Full-face helmets

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thelawnet
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Full-face helmets

Postby thelawnet » 26 Jan 2019, 11:52pm

Any thoughts on these? There seems to be a strong case that the standard bicycle helmet is a poor compromise. In particular, hazardous activities such as professional cycle racing use a rather feeble device

Image

not much comparison to these Image

This motorcycle helmet preaches impact % for each area:

Image

Image

Image

noting that the helmet above does not cover half the areas.

Are there any sort of reasoned attempts to justify a standard bicycle helmet over the full-face ones you'd use for practically anything else involving wheels, beyond 'I don't like wearing full face helmets'?

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby [XAP]Bob » 27 Jan 2019, 12:52am

Heat, ability to breathe at volumes required for aerobic effort.

A cycle hat is a massive compromise, and has to be.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

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Cunobelin
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby Cunobelin » 27 Jan 2019, 8:29am

Funnily enough Headway one of the charities that is pro-compulsion raised this question inadvertently

A few years ago they made some bizarre claims about head injury numbers and when challenged had done the old trick of citing all accidents to inflate the figures.

However the Paper they misquoted was from the British Dental Association which pointed out that helmets did not offer sufficient faccial protection, and the Dentists should have a role in pushing for more factual protection.

So Headway's key (misquoted) evidence was promoting full face helmets.

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pjclinch
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby pjclinch » 27 Jan 2019, 11:06am

thelawnet wrote:Any thoughts on these? There seems to be a strong case that the standard bicycle helmet is a poor compromise. In particular, hazardous activities such as professional cycle racing use a rather feeble device
<snip>
Are there any sort of reasoned attempts to justify a standard bicycle helmet over the full-face ones you'd use for practically anything else involving wheels, beyond 'I don't like wearing full face helmets'?


The standard cycle helmet was developed as a "better hairnet". If you're not familiar with a hairnet, this is the sort of thing...

Image

Hairnets were used exclusively in sports cycling, and the rationale is not saving lives but in the event of coming off and taking a minor knock to the head you can get on your bike and get back in the race rather than seeing stars for a couple of minutes and abandoning. This isn't much, and was pretty much an optional extra that most did without even for bunch sprints.

As you say, there's compromise involved, particularly in professional racing: weight is Bad, and with athletes performing incredible feats of sweat production insulation is Bad. The simple fact of the matter is that if you're labouring up a mountain the rider with no helmet will easily beat the rider with a heavy protective one. Take out the weight and sweat options by mainly going downhill for a couple of minutes and upping the danger and you see with downhill MTB and BMX that full face is the standard. Comfort is clearly not an issue in either of these sports.

In the "real world" of the everyday cyclist head injuries are not obviously more of an issue than they are for e.g. users of stairs, and in fact the greatest contributor of serious head trauma to A&E departments are car occupants involved in crashes. The assumption with them is that their seatbelts, airbags and crumple zones will save them, and they often do, but still they account for nearly half of all serious head injuries. Given the car is climate-controlled and driving requires very little power it would be easy enough to wear far more protective helmets in cars than is reasonable on a bike, but everyone considers it's safe enough. When you look at the actual numbers, rather than the general public's perceptions, it turns out cycling is safe enough for most of the people most of the time without any helmets at all. The full-face helmets used by downhill MTB and BMX are available to anyone that wants to buy them, but their use on the road is mainly limited to kids who want to look like a Stormtrooper that does dangerous stuff. Even the "helmets are essential" brigade shun them for road use because they're simply not practical for everyday cycling.

Beyond head injuries you have the more general issue of public health. Cycling is good for public health, so any people that are put off doing it constitute a public health own goal. If people have to wear a helmet at all you already start scoring these own-goals (in Australia there is quite a pile of evidence that the ~30% fall in serious injuries after helmets were made compulsory for all was caused by a ~30% drop in cycling), so while you're free to wear a motorsport crash helmet if you think it's good for you as an individual, it is counter productive for the population overall to promote or require helmets for general cycling.

Cyclists on the roads are, like pedestrians, vulnerable road users in terms of their lack of protection from motor vehicles and there's more to protect than just a head. As for pedestrians, the way to protect yourself from traumatic injury (head or otherwise) is by not colliding with moving motor vehicles. Anything else is window dressing. As a Bikeability Scotland instructor the main safety lesson I teach at Level 2 (what most people think of as "Bikeability") is the Safe Cycling Strategy of COPS: in order of importance that's Control, Observation, Position, Signalling (the last one's really Communication, but we already have a 'C'). Helmets don't affect any of those. They're not actually very important.

