuse. But if you ride thousands of miles every
year, five years may be a realistic estimate of helmet life. And helmets have
actually been improving enough over time to make it a reasonable bet that you
can find a better one than you did five years ago. It may fit better, look
better, and in some cases may even be more protective. For an alternate view
that agrees with the manufacturers, check out the helmet
FAQ of the Snell Foundation


. Snell knows a lot about helmets and their
views on this subject should not be dismissed lightly, even though we disagree
with them.
Quote:
Occasionally somebody spreads rumors that sweat and ultraviolet (UV) exposure
will cause your helmet to degrade. Sweat will not do that. The standards do not
permit manufacturers to make a helmet that degrades from sweat, and the EPS,
EPP or EPU foam is remarkably unaffected by salt water.

Sunlight can affect the strength of the shell material, though. Since helmets spend a lot of time in the sun, manufacturers usually put UV inhibitors in the plastic for their shells that control UV degradation. If your helmet is fading or showing small cracks around the vents, the UV inhibitors may be failing, so you probably should replace it. Chances are it has seen an awful lot of sun to have that happen. Otherwise, try another brand next time and let us know what brand faded on you.
Read more

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Old 05-13-11, 07:08 AM   #10
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I don't know how comfortable these are, but I was thinking of getting one for my brother who insists he doesn't need a helmet.

http://www.nutcasehelmets.com/en/col...duct/glo_brain
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Old 05-13-11, 07:53 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
OK, I don't want to reignite the helmet/no helmet debate - I'm sure your injury would have been worse w/o a helmet, but at zero MPH from a recumbent, shouldn't a standard issue helmet be good enough to prevent a concussion?

It seems to me that helmet safety technology is stagnant. ...
Sadly, helmets do little to nothing to prevent concussions. The truth is that while theories about what causes concussions abound and data exists to "prove" every one of them since the various theories and supporting data are contradictory no one really knows how to make a helmet that will prevent concussions. Concussions are being regarded these days as much more serious than previously thought and so groups, the NFL in particular, are funding studies to see what can be done to prevent them. The jury is still out.

On the bright side, helmets are designed to prevent more immediately serious head injuries, like fractured skulls. They provide a crushable structure around your skull that gives your head more time to deccelerate in a collision and that lowers the G forces dramatically. Even though they have what on paper would seem to be a laughably tiny effective range, in practice it seems that they have enough range to prevent a good number of serious injuries. I would not be without one.

I was not without one when just about a year ago I was turning off a major street into my neighborhood at the end of a ride. I don't know what happened next, in fact I do not remember the ride at all. The first thing I can remember after having lunch with my wife in a local bagel shop is waking up in the hospital well after dark and being told that I had crashed my bike and had four broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a concussion. The immediate problem was the ribs since the lung puncture proved to be too small to need treatment. I did have a little trouble walking but I attributed that to the pain from the ribs and gait adjustments to relieve it. However a few weeks later, after the rib pain abated somewhat, I started having tremendous trouble with numbness in both arms, a right foot that wanted to drag, and difficulty "aiming" when I passed through doorways (I kept brushing the side of the doorjamb). On my doctor's advice I scheduled an appointment with a neurologist which had to be 2 or 3 weeks in the future and then had him cancel on me the morning of the appointment. They offered to reschedule but by then the symptoms, thankfully, had disappeared and my regular doctor agreed that there was no point in rescheduling. It undoubtedly was post concussion syndrome and it could rear its ugly head again in the future in one guise or another. Having multiple concussions just makes it worse.

So we really would like to prevent concussions, especially those of us who have already had one (or more). You are right that our legal system punishes those who step outside industry norms in an attempt to provide a better product. So the only hope is that the various helmet research efforts will reach a consensus on what the next industry standard should be and that the government will then mandate compliance with it. At that point it will be legally safe to offer an improved product.

Obviously I have no idea what caused my crash other than the slim physical evidence which consists of a cracked helmet, grass stains on my clothes, and two kinked bicycle rims which trued up again nicely. In spite of all the damage to my person there was no other damage to the bike! It seems clear that I went wide on the turn and up over the curb which caused me to fall in the grassy "parkway"* and hit my head on the curb. Or maybe I made as far as the sidewalk and hit my head on that. I doubt very much that this was an unforced error caused by too much speed, for instance, and the road had been repaved the year before so it was in perfect condition. Most likely I had to swing wide to avoid something: a child, a pet/wild animal, or perhaps most likely a car that failed to see me coming and started to make a left turn in front of me. Knowing how I generally take that turn before and after the accident it is very unlikely that I was going as much as 15mph at the time and certainly no faster. This was an accident with a severity level that could occur to just about any rider at any time even though the details could vary. It is likely that the helmet prevented a more serious, even fatal, head injury.

