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Helmets and Training

Oct 9, 2009
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Am I the only person that finds it strange that so many pros appear to train without wearing a helmet? Helmet technology has advanced so far that they are literally so light that you dont even feel them. So what gives? Is it an image thing? Why would somebody who logs so many miles, and even falls, during a year of training risk their entire livelihood by not protecting themselves?

I see pictures of a previously admired riders training, or even on a warm-up ride during a big race, without helmets, and I think to myself "what idiots"!

I apologize if this is a previously discussed topic, but I couldnt find a thread about it.
 
Jun 9, 2009
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Wearing a helmet on a training ride is a personal choice (except where required by law) that does not reflect the intellegence of the rider.

I have had five friends killed in bicycle vs. car accidents over the past twenty years. All were wearing helmets.

The level of protection offered by a helmet does not make as much of a difference as route selection, bike handling ability, and situational awareness.

Wearing a helmet is a good idea in any circumstance, but the decision not to do so hardly makes one an idiot.
 
Oct 9, 2009
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Perhaps the choice of the word "idiot" was a bit harsh and I do not deny that it is a personal choice that cannot be dictated unless required by law.

However, helmets are yet another item that can be effortlessly added to route choice, bike handling skills, etc. to reduce the likelihood of serious injury or death. They are not effective in all accidents but I cant imagine that they ever make an injury worse?

Also, as professional athletes, are they not conscious that there are people that look up to them and follow them in their choices? Often, these non-professional followers do not have the common sense to make good route choices or sharpen their bike handling skills before heading out on a ride without a helmet.
 
Jul 2, 2009
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i rode today without a helmet and instead wore a swix hat :eek:
332c1e2e5193900e
 
On Yer Bike said:
Also, as professional athletes, are they not conscious that there are people that look up to them and follow them in their choices? Often, these non-professional followers do not have the common sense to make good route choices or sharpen their bike handling skills before heading out on a ride without a helmet.

If people who are too stupid to make their own decisions get killed then it is a good thing. The human race as a whole is better off without them.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Helmets

I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Professional athletes are not known for being the brightest bulbs in the box. If they they choose to be stupid and wipe out it's just a cleansing of the gene pool. My advise is to use your own brain.
In the 60's, the "helmets" we had did little more than hold the fragments together for the autopsy. It makes me shiver when I think of it. I saw more than a few die and I wonder that I didn't, given all of my crashes.
Don't think twice when some idiot comes by with a retro cloth cap and no helmet....All those Merckx and Indurain guys wear helmets now.
 
May 9, 2009
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David Suro said:
The level of protection offered by a helmet does not make as much of a difference as route selection, bike handling ability, and situational awareness.

Yep. Bike helmets are only designed to handle a fall of 2m, which is the same as a 12mph impact. As energy grows exponentially with speed, once one is going 30mph, the helmet will only reduce the impact (say, with a car door) to the same as a 27mph impact. But we never tell people to just slow down: we tell them to go nuts, and just wear a helmet, mistakenly thinking it'll make a difference.
 
Aug 6, 2009
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stephens said:
Yep. Bike helmets are only designed to handle a fall of 2m, which is the same as a 12mph impact. As energy grows exponentially with speed, once one is going 30mph, the helmet will only reduce the impact (say, with a car door) to the same as a 27mph impact. But we never tell people to just slow down: we tell them to go nuts, and just wear a helmet, mistakenly thinking it'll make a difference.

And you're getting those numbers from what source exactly? Do you think Voigt Crash this year would have worked out as relatively well as it did if he hadn't been wearing a helmet? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-payruR2-k&feature=related

Does slowing down help as well? Of cause it does, but that's not really a viable strategy for a competitive racer, now is it? Besides, going faster increases the intensity of your excesise increasing the health benefits, though that doesn't mean you should go 30 Mph through traffic of cause.
 
May 9, 2009
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Cerberus said:
And you're getting those numbers from what source exactly?

