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Helmets, Rapha, and the "freedom of choice" argument

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Helmets, Rapha, and the "freedom of choice" argument

Old 11-07-09, 08:03 PM
  #101  
meanwhile
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Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
I certainly agree with meanwhile. Current helmets seem designed to meet fashion and testing needs way ahead of real protective needs. Better dual density foam layer, probably thinner overall, linked to a stay-together mesh and incorporating cheek / chin protection would make sense and is certainly within the reasonable design/manufacturing capabilities of our industry. I'd rather have a little less protection from a single impact and have more durability over a series of tumbling impacts. And a bit less rotational leverage.
Rotation could be hugely reduced without any significant increase in weight: some motorbike helmets are now being fitted with a sliding membrane that mimics the behaviour of the scalp in impacts. A tough but stretchy fabric layer over the plastic hard shell could be all that is needed for cycling helmets. And I'd like to see that hard shell reinforced - maybe with some kevlar fibre. There are questions about the foam used too, especially for helmets for children:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle...3B_new_designs

Helmet liners may be too stiff to be effective. Standards require the use of headforms heavier and more rigid than the human head; these are more capable of crushing foam than is the human head. [15][16] In real accidents "very little crushing of the liner foam was usually evident... What in fact happens in a real crash impact is that the human head deforms elastically on impact. The standard impact attenuation test making use of a solid headform does not consider the effect of human head deformation with the result that all acceleration attenuation occurs in compression of the liner. Since the solid headform is more capable of crushing helmet padding, manufacturers have had to provide relatively stiff foam in the helmet so that it would pass the impact attenuation test... As the results in Figure 15 illustrate, the child skull is far from being solid and will deform readily on impact. This fact is well known in the medical field and is largely why a child who has had a rather modest impact to the head is usually admitted to hospital for observation. The substantial elastic deformation of the child head that can occur during impact can result in quite extensive diffuse brain damage."[17]

In real accidents, while broken helmets are common, it is extremely unusual to see any helmet that has compressed foam and thus may have performed as intended. “Another source of field experience is our experience with damaged helmets returned to customer service... I collected damaged infant/toddler helmets for several months in 1995. Not only did I not see bottomed out helmets, I didn’t see any helmet showing signs of crushing on the inside.” [15]
Again it's significant that people like the OP never seem bothered by this - helmet zealots really seem interested in them as totems rather than as practical pieces of engineering that have to function correctly.
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Old 11-07-09, 08:26 PM
  #102  
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
You mean Chinese sweatshop workers? Probably, yes.
They're designed by dudes from the UK. Some - some - of their stuff is manufactured in China (though most is sourced from countries in the EU)...but all of it is designed in the UK.
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Old 11-08-09, 07:51 AM
  #103  
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Interesting about the foam not compressing. I have around here somewhere a nicely used helmet. The foam didn't crack, but it didn't crush either. Took a nice, blow, too. So the victim had a nasty concussion with brain damage. Loss of memory, confusion, etc. Persistent. Still a little evident after 2 years. And other than a few scuffs, the helmet really looks fine! Her cheek took most force, but the rim of the helmet hit pretty hard, too.

The slippery membrane / liner makes sense. In my new moto helmet there's a liner that can move around a bit. The last helmet was slick enough that it slid rather than grabbing (another test crash by the bicycle helmet tester above). [And I'm making her ride on the back now - she gets too much sliding mileage left to her own devices].

The Bern helmets look useful. Maybe I'll get one for running the Dragon and similar high speed twisties.

The more I learn about helmets the less I feel the need for them on a bicycle for commuting.

On the motorcycle, I expect to have a random series of close calls, possibly resulting in getting run off the road by someone on the wrong side. That's the most common thing around here, and probably results in a semi-controlled spill.

But it's a bit weird. I bicycle at 30 mph and over, and the most common moto crash speed is under 30 mph. But I dress up for moto work including a full face good helmet, and I'll do it on a bicycle almost naked. Somehow that's OK for society in general!

Here's the funny thing. Had a group drop by my shop the other day. A nice lady I know wearing a foam cap and other normal cycling gear called my motorcycle a death machine. Pretty funny! I ride the motorcycle in full protective gear, and there she is riding a bicycle almost naked. Most of the head damage comes from the fall or from the impact of a car. My helmet and gear beats hers in these scenarios. A motorcyclist might hit a fixed object harder, but most accidents (incidents, really) the speed and impact force are pretty similar. But I'm engaging in risky behavior poking along politely on a cruiser and she's OK naked smoking around corners on a bicycle? Funny stuff, risk perception.

