helmets: too tight, thin, and unsafe?

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Buy your helmet in Australia if you are worried about this, you won't get higher helmet standards. I've been waiting 6 months for a particular Specialized helmet to be modified to comply with Australian Standards before it can be sold.
 
Aug 4, 2009
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Gonkisback said:
I have been looking at the new helmets especially by Giro, and Specialized. they seem too thin at the temple and forehead.
How can a helmet provide adequate buffer when it fits so tight to the skull?
was this a factor with the recent death of Wouter Weylandt??? I read that the helmet had to be cut away from his skull.
I had a bad accident only 3 days ago and hit my head pretty hard. result: the 2003-2005 Gratoni Helmet (new) broke in about 8 places (but held together) and not even the hint of concussion!
broke my pubic bone and elbow though. Your thoughts please!
Any helmets used in UCI racing must pass the international saftey test its only cheap rubbish that is put out in China that cant pass the test and dont have a safety sticker in side. they test them sevearly crush tests etc so you are garaunteed its safe.
 
Aug 4, 2009
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Polyarmour said:
Buy your helmet in Australia if you are worried about this, you won't get higher helmet standards. I've been waiting 6 months for a particular Specialized helmet to be modified to comply with Australian Standards before it can be sold.
If you have a helmet that is not got that sticker in it you can have it tested yourself but it costs $50 If the helmet has other stickers like USA the standards are higher so they just put a sticker inside no testing just $50.

When a container load of helmets arrive they test only one or two then pass the lot then they employ some kids to put stickers in them.
 
not safe enough and never will be safe enough because riders want as comfortable,light helmets as they can be,they can protect you if you are lucky enough and hit the ground helmet first,if u hit a solid object face first like WW nothing can help u,it was very unfortunate how he fell,majority of crashes arent like that (the only other one i can remember is perez cuapio few years ago)...because of this rarity helmets will never be more safe than they are now,the only thing that can help here is learn how to fall (tho in 60+ km/h its pretty complicated)

i rode track bike once and i forgot that i couldnt stop peddaling :D,that day a helmet proly saved my life
 
Jul 25, 2010
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I reckon if they put their minds to it they could design a BMX style helmet for road racing use. They were still wearing the old school leather helmets in the mid/early 90's. Yes they would look silly & be a bit more uncomfortable but surely it would reduce facial injuries & better protect the brain?
 
May 22, 2010
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he reportedly (may have) died of complications resulting from a basilar skull fracture, which i believe is not caused by a lack of padding to the skull surface (what the helmet does), but violent 'whipping' of the head that places excessive stress on the lower bones. the TV footage showed major blood loss around the head area, which - in my very lay interpretation - may have been caused by severing of the carotid artery.

i know this is a sensitive issue and second-guessing the biomechanics of Wouter's tragic death is arguably in bad taste, but it's also important that people don't jump to false conclusions about the efficacy of helmets. as others have said, no helmet would likely have saved him in that crash.
 
Izzy eviel said:
I reckon if they put their minds to it they could design a BMX style helmet for road racing use. They were still wearing the old school leather helmets in the mid/early 90's. Yes they would look silly & be a bit more uncomfortable but surely it would reduce facial injuries & better protect the brain?
You can't have anything which compromises awareness (vision and hearing).
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Thread Merge

I have merged the version of this thread that was in Professional Road Racing with this one in "Bikes and Gear".

There is no need (or indeed logic) in having the same conversation occuring in parallel in two places in one forum.
 
Sep 14, 2009
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Martin318is said:
I have merged the version of this thread that was in Professional Road Racing with this one in "Bikes and Gear".

There is no need (or indeed logic) in having the same conversation occuring in parallel in two places in one forum.
yes thank you!!!!!
 
Sep 14, 2009
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yes yes yes to all said. but I must say I am not too happy about the thin strips of hard foam that cradle my head. a two layer density would be more reasuring, but hey, mine did the job. lets close this thread???
 
Gonkisback said:
I have posted this in condensed form under equipment. but want a response because of W.Weylandt.