Mathematics?
The type of bike helmets worn in road cycling are basically barely meeting the testing protocol standards. They are only capable of absorbing the energy of a fall over type impact: any additional energy is going to be transmitted to the head. If you aren't moving and just fall over, your head will hit the ground at roughly 12mph, with about 1300 joules of energy. If your head is going 30mph when it impacts something, that's about 6150 joules. The helmet will potentially subtract its 1300 (if worn properly, perfectly positioned, etc.), leaving you with a 4850 joule impact. That's the same as from a helmetless 27mph impact.


This should be common sense. Hold your helmet in your hand. Ask yourself how hard would it be to tear that thing to shreds? We can easily do it with our bare hands or just by stepping on it lightly, right? Well, that minor amount of energy is all that is going to be removed from our crash scenario by the helmet. Our body will have to deal with the rest: luckily it's pretty good at doing that.


Do you think Voigt Crash this year would have worked out as relatively well as it did if he hadn't been wearing a helmet?

Yes. He might have had more roadrash type injuries, but I believe his actual head injury - brain injury - would have been basically the same. Bike helmets are not designed to lessen concussion type injuries. The worst brain injuries are caused by the brain rotating in the skull and ironically/tragically, helmets actually increase the rotational energy.

If you're interested in reading more about bike helmets, the wikipedia article is pretty objective and the claims made in the article are well supported by footnotes to the direct sources. There are over 100 footnotes and you can always go read some of those articles if you want to see the research directly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_helmets
 
stephens said:
The type of bike helmets worn in road cycling are basically barely meeting the testing protocol standards.

And this is why helmet standards are messed up. Helmets are given a pass or fail grade instead of a measure of how much they exceeeded the minimum standards, which encourages makers to get as close to the minimum as possible. Ironically, the least expensive helmets may provide better protection than the most expensive helmets because the most expensive helmets are the lightest and use the least material.
 
stephens said:
Bike helmets are not designed to lessen concussion type injuries.

Not entirely true. I'd suggest going beyond Wiki for this info.

While the bike hemet debate continues, it is interesting that pretty much all the mainstream medical/health care circles state that helmets save lives.

This reminds me of the 'to vaccinate or not to vaccinate' arguments.
 
Aug 6, 2009
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stephens said:
Mathematics?
The type of bike helmets worn in road cycling are basically barely meeting the testing protocol standards. They are only capable of absorbing the energy of a fall over type impact: any additional energy is going to be transmitted to the head. If you aren't moving and just fall over, your head will hit the ground at roughly 12mph, with about 1300 joules of energy. If your head is going 30mph when it impacts something, that's about 6150 joules. The helmet will potentially subtract its 1300 (if worn properly, perfectly positioned, etc.), leaving you with a 4850 joule impact. That's the same as from a helmetless 27mph impact.
Ehm, no, it does not follow from "mathematics" :rolleyes: that helms are only designed to protect against a 12mph collision. Wikipedia repeats the claim but it's unsourced. Even if it's true calculating how much the "speed decreases" is misleading. Going from 6250 joules to 4850 joules sound pretty significant to me. Also consider that the helmet could spread out the energy and slow down the energy transfer.

stephens said:
This should be common sense. Hold your helmet in your hand. Ask yourself how hard would it be to tear that thing to shreds? We can easily do it with our bare hands or just by stepping on it lightly, right?
Ehm, no? Do I actually have to explain everything wrong with this "argument"?



stephens said:
Yes. He might have had more roadrash type injuries, but I believe his actual head injury - brain injury - would have been basically the same. Bike helmets are not designed to lessen concussion type injuries. The worst brain injuries are caused by the brain rotating in the skull and ironically/tragically, helmets actually increase the rotational energy.
I checked the wikipedia article and leaving aside the question of the reliability what it says is: "The major causes of permanent intellectual disablement and death after head injury may be torsional forces leading to diffuse axonal injury (DAI), a form of injury which usual helmets cannot mitigate and may make worse.". A strong statement there. I'll take the opinion of pretty much every traffic safety agency in the world over that double "may" statement there
 
Cerberus said:
Also consider that the helmet could spread out the energy and slow down the energy transfer.

