Riding without a helmet

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  • Riding without a helmet
  • Premier Icon convert

    I thought about this this morning. I've got a friend who always insists you wear a helmet when you ride with him even if its 400yds down the road to the pub. His emphatic views are after he "bullseyed" through a car windscreen and walking away from it with a helmet in bits.

    As I careered down a stupid bumpy descent this morning I was thinking how much more dangerous this is, even with a helmet on, than riding a few hundred yards of tarmac sans lids and he would have no issue with this, trying to take the win. I guess it's all about perceived and avoidable risks whilst still enjoying yourself.

    And as for all this getting hot rubbish, pfftt! When you have dragged your sorry arse up a long drag in Austria in a triathlon wearing an aero lid in 35 degree heat – now that is hot! I was handed up over 20 bottles in that 112 miles, half in the gob, the other half over the body or down the back of the pointy lid.


    Really, I mean really??

    People are really quite bad at working out risks, and they do compensate in strange ways, resulting in a lot of counter-intuitive real world results. There's a paper about appearance and vehicle passing distances – look like a woman and you get the most room, wear a lid and hi-vis and you get the least.

    The perception of cycling as a dangerous activity is the biggest barrier to increased participation in cycling, and increased participation correlates with cyclist safety. The links aren't that hard to make if you think about it.

    I'm yet to attempt to exit a bath travelling at 20mph surrounded by granite boulders. A completely ludicrous comparison.

    Yes, you've made a ludicrous comparison.

    cycling along at about 10mph across a grassy field probably isnt a ludicrous comparison

    MTBing I wear a helmet usually
    Road riding i usually dont
    BMX I never bother either.


    Riding with no helmet means certain death, if you don't wear a magic polystyrene hat you're mad.

    It always amazes me how many people i see riding £1k+ bikes, without a helmet. I saw a few people riding today that had taken the time to pick breathable highend base layers and all the gear but again no helemt, I don't understand why you'd take the time not to be sweaty over protecting your head.

    But i suppose each to their own.

    Its only there to prevent injury i'll never ride without one.

    Premier Icon Pawsy_Bear

    Thanks Juan, sage like advice and I was thinking the same but I had lost the will to reply to such absurd replies LOL

    Surely if you fell off sideways at 3mph you'd just put your arms out to take the impact

    And dislocate your shoulder… Sideways fall judo style is the safest to do.

    From experience I would also recommended staying with the bike and letting the pedals and bars take the hit. They are quickly replaceable.

    Helmet's to my mind are like car seat belts. You hope you never need them but I wear them all the same. Its there for the unexpected. I rate my road commute each day to be far more dangerous than MTB.


    davidtaylforth – edit – yeah, whatever.


    Should others wear a helmet? give them a choice to choose.

    I choose to wear my helmet even if its only small fraction of protection-crashing on your noggin hurts!

    Premier Icon Moe

    In all the thousands of miles I've ever ridden wearing a helmet I've only ever used it once in 'anger', like someone said before if you know when that 'once' is going to be you should be able to pick the winning lottery numbers. As for the walking at 3mph, your feet and hands are otherwise engaged when cycling not to mention all the metal (or carbon) work that will get in the way of your limbs trying to get in position to save yourself as you fall.

    In the end people make their own choices and it's really not worth getting too excited about, just don't go crying to the claim vultures when it all goes wrong for you!


    I need to work on my falling technique as in the last two years I've snapped big lumps off 3 helmets (one of those had a crack all the way through and was held together by the shell) I'm happy the lumps came off them, not my head. I think people are silly if they don't wear them but ultimately it's their head.

    I regularly ride uphill with my helmet hanging off the end of my bars, I get hot otherwise.


    joolsburger – Member

    ,,,,,,,,,,, I think people are silly if they don't wear them but ultimately it's their head.

    I regularly ride uphill with my helmet hanging off the end of my bars, I get hot otherwise. ,,,,,,,,,,,

    Are you admitting to be silly then not wearing one all the time?

    Or have you decided that going slowly on a doubletrack the risk is low enough that you are prepared to accept it?


    Horses for courses I never said all the time. If you're pottering about I can't see the need for a helmet, I never wear one when I'm on the tow path for instance. On a 20 minute climb I'm into comfort so it comes off. When I say silly I mean if your doing some proper fast MTB, it's really worth wearing one in my experience.


