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  1. #1
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    Are helmets really that effective?

    I started wearing a helmet not too long ago. Not because I really think I'll need it, but because I was practically the only person in all of northern VA without one, or so it seemed. Since I already wear lycra shorts and a tight jersey I figured what the hell, it can't make me look any dumber. More than that though, I always thought it would be uncomfortable and hot. Turns out it's not all that bad and my Giro Ionos has amazing ventilation.

    But I've been wondering lately, how effective is a helmet really? My helmet fits me perfectly, and I have it adjusted perfectly as well. However, when I take my hand and give the helmet a little bump anywhere along the bottom edge, it seems like the helmet can shift pretty easily and my hand can make contact with my skull. It just seems like in the event of a real crash the helmet will easily shift out of place and there would be a good chance that my head can still hit the ground.

    I read in that other thread about that guy dieing from head injuries from riding the MUP. He wore his helmet. And then there's the death in this year's Giro. Helmet didn't do much to save his life either.

    This isn't exactly bike releated, but I personally know two people (one friend and one cousin) that have been ejected out of their car and lived. Had they been wearing their seatbelts, both would have died without a doubt. Every time I read about how someone's helmet saved their lives I can't help but think if their head ever would have touched the ground had they never worn their helmet in the first place. There's a good chance that the only reason the helmets hit the ground in the first place is because they are bulky.

    I grew up riding dirt bikes, quads, snow mobiles, snowboarding, bmxing, etc. I've done some crazy things growing up on 10 acres, and I've taken some serious falls. Broken a few bones, but never once was I wearing a helmet. My head has never hit the ground. I believe that you can be good at falling and that with good survival instincts, you can naturally prevent your head from making contact with the ground.

    I realize that in some cases it's not up to you and you can't control how you fall or what hits your head. Still though, I can't help but think that bicycle helmets are kind of a joke when compared to motorcycle helmets or other helmets that offer full head protection.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
    Despite all my rage, I am rooftest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilovecycling View Post
    My helmet fits me perfectly, and I have it adjusted perfectly as well. However, when I take my hand and give the helmet a little bump anywhere along the bottom edge, it seems like the helmet can shift pretty easily and my hand can make contact with my skull.
    You've made 3 points there. (At least) one of them is incorrect.

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    Last edited by Minion1; 09-08-11 at 11:17 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member mazdaspeed's Avatar
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    Well, they're effective enough that in some cases they prevent permanent brain damage / death.

  5. #5
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    Football players wear helmets, and they get concussions and head injuries all the time. Clearly, the football helmets are ineffective - the players should just not bother wearing them anymore.

  6. #6
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    I wear one, only have 1 brain, it barely functions now, so any help I can give it to survive another day can't hurt. Now if you don't want to wear one, doesn't bother me one bit, you are old enough to make your own decision.

  7. #7
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    Fall on purpose with and without one and see how it turns out.

    I personally never go on a ride without one, i crashed in April and i think it possibly may have saved my life. Cracked the left side of the helmet right through all the foam from an accident i had. Without it i probably would have cracked my head open.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member catonec's Avatar
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    Your 2 friends who were ejected from the cars and survived must be the rare exceptions. they were lucky enough to not be thrown into oncoming traffic or into a tree/building/ or off a bridge. I dont have any statistics but I would most likely say the safest place to be durring an accident is inside the vehicle.
    I always wear my helmet . the chance that it will cause additional harm is pretty low. If it works just one time its worth having. Anyways, you've already bought it! its not like you can return it. And if your wearing it and it fails durring an accident where you suffer sever trauma then atleast you can sue giro!!
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  9. #9
    Senior Member roadiespinner's Avatar
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    In 35 years of cycling I have fallen 3 times hard enough to crack my helmet. I do not ride anywhere without one. In my opinion it is foolish to ride without a helmet.

  10. #10
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    I won't ride to the corner without a helmet.....
    However I see at least one benefit of not wearing one - for the rest of us, that is; It aids in natural selection and cleans the gene pool.......

