Cycle Helmets - Staff Rider David tells us why wearing a helmet is so important

Words by Aaron Scott

on 29/08/2013 18:06:00

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Staff rider and Rutland Cycling warranty manager David, was recently involved in a nasty collision whilst cycling around Warwickshire. Fortunately, David's crash resulted in nothing more than a few cuts and bruises. In this post David recalls the collision and explains how the Specialized helmet he was wearing prevented what could have been considerably worse!

My crash resulted in cuts and bruises but thankfully nothing worse!

Well I've always been one to wear a bike helmet, well when cycling that is, and have done so since I discovered mountain biking back in the days of 1988. In those days it was either a huge lump of polystyrene with one or two small holes cut out covered with a lightweight elasticated cover, a pointless looking shell of straps that the road guys wore or the slightly more pleasing to the eye,  Bell “Image” helmet made famous by my cycling hero of the time, and pioneer of the sport, John Tomac.

John Tomac sporting a Bell helmet

No matter how much you told your friends that you didn't look stupid you knew at the back of your mind you did, especially with vivid coloured Lycra shorts on. What kept us wearing them was the fact you at least felt safe when flying down trails that weren't specifically built for the purpose of cycling as many are today. That safety net pushed you that little bit further when trying something new on your non-suspension, calliper braked, 40lb, steel “ATB” as we called them and so this developed skills that weren't compensated by the kind of kit we have come used to riding today.

As we got through the late nineties into the noughties; manufacturers started to produce helmets that were actually quite stylish and eventually all the 'cool kids' were wearing them.

With the development of different aspects of mountain biking branching off in all directions (cross country, downhill, 4X, dirt jumping and freeride) each discipline had their own style of clothing and kit. This in turn brought numerous styles of helmet from the lightweight XC styles such as the Specialized Tactic

or the Giro Xar through to the downhill, full face types such as THE Industries T2 Gauge and numerous others in between. Each style of helmet is developed to protect the rider in the event of a collision and to offer both safety and comfort so this is why I recommend that firstly YOU ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET and secondly to try a few before making your mind up as to which one you want.

At our stores we have a large display of helmets offering numerous choices and expert advice from our staff who are all cyclists so pop along and mess your hair up trying some on and posing in front of our mirrors! There are helmets to suit everyone's budget and what I always find funny is that the more you spend on a XC style helmet, in effect, the less you seemingly get! Technically that's not true but you will find that the higher the price the more ventilation it will have so upon appearance alone you get more holes and less product. This does not mean less protection, in fact the opposite, your extra cash goes towards developing lighter helmets with no reduction in protection due to the ventilation designs.

I have been lucky over the years as I had, up until last weekend, managed to only need to rely on my helmet once to protect me during quite a bad crash. I raced BMX in the eighties with thankfully no head knocks (no comments please!) and only had one mountain bike accident in the early nineties that broke the polystyrene mushroom Specialized I had at the time when I stacked my Stumpjumper but nothing else other than the odd graze or cut. This was a record I was quite pleased with until the odds changed when cycling down in Warwickshire near my home recently.

I collided with a friend's GT whilst on my Cannondale when we were linking up two bridalways with a short blast on a country lane. As we joined the road and headed down the hill he started to pull away from my other fellow rider and I  thought to myself  “he's not getting away with that” and I cranked the pace up. Leaving one to catch the other was probably a bad decision as just as we became level I looked down at my VDO computer to see it reading 34.8MPH and then “BOOM”.
We had just ridden through a shallow puddle across the road and he hadn't realised I was right next to him as the splash had muted me, plus the XTR set up on my bike is über quiet, so the startle of seeing me jolted him into me resulting in what I can only describe as two spinning tops hitting one another.

The next thing I recall was aiming towards the embankment to my left as my Specialized Defroster boots escaped my Shimano pedals and then hitting the ground with my head before seeing sky, mud, sky, mud! As I landed I heard a crack and with the adrenalin pumping through me I jumped up, hoping it wasn't a broken bone or even worse - my bike. Luckily, it was neither but as my fellow victim came over, with his Endura shorts looking worse for wear due to his 8 metre aquaplane ride down the road and my other friend saying words that aren't suitable for the LoveCycling blog, it was evident that my face had taken the brunt of it resulting in numerous cuts and a nose bleed etc (seen in the above picture).

The crack that had been heard was my Specialized S3 helmet doing its job and absorbing the impact of the crash. Had I not of been wearing this I probably wouldn't be able to sit and type this blog post. The impact had caused the helmet to split but in a controlled way as it had absorbed the contact with the ground but stayed intact on my head with the straps keeping it in place.

It's fair to say I owe a lot to Specialized for this product.
Although the Specialized S3 is technically a road cycling helmet, I find the cut and design, especially when used with the supplied visor, suits both my road and mountain biking - worth considering when looking for a new one.

Crash Replacement

Specialized, as well as other brands, offer a crash replacement scheme that our staff can advise you about when making a purchase. This shows the commitment of the brands to keep developing products that protect the most important people on the planet...us!

Although I am still battered and bruised I couldn't stress enough the importance of a bike helmet.
I strongly believe that a helmet should be a significant part of any cyclists kit budget and I recommend that everyone wears one - Without it last week I would not be sat here typing away.
Take a leaf out of my book and make sure that messing your hair up is NOT an excuse for not wearing a cycle helmet!

If you'd like more information regarding the Specialized Crash Replacement scheme please call 01572 737 624.

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