Agreed ... shock distribution compared to blunt force trauma. This is a big issue.

Cerberus said:
I checked the wikipedia article and leaving aside the question of the reliability what it says is: "The major causes of permanent intellectual disablement and death after head injury may be torsional forces leading to diffuse axonal injury (DAI), a form of injury which usual helmets cannot mitigate and may make worse.". A strong statement there. I'll take the opinion of pretty much every traffic safety agency in the world over that double "may" statement there

Also agreed. The concept that "helmets may make DAI worse" is based on some pretty crude logic and not well supported. Anything that decreases the sudden stop that occurs if a head smacks pavement will very like reduce DAI. While there is a tortional concern with helmets, this is by far outweighed by the benefits of helmets.
 
Jul 8, 2009
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On Yer Bike said:
I see pictures of a previously admired riders training, or even on a warm-up ride during a big race, without helmets, and I think to myself "what idiots"!

There is a greater chance that you will suffer a serious head injury while taking a shower than while riding a bicycle. Do you think people who don't wear helmets in the shower are idiots?
 
May 9, 2009
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I understand the temptation to believe our flimsy helmets protect us more than they actually do. But I remain skeptical. I ride as if I wasn't wearing a helmet.



Going from 6250 joules to 4850 joules sound pretty significant to me.

Whether we call it significant or not, just remember that the same energy reduction can be made either by wearing a bike helmet, or by hitting the object (or being hit by an object) at 27mph rather than 30mph.
 
May 25, 2009
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Well, I have one of the lightest helmets around, a Limar 104. Much better than my previous Briko or anything else I tried, but don't really like wearing it. I only wear it in fast group rides and races.

Main issues for me.
-In hot weather it makes my head sweat even more.
-The side straps increase wind noise significantly.
 
Jul 17, 2009
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Helmets are handy for the less skillfull rider and while mountain biking in case you hit a branch.
Their protection is usefull up to 5 mph the companies will tell you so handy if on your hands and knees polishing the floor and you fall over otherwise useless.
The manufacturers tell the dealers crap, the staff at bike shops repeat it for a sale and the gulible cyclists actually believe it.
If you think you need it wear it or if worried about falling off or crashing all the time then wear one or take up knitting or pressing wild flowers.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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stephens said:
Yep. Bike helmets are only designed to handle a fall of 2m, which is the same as a 12mph impact. As energy grows exponentially with speed, once one is going 30mph, the helmet will only reduce the impact (say, with a car door) to the same as a 27mph impact. But we never tell people to just slow down: we tell them to go nuts, and just wear a helmet, mistakenly thinking it'll make a difference.

Your numbers are pretty accurate. Additionally SNEL and ANSI both think that the most effective helmet would be rounded on the back not pointed (most current helmets are aero/semi aero) one thing is for sure all major makers tell you not to wear a hat under your helmet. Recent changes in comp horseback riding have made it so they can wear a mountain bike looking helmet w/o a hard visor so don't be surprised to see Bell/Giro winning a gold medal in yet another sport. The best industry of all time 5 dollar product sold for 175.
 
fatandfast said:
Additionally SNEL and ANSI both think that the most effective helmet would be rounded on the back not pointed (most current helmets are aero/semi aero) one thing is for sure all major makers tell you not to wear a hat under your helmet.

I must have missed this. Are they talking about something like a baseball cap with a bill that could rotate the helmet on your head just before impact?
 
May 9, 2009
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Damn, I guess I'm doing it wrong: I always wear either a cycling cap or a beanie (winter) so when I wear a helmet it goes over the cap/beanie. Oh well. The main reason I wear the helmet isn't for protection anyway: it's so I don't have to listen to everyone's comments about how I should wear a helmet.