  11. #11
    In beaurocratic limbo urbanknight's Avatar
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    I've put a few helmets to good use, and after looking at what the fall did to the helmet, I don't want the same to happen to my head.
    "Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want... Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about." (Richard Dreyfus as Glenn Holland)

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    Hey ilovecycling, I'd be careful witht his topic, your questions are reasonable and earnest, but this topic has the capacity to go into flame war territory quite quickly - there are a lot of strongly held views on helemts out there. If you have a look at the threads I linked to you'll see what happens.
    If I can generalise,

    Racers wear helmets

    Enthusiasts and keen cyclists sometimes do and sometimes don't, and don't always agree on whether they should or not.

    cycling safety advocates will argue till the cows come home, on both sides.

    If this is a straw poll I always wear one, commuting, training and racing. Seen too many crashes and accidents not to, and I've destroyed a couple as well.

  13. #13
    I bike in the nude BikeMech's Avatar
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    Seriously? Just wear your helmet and stop worrying. You'll thank me when you eventually crash and it keeps your skull intact.

  14. #14
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    In about 25years of cycling, I have had two nasty spills where I cracked my helmets. The last one was on a slow mountain bike cruise on a beach trail on a fourth of July, when suddenly a drunk teenager dashed out and plunged into me. My fork was ruined, but I was fine. I had to call my wife for a ride home.

    Later, as I was going over my helmet, there was a huge dent on the rim, just above my right ear. I did not remember hitting my head. I was very thankful that it was the helmet that got dented.
    Regards,

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  15. #15
    Member Jinkle's Avatar
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    My sister got hit by a truck 3 weeks ago while riding. She's still alive. The helmet looks like absolute hell. Pretty convinced she'd be dead and I'd be in prison for murdering the driver if it weren't for the helmet. Wear a helmet on every ride please!

  16. #16
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    It makes me look more pro, that's all I care about.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrodzilla View Post
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  17. #17
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    I rather be wearing a helmet and not need it, and not be caught in a situation where I would need it but not wearing it. It is true that chances of getting a head injury are slim compared to the rest of your body, but I am sure you'd be glad you had something when it counts. I will be when it happens.

    Quote Originally Posted by ilovecycling View Post
    I can't help but think that bicycle helmets are kind of a joke when compared to motorcycle helmets or other helmets that offer full head protection.What do you think?
    No one said you had to wear a bicycle helmet while riding on a bicycle. You can just as easily wear a motorcycle helmet/better head protection when riding. You can also wear all that BMX body armor too to help protect against falls. Probably not going to be all that comfortable than what is normally worn but that's the price for protection.

  18. #18
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Ask Saul Raisin. If you don't know who that is, look it up. His racing career is over, but he's alive.
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  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    A little story ... http://www.machka.net/2007/2007_200_VanIsle.htm

    An excerpt from the story ...

    We rode along chatting about brevets for a while, then rounded a corner and came to the top of a steep descent into Duncan, located south of Chemainus. It looked like farm or construction equipment had recently been driving up and down the hill. Then the light drizzle raised the dirt they had left behind. The hill was covered in whitish mud.

    I eased my way down, trying to pick my way back and forth across the road to where the grade was less steep, and there was less muck. But the last 100 metres or so was straight down, and it was slippery ... I could feel myself skidding a bit. There was a 4-way stop at the bottom of the hill. The couple riding with me shot through the 4-way stop, and I was about to do the same when vehicles pulled up from all directions. I had to make a sudden decision ... do I blow through the stop, and hope that the vehicles all saw me and would stop, or do I assume that they haven't seen me and may hit me. I assumed they might not have seen me, and hit the brakes.

    I only remember bits and pieces of what happened next. I remember seeing my front wheel turned back toward me, and thinking, "That's not good!" I remember falling to my left and landing on my left hip. My next thought was, "That's all right, I'm going to be OK" ... followed quickly by "MY HEAD IS GOING TOO FAST!" I tensed up, but then there was a loud crack and everything went white.

    Ouch! My vision cleared and I tried to sit up ... but immediately had to lie back down again as everything went white again. I was able to sort of sit up on the second try.


