Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Classic & Vintage
Reload this Page >

Was anyone even wearing a helmet in the 1980's?

Classic & Vintage This forum is to discuss the many aspects of classic and vintage bicycles, including musclebikes, lightweights, middleweights, hi-wheelers, bone-shakers, safety bikes and much more.

Was anyone even wearing a helmet in the 1980's?

Old 04-14-22, 08:46 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,567
Mentioned: 115 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2456 Post(s)
Liked 1,382 Times in 1,039 Posts
Originally Posted by bwilli88 View Post
Nope, still do not unless I am riding my motorcycle.
getting less hair on top will keep the skin Dr happy, and is sensible.

prior, worn in a group as I don't trust that many, trust is earned.

way back, on the Sunday Club ride, helmets were expected, no big deal, they were not that effective, of the hairnet type but, better than nothing.
repechage is offline  
Likes For repechage:
Old 04-14-22, 09:17 PM
A Roadie Forever
79pmooney's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 10,601

Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

Mentioned: 115 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3492 Post(s)
Liked 2,272 Times in 1,477 Posts
I bought a Bell Biker spring 1977 when I knew I'd be racing Cat 3/4 and I also knew I wasn't fast enough to ride the front most of the time. That fall I was riding to a group ride with a friend of the ride leader; an aid in a neurosurgical unit when my Lambert fork broke downhill. Ended up under a CAT scanner (they were still feline with the letter "A" in those days), then a 5 day coma and another scan. Walked out of the hospital 3 weeks later. FUll recovery except basically a ten year setback in my life's plans and many opportunities lost. But without that helmet, I wouldn't be here.

I became instantly famous and put Bell on the map in the Boston area cycling world. (The fame I had no clue of. I had bigger matters on my plate. Later I used it for fun. I'd go to any shop in Boston when I was back visiting, go the Bell helmet display, which now existed but not when I bought mine, and wait for an employee to come and tell me my story.)

I have had repercussions from that head hit. I now concuss easily. My brain is not well anchored and I get reminders often. I could sit down with an NFL lineman and trade stories. Very different stories but I guarantee you we'd relate.

My helmets since have been all Bell until I learned of MIPS. Bought the first brightly colored MIPS that fit, a POC Trabec MTB helmet. That POC is far higher quality than any Bell I've owned and I'll get another. Still, I owe a deep gratitude for Bell putting out there an imperfect helmet that changed the cycling world and saved my life.
79pmooney is online now  
Likes For 79pmooney:
Old 04-14-22, 09:31 PM
A Roadie Forever
79pmooney's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 10,601

Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

Mentioned: 115 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3492 Post(s)
Liked 2,272 Times in 1,477 Posts
Bah~ Answered another zombie thread, probably for the second time. No, I am not going back and looking.

Saw the mention of Skid Lids. Also MSR. I knew when I bought my Bell that it might save me in a hard crash where neither of the others would. Always got a kick out of the name Skid Lid because that was the derogatory name in my race circles for the leather hairnets we were required to wear racing. Standard joke - so we could have an open casket funeral. No road rash.
79pmooney is online now  
Likes For 79pmooney:
Old 04-14-22, 09:34 PM
2k miles from the midwest
Dylansbob's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Washington
Posts: 1,769

Bikes: ~'75 Colin Laing, '80s Schwinn SuperSport 650b, ex-Backroads ti project...

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 432 Post(s)
Liked 700 Times in 342 Posts
I rode the farm lands of north central IN as a teen in the late 80s, usually doing 20-40m of farm roads. One evening I was late getting home after getting clipped and waking up in the ditch a period of time later. I didn't really think anything of it (I was 14, I think); but my parents went out and bought me a clearance black Brancale hardshell. It was heavy and it was hot.

These days I only wear one if I expect to go fast in traffic, If I'm running suburban errands through the neighborhoods, PT rides on the MUP, or riding the city mtb park; I just wear a cap. With all the craziness in the news, if I die on bike crash at least I went doing something I loved.
Dylansbob is offline  
Likes For Dylansbob:
Old 04-14-22, 09:36 PM
Senior Member
OldsCOOL's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: northern michigan
Posts: 13,277

Bikes: '77 Colnago Super, '76 Fuji The Finest, '88 Cannondale Criterium, '86 Trek 760, '87 Miyata 712

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 652 Post(s)
Liked 540 Times in 293 Posts
I finally broke down and bought a Trek helmet 11 years ago. How I survived I’ll never know.
OldsCOOL is offline  
Likes For OldsCOOL:
Old 04-14-22, 11:30 PM
Total Scrounge
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 774

