Lesson learned NEVER ride without your helmet !

Smokin Joe

Legendary Member
I don't normally bother with the helmet sub forum, as it's all been done to death many times over. But having joined this thread when it was in discussionand followed it here, I've suddenly noticed that regular helmet debater Cunobelin hasn't been round for ages.

Anyone know why?
 

swee'pea99

Legendary Member
A tip for next time...

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GWS
 

boydj

Guru
Location
Paisley
In the dim and distant past, long before cycle helmets had been invented, I had a serious off with a schoolbag into the front wheel. Concussion and abrasions to the face and an ear resulted. I doubt a helmet would have mitigated these injuries and I can imagine how a helmet could easily have made the concussion worse - heavier head and harder hit causing the brain to rattle around even more inside my skull. It's a true story, but only another anecdote as far as evidence is concerned.

However, it's remarkable how well the skull is designed to protect the brain with a fluid cushion and a skin covering that will slide and tear to provide progressive deceleration, rather than grip and grab and cause rapid deceleration and severe turning forces as a helmet might.

If only my wife could understand the above, I'd get so much less grief every time I go out on my bike.
 

raleighnut

Guru
Location
On 3 Wheels
I had a serious off about 8 years ago, when I was returning from work along the Colwick Loop Road cycle track and a pedestrian who'd been looking in the opposite direction suddenly ran straight across in front of me, still looking in the opposite diresction, and totally ignoring my shouted warning. I braked hard and tried to swerve around him, but just clipped him with the left side of the bars. He was spun round and fell to the floor relatively unscathed; my front wheel pringled and I went over the handlebars, pivoting on my right forearm, with the bike going over my head. I ended up on my back, with feet pointing in the direction of travel, and the bike and panniers several yards further forward.
If I had been wearing a helmet, my head would have hit the ground and bent my neck back, resulting in (at best) bruising to the spinal cord and long term rehabilitation, at worst a broken neck and death or tetraplegic injury.
Mercifully no head injury, as my head didn't make contact with the ground; I walked the remaining 4km home with my bike balanced on the rear wheel, bleeding from the right forearm and a few abrasions on my left knuckles.
After a couple of days, my right arm was black from wrist to shoulder, but I was back on my bike commuting to work again, after a day on the bus.
I, for one, know very well that I wouldn't still be posting on this forum if I'd been wearing a polystyrene hat.
Had a similar off myself, landed on the back of my neck after a summersault. If I'd had a helmet sticking out at the back of my bonce who knows how much worse my neck injury would have been.
 

classic33

Legendary Member
Helmet or not, one thing that won't change is the brain "bouncing around" inside the skull after impact. It'll take time to slow down before finally stopping.
 

Kajjal

Veteran
Location
Wheely World
The main dangers on road are the weather / road conditions, drivers and the design of the roads. 99% of the time wearing or not wearing a helmet does not come into it. It’s the few occasions where it does matter and the high level of damage that is avoided. If you are comfortable to accept the risk then that is your choice.

If you go off road it is very different and the risks are not the same. This is why mountain bikers pretty much all wear helmets , and some pads / body armour, and it is seen as a given.

In over 2 decades of road biking my helmet has never come into it but I still wear it. In mountain biking it has numerous times from branch strikes etc.
 

swansonj

Guru
The main dangers on road are the weather / road conditions, drivers and the design of the roads. 99% of the time wearing or not wearing a helmet does not come into it. It’s the few occasions where it does matter and the high level of damage that is avoided. If you are comfortable to accept the risk then that is your choice.

If you go off road it is very different and the risks are not the same. This is why mountain bikers pretty much all wear helmets , and some pads / body armour, and it is seen as a given.

In over 2 decades of road biking my helmet has never come into it but I still wear it. In mountain biking it has numerous times from branch strikes etc.
Just want to make sure I've understood.

You think the risks are different on and off road, and off road, helmets are much more clearly justified.

The only specific off road risk you happen to cite is branch strikes.

So the implication could be that off road helmet use is justified by a type of risk where the wearing of a helmet increases the probability of the risk occurring (because it increases the size of the head)?

Presumably, wearing a helmet off road reduces the headaches from branch strikes, and the one thing no-one has ever denied, on or off road, is that helmets make minor headaches even more minor. But are you confident it does not make the risk of neck injuries worse?

And, just for my interest, do you replace the helmet after every branch strike?
 

Kajjal

Veteran
Location
Wheely World
Just want to make sure I've understood.

You think the risks are different on and off road, and off road, helmets are much more clearly justified.

The only specific off road risk you happen to cite is branch strikes.