I have been looking at the new 2010/2011 helmets especially by Giro, and Specialized. they seem too thin at the temple and forehead.
How can a helmet provide adequate buffer when it fits so tight to the skull and is sooo thin? Would it help to have a dual compound to the Polystyrene foam???
Was this a factor (Tight/slim Giro helmet) with the recent death of Wouter Weylandt??? I read that the helmet had to be cut away from his skull.
I had a bad accident only 3 days ago and hit my head pretty hard. result: the 2003-2005 Gratoni Helmet (new) broke in about 8 places (but held together) and not even the hint of concussion! I note that my helmet had space between the foam and my temple and at the back. I landed on the top/ back of the head.
broke my pubic bone and elbow though!. Your thoughts please!
I read that he has a skull fracture at the base of his skull, back of his head, brain stem, perhaps from a big facial impact, whiplash type. Helmet wouldn't have mattered.
 
Jul 27, 2010
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Izzy eviel said:
I reckon if they put their minds to it they could design a BMX style helmet for road racing use. They were still wearing the old school leather helmets in the mid/early 90's. Yes they would look silly & be a bit more uncomfortable but surely it would reduce facial injuries & better protect the brain?
Or why not just use motorcycle helmets?....A bit hot for climbing, but surely far more protection:(

MTB helmets offer limited impact facial protection only. And they are designed for use at lower speeds than road cyclists achieve when descending.

I don't wish to speculate on Weylandt's tragic death, but it is highly unlikely that any head protection would adequately protect anyone from all of the dangers inherent with descending at speeds of 90 plus kmph on a road bike. It is also a fact that most cyclists who are unfortunate enough to die on the roads are wearing helmets.

Cycling, like a lot of sports, will always present significant dangers, even to recreationalists. The only way to eliminate those dangers entirely is to not ride! If you understand the dangers and do everything you can to limit them, including a helmet, and don't undertake anything you aren't experienced enough or comfortable enough to handle, then that is all you can do. By far the biggest danger most cyclists are likely to encounter is a car, and unfortunately a helmet is unlikely to help you much in that scenario.

As to Dr Maserati's assertion about helmets not having any standardisation, well actually that isn't true. If in Europe, you should always look for the standard European kyte mark that indicates that the helmet has reached the required impact resistance, and if you fall and hit your head, do not use the helmet again. As someone said, they are designed for a one hit eventuality.

At times like these, just after a tragic incident, I understand that people sometimes rather naively jump to the conclusion that we need to make our sport "safer". But as I am sure most of you will have experienced yourselves, one of the biggest thrills in riding a bike is descending at speed. It is thrilling to do and thrilling to watch. The thrill, in part comes from plain old going fast but also from the adrenalin produced by the danger involved in doing so.

Fatalities during races are thankfully a very rare occurrence. Let's try to bear that in mind, before we start talking about "fixing" anything.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Bicycle helmets and any helmet in general is approved to an impact standard that is a compromise of many factors including ventilation, impact energy from a specific test set up, the ability to stay on your head, etc. The Idea that this is safety or makes you safe is still within the construction of the helmet.
A motorcycle helmet is probably much safer than a bicycle helmet but after a few km it is too hot and at some point you faint from the heat load or take it off.
Any helmet that passes the testing required to meet the standard is equivalent in protection so a cheap helmet is as safe as an expensive one. So why pay more? comfort and design are probably the biggest reason. A cheap helmet might be heavier and hotter for example. It might be ugly too. A thin light helmet should provide the same protection as a heavy thick one as both have to pass the same impact test. As a corollary a steel 25 pound bike is strong enough and stiff enough but a much lighter carbon fibre frame is so much stronger that it only needs to weigh 16 pounds to offer the same strength and performance.
So those thin, well ventilated helmets are often using much more expensive materials and building techniques to achieve the same level of protection as the thick, simple styrofoam ones.
No helmet make for any purpose can protect from all perils and a bike helmet strong enough to protect from all impacts might be a foot thick and weigh 10 pounds. While protecting you from that 1 hazard only. It could subject you to neck injuries and catching on any object even close to your head. It might be unbearably hot too.
Nothing is without risk and no safety measure can protect against every possible outcome. They increase your chances of survival, not guarantee it.
For a reference. Most bicycle helmets are designed to protect your head from a simple fall from about the height of your head on your bike to the ground and not from 60 km an hour into a wall, curb, steel pillar, or other solid unmovable object.
 