Bikes: 71 International 72 Super Course 83 Gap

Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 280 Post(s)
Liked 592 Times in 246 Posts
I’ve cracked three helmets in the last thirty years, and have been glad for the extra time on this earth that each of them has allowed me.
JacobLee is offline  
Likes For JacobLee:
Old 04-14-22, 11:58 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 5,638
Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 643 Post(s)
Liked 510 Times in 336 Posts
Originally Posted by tkamd73 View Post
Not till the 90s for me, kind of coincided with have kids. Finally bought my first ski helmet last year, been skiing since early 70s
Same here. I think I might have bought my first helmet in the early 90s after riding since the late 50s, "real" road bikes since the early 70s. I remember when I saw people riding with helmets in the late 70s and 80s I thought it was a totally ridiculous concept. Frankly, although I don't disagree that helmets do provide a degree of protection and safety and I have no issue with comfort and don't have any reason NOT to wear one. But, I still believe the danger of bike riding is way overblown and it doesn't bother me one whit when I see kids or adults riding without helmets.

I probably started after my kids were born the bottom line reason being "why not". Certainly wasn't worth disagreeing with my wife about.

Back to the question though. My first two helmets were the styrofoam+lycra and mesh covered ones. One I think was a Bell- red and black highlights on the lycra and mesh covering. The other was a Performance brand, white and blue. At the time, I believe I'd read a Consumer Reports test of helmets and at the time, and the Bell was top rated according to the tests they did and the Performance i got to be able to just leave one at my office in case I forgot to bring the Bell for my noon ride. I believe it was thought that the fabric covered ones were better than what passed for hard shell. I think that conventional wisdom lasted a few years? Does anyone remember this?

Does anyone remember that helmets came with a bunch of foam fit pieces that you had to mess with - how fussy the fit was?

My last two helmets lasted about 10 years each, and I just bought a basic range Giro MIPS (~$115) last week to replace my old, but still in good shape LG which was fairly expensive 10 years ago (~$150 at the time, probably ~$200 today) I haven't ridden the Giro in hot weather yet (vent is one possible knock on it), but I'll have to say the current suspension/fit system in this new helmet seem to have improved in 10 years - requires little or no adjustment other than turning the little knob at the back, and it just seems to fit better and is more comfortable right out of the box. It seems to naturally fall into place where it should be rather than having to adjust the straps to bring it down the forehead where it should be. I have no idea if it's actually more protective, but I like it.

Last edited by Camilo; 04-15-22 at 12:01 AM.
Camilo is offline  
Likes For Camilo:
Old 04-15-22, 08:34 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2022
Posts: 1,036
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 344 Post(s)
Liked 527 Times in 320 Posts

Around 1987 I dabbled in riding a bike.

I traded a Sony CDX-1 for a Trek 510, 2 pairs of chamoised shorts, a pair of crotchet gloves, and a Bell mushroom with the red stripe.
Years of motorcycling had me using helmets as second nature.

I was impressed with the Suntour Superbe Pro that was on the Trek, but despised the helmet. When a pace line “buddy” failed to warn me of a storm drain grate, I made use of the helmet. I replaced the rear wheel with a concave Weinmann, healed from the road rash, and sold the bike and gear.

By then, the price of CD players had come down to a rational amount, so I went back to it, blissfully unaware of indexing, Ergos, and STIs until I figured I’d give it another go in 2004.

Helmets are better now.

Last edited by bamboobike4; 04-18-22 at 10:48 AM.
bamboobike4 is offline  
Likes For bamboobike4:
Old 04-15-22, 01:19 PM
Full Member
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Sartell, MN
Posts: 327

Bikes: Trek Millennia, Trek 400, Raleigh Superbe, Giant OCR3, Bianchi Milano

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 123 Post(s)
Liked 60 Times in 40 Posts
Even though I rode motorcycles I never wore a bicycle helmet until just twenty or so years ago. Heck, I rarely wore my first Nava mc helmet even though I thought the thing was pretty cool.

I wish I could say I was smart enough to wear them back in the day, but honestly, I wasn't. My first helmets were Bells and today I wear a Limar and some other brand I can't think of.
shrtdstncrdr is offline  
Likes For shrtdstncrdr:
Old 04-15-22, 02:10 PM
Groupetto Dragon-Ass
Chuckk's Avatar
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Lostin Austin, TX
Posts: 455

Bikes: https://mcaf.ee/hsm2z

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 346 Post(s)
Liked 406 Times in 239 Posts
Chuckk is offline  
Likes For Chuckk:
Old 04-15-22, 02:10 PM
Thrifty Bill
wrk101's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Mountains of Western NC
Posts: 23,161

Bikes: 86 Katakura Silk, 87 Prologue X2, 88 Cimarron LE, 1975 Sekai 4000 Professional, 73 Paramount, plus more

