Bicycle Helmet – Resources for Learning How to Buy One

Bicycle Helmet

I have posted a number of articles about bicycle helmets.  Having taken a spill more than twice while riding, I have stated before and will repeat now, am a true believer in their utility.  You may not like how they feel, or how they fit, or their shape, or…(gasp) the fact that they may mess up your hair….but even after all that – they are truly useful.


Now, if your helmet does not feel good on your head, chances are you need a different, better fitting one.  Here are some key items to check out about your helmet and additional resources to use while selecting one:

  • Start with checking the box in the store.  Why?  It needs to clearly state that the helmet meets the requirements of the Consumer Products Safety Commision – the link here will bring you to the specific page with their guidance; Another valid certification is the Snell’s B-95
  • Size assessment – ask your local bike store or another sports or outdoors store with a good biking department for help on that.  They can measure you…The helmet needs to fit snugly or you have the danger of actually hurting yourself.
  • Personal preferences – here you can go wild; there are many bike helmet options…in terms of ventilation, shades, style and colors.  Up to you on this one.

The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute has tons of additional information on the topic – check them out.   In the meantime, please remember – you need a bike helmet!

 

Car-to-Bicycle Communicating Helmet

Volvo, the automotive company most of us associate with safety has gone ahead of the class again!  They have put in product car-to-bicycle communicating helmet for bicycle riders.  This is not just a lab experiment and something that works on “a Tuesday morning if it is sunny, and you are peddling your bike really slowly…”  but a real product instantiation — in a real SUV.

Volvo has implemented communications link that allows drivers to communicate directly with bicycle riders and avoid collisions on the road.   The solution is a GPS tracking application where the helmet (worn by the bicyclist) establishes a two way link between the rider and the driver, calculates the position of both the SUV and bicycle and ultimately the driver is notified via the Volvo dash information system, while the cyclist gets notified via a helmet mounted light.

You can also take a look at another very interesting concept (already funded on Kickstarter.com) bike — a connected bike which counts your spent calories riding, provides navigation guidance (via integrated lights and your smart phone GPS system), uses integrated proximity sensors to detect approaching vehicles and notify via vibration of their approach.    Here is a video by the developers:

SmartHat Concept Helmet

It is the season for gift giving – with Christmas approaching – we all look for the special gift for the special people in our lives.   As all of you know the Web has become the proverbial shopping mall for many of us – we search through it, browse as we think of ideas for presents and in the process often come across the unexpected.

Late last week I came across the unexpected as well – the Smart-Hat – Helmet for the Responsible Cyclists.  The notion is being developed by a startup focused on adding tons of sensor and information gathering and displaying technology to the ordinary bicycle helmet.  Take a look – images courtesy of the Smart-Hat web site (http://www.smarthat.info/)

Smart-Hat  Smat-Hat-Detail

Here is the list of features offered in the Innovative (Too much innovation in my opinion):

  • multi layer helmet construction with impact absorbing features
    and facial protection from ground impact

  • in helmet bluetooth display with speaker, full satnav, speedometer, speed zones, temperature, heart rate, tilt sensor, ultrasonic object proximity warning, turn signal indicators, system icons, time

  • remote control turn indicators

  • automatic brake lights

  • automatic head light and night lights

  • a retractable visor system with rear view mirrors

  • a remote control, motorised wiper system for bad weather

  • integrated digital camera

  • smart phone storage

  • e-tag storage

  • batteries

  • bluetooth remote control switch mounted on bike handlebar

  • provision for an ID sign

  • customisable outer skin to any colour or graphics

  • provision for an in helmet cooling fan

  • superior comfort and safety in operation

At any rate, I hope we can get the current limited number of sensors integrated into a useful display on the bike – or on a smart phone securely attached to the bike – see my articles / postings about the phone-caddy.  That will be a good step forward.  This helmet (in my opinion) can wait…

LifeBEAM Smart Helmet – Safety and Use

Bike helmets are really essential.  I have written about that in the last year, after I took a big spill on my bike right outside of my house and truly cracked the helmet I was wearing.  Now I have come across the next best thing — the LifeBEAM helmet which offers a great combination of safety and sensor technologies and integrates with the smart phone applications I (and many other cyclists) use on a regular basis.

LifeBEAM helmet     LifeBEAM helmet

The helmet offers heart-rate and calories measurements.  The product (per the manufacturer) claims to be the first of its kind that integrates body sensing during your bike rides.   And guess what !  The claim is that the technology used is the same one used for pilots and aerospace applications.  Pretty cool, right !

LifeBeam Helmet

The helmet includes Bluetooth Low-Energy and ANT+ communications capabilities and the battery life it supports is up to 17 hours.  The helmet interfaces to multiple smart phone applications including Runtastic, Strava.   I had reviewed many of these applications in previous postings – links here.

So overall pretty neat set of capabilities.  I am thinking of giving it a shot some time soon.

Cycling Accidents and Courts Reactions

Cycling accidents, like any other unfortunate event of this nature, are always a very sad occurance.  However, what makes them even more problematic, has been the attitude of the public and courts to them.  At the same time our society is striving for ways to reduce the green house effect and reduce our carbon footprint as a way to improve the environment, we have a strange attitude in a dominant chunk of the population still at odds with even the laws — there are too many instances where a bicycle rider ends up being hit (in some cases being killed) and the driver involved is found not guilty of anything

The tide, though, seems to be turning.  In a recent rulling by a court in Philadelphia a bicycle rider involved in a very serious accident won a significant rulling

In 2011, Ashley McKean was involved a horrific bike crash at Broad and Brandywine streets. McKean, a Temple student, was riding her bicycle when she was doored by a Honda Accord and then struck from behind and then run over by a van. According to a lawsuit she filed, she suffered multiple hip, pelvis and leg fractures, some of which caused permanent damage.

