Oct 21, 2009

10 Reasons NOT to Wear A Helmet

All Rights Reserved © 2009 Thomas W. Day

I've spent way too much ink ranting about why helmets are good for you. I'm a believer in protective gear, but that's just me. Most crash landings begin with a face plant, so I think anything short of a full-face is mostly pointless. You can argue that the DOT thinks a beanie-brain-bucket is "protection," but I'm unconvinced. The federal government is the last place I'd look for technical advice.

If you have some question about how well your gear will work in a crash, put a bow in your do-rag or button down your beanie and slam your face against a hard surface. If you snap off your front teeth and break your nose, you might decide to buy a real helmet before you try the same exercise on hard, unforgiving asphalt at 30mph.

Lots of solid cases have been made for every piece of protective equipment that is sold today. Other than the "live free and die young with a really gory corpse" and the "I scream like a baby when I put one of those boxes over my head" arguments, not many people have spent time (or beer or mixed drinks) coming up with good reasons not to wear a helmet, especially a full-face helmet. So, with a beer and a mixed drink in hand(s), I thought I'd give it a shot.

  1. Nobody will ever say anything you want to hear. You are past 25, so you'll never enjoy any new music beyond this point. You ride without a helmet because you are trying to destroy your hearing.
  2. You can’t smoke inside a full-face helmet. Cigars are especially incompatible with face shields and such. Since smoking is one of those "little suicide" activities, making the step to a larger, less passive, suicidal activity (riding helmet-less) is a short jump.
  3. You can't eat or drink and ride. Even jerky is tough to filter through a face shield. Forget about ice cream cones. Since you're proud of your stylish American bulk, you are more concerned with getting your daily caloric intake than worrying about the goo inside your skull. You ride to eat and eat while you ride.
  4. Hip wrap-around sunglasses won't easily stuff into a helmet, so, you're stuck wearing dorky geek glasses. This has inspired several shade manufacturers to make dorky geek glasses and call them hip. My last visit to a Harley shop was made much more entertaining by the collection of $5 tinted industrial safety glasses being sold as designer shades for twenty-times what those same frames (made of more durable materials) would bring in a welding supply shop. Looking like a geek has never been so expensive.
  5. You can't pick your nose and wear a helmet. Even if you could get a useable finger past the shield, the chin guard gets in the way. Personally, I think that's a good thing because a small pothole and a cruiser's suspension would probably result in a finger poking through the back of your skull.
  6. Telephones, you gotta have 'em, but you can't do telephones and wear a decent helmet. These days, nobody can do anything or go anywhere without a cell phone, so it's damned important that you be able to answer the important question of the day (which is either “Can you hear me now?” or "Where are you now?" or "Waz up?") whenever it's asked. The entire planet revolves around the concept that someone's lack of planning is someone else’s emergency, no matter how trivial the problem. Wingers display insane levels of connected-ness lunacy with headset installations in their helmets and Microsoft Office displays on their face shields. You, however, simply need to be able to answer the phone when it rings.
  7. An excellent reason for not wearing a full face helmet is that you have nothing to lose. You hate your job, your wife is having an affair with your boss, your kids are on crack, and you're broke. What's the worst thing that could happen? You crash and survive, but are stuck at home recovering on the couch while your wife and boss hold business meetings in your bedroom.
  8. Good hair days, you can’t have ‘em and wear a helmet. Helmets will turn any hair style to a greasy pancake look. Which raises an important question, does Donald Trump ride to work every day? Is his bad hair because of a helmet or did an ugly squirrel curl up and die on his head and the Donald hasn’t taken the time from his busy, motivational day to have one of his Fox News eunuchs scrape it off?
  9. The "vision thing." From listening to years of lame excuses about helmets obstructing vision, I've decided this isn't about being able to see, but it's about being seen. Racers, two and four-wheel varieties, wear helmets and nobody needs to see better than those folks. After spending $45,000 on a custom cruiser, you probably want people who know that you have that kind of credit line. We're all equal inside a helmet and you're probably not happy about that.
  10. Finally, the best reason to not wear a helmet is that you know your genetics have absolutely nothing of value to contribute to the human race and you want to make the ultimate Darwinian sacrifice for the greater good of the species. Good for you. Your contribution to the universe will not be remembered, but you are still doing a good thing. Consider immediate sterilization so that no nasty little accidents happen before your nasty big crash.

I think I've provided sufficient justifications for those cute little bikini-beanie "helmets" and the 100% Dacron-reinforced do-rag fashion statement. Even though it's very likely that any crash you may have will result in a face-plant, it's important to consider there are a lot of important things that you can't do while wearing full face protection. What's a little cosmetic surgery and a lot of dental work worth compared to the important issues discussed in this highly academic analysis?

As spectacular as my list is, you can probably think of even better reasons to avoid protecting the insides of your skull. Feel free to contribute your best justifications.


Anonymous said...

I liked this very much! I just learned yesterday that Albert Gunter went to Bell years ago and urged them to consider making a full-coverage helmet. My favorite crashing-in-a-full-face story concerns sliding feet-first and face-down in gravel, something that must happen all the time. The chin of the helmet acts as an earth-scraper, and the region in front of the (former) rider's face fills rapidly with dirt and rocks. When he attempts to stand, his vision takes some time to reappear, as this material falls out.


Anonymous said...

How about:

You are an entomologist, after all it is such a popular hobby that there must be thousands of them out there. Wearing a helmet tends to squish the poor little darlings beyond recognition, while riding raw is the ultimate collection opportunity. Better yet, ride with your mouth open and carry a good supply of adrenalin syringes for when you meet a wasp!


Anonymous said...

Just remind 'em to fill out an organ donor card. Srsly.

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