Reverence: Helmet Vents

Reverence: Helmet Vents

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Helmets became mandatory in professional road racing in 2003, following the tragic death of Andei Kivilev from head injuries sustained in a fall during Paris-Nice.  With the adoption of that regulation died one of the most iconic images of professional cycling: the racer riding over the high mountain passes of Europe with their eyewear perched atop their bare skulls, cycling cap, or leather hairnet.  That image may have died, but with the regulation came a massive push for innovation and improvement in helmet technology.

Prior to 2003, cycling helmet design took its inspiration largely from bowling ball technology; early racing helmets were spherical, heavy, and poorly ventilated.  As a result, helmet adoption amongst professionals was spotty. When helmet use became mandatory, however, the pros insisted on lighter, better-ventilated designs – not to mention an improvement in aesthetics. (Which begs the question: are helmets today cooler because the pros wear them, or do the pros wear them because they are cooler?)

In addition to those problems came the question of what to do with eyewear; tucking unused eyewear into a jersey pocket is unpopular with sponsors who pay to have their products on display during a race, while placing them rearwards on the back of your head makes you look like you’ve suffered an accident at the hands of some kind of mad scientist.  The solution was to design a helmet with large side vents capable of receiving the earpieces of eyewear in order to store them safely on the helmet while not worn over the eyes.

I have discussed in perhaps too much detail my obsession with cycling eyewear and my tendency towards claustrophobia set on by the feeling of overheating while having something on my face during physical effort. I suppose I have the option not to wear a helmet in training, but it could be argued that those who deem not to wear one perhaps have very little worth protecting in terms of the functional quality of their brains.  For someone of my considerable intellectual capability, I would be doing the world – if not civilization at the evolutionary scale – a disservice by suffering a brain injury brought on by smacking my unhelmeted (and oddly proportioned) melon against the pavement.

With that, I feel justified in declaring eyewear-compatible helmet vents one of the greatest advances in bicycle technology.

// Reverence

  1. Joe :… the ‘phantom TT bar’ ….you know the elbows / forearms resting on the bar tape either side of the stem with hands lolling lazily in the breeze?

    my teammate calls this the ‘velcro elbow’

  2. “the phantom TT bar”

    came into existence the moment the UCI banned the Spinachi. Prior to these brilliant, but dangerous (in the hands of idiots in the middle of a bunch), people used to hold the tops while cranking. The only difference is that you got cramp in your upper arms instead of bruises on the underside of your forearms

  3. Spinaci, not Spinachi. Me bad.

  4. Not really anything to do with helmet vents, but in case anyone’s not yet seen this – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/sports/cycling/05armstrong.html?_r=2&emc=na

    The sound of not-so-distant-any-more chickens coming home en masse to roost?

    Or am I just overly influenced by the book I’m currently reading “From Lance to Landis” (http://www.amazon.com/Lance-Landis-Inside-American-Controversy/dp/034549962X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1280987260&sr=1-1).

  5. @Marcus

    Wasn’t Misty Ping a ’70’s Asian porn star?

  6. Since my sunglasses are prescription I can never be cool and have them in my helmet vents. Oh, and I violate Rule #37 all the time because I’m sick of forgetting that they are over the straps when I try to take my helmet off and because I can’t see without them I rather not have to take them off to take my helmet off and then put them back on.

  7. Hey Franks can you make this image appear here for me?

    Cyclops disobeys  <a href=Rule #37" />

  8. @Cyclops
    There you be my man. Nice look.

  9. @Cyclops
    Am I going to have to confiscate that fine garment? I think you know enough to know your feeble excuses of “being able to see” and “practicality” have no bearing on disobeying a Rule.

    I am giving you a refillable prescription to review Rule #1 through Rule #4, and then review Rule #5. Repeat as necessary.

  10. @Marcus
    Whilst a 10 second Google search didn’t locate a decent image, I am sure I have seem Pharmstrong wearing a helmet visor on his road bike. COTHO indeed.

    2/15/2009 AToC Stage 1.

    You’re welcome. (It took me a while, too :()

    http://velonews.competitor.com/files/archive/images/LANCE1_1.jpg

  11. @wvcycling
    Nicely done. Even in the pouring rain there is no excuse. The one I recall was when he was in very hot conditions – possibly in Hawaii. Either way, still no excuse.

    As for Misty Ping, I believe she was a Chinese swimmer who got busted for drugs, then turned to porn (remember Misty Hyman?)

  12. @Cyclops

    Wasn’t Misty Ping a ’70′s Asian porn star?

    Indeed she was. I saw her at a Reno sex show, naked(of course) crab walking across a bar and fire a overly ripe banana(from down there) across the room…splat, hits the wall and slides down, all slow like.

  13. Cadel did same ‘tuck glasses into back of jersey collar’ manoeuvre on the Strade Bianchi stage at the Giro… I have been following suit since @KitCarson

  14. I kind ride the phantom TT bar position, but not at pace. Some dude was doing it yesterday in the Vuelta with like 2 kms to go, when the peloton was flying…and he was at the front. Ah, the PROS!

    I’ll stick my glasses in my helmet vents sometimes, but if it is getting dark and I won’t be needing them any longer I tuck them inside my jersey and slip them into the loop on the bib strap of my Assos. I guess the little loop might be to hang them, but it holds your shades quite well. The only annoying thing is my newest pair of bibs has the strap way down near my stomach, instead of next to my heart. Not as nice of a spot to tuck your shades.

  15. This is a reverence request. Maybe its the end of the season, or maybe I simply use a subpar chamois cream, but yesterdays ride I was at the limit of what the twins will endure. You all seem to have pretty spot on taste when it comes to the finer things in cycling and life, so please pass on your secret sauce of choice. The three of us will be very grateful.

  16. @pakrat
    Castor oil.

  17. F’n A I knew it!

  18. @Caliente

    Now if they only made these with cleats

  19. @Caliente
    WOW! Strong work! Boy, I’m tempted to jump at that blue/yellow abomination of taste, just to say I have one.

    @xyxax
    Don’t over do that again.

  20. @frank
    Like use of the word ‘unhelmeted’ — wear a ‘helmet’ is implied. And currently in search of an ultimate helmet power — scoring based on design, vents (eumm! eummhhh!) and Black qualities.

  21. Prior to 2003, cycling helmet design took its inspiration largely from bowling ball technology; early racing helmets were spherical, heavy, and poorly ventilated. As a result, helmet adoption amongst professionals was spotty. When helmet use became mandatory, however, the pros insisted on lighter, better-ventilated designs – not to mention an improvement in aesthetics. (Which begs the question: are helmets today cooler because the pros wear them, or do the pros wear them because they are cooler?)

    Fast forward 10 years, nothing much has changed;

  22. First, check to see if you are wearing your helmet backwards.

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2014/01/how-to-wear-a-bike-helmet/

  23. @G’rilla Maybe helmet makers should stick this inside each helmet box?

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