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Your most essential bike wear is your cycling helmet
A cycling helmet is now the first things any cyclist thinks of when they consider upgrading their cycling wear and it seems strange to think that not so very long ago many people didn’t wear them and in fact felt quite strongly that they had a negative impact on cycling safety. It is true that there are some quite compelling arguments in this regard, but actually with a little commonsense applied to the question it isn’t hard to see that cycling helmets can only be a good idea.
One of the main arguments against wearing a helmet is that it can make the rider unusually foolhardy. This isn’t really much of an argument, as it is so much up to the individual. There is some anecdotal evidence that people tend to feel a little ‘immortal’ when wearing protective headgear, but sensible people are not at risk from this. Other tests show that cars tend to pass closer to a cyclist wearing a helmet – this is statistical only, a matter of a few centimetres at most and not worth leaving off your helmet for.
Helmets are really sophisticated these days and an awful lot of research has gone into their design. One of the problems flagged up in the early days was that the helmet could ‘stick’ on a rough surface and cause torsion injuries by jarring the neck and back. This has been dealt with in cheaper helmets by making the surface super-slippy but some high end headgear have a scalp like outer layer which comes loose from the helmet and slides off, just like a human scalp would do off a skull. This sounds rather gruesome but the theory is sound and it does work very well, with a lot fewer twist injuries being reported when this type of helmet is worn.
The ultimate safety feature in cycling helmets is the face protector. This also prevents a huge proportion of facial and neck injuries, because the reinforced guard skims across the ground and doesn’t stall the slide of an unseated rider. The human face tends to stall when it hits the road and this is obviously horribly painful, as well potentially very serious and disfiguring. Having a bar which means that the head continues at the initial velocity and does not get jarred against the sliding body means that injuries are very much reduced.