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Old 07-12-11, 12:44 PM   #1
Bruzer
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Are the professional's helmets protecting well enough?

Has the quest for light helmets created unsafe helmets? Team Radio Shack alone has had 2 riders Jani Brajkovic and Chris Horner out with apparent concussions. Tom Boonen had to abandon because of concussion symptoms that occurred 2 days after his crash. Juan Soler may even have brain damage from hitting his head in this year's tour.

I know many of the professional riders count grams and examine wind tunnel data. Is it possible that the quest for lightness and aerodynamics created helmets that do not protect the professional riders?
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Old 07-12-11, 12:53 PM   #2
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Possible.

I don't think bicycle helmets were ever very good at preventing concussions though - they're mainly intended for blunt force injuries and skidding scrapes. Usually the helmet survivor stories go something like this "I would have died without my helmet, but instead I just got a little concussion."
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Old 07-12-11, 02:54 PM   #3
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Has the quest for light helmets created unsafe helmets? Team Radio Shack alone has had 2 riders Jani Brajkovic and Chris Horner out with apparent concussions. Tom Boonen had to abandon because of concussion symptoms that occurred 2 days after his crash. Juan Soler may even have brain damage from hitting his head in this year's tour.

I know many of the professional riders count grams and examine wind tunnel data. Is it possible that the quest for lightness and aerodynamics created helmets that do not protect the professional riders?
They could make the helmets better but then they would be hot and heavy. It's a difficult trade off. But I think it may be that they have gone just a little too far towards light and cool. But then again these helmets are probably designed for falls for average cyclists which generally are riding much slower than TDF elite racers.
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Old 07-12-11, 03:42 PM   #4
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Other helmeted sports have concussions as well.
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Old 07-12-11, 03:56 PM   #5
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Scott made a very good point. Helmets are not made to prevent concussions but to reduce brain injury. I found the following statement on the Bicycle Helmet's Safety web site: "And they are designed to prevent catastrophic brain injury, not the milder forms of concussion."

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But then again these helmets are probably designed for falls for average cyclists which generally are riding much slower than TDF elite racers.
Helmets are tested using standard repeatable methods. The professional usage of bicycle helmets is likely outside the standard testing parameters. I know the pro's helmets are sold at a premium price but does not seem that the expensive helmets are significantly better than the cheaper ones. I found the following statement on the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute: "Our testing shows that the very expensive helmets and the very cheap helmets all have about the same impact protection."

The average cyclist can chose what helmet they wear (if they wear one at all). If they are concerned about safety they can read consumer safety reports and use that data when deciding which helmet to buy. The professional racers have to use the helmet that sponsors the team. They do not get a choice of what helmet to wear.
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Old 07-12-11, 03:58 PM   #6
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It seems like 3M or somebody could come up with some breathable, elastic material that is very strong, but very slippery, both through the wind and when sliding across pavement to protect against abrasions. There are also some helmet airbags in the works, but I'm sure they're heavy and expensive.


We've already seen one person die this year with no proposed changes, and a rule mandating a helmet 100% of the time is less than a decade old, so I don't see much change happening very soon.

Last edited by Kind of Blued; 07-12-11 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 07-12-11, 04:21 PM   #7
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The main issue with that video is that it's a dummies not a person, people put their hands and land with their hands 1st, well some morons don't do it but that's subject for another thread.
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Old 07-12-11, 05:29 PM   #8
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Helmets protect against skull fractures. They don't have helmets that keep your brain from beating around inside your skull.
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Old 07-12-11, 05:34 PM   #9
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Brain injuries are caused by the brain smashing against the inside of the skull, helmets don't help much in this type of injury. Helmets do help prevent head wounds which tend to bleed a lot and are therefore quite dangerous for that reason. The jury is still out on concussions and helmets, it seems like a helmets helpfulness depends upon the accident.
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Old 07-12-11, 05:49 PM   #10
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Brain injuries are caused by the brain smashing against the inside of the skull, helmets don't help much in this type of injury. Helmets do help prevent head wounds which tend to bleed a lot and are therefore quite dangerous for that reason. The jury is still out on concussions and helmets, it seems like a helmets helpfulness depends upon the accident.
As mentioned earlier, helmets only minimize the concussion. What could have been a fatal or near-fatal head injury might be reduced to a relatively minor concussion -- the brain impacting the skull. The purpose of the styrofoam in the helmet is to decrease the impact ultimately transmitted to the head. The harder the impact, the more that will ultimately transmitted to the head. Once a helmet is involved in an accident, it must be replaced -- the styrofoam at the impact point has been compressed. The hardshell protects against the external head wounds. I speak from experience since I was hit by a truck about 25 years ago. Fortunately I was wearing a helmet since I landed on my right shoulder and head.
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Old 07-12-11, 05:54 PM   #11
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The brain is still sloshing around inside a hard skull.
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Old 07-12-11, 06:03 PM   #12
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As mentioned earlier, helmets only minimize the concussion. What could have been a fatal or near-fatal head injury might be reduced to a relatively minor concussion -- the brain impacting the skull.
Mitigation then, as opposed to prevention?