My old helmet was a Uvex model. I replaced it with a Bell Citi because it came in a brighter color (I have the light green pictured above, I wanted but could not find the dayglow orange) and tested slightly better than most in someone's (Consumer Reports?) testing. I am still riding and at age 58 it is easy enough to recover from such a collection of injuries, as long as you can ignore the pain! In fact I am training right now to attempt my first century, the McHenry County (IL) Bicycle Club's Udder Century (we seem to have a cow fixation here in McHenry County). I am sure that I can do one, I'm just not sure I am being diligent enough in my training to do this one but I still have a few weeks....

Ken

* Parkway is Chicago area slang for the grassy strip between the street curb and the sidewalk
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Old 05-13-11, 07:56 AM   #12
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I replace a dirt bike helmet every time I take a good lick to the head....whether there is visible damage or not. They cost a bit more than a bike helmet.

Wear the helmet, replace the helmet. It's that easy

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Old 05-13-11, 08:58 AM   #13
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"They provide a crushable structure around your skull that gives your head more time to deccelerate in a collision--"

As a structural engineer (but not exactly my field), my first guess as to the primary rational behind helmet effectiveness isn't lessened G force as much as load distribution.
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Old 05-13-11, 01:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomD77 View Post
"They provide a crushable structure around your skull that gives your head more time to deccelerate in a collision--"

As a structural engineer (but not exactly my field), my first guess as to the primary rational behind helmet effectiveness isn't lessened G force as much as load distribution.
You may have a point here as far as their success rate in the field goes. The testing is a drop test with a weighted head dummy and the pass/fail criteria are acceleration based if I understood and remember the online information correctly. The design criteria come from testing that British researchers did a good while back using cadaver skulls. They came up with 500g as the maximum acceleration a skull could endure in an impact to guarantee that a fracture would not occur. Over the years this has been reduced to 300g and that is the test standard used in cycling helmets today.

Instrumented American football helmets have shown that a lot of concussion occur in the 20-100g range but there is data and theories to match it to support the notion that rotational accelerations are also important in concussion prevention. Load distribution could have a significant impact on skull fractures, I would suppose. I doubt that it will affect concussion rates but I am an electrical engineer and neither a mechanical engineer nor a medical professional.

Ken
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Old 05-13-11, 02:00 PM   #15
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Pretty sure I'd be dead right now if I hadn't been wearing one Tuesday morning.
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Old 05-13-11, 02:07 PM   #16
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I also crashed, and the helmet took all the hit. When I went down I slide headfirst into curb. Helmet took it all. A cheap Wal Mart Schwinn too.

However, I have replaced it with a couple others..
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Old 05-13-11, 02:14 PM   #17
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I also crashed, and the helmet took all the hit. When I went down I slide headfirst into curb. Helmet took it all. A cheap Wal Mart Schwinn too.

However, I have replaced it with a couple others..
Which, since you have two heads, is most appropriate.
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Old 05-13-11, 02:35 PM   #18
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I also crashed, and the helmet took all the hit. When I went down I slide headfirst into curb. Helmet took it all. A cheap Wal Mart Schwinn too.
I too had a head first crash -- car coming around a corner too fast hit me head on. My helmet crashed into the windshield in the front then onto the pavement in the back. I believe my helmet took the impact of the collision and mine was also a cheap Schwinn.

Before I purchased my first helmet I read up and what I found was generally that more expensive helmets do not protect better they just have some aesthetic and air flow options not necessarily found on a cheap helmet. I don't know, I just know I won't ride without a helmet and I do not care if the helmet made a difference or not.
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Old 05-13-11, 06:55 PM   #19
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No one can convince me that a helmet isn't protection, and a good one for certain impacts. I know that for sure in a crash I had with a cheep bell helmet that broke on impact. I would hate to think of what would have happened to my heat without it.
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Old 05-13-11, 09:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I've the Bell Metro, does the citi have the small fitting in back that allows you to attach a small light easily if desired. The Metro does, but I don't think they are produced any longer.
Yes, citi does have the light mount on the back, I personally like the mirror option, built in bracket as well, the mirror is sorta small but nice for city commute
R
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