So the implication could be that off road helmet use is justified by a type of risk where the wearing of a helmet increases the probability of the risk occurring (because it increases the size of the head)?

Presumably, wearing a helmet off road reduces the headaches from branch strikes, and the one thing no-one has ever denied, on or off road, is that helmets make minor headaches even more minor. But are you confident it does not make the risk of neck injuries worse?

And, just for my interest, do you replace the helmet after every branch strike?
I am guessing from your response you have never been mountain biking on more testing terrain ?
 

swansonj

Guru
I am guessing from your response you have never been mountain biking on more testing terrain ?
Absolutely correct. Which is why I was asking questions to improve my understanding. Feel free to take my ignorance into account when deciding on the level of your answer.
 

Kajjal

Veteran
Location
Wheely World
Absolutely correct. Which is why I was asking questions to improve my understanding. Feel free to take my ignorance into account when deciding on the level of your answer.
The difference is mountain biking varies from riding slowly along canal towpaths to dropping down very testing downhill courses. On a towpath the likelyhood of anything happening is very slim, on a downhill course it is much more risky and the impact is higher as well which is why people wear full body armour , pads and helmets. This variation can happen during a ride and especially on natural trails you have not ridden before. This is why most mountain bikers play it safe, if you look at trail parks the routes vary from green family friendly to full on rocky black downhill runs which need full suspension bikes and these again recommend proper protection.
 

Kajjal

Veteran
Location
Wheely World
The reality is still that cycle helmets are only tested to an impact at 14 mph (the equivalent of falling over from standing). If you're bombing down a gnarly singletrack and come flying off, that bit of polystyrene and plastic is going to have a minimal safety effect - just as it would have a minimal safety effect if you were hit by a car on the road.
Your showing your age now it is Rowdy mountain bike trails now, Gnarly is so 1990's :santa:
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
The reality is still that cycle helmets are only tested to an impact at 14 mph (the equivalent of falling over from standing). If you're bombing down a gnarly singletrack and come flying off, that bit of polystyrene and plastic is going to have a minimal safety effect - just as it would have a minimal safety effect if you were hit by a car on the road.
Its still better than nothing. Gravel rash is not funny. Landed on my head on a trail a year ago, not fast but bike stopped. Helmet had gashes in top, rather it was the lid than my tissues. Got up carried on rather than needing medical treatment for a big cut on the thin tissue on my head.
 

Vantage

The dogs chew toy
Ok here's my anecdote.

Around 1996 or so I also had a mountain bike accident. I did a jump, landed very heavily on the front wheel and my helmet protected head bounced off the ground. To this day, I still don't remember how the hell I got home. IMO, that helmet did absolutely jack sh1t in protecting my brain cells. The front of that lid was squished like it was made of plasticine.

Helmets which conform (not pass as they only have to conform) to the current British Standards do so by surviving a 14mph drop onto a blunt surface.
There are no blunt surfaces in mountain biking unless you count the spongy ever so soft mossy grass and squishy mud we sink into. Big pointy rocks which provide a point focused impact and sticky out branches have no problem penetrating any one of the helmet vents designed to keep it's wearer cool.

As an aside, no one 'needs' full suspension to ride downhill. Myself and others were doing downhill races on fully rigid bikes long before full suspension became the new thing for idiots with f all bike handling skills. I say this as an idiot with f all bike handling skills as my latest offs can testify too :biggrin:
 

Tim Hall

Guest
Location
Crawley
Ok here's my anecdote.

Around 1996 or so I also had a mountain bike accident. I did a jump, landed very heavily on the front wheel and my helmet protected head bounced off the ground. To this day, I still don't remember how the hell I got home. IMO, that helmet did absolutely jack sh1t in protecting my brain cells. The front of that lid was squished like it was made of plasticine.

Helmets which conform (not pass as they only have to conform) to the current British Standards do so by surviving a 14mph drop onto a blunt surface.
There are no blunt surfaces in mountain biking unless you count the spongy ever so soft mossy grass and squishy mud we sink into. Big pointy rocks which provide a point focused impact and sticky out branches have no problem penetrating any one of the helmet vents designed to keep it's wearer cool.

As an aside, no one 'needs' full suspension to ride downhill. Myself and others were doing downhill races on fully rigid bikes long before full suspension became the new thing for idiots with f all bike handling skills. I say this as an idiot with f all bike handling skills as my latest offs can testify too :biggrin:
My understanding is that squishing of the polystyrene is good, as it's absorbed some/a lot of energy. It's when the polystyrene has cracked that the helmet hasn't worked in an energy absorbing fashion . Pictures of such cracked helmets are often accompanied by "This helmet saved my life" captions.
 
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