I like the Bern helmet. Maybe I'll get one. I'll probably start bicycle commuting soon. Getting cold to ride the motorcycle. Nobody expects a bicycle out here in the winter.
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Old 11-08-09, 08:05 AM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
... Funny stuff, risk perception...
it sure is.

Fear sells, wouldn't you say?

If there was no fear, would the foam sell?
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Old 11-09-09, 07:44 AM
  #105  
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Without fear, the foam wouldn't sell. The fear of whacking one's head seems to get too much focus. As opposed to an emphasis on not getting into situations where whacking one's head is likely. Wearing bright. Riding right.

Given what I've seen over the last 30 plus years, promoting glove use would prevent more injuries as far as protective gear is concerned.
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Old 11-09-09, 10:10 AM
  #106  
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I've ridden uncounted thousands of miles without a helmet. This time of year, I pull out my nice wool cycling cap and wish I could wear it, but it doesn't work under a helmet.

I really don't understand the anti-helmet side of this conversation. There is a large class of accidents where a helmet will save you from traumatic head injury. I recognize that if I get in an accident where there is a large enough change in my head's velocity, I'm going to be injured. And if my spleen is ruptured, that's most likely the end. But if nothing else, I've had 2 accidents where wearing a helmet would have saved me stitches, 28 stitches and a night in the hospital in one case. $40 seems like a pretty reasonable amount to avoid that sort of experience. And I had another freak low-speed accident where I'm pretty sure I would have had a concussion or even a fractured skull if I hadn't been wearing a helmet. Most of the riding where I feel the potential for accidents are high is on low-speed surface streets. That's where helmets can really help. I'm sure they'll get better over time. But as of now, they are good enough.
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Old 11-09-09, 10:21 AM
  #107  
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There isn't an anti- helmet side of this discussion. There's a pro-choice side to this discussion.
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Old 11-09-09, 10:34 AM
  #108  
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Why you shouldn't wear a cycle helmet

"Their design-intended strength is equivalent to a impact speed of about 12.5mph [3]. They were never intended for collisions with cars. They're not a cycle-equivalent of motorbike crash helmets (and you can't wear one of those because your brain would boil). They're not safety gear in the sense of being designed to save your life [1].

They work by the outer shell keeping the polystyrene in place whilst it absorbs the deceleration by being crushed. Counter-intuitively if the shell breaks in the initial contact the total energy absorbed is a lot less: a broken helmet is one that didn't work. This means above about 12.5mph the helmet has little effect; certainly it won't reduce a crash at, say, 30mph by an amount equivalent to crashing at 12.5mph. Ask an engineer. Doctors and nurses aren't usually engineers.

Many places have made helmets compulsory since the early 1990's. All found either no effect on deaths and serious injuries or that they got worse if you include that cycling tended to drop significantly. For example, Western Australia had a drop in cycling of 30% but a drop in head injuries of only 11%-21%. No one knows why this should be the case. [9]

A 1988 US study of 8 million cyclist crashes over 15 years showed a correlation between increased helmet wearing and increased risk of death [10]. No one knows why.

UK child cyclist figures show twice as many girls as boys wearing cycle helmets but with the same head injury rate. [11]

These lists are an attempt to show that it is by no means obvious that cycle helmets are always a good thing and can do no harm. I think it comes down to a rather complex judgement call for each rider and context.
Personally I don't wear one on the road, because I feel safer knowing I'm perceived as more vulnerable by my main source of danger, particularly at the speeds which matter.
There's more information at https://www.cyclehelmets.org, with which I have no connection, I'm just an average cyclist."

[1] Tom Gill, Cycling and Children and Young People, National Children's Bureau, https://www.ncb.org.uk/Page.asp?origi...d91l2583383929 (p.36-37) [2] Cyclists' Touring Club, https://www.ctc.org.uk (--> What I need --> Peace of Mind) [3] EU helmet standard EN 1078, 1997, https://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/group...csp#P235_31794 [4] Mok, D et al., Risk compensation in children's activities: a pilot study, June 2004, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_co...#Cycle_Helmets [5] National Cycle Training, https://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=3529 [6] Drivers overtaking cyclists, Dr Ian Walker, 2006, Bath University press release [7] Curnow, WJ, The efficacy of bicycle helmets against brain injury, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 35, Issue 2 , March 2003, https://www.chapmancentral.co.uk/web/...s?OpenDocument [8] Department of Transport, Tomorrow's roads: safer for everyone, March 2000, https://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/group...sp#P987_141309 (§9.25) [9] Helmet Laws: What has been their effect?, https://www.cyclehelmets.org/mf.html?1096 [10] Rodgers, GB, Reducing bicycle accidents: a re-evaluation of the impact of the CPSC bicycle standard and helmet use, J Product Liability, 11: 307-317, 1988, summary by John Franklin: https://www.lesberries.co.uk/cycling/.../research.html [11] Hewson, PJ, Investigating population level trends in head injuries amongst child cyclists in the UK, February 2005, https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2005.03.020"
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Old 11-09-09, 12:52 PM
  #109  
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Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
The more I learn about helmets the less I feel the need for them on a bicycle for commuting.