    My helmet was cracked ... and I had a mild concussion (among several other injuries) ... but at least my head wasn't cracked!! I'm rather fond of helmets.


    Anyway, it's illegal to cycle without a helmet here in Australia.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Here's a little test:

    Put on your helmet, hit it with a hammer
    Take off the helmet, hit your head with a hammer

    Which do you prefer ?
    Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike

  21. #21
    Peloton Dog patentcad's Avatar
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    Helmets are for Wussy.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilovecycling View Post
    I started wearing a helmet not too long ago. Not because I really think I'll need it, but because I was practically the only person in all of northern VA without one, or so it seemed. Since I already wear lycra shorts and a tight jersey I figured what the hell, it can't make me look any dumber. More than that though, I always thought it would be uncomfortable and hot. Turns out it's not all that bad and my Giro Ionos has amazing ventilation.

    But I've been wondering lately, how effective is a helmet really? My helmet fits me perfectly, and I have it adjusted perfectly as well. However, when I take my hand and give the helmet a little bump anywhere along the bottom edge, it seems like the helmet can shift pretty easily and my hand can make contact with my skull. It just seems like in the event of a real crash the helmet will easily shift out of place and there would be a good chance that my head can still hit the ground.

    I read in that other thread about that guy dieing from head injuries from riding the MUP. He wore his helmet. And then there's the death in this year's Giro. Helmet didn't do much to save his life either.

    This isn't exactly bike releated, but I personally know two people (one friend and one cousin) that have been ejected out of their car and lived. Had they been wearing their seatbelts, both would have died without a doubt. Every time I read about how someone's helmet saved their lives I can't help but think if their head ever would have touched the ground had they never worn their helmet in the first place. There's a good chance that the only reason the helmets hit the ground in the first place is because they are bulky.

    I grew up riding dirt bikes, quads, snow mobiles, snowboarding, bmxing, etc. I've done some crazy things growing up on 10 acres, and I've taken some serious falls. Broken a few bones, but never once was I wearing a helmet. My head has never hit the ground. I believe that you can be good at falling and that with good survival instincts, you can naturally prevent your head from making contact with the ground.

    I realize that in some cases it's not up to you and you can't control how you fall or what hits your head. Still though, I can't help but think that bicycle helmets are kind of a joke when compared to motorcycle helmets or other helmets that offer full head protection.

    What do you think?
    ahh, gotta love the "i know this one guy" argument.

  23. #23
    Senior Member johnileo61's Avatar
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    Another rider in our large (75+ cyclists) Saturday ride lost control after hitting an object in the road (that NOBODY called out!!) and hit me at 22mph a couple months back. Ended up going over the handlebars eventually landing on the asphalt on the front right side of my head and face. Brand new Specialized helmet saved my noggin' from what could have been some pretty serious damage. Helmet was trashed but I'll NEVER go out on a ride without one. Ever. Today's helmets are so light and non-intrusive that they are no real inconvenience... and the potential benefit they pay back for the wearer, just in case? ...priceless. First thing the EMT guy said to me was "Good thing you had that helmet on, buddy".

    As for the guy who hit me and went down? ... three broken ribs and a punctured lung. Ouch.

  24. #24
    Senior Member surgeonstone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadiespinner View Post
    In 35 years of cycling I have fallen 3 times hard enough to crack my helmet. I do not ride anywhere without one. In my opinion it is foolish to ride without a helmet.
    I am a surgeon and have cared for hundreds of motorcyclists who would be dead or brain injured without a helmet.
    I have never treated a bicyclist where a helmet would have made much of a difference. I have never been in a bicycling accident where a helmet has made any difference.
    I ride a motorcycle and would not go a single mile without a full face helmet.
    I ride a bicycle and never wear a helmet.
    Check out Advocacy and Safety and if really interested read through the hundreds of posts and the various links. My opinion is that helmets are about fashion with respect to cycling and is the only item we wear or ride upon that does not do what it is advertised to do.

  25. #25
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    Every little bit helps.

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