Cyclists on race courses are a different matter. For a start the rules these days typically require helmets, and the culture of racing cycling these days is such that most riders wear them in any case. There are exceptions: hill climb TTs may be exempt, for example (you're not going that fast and you're on your own so there is little risk of head injury). But back to the Safe Cycling Strategy, the first thing for the everyday cyclist is "Control" and that's the first thing that's compromised by being in a race: it is inherently less safe than everyday cycling. On the other hand, outside of unusually high energy impacts (like hitting a tree head on at terminal velocity on a downhill MTB course) the sort of falls you'll get in a bike race aren't often the sort that kill people, but a lot of the goal is keeping you in the race, not keeping you alive. There are exceptions, but the same is true of falling down stairs.

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thelawnet
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby thelawnet » 27 Jan 2019, 11:40am

pjclinch wrote:Cyclists on race courses are a different matter. For a start the rules these days typically require helmets, and the culture of racing cycling these days is such that most riders wear them in any case. There are exceptions: hill climb TTs may be exempt, for example (you're not going that fast and you're on your own so there is little risk of head injury). But back to the Safe Cycling Strategy, the first thing for the everyday cyclist is "Control" and that's the first thing that's compromised by being in a race: it is inherently less safe than everyday cycling. On the other hand, outside of unusually high energy impacts (like hitting a tree head on at terminal velocity on a downhill MTB course) the sort of falls you'll get in a bike race aren't often the sort that kill people, but a lot of the goal is keeping you in the race, not keeping you alive. There are exceptions, but the same is true of falling down stairs.


When I'm on my 700x47 bike and then switch to my 700x23 road bike, one thing I am very conscious of is the higher speeds and the perceived vulnerability to the many potholes. Also I'm more likely to be on busier roads, or roads at all, and with steeper descents.

I think this is the point of 'Dutch cycling', that cycling on relatively flat surfaces for utility purposes is not very hazardous, and as such safety equipment is not warranted. Whereas hurtling down a B road at 50mph feels (and clearly is) very much more dangerous. So you may choose wear a helmet, albeit one that is rubbish compared to what a motorcyclist would use.

I believe the case for motorcycle helmets is rather better proven?

drossall
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby drossall » 27 Jan 2019, 8:58pm

I had exactly this issue arise when leading the cycling activities on a youth expedition to Scotland a few years back. We were mostly riding on old railways, but there were some parts where the trails necessarily diverted and there were steeper descents. Some bad accidents had been reported from previous expeditions, and there were proposals to provide full-face helmets in response; our rules already required standard helmets.

My concerns about full-face helmets were overheating (for the reasons explained above), consequent lack of concentration, lack of peripheral vision in a situation where participants were already unused to group riding (downhill racing is normally solo, although of course motorcylists race with helmets of similar design), and crucially that they would not do anything to prevent the crashes happening in the first place. I spoke to several contacts with relevant experience, who shared my opinion.

In my view, a likely cause was that the hire bikes had disc brakes, and most participants had V brakes or similar on their own cycles at home. So, I did training sessions each day before departure, in particular on controlled stops, but also on group riding and so on.

Most of the accidents we did have were silly falls, requiring laughter rather than treatment. The worst was a bruised knee (to a leader). Two weeks like that isn't, I think, long enough to provide much more than anecdotal evidence. However, I'm not sure that, if something isn't working, providing more of it is the way forward.

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Cunobelin
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby Cunobelin » 28 Jan 2019, 6:36am

There are a couple of commuters on my route that wear them

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby [XAP]Bob » 28 Jan 2019, 9:19am

thelawnet wrote:
pjclinch wrote:Cyclists on race courses are a different matter. For a start the rules these days typically require helmets, and the culture of racing cycling these days is such that most riders wear them in any case. There are exceptions: hill climb TTs may be exempt, for example (you're not going that fast and you're on your own so there is little risk of head injury). But back to the Safe Cycling Strategy, the first thing for the everyday cyclist is "Control" and that's the first thing that's compromised by being in a race: it is inherently less safe than everyday cycling. On the other hand, outside of unusually high energy impacts (like hitting a tree head on at terminal velocity on a downhill MTB course) the sort of falls you'll get in a bike race aren't often the sort that kill people, but a lot of the goal is keeping you in the race, not keeping you alive. There are exceptions, but the same is true of falling down stairs.