A jury rendered a verdict in that lawsuit very recently, and McKean won a $2.4 million judgment against those involved in the crash.

This case and associated rulling will hopefully increase awareness among drivers (many drivers do not even know the laws pertinent to bicycles sharing the road with other vehicles), and even drive some caution among driver who are consistently inconsidered of bicycle riders on the roads.   

What I mean by this is the behaviour by some ignorant drivers who continue to both drive aggresively around bikes and even engage in verbal attacks on bikers – and I say this from personal experience.  Once I had a car (an old clunker) slow down near me (while I was biking) with a passenger in the car yelling "…buy yourself a car.." – a sad statement I thought given that my bike probably was worth more than the vehicle the occupants yelling at me were in… But that shows you the state of mind many have…

At any rate, I am very glad of this latest award in Philadelphia – hopefully it will set precedent and help drive safety for bicycle riders across the nation.  

While this needs to happen, all of us bicyclists, need to continue following the laws and observe defensive practices.  Make sure you have your protective gear – e.g. helmet, bright lights etc. when you are on the bike.

For more on the rulling referenced in this posting plus some additinal links can be found here

Holiday Gift Guide for Beginner Mountain Bikers

Well folks the holidays are coming fast – the weather is getting colder (in most places), the stores have been covered in lights and advertisements — so, this must be it – the holidays are almost here. Having said that, many of you are probably thinking "My friend is starting to go mountain biking…what gifts should I consider for him/her?"  

With that question in mind, here is a summary gift guide / suggested list of gifts for the novice mountain biker:

  • Comfortable saddle — may be you recently bought a new mountain bike.  Did you stay with the saddle from the factory configuration or considered a replacement?  I would strongly suggest exploring options for a new saddle. It is a key factor in being comfortable and actually going out on more rides.  How do you get a new saddle??? Well, you go to your local bike shop!  Here is a short article from this blog this is for your female riders
  • Phone holder for your bike. iPhone for example can serve as your bike computer – for maps, navigation, exercise tracking.  In this blog I have listed a number of programs that are available for free from time to time and can help you track your bike rides.  But before you use your phone for that you need to get a solid holder for your bike.  Here is a reference to one model;   See more below

   

  • spare inner tubes – you will need it within the year, trust me.  Especially if you do ride across dirt roads and in the field.  The thorns of various plants have the innate ability to find your tires…  Get also a patch kit.

          

  • Being on the road or off road chances are you will need the bike tool kit and based on all I have heard, read, and used — the Allen multifunctional bicycle tool is the mother of all tools.  
  • Remedy for poison oak and poison ivy – check with your local bike shop for those.  They will be good to have with you as you start exploring the local trails
  • Good biking helmet –  helmet is a must!  Enough said.  Once you understand that, then the next step is which one is the best fitting one…Here is just an example of one option — many more out there to consider:

               

These some of the suggested items to have as part of your mountain biking accessories and tools.  

Bicycle Helmets – The Beginners Guide to Biking

Bicycle Helmets 

Bicycle helmets are an extremely important part of the overall equipment needed to both keep you safe and secure on the road or on a mountain bike trail.  When you are on the road — yes! you are also a vehicle and carry the same rights and responsibilities as any other vehicle.  As such you need to be familiar with your local state and municiple laws as they pertain to the use of helmets.   

Currently in the US, 21 states have instituted helmet laws (per the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety www.iihs.org).   Here is a view on that:

(source: http://www.iihs.org/laws/mapbicyclehelmets.aspx)

Here you can find the table of the US States and applicable bicycle helmet laws;

Now, having said all this, let's also look at the more practical sde of things — bicycle helmets provide safety.  Here is the reason why we say that — i.e. just look at the statistics also from iihs.org:

Bicylist deaths by helmet use, 1994-2011
Year No helmet use Helmet use Unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
1994 776 97 19 2 1 0 796 100
1995 783 95 34 4 11 1 828 100
1996 731 96 27 4 3 0 761 100
1997 785 97 23 3 3 0 811 100
1998 741 98 16 2 0 0 757 100
1999 698 93 42 6 10 1 750 100
2000 622 90 50 7 17 2 689 100
2001 616 84 60 8 53 7 729 100
2002 589 89 54 8 20 3 663 100
2003 535 85 58 9 33 5 626 100
2004 602 83 87 12 33 5 722 100
2005 676 86 77 10 31 4 784 100
2006 730 95 37 5 2 0 769 100
2007 646 92 50 7 3 0 699 100
2008 654 91 59 8 3 0 716 100
2009 573 91 52 8 3 0 628 100
2010 429 70 94 15 93 15 616 100
2011 450 67 100 15 125 19 675 100

 (Source: http://www.iihs.org/research/fatality.aspx?topicName=Bicycles)

So now that you are very convinced that a bicycle helmet is a necessary and a good thing to have, let's look how to select one.  The criteria / steps involved are the following:

1) Start with choosing a helmet that fits snugly.  You may be able to use adjustments that many helmets come with to loosen up the frame that makes the helmet fit.  Many helmets come with a small wheel in the frame that loosens up or make it tighter in fit.  The point being the helmet should not rock sideways or back and forth on your head

2) the edge of the helment should be about 2 fingers from the top of your eyebrows; This way it will provide protection for your forehead;

3) Adjust the straps — as stated earlier when you strap the helmet it should fit flat on your head, you should feel the helmet pulling tightly in your head when you open your mouth with the straps clipped.  You should not be able to fit more than 2 finger (next to each other) between your chin and the straps 

And of course you can always look for help in making the helmet purchase from your local bicycle shop!

Happy riding!