The Pain of Adolescence

There are three subjects you should not bring up in new company: Politics, Saddle Bags, and Helmets. In my experience, in fact, politics are a much safer subject with a stranger than that of the cursed EPMS; no subject I’ve ever broached has been met with more vitriol. Except maybe the use of helmets. I’m not going to advocate for helmets today, apart from stating that I wear one religiously. On the contrary, today’s lesson is about how bad helmets look.

They are monumentally awkward contraptions whose design heritage stems, apparently, from prototype simian Astronaut technology. Starting with the flowing locks of a champions paving a road in pure V, every head accessory looks slightly less awesome. From there, the cycling cap is the most stylish option, and barring that, the hairnet (ideally over a cycling cap.) Case closed, end of discussion.

The maturation from this ideal has been painful, complete with puberty and oozy zits. A friend of mine in highschool had such a horrible pubescent experience that he spent an alarming number of days with band-aides on his face. Cycling’s helmet evolution was worse. Observe.

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58 Replies to “The Pain of Adolescence”

  1. Whilst I wholeheartedly agree we should be wearing helmets, ( I dont leave home without my beloved and trusty Bell Volt )  and my kids even whack them on at home riding round the back yard.

    Its law here in OZ to wear helmets now. There was nothing better than the extra freedom that accompanied a ride on my faithful malvern star dragster in my youth than that of being helmetless.  I would be gone all days on that thing.    No such thing as n+1 back then for me. It was the #1, #9, the fat bike and the Cyclocross bike.

    Sans helmet is the equivalent to me of driving around with the sunroof open in our car and sticking my scone up through it like an exciting dog with its head out the window.

    When the boffins at Apple design an implant that goes in my forehead to act like an airbag and ditch the helmet, I’ll be all over it like a fat kid in a donut shop.

  2. So much wrong.  The Rebellion should never have won.  It took a Jedi night to fly the Xwing properly and make a success of it.  Why would you base your helmets on them?  Surely stormtrooper cycling lids would be far better than this!

  3. There are some good looking lids about – until they get on my head! 3 Point rule observed… it’s as you say – barely passable. Still, I never had the luxary of knowing that it’s like to ride without a lid. I was forced to wear a “Stackhat” and my gawd they were/are ugly. I avoided any chance of meeting someone I know when I was wearing that monstrosity. Thank fully, as I got at job in my mid teens I could afford to buy a better looking lid. Imagine my horror when I find that the skater types are now wearing something very close to it today!

  4. @Puffy

    Hah! Still got my Stackhat in the shed somewhere. In the early 80’s, our school made it compulsory to wear a helmet when riding to school. You’d leave home wearing said Stackhat, floks happy, get round the corner and take it off, shoving into bag. In one of the backstreets near school, out it back on and ride in, school happy. Or the alternate was the Guardian.

    When I started out racing, the salad bowl – Brancale Giro, was choice!

  5. What’s the story with MIPS? A low friction layer between helmet and liner? So helmet can move when struck at angle? Any regular helmet is not exactly stuck to the head and I’m guessing will slide along just fine within the limits provided by the straps. I love the idea of better technology and safer helmets. But not sure about the extra $ for this one. I haven’t sprung for it yet.

    I filled up the vents of my matte black Giro Atmos this weekend with mud and rocks. Left some nice dents across the top of the lid. Needless to say, was glad to be wearing the thing.

  6. I have Chronic Kristoff’s Syndrome. Most of you see that pic and scoff or recoil in horror, but I’ll never forget when I saw him blast over the line arms aloft and helmet jauntily askew. To know that it wasn’t just me, that there was an actual condition and a pro was a fellow sufferer; it really means a lot to be able to put a name and a face other than my own to the disease. CKS can be life threatening – it’s hard not to fixate on every reflective surface you pass to try and make sure your illness isn’t shamefully apparent. I’ve tried thicker foam inserts, MIPS, various rear fastening systems, caps underneath, the list goes on. It can lead you to begin to question your physiology. Unfortunately, there is no cure for CKS. I just have to try to keep a level head and take it one ride at a time.

  7. Would love to see Kittel in full flight sans helmet. Definitely the best coiffed in the modern peloton.

    Love my Lazer Helium (not the MIPS version, which I wanted to get but got too good a deal on the non-MIPS). Especially love the Rollsys retention system, which makes for a secure and comfortable fit. As helmets go, I think it looks the part.