When I'm on my 700x47 bike and then switch to my 700x23 road bike, one thing I am very conscious of is the higher speeds and the perceived vulnerability to the many potholes. Also I'm more likely to be on busier roads, or roads at all, and with steeper descents.

I think this is the point of 'Dutch cycling', that cycling on relatively flat surfaces for utility purposes is not very hazardous, and as such safety equipment is not warranted. Whereas hurtling down a B road at 50mph feels (and clearly is) very much more dangerous. So you may choose wear a helmet, albeit one that is rubbish compared to what a motorcyclist would use.

I believe the case for motorcycle helmets is rather better proven?


If your concern is being wiped out by a vehicle doing 60mph then a cycle helmet isn’t even close to being a part of a solution.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

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pjclinch
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby pjclinch » 28 Jan 2019, 9:35am

[XAP]Bob wrote:
thelawnet wrote:
pjclinch wrote:Cyclists on race courses are a different matter. For a start the rules these days typically require helmets, and the culture of racing cycling these days is such that most riders wear them in any case. There are exceptions: hill climb TTs may be exempt, for example (you're not going that fast and you're on your own so there is little risk of head injury). But back to the Safe Cycling Strategy, the first thing for the everyday cyclist is "Control" and that's the first thing that's compromised by being in a race: it is inherently less safe than everyday cycling. On the other hand, outside of unusually high energy impacts (like hitting a tree head on at terminal velocity on a downhill MTB course) the sort of falls you'll get in a bike race aren't often the sort that kill people, but a lot of the goal is keeping you in the race, not keeping you alive. There are exceptions, but the same is true of falling down stairs.


When I'm on my 700x47 bike and then switch to my 700x23 road bike, one thing I am very conscious of is the higher speeds and the perceived vulnerability to the many potholes. Also I'm more likely to be on busier roads, or roads at all, and with steeper descents.

I think this is the point of 'Dutch cycling', that cycling on relatively flat surfaces for utility purposes is not very hazardous, and as such safety equipment is not warranted. Whereas hurtling down a B road at 50mph feels (and clearly is) very much more dangerous. So you may choose wear a helmet, albeit one that is rubbish compared to what a motorcyclist would use.

I believe the case for motorcycle helmets is rather better proven?


If your concern is being wiped out by a vehicle doing 60mph then a cycle helmet isn’t even close to being a part of a solution.


If that is the concern, but that's not been said anywhere...

Hitting high speeds on "sporting" descents is somewhere a helmet can help. While they are designed to take 12 mph impacts that's 12 mph in the vertical, constrained by a dead stop against the road. If you come off at high speed and slide/bounce then it's quite possible a helmet would help. There is, of course, the issue that you're more likley to be going dangerously out of control if you're protected by PPE but that's a whiole different can of worms...

Pete.
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pjclinch
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby pjclinch » 28 Jan 2019, 9:37am

For the record, Cycling Scotland won't allow full-face helmets for on-road training because of concerns about peripheral vision possibly being affected. I imagine there are FF helmets available where this isn't an issue, but given their general unsuitability for everyday cycling it's probably easier to just rule them out than waste even more time checking helmets than we already do.

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby [XAP]Bob » 28 Jan 2019, 11:18am

pjclinch wrote:
[XAP]Bob wrote:
thelawnet wrote:
When I'm on my 700x47 bike and then switch to my 700x23 road bike, one thing I am very conscious of is the higher speeds and the perceived vulnerability to the many potholes. Also I'm more likely to be on busier roads, or roads at all, and with steeper descents.

I think this is the point of 'Dutch cycling', that cycling on relatively flat surfaces for utility purposes is not very hazardous, and as such safety equipment is not warranted. Whereas hurtling down a B road at 50mph feels (and clearly is) very much more dangerous. So you may choose wear a helmet, albeit one that is rubbish compared to what a motorcyclist would use.

I believe the case for motorcycle helmets is rather better proven?


If your concern is being wiped out by a vehicle doing 60mph then a cycle helmet isn’t even close to being a part of a solution.


If that is the concern, but that's not been said anywhere...