Nov 4, 2010
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Frankly, it seems to me that sponsor considerations have made helmets mandatory in the peloton. Are any less riders suffering from head injuries that was the case in the days when riders rode largely without? When you could easily make out who was who?

I raced at a time when even schoolboys were not required to wear helmets (they where obliged to use restricted gears to protect their knees though, 76" as I remember). I still ride helmetless, in spite of the constant scorn I have to endure from my fellow cyclists.
 

Dr. Maserati

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Jun 19, 2009
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straydog said:
Or why not just use motorcycle helmets?....A bit hot for climbing, but surely far more protection:(

MTB helmets offer limited impact facial protection only. And they are designed for use at lower speeds than road cyclists achieve when descending.

I don't wish to speculate on Weylandt's tragic death, but it is highly unlikely that any head protection would adequately protect anyone from all of the dangers inherent with descending at speeds of 90 plus kmph on a road bike. It is also a fact that most cyclists who are unfortunate enough to die on the roads are wearing helmets.

Cycling, like a lot of sports, will always present significant dangers, even to recreationalists. The only way to eliminate those dangers entirely is to not ride! If you understand the dangers and do everything you can to limit them, including a helmet, and don't undertake anything you aren't experienced enough or comfortable enough to handle, then that is all you can do. By far the biggest danger most cyclists are likely to encounter is a car, and unfortunately a helmet is unlikely to help you much in that scenario.

As to Dr Maserati's assertion about helmets not having any standardisation, well actually that isn't true. If in Europe, you should always look for the standard European kyte mark that indicates that the helmet has reached the required impact resistance, and if you fall and hit your head, do not use the helmet again. As someone said, they are designed for a one hit eventuality.

At times like these, just after a tragic incident, I understand that people sometimes rather naively jump to the conclusion that we need to make our sport "safer". But as I am sure most of you will have experienced yourselves, one of the biggest thrills in riding a bike is descending at speed. It is thrilling to do and thrilling to watch. The thrill, in part comes from plain old going fast but also from the adrenalin produced by the danger involved in doing so.

Fatalities during races are thankfully a very rare occurrence. Let's try to bear that in mind, before we start talking about "fixing" anything.
Agree with most of your post but to my own remarks I made it clear that it was to the "best of my knowledge" - and I checked a few manufacturers websites and they don't have anything.

I have never heard of the Kyte mark - and a quick search for it does not show it - is it an EU standard?

To the OP - I have checked the inside of both helmets, one bought in the EU & the other in the US. Much to my suprise it is the US one that says it is up to a 'standard', it says
"Complies with US CPSC Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets for persons aged 5 and over"

I have no idea what country you are in but the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has a section on helmets, it may help you in your next purchase.
 
Jul 27, 2010
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Dr. Maserati said:
Agree with most of your post but to my own remarks I made it clear that it was to the "best of my knowledge" - and I checked a few manufacturers websites and they don't have anything.

I have never heard of the Kyte mark - and a quick search for it does not show it - is it an EU standard?
The Kyte mark refers to a sticker or engraving inside your helmet (if bought anywhere within the european union) that should read EN 1078. This indicates that it has been certified as satisfactory to the required European standard. If there isn't one, don't use it.

In the old days, this was literally a kyte mark, a sort of circle with an upside down kyte inside it, nowadays it is just a visible reference to the standard.

This might illustrate further.

Hope it helps.
 

Dr. Maserati

BANNED
Jun 19, 2009
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straydog said:
The Kyte mark refers to a sticker or engraving inside your helmet (if bought anywhere within the european union) that should read EN 1078. This indicates that it has been certified as satisfactory to the required European standard. If there isn't one, don't use it.

In the old days, this was literally a kyte mark, a sort of circle with an upside down kyte inside it, nowadays it is just a visible reference to the standard.