  8. I’m rarely moved to comment on here though I always read the articles but fuck me the sheer amount of casually deliberate in that lead picture almost gave me a boner.  Almost.

    Regarding lids…LAS Victory ftw.  Sure its not aero.   Its light, its Italian and its the best looking lid out there.

  9. Pantani looks uncomfortable in the lead pic. He’s just realized that a bandana is not enough to counteract the faux denim gear he’s wearing. And he know that Mr. Bugno is rockin the goatee he covets so much.

    Either that, or he;s just uncomfortable with the amount of crotch Bugno is airing out.

    I still have my late 80s Giro Air Attack and my Specialized Sub 6 in my garage. Mostly these days I’m doing the BBB thing. In the winter it’s an old Bell with the vents taped over.

  10. @wiscot

    Pantani looks uncomfortable in the lead pic. He’s just realized that a bandana is not enough to counteract the faux denim gear he’s wearing. And he know that Mr. Bugno is rockin the goatee he covets so much.

    Uncomfortable or disdain?

    I know it’s blasphemous, but I’ve always been a fan of the Carrera faux denim shorts (not so much the tights).  And Brikos!!!

  11. @chuckp

    @wiscot

    Pantani looks uncomfortable in the lead pic. He’s just realized that a bandana is not enough to counteract the faux denim gear he’s wearing. And he know that Mr. Bugno is rockin the goatee he covets so much.

    Uncomfortable or disdain?

    I know it’s blasphemous, but I’ve always been a fan of the Carrera faux denim shorts (not so much the tights).  And Brikos!!!

    Definite uncomfortable I think. His nose is almost wrinkled with the odor coming from Gianni “I don’t give a fuck” Bugno’s chamois.

  12. I’ll buy the replica Carrera bibs when I can justify spending that much on some ugly bibs. Until then, I wait. Considering I don’t own any denim and haven’t worn any in around twenty-one years, would love to own some denim Lycra.

    I’m a big fan of the Garneau Quartz helmets. The originals were better than the 2nd version, but they fit my head well and look as un-terrible as a helmet can. But, different helmets look good on different folks. That said, I’m still waiting for the POC helmets to look good on someone.

    For me, there are three things I’ve NEVER seen anyone look good in: those Polo golf shirt dresses (basically just a long polo shirt), the “retro” Nike gym shorts (both of these items make even shapely gals look shapeless), and POC helmets.

  13. Oh, and I try to not even bring up cycling with anyone. Even open-minded folks can pretty quickly get into, “I saw this cyclist do ______ the other day. Do you do that? I don’t like it when cyclists do that.”

    Yeah, I don’t like it when guys in huge trucks honk, swerve and throw stuff at me.

    Helmets are a hotly debated topic, for sure. I don’t think anyone should have to wear one, but I always wear one. In fact, I’m on the lookout for a new commuter helmet. Looking to phase out my last Specialized piece of gear.

  14. @Deakus

    Thank you. I thought I was the only one that hated those ridiculous POC helmets -__-

    Lazer 02

    LAS Squalo

    KASK 50

    Are my weapons of head security.

  15. @Ron

    Oh, and I try to not even bring up cycling with anyone. Even open-minded folks can pretty quickly get into, “I saw this cyclist do ______ the other day. Do you do that? I don’t like it when cyclists do that.”

    Yeah, I don’t like it when guys in huge trucks honk, swerve and throw stuff at me.

    Helmets are a hotly debated topic, for sure. I don’t think anyone should have to wear one, but I always wear one. In fact, I’m on the lookout for a new commuter helmet. Looking to phase out my last Specialized piece of gear.

    Tell me about it. In the space of a half mile last night I got honked at and almost hit. Here’s the backstory – I cross a county road two miles from home. I can see a half mile in both directions. There was one car coming a good quarter mile away. I blew the stop sign. Guilty. I got honked at and I’m sure the driver thought “there goes one of those fucking scofflaw bikers.”

    A half mile later some young missy is pulling out of her driveway talking on her cell phone – holding it in her right hand. It was one of the big cell phones, not the wee ones. She was gaily pulling out and saw me at the last second and slammed on the brakes. FWIW I was wearing a white helmet and white jersey so I was plenty visible. Needless to say she didn’t look in my direction as she passed me – still yakking away.

