Friday, November 21, 2014

The Great Debate

In a debate that will go down in history as being almost as controversial as "Flat Pedals vs. Clipless Pedals," is the debate over "Helmet or No Helmet."
A debate which is perpetuated by high-profile arguments by people like Grant Petersen.
 An example:
"That's your only brain up there. Strap this on to help keep it safe."
-To which Mr Petersen answers:
"Are you safer wearing a helmet and overestimating its protection, or going helmetless and riding more carefully?"
Um... Yes, wearing a helmet is safer. Having safety equipment on you head is safer than having none. Period. I am not "overestimating" shit. I ride in a straight line, down the right lane with lights, a bell, etc...in the same way. Every time. I don't ride any different with or without a helmet. 
Compared to going, the helmet's equivalent of "commando," using a helmet reduces the risk of Head, Neck, and Brain injury by 66 to 88%.
Or, in layman's terms, a whole fucking lot. 
Even on the low end of that statistic (66%) it still means you are OVER 50% more likely to survive a vehicle related crash (as far as head an neck injuries are concerned). The other part of the argument that "going helmetless...," you will somehow "ride more carefully," is total bullshit. First of all, we all have that one friend who screams "cars are coffins," yet rides off of sidewalks,into traffic, through cars, etc... with his helmetless pig tails blowing in the breeze. Seriously, ask any responsible cyclist who has been hit by a car, helmet or not, if they were being careful when that jerk in the SUV cut them off, boxed them out, or just "didn't see" them, and I am pretty sure the answer will be, "yeah, I was being careful. It was that ass hat in the shitbox that wasn't."
And they are probably right. Cars and the dick heads that pilot them are the problem here, not how dorky your helmet looks. So now that I am done with the slinging of verbal diarrhea against one of the most beloved frame builders of our time, I want to stop here and state for the record, that I am NOT beating up on Grant Petersen. He was simply making a point about getting on your fucking bike and riding it. You don't have to clip in, you don't have to wear lycra, and you don't have to wear a helmet. He is right on all accounts. Some of it is situational, some, personal preference. If I am going on a 40 miler, sure, lycra, helmet, clipless pedals... If I am riding to fill my panniers with beer at the corner store, maybe not. So again, it is not like he is WRONG, but making is seem like your being "more careful" is just as safe as wearing a helmet, is kind of completely ludicrous. Which is about as ludicrous as being seen in one of these:

KILL IT!! KILL IT WITH FIRE!!

Ah, yes, the Ribcap. Man's answer to "dorky looking" helmets. What a joke.

"Say for some reason you really don’t want to wear a helmet but would like to at least have something on your head. That may be the reasoning behind Ribcap’s newest offering which comes in the form of a cycling cap."

"For some reason you really don't want to wear a helmet..." why? Because the look "dorky" and motorists might make fun of you? I got news for ya dude, they are already making fun of you.

"...but you would like to at least have something on your head."

 What the fuck is that supposed to mean? "Something?" Like what? A cat?

The cat on the hat?

Cycling caps are already struggling to reclaim their rightful place atop our heads, and this is clearly an attempt to capitalize on (and at the same time, bastardize) their unique appeal to those who even remember what they are... and it's a shitty one at that.

"Ribcap started out with a number of winter hats that claim to offer an additional layer of protection thanks to viscoelastic protectors sewn into the layers of the hat."

 "fancy, trendy, Lenny"

Excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth a little. Looks like something a Hipster would wear, you know, except for the stupid chin straps...


"Much like the winter offerings, the new cycling cap doesn’t claim to offer the same protection as a helmet but does offer something over a standard cap or nothing at all."

Ok, you have my attention...

"If you’re the type to reach for a cycling cap instead of a helmet, the newest Ribcap may be of interest…"

...and you lost it.
That is about the least interested I have ever been about anything. Plus, I am pretty sure if I were to reach for anything other than one of my MANY caps, I would be more likely to rock that "Cat Hat" than one that basically looks like a baby's bonnet

Honestly, I would rather wear the one with the ears. 

"Each cap includes a removable, adjustable chin strap. When not in use the caps fold into a small triangular shape that can easily be stashed in a bag or pocket."

 Wait, so you're saying I can just remove the chin strap? Well shit! That would make it just another every-day cycling cap! You know... except for the dorky look. 

"Is the Ribcap the next big thing in cycling protection? Probably not,"

You don't say? 

"but if it gets people that otherwise wouldn’t wear a helmet at all to wear something, that seems like a win."

Let's go to the comment section shall we:
...etc, etc....

It's no secret that I have a particular love for cycling caps and the awesome people who know how to make them right. Do I wear a helmet every time I get on a bike? Sure I do, but I have a wife and three kids that depend on the millions that I make writing bicycle blogs. Do I expect you to? No. No I don't. AND, helmet or not, I always have on a cap for my OWN reasons.
At the end of the day, it is not so much the "do or do not" choice that people make for themselves, it's the perpetuation of the anti-helmet propaganda that really grinds my gears.

Companies like Ribcap, catering to some sort of "middle ground" like they have come up with a solution to a problem, is contributing to the problem itself. It certainly doesn't help the cause any when you have industry titans spewing propaganda claiming that going helmetless is in anyway safer than wearing one.

Helmet or not, please stay safe, and stay warm. We have a long winter ahead of us.