This might illustrate further.

Hope it helps.
Thanks for that (and no, my EU helmet does not appear to have that mark)

On the wiki piece you quoted I found this great piece giving a list of all standards for helmets!
A Comparison of Bicycle Helmet Standards.
 
May 11, 2011
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I sense you (the OP) started this topic because of significant concern about the effectiveness of your "cycling safety helmet". It's a timely question, and I agree there are several reasons to be worried.

Unfortunately there's no proper answer that's brief (sorry)

Probably, if you're unaware of suffering concussion, the impact that caused disintegration of your former helmet was pretty light. I personally know 3 people this happened to, and many more I've read about over the years - including French pro rider David Moncoutie (once when he went off-road and landed in a bush, ie. without hitting his head on anything in particular). His was a very well known and expensive American make - one you're currently considering - which seems to feature fairly often in disintegrating helmet stories. They certainly don't ALL do this!

The current legal position in the UK is that a helmet is irrelevant to claims for injury damages if the impact speed was MORE than 12mph, or to the back of the head: road helmets (and MTB) seem designed deliberately NOT to protect the back of the head and aero helmets are even worse; utility helmets are usually better, though not as good as BMX skate lids (which appear roughly as effective as horse riding helmets). That the same testing standard can apply equally to such a diverse range of performances suggests it doesn't mean as much as it ought.

As far as I know the 12 mph effectiveness limit came from the industry itself some years ago, as a way of 'explaining' why it was difficult to find any overall benefit of helmet wearing across the whole population; it's still the figure agreed by expert legal witnesses. It also suggests that a significant benefit would be evident if all cyclists would only ride at 12 mph or less; unfortunately it therefore follows that wearing a helmet causes more harm than good to those who ride faster. Even if their hypothesis is wrong, wearing a normal helmet would seem to make (at best) little difference on average. Since cycling helmets are also ineffective in collision with motor vehicles and not allowed on motorcycles, perhaps the motorcycle standard should be the one that applies to cycling at race speeds (though these still wouldn't render the wearer immortal of course). Motorcycle helmets don't have to be full-face, and can be fairly similar to BMX lids.

I disagree that the industry has advanced the product over the decades - at least in terms of its safety performance. Punters buy these things in their zillions without question, so why should they? Part of the problem is the exaggerated emphasis on low weight and high ventilation (therefore the catastrophic consequence of so many holes), the other is the continued reliance on polystyrene foam to provide structural integrity - something to which such a treacherous material is utterly unsuited. The thinness you mention isn't a problem provided the unit is rigid enough around the head (but how can we tell?). Unfortunately accident data is not being produced or collected in a way that enables progress through meaningful research. A better performance may actually result from stronger closer-fitting shells, thinner polystyrene (if any) and fewer smaller holes, though such a helmet would probably be heavier too. I've been cycling in a completely unventilated helmet and can confirm in the UK climate it's almost always possible to lose the heat somewhere else, even at race speeds, and that the problem sweating area is just the forehead.

I strongly recommend you avoid the manufacturer's offer of a half-price replacement for your broken helmet, and any other whose products have a record of falling to bits: in my opinion these are all unfit for purpose (surely no other head protection - outside of cycling - is 'designed' to do this!). If riding alone you may feel at liberty to consider using something different - preferably with as few holes as you can tolerate and which matches the shape of the head (covering the back part properly): a BMX lid, a track lid like Casco, or even a "jockeys skull". If you ride in a group you may get away with the Casco, but perhaps (if you're sensitive to micky-taking) just resign yourself to buying something more normal and keeping your fingers crossed you never need it. Maybe you should buy different helmets for different purposes: the good news is helmets that may be more effective don't have to be expensive - the latter tend to be the too-light full-of-holes variety that fall to bits easily.

Good luck, especially with keeping this issue in proportion. Remember we're all more than 100 times more likely to die from something other than a blow to the head whilst cycling (with or without a helmet).
 
May 22, 2010
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bobsworth said:
The current legal position in the UK is that a helmet is irrelevant to claims for injury damages if the impact speed was MORE than 12mph..