Last edited by dahut; 07-13-11 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 07-13-11, 12:41 AM   #13
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It seems like the helmets they are all wearing are more like styrofoam beanies. I understand why they want to minimize the amount of material on their heads, but when folks are getting gashes above their ears and on their foreheads, there isn't enough there there.
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Old 07-13-11, 07:18 AM   #14
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Pros wear the same helmets as the rest of you. No bicycle helmet offers significant protection against brain injury, because the ones that do the damage are rotational injuries that bounce the brain around inside the skull. Some people suggest that helmets might even make such injuries worse, first by making the head a bigger target and second because a helmet will tend not to slide along the ground as well as your skull does - having your scalp tear may be messy, but it's better than having your head twisted round at high speed.

Helmets are good at protecting your scalp - not the rest of your head - from injury and they may well prevent some skull fractures from linear impacts. But they are very unlikely to save your life. The tests they are required to pass merely simulate a simple fall from a height of seven feet when stationary. They simply are not specced to deal with the forces involved in high speed collisions, or being hit by a car.

So no, the pro's helmets aren't offering much protection. Neither is yours. The trouble is that you wouldn't want to ride in a helmet that really worked, because it would be similar in weight to a motorcycle helmet.
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Old 07-13-11, 12:38 PM   #15
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Pros wear the same helmets as the rest of you. No bicycle helmet offers significant protection against brain injury, because the ones that do the damage are rotational injuries that bounce the brain around inside the skull. Some people suggest that helmets might even make such injuries worse, first by making the head a bigger target and second because a helmet will tend not to slide along the ground as well as your skull does - having your scalp tear may be messy, but it's better than having your head twisted round at high speed.

Helmets are good at protecting your scalp - not the rest of your head - from injury and they may well prevent some skull fractures from linear impacts. But they are very unlikely to save your life. The tests they are required to pass merely simulate a simple fall from a height of seven feet when stationary. They simply are not specced to deal with the forces involved in high speed collisions, or being hit by a car.

So no, the pro's helmets aren't offering much protection. Neither is yours. The trouble is that you wouldn't want to ride in a helmet that really worked, because it would be similar in weight to a motorcycle helmet.
Interesting insight. In fact it makes sense. It seems though the helmet helps protect the head from external damage and can dissipate a lot of energy it can also act as a lever and a catch mechanism in a sliding situation to wrench around the head and neck. This would mean a more form fitting helmet with a slick continuous hard shell over thinner high density padding would be better. Only problem is that the rider can die from heat exhaustion just as easily and that might even be a bigger concern for summer cyclists.
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Old 07-13-11, 12:56 PM   #16
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Snell does have a bicycle helmet standard, btw.

KeS
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Old 07-13-11, 04:16 PM   #17
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Pros wear the same helmets as the rest of you. No bicycle helmet offers significant protection against brain injury, because the ones that do the damage are rotational injuries that bounce the brain around inside the skull. Some people suggest that helmets might even make such injuries worse, first by making the head a bigger target and second because a helmet will tend not to slide along the ground as well as your skull does - having your scalp tear may be messy, but it's better than having your head twisted round at high speed.

Helmets are good at protecting your scalp - not the rest of your head - from injury and they may well prevent some skull fractures from linear impacts. But they are very unlikely to save your life. The tests they are required to pass merely simulate a simple fall from a height of seven feet when stationary. They simply are not specced to deal with the forces involved in high speed collisions, or being hit by a car.

So no, the pro's helmets aren't offering much protection. Neither is yours. The trouble is that you wouldn't want to ride in a helmet that really worked, because it would be similar in weight to a motorcycle helmet.
Or as we like to say, "Sumpin' is better than nuttin'"
Mitigation as opposed to total protection. The thin edge of danger - I like it.
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