    Oh, and if you’re looking for denim lycra, I think Wal Mart might be your best option there!

  16. Very rare is there a lid that doesn’t make you (well, me) look like a douche when it’s perched on my head. I’ll occasionally go out without one, and it’s liberating. That being said, I’ve been OK with how Rudy Project looks on my dome, and you’ll not find a POC in my gear collection- I already have a mountaineering helmet.

  17. Apparently, I have a head the size and shape of a kumquat.  Nothing seems to look good, and I’m constantly fighting Chronic Kristoff Syndrome.  I’m pretty sure this is what other people see as I ride by…

  18. @Barracuda

    Whilst I wholeheartedly agree we should be wearing helmets, ( I dont leave home without my beloved and trusty Bell Volt )  and my kids even whack them on at home riding round the back yard.

    Its law here in OZ to wear helmets now. There was nothing better than the extra freedom that accompanied a ride on my faithful malvern star dragster in my youth than that of being helmetless.  I would be gone all days on that thing.    No such thing as n+1 back then for me. It was the #1, #9, the fat bike and the Cyclocross bike.

    Sans helmet is the equivalent to me of driving around with the sunroof open in our car and sticking my scone up through it like an exciting dog with its head out the window.

    When the boffins at Apple design an implant that goes in my forehead to act like an airbag and ditch the helmet, I’ll be all over it like a fat kid in a donut shop.

    So much gold in this. Especially the bolded bit.

  19. @Puffy@sthilzy

    Guy up the street from me rides his bike in his rock climbing helmet. I keep wanting to pull him aside and letting him know that helmet is designed for taking impacts only from the top…

  20. @Nelson

    @Deakus

    Thank you. I thought I was the only one that hated those ridiculous POC helmets -__-

    Lazer 02

    LAS Squalo

    KASK 50

    Are my weapons of head security.

    POC (which included a black reflective) has exceeded my KASK _ intended for rear viewing

    and purest white scheme on the market

  21. @dyalander

    I have Chronic Kristoff’s Syndrome. Most of you see that pic and scoff or recoil in horror, but I’ll never forget when I saw him blast over the line arms aloft and helmet jauntily askew. To know that it wasn’t just me, that there was an actual condition and a pro was a fellow sufferer; it really means a lot to be able to put a name and a face other than my own to the disease. CKS can be life threatening – it’s hard not to fixate on every reflective surface you pass to try and make sure your illness isn’t shamefully apparent. I’ve tried thicker foam inserts, MIPS, various rear fastening systems, caps underneath, the list goes on. It can lead you to begin to question your physiology. Unfortunately, there is no cure for CKS. I just have to try to keep a level head and take it one ride at a time.

    You didn’t need to wait for Kristoff – Bing had it, too.

  22. @frank

    @Puffy@sthilzy

    Guy up the street from me rides his bike in his rock climbing helmet. I keep wanting to pull him aside and letting him know that helmet is designed for taking impacts only from the top…

    And Merckx forbid you get some well meaning assclown yelling at you while you’re halfway up a sketchy, run out slab “hey dude, those stickers on your helmet make it less effective”. I’m sure a sticker is going to make the difference between life and death when I take a 30ft whipper.

    But back to cycling helmets, how does one tuck their eye ware into the vents on a POC? And if you can, it has to look like 9 miles of shit.

  23. @paolo

    I’m rarely moved to comment on here though I always read the articles but fuck me the sheer amount of casually deliberate in that lead picture almost gave me a boner.  Almost.

    Regarding lids…LAS Victory ftw.  Sure its not aero.   Its light, its Italian and its the best looking lid out there.

    +1 That lead photo is the best I can remember appearing on this site. And there has been a lot of great photos!

  24. EEGADS!

    I’ve been cycling for over 40 years and I’ve worn them all:  from the leather hairnet, to the Bell V-1 Pro (ouch, very heavy), to the skid lid (sans visor), to a very nice upper echelon Specialized topper.

    There was even a time when it was cycling cap only.  But as I grew older, I became a bit more self-aware and wanted not for my noggin’ to look like a busted pumpkin post-halloween.  Here in Florida, current laws require only children under the age of 16 to wear an approved helmet.  The rest of us, well, we’re subject to our own foolishness.