Mentioned: 88 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1101 Post(s)
Liked 612 Times in 437 Posts
Back in the mid 1970s, a high school classmate mine died in a head on collision (with another bicycle), at the University of Illinois. No helmet.
wrk101 is offline  
Old 04-15-22, 04:40 PM
Senior Member
Chombi1's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 3,868
Mentioned: 98 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1377 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 476 Times in 327 Posts
I was 50/50 with wearing helmets in the 80's. Half the time I wore one and half the time I didn't depending on how I feel and how hot the weather might be. Being also a motorcycle rider, I did feel a bit guilty when I rode my bicycle without a helmet, as I always wore one every time I rode my motorcycle.....
I just thought they looked so goofy on me. Never did try leather hairnets as they look super dorkey to me, but I did get myself a Bell Tourlite which looked kinda cool and modern back then with its sculpted air scoops and tinted Lexan visor, especially compared to other helmets like Skid Lids. But sometimes I felt like the helmet just makes my big head even bigger.....
I eventually transitioned to an expanded foam with lycra cover helmet from Avenir which was similar to Giros, in the late 80's.
Chombi1 is offline  
Likes For Chombi1:
Old 04-15-22, 06:17 PM
Senior Member
CliffordK's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 26,908
Mentioned: 213 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 15956 Post(s)
Liked 3,287 Times in 2,443 Posts
When my brother and I raced as Midgets in the late 70's, helmets were required. The hair nets were legal, but the skid lids were not.

Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
I wore a Skid-Lid in the late 70s when I commuted back and forth to work; however I did not wear it for other types of riding. It was probably the mid-oughts when I started wearing one consistently.
I also had a skid lid that I absolutely wore out. The little plastic barbs holding the side tubes wore out and were replaced by shoe laces. The foam was thin. And, much of the paint was rubbing off.

I'll have to try to find it one of these days.
CliffordK is online now  
Likes For CliffordK:
Old 04-15-22, 09:24 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 7,211
Mentioned: 66 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2443 Post(s)
Liked 1,503 Times in 973 Posts
Some form of helmets were being worn in the 60s. Some riders in this film have them.

seypat is online now  
Likes For seypat:
Old 04-15-22, 09:52 PM
Desert Ryder
Henderson, NV
Desert Ryder's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2022
Location: Henderson/Las Vegas NV
Posts: 150

Bikes: Trek Alpha 3700, GT STS DH, Raleigh Grand Prix

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 42 Post(s)
Liked 180 Times in 77 Posts
The closest I came to wearing a helmet was a cycling hat in the 80's. A nod to the movie "Breaking Away". The movie that inspired my friends and I to ride.
We would do our best to be "Cutters"...lol

My first real helmet wasn't used till the mid 90's.
Desert Ryder is offline  
Likes For Desert Ryder:
Old 04-15-22, 10:27 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 123

Bikes: Eddy Merckx Titanium, AX, '74 Raleigh International, Velo Orange Randonneur, Trek 7600, Fuji Touring Series V, DeRosa, Miami Vice Ironman, Eddy Merckx 10th Anniversary

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 39 Post(s)
Liked 21 Times in 9 Posts
I first started wearing a helmet in 1977 while attending dental school in San Francisco. I had used a bike for commuting to school in my undergrad years, a oneway distance of seven miles. Never wore a helmet for that. When I started commuting in SF (13 miles one way and a lovely ride through Golden Gate Park) I got a Bell Biker. I wore street clothes for the commute but wore the helmet and gloves. When people commented on wearing helmet and gloves I replied that protecting the two parts of my body that I would use throughout my career was a wise and cautious investment.
2wheeljonz is offline  
Likes For 2wheeljonz:
Old 04-16-22, 12:16 PM
Full Member
Thread Starter
JoeBass's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 216
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 60 Post(s)
Liked 87 Times in 25 Posts
Anyone heard of a "Kiwi"? I've never seen one until I turned this one up at a local swap meet a few weeks ago. Apparently, once the official helmet of the 7-11 team but I couldn't find any photos of them wearing it.
JoeBass is offline  
Likes For JoeBass:
Old 04-16-22, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 35
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 20 Post(s)
Liked 14 Times in 10 Posts
Yep I have seen them back in the day. Don’t remember if 7-11 had them or not .. I do remember 7-11 did use giro helmets at one time.
Darme is offline  
Likes For Darme:
Old 04-16-22, 02:09 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 2,706
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1591 Post(s)
Liked 1,316 Times in 827 Posts
i wore one on a tour of England in the early 80's and a British rider (Welch actually, I suppose) laughed at me and asked where was coat of armor and how often do you fall off?
GhostRider62 is offline  
Likes For GhostRider62:
Old 04-16-22, 03:35 PM
Drillium Dude 
Gone riding
Drillium Dude's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 11,674
Mentioned: 242 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2216 Post(s)
Liked 3,341 Times in 1,208 Posts
I just avoid crashing. It works for me. You live and you learn

My Flickr pics: https://www.flickr.com/photos/30331021@N08/

Drillium Dude is offline  
Likes For Drillium Dude:
Old 04-16-22, 05:22 PM
El Chaba
Full Member
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 364
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 117 Post(s)
Liked 150 Times in 54 Posts
When I started racing and for a few years it was required to wear a helmet, but with no type specified. Most of the guys rode with leather helmets ( now sometimes referred to as hairnets). I never really put one to the test….luckily. I recall a race when I was allowed to race as a senior in the district championships one year ( as a junior), I was given some advice from a senior friend on racing in a much larger field….” When you are among the Bell V1 Pros, you are too far back….