As far as I know the 12 mph effectiveness limit came from the industry itself some years ago, as a way of 'explaining' why it was difficult to find any overall benefit of helmet wearing across the whole population; it's still the figure agreed by expert legal witnesses.
don't mean to offend, but this sounds like nonsense to me. can you back it up in any way?
 
Sep 14, 2009
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Bobsworth Thank you! Finally someone who is using their ability to reason! are you a lawyer?
I agree that the forehead is the problem area for sweating. I agree that the industry hasn't really advanced the product..... I do think polystyrene is good for a low cost one hit use. But why should I pay 200-250 euros for a top model when 2 weeks later I have to buy again??? the speed of manufacturing is surely nearly the same as the entry models.
all they have done is remove more of the styrene making the contact surface thin and long
a direct stove in on that area would fracture my skull I think. AND I thank you for your comments about adequate data collation; there doesn't seem to be much at all!
thank you!!!
 
Jul 17, 2009
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good topic

I have the new giro and I have noticed it is not so easy to keep it in place. Almost as if the front strap is set too far back and it wants to ride back perhaps exposing the forehead.

I noticed the same issue with the lazer
 
May 4, 2010
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Do you know if it's positioned differently than the Ionos? I have the Ionos and it fits (me) better than any helmet I've ever tried.

Boeing said:
good topic

I have the new giro and I have noticed it is not so easy to keep it in place. Almost as if the front strap is set too far back and it wants to ride back perhaps exposing the forehead.

I noticed the same issue with the lazer
 
Sep 14, 2009
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marathon marke said:
Do you know if it's positioned differently than the Ionos? I have the Ionos and it fits (me) better than any helmet I've ever tried.
Yes this would seem to be the most important thing.... a good fit. I am having a lot of trouble finding a comfortable firm fit. 2 LBShops, 12 helmets... I have a Bell of 2003 vintage which fits, but on hot days is tooo hot, but the latest have no padding where contact with my skull is, and press there. I shaved 3 mm off my Gratoni and glued on extra padding to get the right fit in places. Q;the modern helmets have NO padding on front top of skull but rely on padding the back, sides, and Minimal on the forehead areas. Is minimal contact in these high sweat areas prefered? and doesn't that negate the firm fit that prevents roll on impact?
It is all very well to have industry standards, but these helmets are made to fit from 4 to 8cm of size diference!!! SO the adjustment strap is providing a lot of the stability. one contributor suggested a close fit of the foam shell, and I fould one, but it is quite close. I have not been able to test it on a hot day, and does the sKull like the feet swell when hot???
 
Mar 10, 2009
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The self destruction of bike helmets is evidence they dissipated a lot of energy. Motorcycle helmets do the same thing but the shell is much thicker and holds the broken and crushed liner in place.
No helmet that has not been tested to an approved standard may be sold in Canada and many countries around the world have similar laws. That is consumer protection law. A cheap properly fitting helmet provides the same protection as an expensive one. The expensive one is generally just more comfortable and lighter. Mountain bike helmets are generally better designed for back of the head protection than road helmets.
In terms of impact energy bicycle helmets and motor sport helmets are not a lot different . I think the drop test for a motorcycle helmet is close to the same height. Motorsport helmets may protect more parts of the head and can slide down the road a lot further and faster before your scalp gets removed. Motorsport helmets are designed for other considerations and indy car helmets have more auxiliary equipment to protect the drivers neck.
Most helmets never do their job, thankfully and I believe they offer more peace of mind than absolute protection. I don't know of any helmet that is designed to protect your brain from hitting imovable objects at any speed much higher than 30 KPH. They are generally designed to protect the head from a fal of about 7 to 10 feet or the distance to the ground from a sitting position. After that initial fall the rest of your energy better get dissipated over much greater distance. Even in a race car the helmet is protecting against hits to the various hard parts of the car and not the solid objects on the track. The cars are part of the design and self destruct as they dissipate the collision energy. Move any of those really high forces to the head of the driver and death ensues.
 

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