  25. @chuckp

    @wiscot

    Pantani looks uncomfortable in the lead pic. He’s just realized that a bandana is not enough to counteract the faux denim gear he’s wearing. And he know that Mr. Bugno is rockin the goatee he covets so much.

    Uncomfortable or disdain?

    I know it’s blasphemous, but I’ve always been a fan of the Carrera faux denim shorts (not so much the tights).  And Brikos!!!

    Being a fan and wanting to ride in that shit are two different things. Anyone who watched Chiappucci and Pantani race in that is going to have some heartstrings tugged at when we see that stuff.

  26. @frank

    @chuckp

    @wiscot

    Pantani looks uncomfortable in the lead pic. He’s just realized that a bandana is not enough to counteract the faux denim gear he’s wearing. And he know that Mr. Bugno is rockin the goatee he covets so much.

    Uncomfortable or disdain?

    I know it’s blasphemous, but I’ve always been a fan of the Carrera faux denim shorts (not so much the tights).  And Brikos!!!

    Being a fan and wanting to ride in that shit are two different things. Anyone who watched Chiappucci and Pantani race in that is going to have some heartstrings tugged at when we see that stuff.

    Yeah, it’s kinda that inside voice/outside voice thing isn’t it? You might like the faux denim, but to write it out . . . masturbation principle applies.

    That top pick of Chiapucci? Wow. Makes Kelly’s Brancale look good and that’s saying something!

  27. @MangoDave

    Apparently, I have a head the size and shape of a kumquat.  Nothing seems to look good, and I’m constantly fighting Chronic Kristoff Syndrome.  I’m pretty sure this is what other people see as I ride by…

    They see you getting your hair done and a manicure?

  28. @wiscot

    @chuckp

    @wiscot

    Pantani looks uncomfortable in the lead pic. He’s just realized that a bandana is not enough to counteract the faux denim gear he’s wearing. And he know that Mr. Bugno is rockin the goatee he covets so much.

    Uncomfortable or disdain?

    I know it’s blasphemous, but I’ve always been a fan of the Carrera faux denim shorts (not so much the tights).  And Brikos!!!

    Definite uncomfortable I think. His nose is almost wrinkled with the odor coming from Gianni “I don’t give a fuck” Bugno’s chamois.

    Marco is being drawn into an interpersonal interaction by someone who could charm a cinder block into submission. Of course he’s uncomfortable.

  29. One new hazard I’ve encountered from the aero road lids is the intermittent jet of sweat ejected from it, usually arced just right to get you in the face. On group rides this isn’t an issue (just stay in front of them) but in the peloton it’s not as easy.

    They are growing on me though.

  30. @wiscot

    @MangoDave

    Apparently, I have a head the size and shape of a kumquat.  Nothing seems to look good, and I’m constantly fighting Chronic Kristoff Syndrome.  I’m pretty sure this is what other people see as I ride by…

    They see you getting your hair done and a manicure?

    Well, maybe, especially after they see my shaved legs it’s probably easy for them to make that assumption.  But I was going for the “wearing a giant dome thing on my head” visual concept.  I’m digging myself a deeper hole, aren’t I?

  31. @Paul Sluder

    EEGADS!

    I’ve been cycling for over 40 years and I’ve worn them all:  from the leather hairnet, to the Bell V-1 Pro (ouch, very heavy), to the skid lid (sans visor), to a very nice upper echelon Specialized topper.

    There was even a time when it was cycling cap only.  But as I grew older, I became a bit more self-aware and wanted not for my noggin’ to look like a busted pumpkin post-halloween.  Here in Florida, current laws require only children under the age of 16 to wear an approved helmet.  The rest of us, well, we’re subject to our own foolishness.

    That’s an encouraging law. As my dad used to day, “If you don’t wear a helmet, you don’t need one.”

  32. Saw a couple of these guys riding home on their bikes after training yesterday. Their hurlies were sticking up out of their kit bags worn as back packs.

    So many rules being broken but they still looked like proper hard men!

  33. @KW

    yes. (article lead photo) Briko eyewear on Marco’s head inspired me think to look for Stingers _ and found the Fuoco helmet

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