    Tend to agree with you. Its all about rational risk asessments

    Premier Icon Northwind

    "Not really much to do with OP, but at the weekend I saw a couple of blokes riding the black run at Laggan without helmets. I commented to their mates that the black was probably not the place to ride without a helmet."

    What always baffles me a bit is the guys who carry them around but never wear them… I've seen this on McMoab, which is pretty much the place at Kirroughtree where if you're only going to wear a helmet for 10 minutes all day, is where you'd do it… And at various spots of Innerleithen too, and on the nevis red. Why even bother taking it? I've got no major issue with people who choose not to wear helmets most of the time but that's just plain daft.


    Absolutely I'll decide when a helmet is warranted. Like just before faceplanting a steep roll in two weeks ago!! Bell do a cheap replacement scheme luckily enough.


    So long as we still have the freedom to choose I'm happy


    I don't wear a helmet on my uni commute (all roads) but I wear one nearly all of the time otherwise; don't wear one to uni because its a hassle carrying a helmet about all day and don't rate my chances, even with a helmet, if I get hit by a car….

    I didn't used to wear helmets, but then I bought a "decent" helmet and just got into the habit of doing it. I've fallen off a fair few times, never hit my helmet. Dented one when I hit a branch but it I wasn't wearing a hat I think I'd have missed the branch with my head anyway.
    Its just a matter of weighing up the risk. Yes there is always a chance of serious impact (even at slow speeds) but its not as likely as goign very fast down a hill or whatever.


    Okay, I'm calm again now. I'd call 999 _every single time_. I'm the first out of the car if I see an accident, and the first to rush to see what the cause of the thud is.
    It.Just.Makes.Me.So.Cross. Sorry. I'll never get the image of my mum looking like frankenstein out of my head.

    Premier Icon Cougar

    Always wear a helmet? No. Always wear a lid on rides out on trails and roads? Yes.

    It's all about "acceptable risk." Pretty much everything we do carries some form of risk and has some means of mitigating that; it's a constant trade-off between careful and over-cautious. I could get hit by a car crossing the road, so I could decide never to cross roads, or only do it at designated crossings, or just look both ways and pay attention before I cross.

    I know people who rock-climb without a helmet. I know people who do it without a rope. I know people who've jumped out of aeroplanes without a reserve, or an AAD (safety device), or seen on TV very occasionally without a parachute at all. I've read at length skydiving post-mortems where one of the questions asked is "would an AAD have prevented this accident?" – it's often 'yes' and yet still people won't use them. I see people overseas without motorbike helmets, and teenagers here without even a pair of gloves, and it makes me wince. Ultimately though, it's their call, they've made a choice and have to suffer the sometimes terminal consequences.

    If I'm riding the bike 10 yards from the car to the front door, putting on a lid is probably overkill; granted it's not a 100% risk-free activity, the bike could spontaneously combust or something perhaps, but I'm making the decision not to wear a helmet when trundling down the path to my house after assessing the potential risk. If I'm on the trail I'll always wear one, because it's no hardship to do so, it beats carrying it, and I've only got the one head. As a friend of mine once said, "I don't care what statistics say, it -will- be me."


    The other thing of course is how many people actually wear their helmets properly? From what I have seen a small minority have the straps correctly done up.


    I managed to completely misjudge going up a tiny kerb at about 2mph, due to being half asleep (6:30 am).

    Keeled over sideways, clipped in, and landed on my helmet on nice hard concrete.

    Premier Icon 0range5

    I always wear a lid off road, because although the consequences of a fall may be less than on road (i.e. all road crashes are onto something hard, off road landings are usually softer!) I'm more likely to be pushing it a bit off road, so offs may be more likely. On road I tend not to, but the traffic here is generally quiet & well behaved.

    I find it a bit odd that someone will always bring up a risk in ANY circumstance no matter how 'safe'. If your going to say that riding at 3mph without a helmet is dangerous, you really have to say that as a pedestrian you need one as well! People actually have been hurt or killed falling over as a pedestrian. I think there is a bit of a culture of seeing danger everywhere. I prefer not to see safety equipment as something that's going to keep me out of trouble. Instead I like to think about what I & everyone else is doing & keep myself safe that way. After all, if I get run over by something big a helmet isn't going to help much anyway. Prevention being better than cure & all that.


    Orange – very true – active and passive safety. Active safety helps you avoid accidents, passive reduces the impact of accidents.


    classic STW thread 🙂



    Even the pros take their hot lids off sometimes 😉

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