Last edited by El Chaba; 04-20-22 at 04:47 AM.
El Chaba is offline  
Likes For El Chaba:
Old 04-16-22, 09:51 PM
The Wheezing Geezer
Fredo76's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Española, NM
Posts: 339

Bikes: 1976 Fredo Speciale, Jamis Citizen 1, Ellis-Briggs FAVORI, Rivendell Clem Smith Jr.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 151 Post(s)
Liked 255 Times in 130 Posts
In the middle '70s I had a leather helmet, because anyone who raced in ABL (Amateur Bicycle League) events had to wear one. Nobody else did, that I remember, and most racers only wore theirs while racing. The term 'leather hairnet' was popularized if not coined by a Competitive Cyclist columnist who railed against them in what I thought was a waste of column space. What's it to you, buddy? Then I fell down at 1/2 mph at a stop sign on a group training ride and woke up in a stranger's car. "Where's my bike!?!" (It was in back).

I'd had a concussion, but was still allowed to go to a party that evening, and felt fine. My parents then got me one of the new Bell helmets, and yes I remember the white straps. I hadn't heard the Bell 'Biker' model name until reading this thread - it was always just "that Bell helmet" to us, and I was the one wearing one. Colin Laing asked me "When you get a headache do you just fold it up and put it in your pocket?" Friends joked about running into a tree and having one of the branches go right through a vent and into your head. The sizing pads would get full of sweat, especially the one on my forehead, which I would mash down occasionally to keep it from slow-dripping, missing my face if I got the angle right. Undeterred by branches, I drilled a 3/4" hole through the front part of the shell to directly vent that front pad. It helped a little.

When I started working at Los Alamos some 30 years later, I decided to just wear my motorcycle helmet every time commuting to work, competing with 10,000 other commuters in the 'Española 500'. So I was wearing a half-helmet when a driver pulled out in front of me and I was glad I did.

Now I have a barely-there Giro helmet that I wear on every bicycle ride, except for a couple where the barely-there aspect was barely missed.
Fredo76 is offline  
Likes For Fredo76:
Old 04-17-22, 06:17 AM
Bianchi Goddess
Bianchigirll's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Shady Pines Retirement Fort Wayne, In
Posts: 28,409

Bikes: Too many to list here check my signature.

Mentioned: 157 Post(s)
Tagged: 2 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2365 Post(s)
Liked 1,438 Times in 846 Posts
When I was in the local bike club in the late ‘70s a few people had helmets, those Bell Windjammers maybe, and usually Beta Bikers too. Most of more casual riders didn’t wear them.

When I tried to get into racing in the late ‘80s helmets were something that most didn’t have but promoters and officials were thinking about. After they became mandatory for racing I got this cheap, ugly, uncomfortable Monarc helmet that thank god my friend Eric ran over one evening after a training race. I got the, then, top of the line Gyro.

At one point we used to cruise around warming up, even on the Criterium course, with the helmet hanging off the bars…. yeah kinda dumb huh. They put a stop to that and if you were at a USCF even helmets were mandatory both racing and warming up

Actually I think this was best helmet I ever had, and I wish they would make a comeback.
One morning you wake up, the girl is gone, the bikes are gone, all that's left behind is a pair of old tires and a tube of tubular glue, all squeezed out"

Sugar "Kane" Kowalczyk
Bianchigirll is offline  
Likes For Bianchigirll:
Old 04-17-22, 06:26 AM
Kai Winters
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Northern NY...Brownville
Posts: 2,072

Bikes: Specialized Aethos

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 64 Post(s)
Liked 96 Times in 58 Posts
I still have my leather "hair net" from back then
Skid Lid was my first helmet
Some wore hockey helmets, they worked pretty well, a lot better than the hair nets
Kai Winters is offline  
Likes For Kai Winters:
Old 04-17-22, 06:31 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Winnipeg - traffic ticket central
Posts: 1,384

Bikes: Looking for "the One"

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked 213 Times in 143 Posts
"It's for your safety".

How many times have we heard that before as personal Liberty is constrained to some further degree, usually coinciding with some form of lightening of the wallet?

prairiepedaler is offline  
Likes For prairiepedaler:

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.