On the motorcycle, I expect to have a random series of close calls, possibly resulting in getting run off the road by someone on the wrong side. That's the most common thing around here, and probably results in a semi-controlled spill.

But it's a bit weird. I bicycle at 30 mph and over, and the most common moto crash speed is under 30 mph. But I dress up for moto work including a full face good helmet, and I'll do it on a bicycle almost naked. Somehow that's OK for society in general!

Here's the funny thing. Had a group drop by my shop the other day. A nice lady I know wearing a foam cap and other normal cycling gear called my motorcycle a death machine. Pretty funny! I ride the motorcycle in full protective gear, and there she is riding a bicycle almost naked. Most of the head damage comes from the fall or from the impact of a car. My helmet and gear beats hers in these scenarios. A motorcyclist might hit a fixed object harder, but most accidents (incidents, really) the speed and impact force are pretty similar. But I'm engaging in risky behavior poking along politely on a cruiser and she's OK naked smoking around corners on a bicycle? Funny stuff, risk perception.

I like the Bern helmet. Maybe I'll get one. I'll probably start bicycle commuting soon. Getting cold to ride the motorcycle. Nobody expects a bicycle out here in the winter.
I ride motorcycle also, and regularly pace motorcycles on some of the twistie descents on my bike, and that is pretty much what I was thinking also. lol I had a conversation with someone the other day where they mentioned they invested in full leathers after dumping their motorcycle somewhere around 25-30mph. He showed me the road rash scar also. Brought back memories of me crashing out on a corner in a crit doing about that with full "lycra" gear.

Only real reason I wear one on a bike is that I want to avoid the hassle of waiting for stitches in the emergency room. Not because I think it will save me from brain damage.

UD
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Old 11-09-09, 02:13 PM
  #110  
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Originally Posted by mandovoodoo View Post
The Bern helmets look useful. Maybe I'll get one for running the Dragon and similar high speed twisties.
Note that Bern helmets come with two distinctly different kinds of foam; one, the zipmold foam, is VERY hard but meets the ANSI standards for bicycle helmets; the other, which Bern calls their 'hardhat' liner, is unrated and comes with relatively soft, compressible foam designed for multiple impacts during activities like skate and snowboarding. You should make sure which one you're getting before you buy.
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Old 11-09-09, 03:46 PM
  #111  
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Originally Posted by closetbiker View Post
The more I read the arguments of unapologetic advocates of helmets, the more I think that these unapologetic advocates use very little of their brain (maybe they are the ones with "no brains"?).

My problem with unapologetic advocates of helmets?

1) they ignore common sense,

2) they think a helmet equals safety,

3) they ignore the fact that riding a bicycle isn't a threat to ones health and well being, but improves ones health and well being, and

4) they set a horrible example that bicycling is not safe and the most important thing you can do to increase safety is wear a helmet
Well said.

Point of information. I always wear a helmet. Pretty much habit now. Rarely as I have to climb onto the roof of my house I'd ahve to say the odds of a helmet being usefull in htat situation is far higher than riding my bike.
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Old 11-10-09, 05:09 AM
  #112  
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Bike helmets work for me, so I wear them for whatever protection they're capable of offering. Long ago, I kind of looked down on them because I was a bit more vain than I am today, and wanted to wear one of those little cycling caps. Turns out, I didn't like the little cycling caps at all, or much in the way of any other kind of hats for that matter while on the bike (simple knotted handkerchief works fine for me...under the bike helmet in cooler weather). Crash protection aside, the bike helmet with the foam made much more sense to me after I tried it out...for the temperature regulatory properties it offers, among other things.

I actually like the styling of some bike helmets today...not those Bern helmets though, on comment 100 or thereabouts...who wears those? I might have to stop wearing a helmet if they were my only option.

I can understand reasons people claim for not liking or wanting to wear what is sometimes derisively referred to as the 'foam hat'. Fine with me. Don't wear one. Except for kids. With some exceptions, they should be wearing one when riding.
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