Hitting high speeds on "sporting" descents is somewhere a helmet can help. While they are designed to take 12 mph impacts that's 12 mph in the vertical, constrained by a dead stop against the road. If you come off at high speed and slide/bounce then it's quite possible a helmet would help. There is, of course, the issue that you're more likley to be going dangerously out of control if you're protected by PPE but that's a whiole different can of worms...

Pete.


I think this is the point of 'Dutch cycling', that cycling on relatively flat surfaces for utility purposes is not very hazardous, and as such safety equipment is not warranted. Whereas hurtling down a B road at 50mph feels (and clearly is) very much more dangerous. So you may choose wear a helmet, albeit one that is rubbish compared to what a motorcyclist would use.

I'd misread... but..... whether or not another vehicle is involved - 50mph is way beyond the (energy) capacity of a bike helmet. You'd be wanting more substantial clothing all over...
Given that cycle helmets have no anti-snag testing (and in fact are designed with plenty of snag points in the name of ventilation) then I'd still be wary of suggesting they offer much in the way of protection, even in a simple spill at that kind of speed.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

thelawnet
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby thelawnet » 28 Jan 2019, 8:49pm

pjclinch wrote:For the record, Cycling Scotland won't allow full-face helmets for on-road training because of concerns about peripheral vision possibly being affected. .

How do motorcyclists manage?

thelawnet
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby thelawnet » 29 Jan 2019, 12:12am

[XAP]Bob wrote:I'd misread... but..... whether or not another vehicle is involved - 50mph is way beyond the (energy) capacity of a bike helmet. You'd be wanting more substantial clothing all over...
Given that cycle helmets have no anti-snag testing (and in fact are designed with plenty of snag points in the name of ventilation) then I'd still be wary of suggesting they offer much in the way of protection, even in a simple spill at that kind of speed.


That was not my point really; rather that 'road' cycling feels much more dangerous than utility cycling, because you are doing high speeds on small tyres, even if in reality a helmet might be more useful falling off on the way back from the pub than in a 50mph crash downhill. This exposure to high kinetic energies (cars at high speed, downhill crashes), makes you feel unsafe, and hence want some protection.

The point being that if 'road' cycling is dangerous and hence warrants safety equipment, that safety equipment should be good at protecting; it seems that a full face helmet provides more protection than a standard helmet so the question is why not wear one?

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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby Airsporter1st » 29 Jan 2019, 7:46am

thelawnet wrote:
[XAP]Bob wrote:I'd misread... but..... whether or not another vehicle is involved - 50mph is way beyond the (energy) capacity of a bike helmet. You'd be wanting more substantial clothing all over...
Given that cycle helmets have no anti-snag testing (and in fact are designed with plenty of snag points in the name of ventilation) then I'd still be wary of suggesting they offer much in the way of protection, even in a simple spill at that kind of speed.


That was not my point really; rather that 'road' cycling feels much more dangerous than utility cycling, because you are doing high speeds on small tyres, even if in reality a helmet might be more useful falling off on the way back from the pub than in a 50mph crash downhill. This exposure to high kinetic energies (cars at high speed, downhill crashes), makes you feel unsafe, and hence want some protection.

The point being that if 'road' cycling is dangerous and hence warrants safety equipment, that safety equipment should be good at protecting; it seems that a full face helmet provides more protection than a standard helmet so the question is why not wear one?


Would you wear one?

I certainly wouldn't. If what I was doing was perceived to be so dangerous that it warranted such a device, I wouldn't do it, it would be no fun anymore and I cycle for pleasure.

drossall
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Re: Full-face helmets

Postby drossall » 29 Jan 2019, 8:03am

thelawnet wrote:The point being that if 'road' cycling is dangerous and hence warrants safety equipment, that safety equipment should be good at protecting; it seems that a full face helmet provides more protection than a standard helmet so the question is why not wear one?

Because it isn't that dangerous*, the protection doesn't really seem to work (which is where you started this thread), and anyway it's better to focus on reducing what risks there are so that you don't have accidents in the first place?

Someone pointed out that personal protective equipment, whilst of obvious value in many situations, is the last measure you consider, after, for example, steps that will eliminate the risk. There's something wrong if you turn to it first.

* Measured against other activities, cycling isn't remarkably dangerous. There are risks, but by and large not, it seems, the kind that can be dealt with effectively by helmets. And in any case, cycling is a lot safer than not cycling, if you consider that health professionals estimate that it extends your life expectancy by 20 years for every year of life expectancy that you might (on average) lose in an accident.