Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Putting A Lid On It

After many years, and thousands of miles, of cycling without a helmet I've finally succumbed and bought a new 'lid'.

With a baby on the way, and an anxious wife and mother mithering me, it was about time. I do already own a couple of helmets (I used to wear one when I cycled in central London), but I never wore it on the open road for three main reasons:

1. It was uncomfortable, looked like a bin lid and wouldn't sit on my head properly
2. I got hot wearing it, with sweat pouring down my face, and ended up with a skin rash if I rode any distance
3. I wasn't actually sure that it would offer me any protection in a crash

Giro Atmos helmet (Photo: Giro)

Helmets are an issue that provokes heated opinions on all sides. For the record, the Highway Code recommends that cyclist use helmets, but it is not backed up by law. Personally, I think it's up to people to make up their own minds, after all it's their head.

Having said that, research on the protection offered by cycle helmets appears to be limited and open to interpretation. Some people claim that wearing a helmet causes people to cycle more recklessly and encourages drivers to treat them with less care. Common sense would seem to suggest that it is safer to wear one.

I've had drivers be abusive to me for not wearing a helmet and there have been court cases where it was regarded as 'contributory negligence' to injuries received (in the same way as not wearing a seat belt in a car).

Cyclists do seem to be expected to exhibit a far higher level of self-protection than drivers - I still see loads who don't use seatbelts and I've never met a person who's been prosecuted for that, or being on the phone. And when was the last time you saw a pedestrian wearing reflective clothing when walking at night, even though that's what the Highway Code advises?

Anyway, controversy aside, after a bit of research I came up with the Giro Atmos. As well as being lighter and smaller than most helmets, the Atmos is extremely well ventilated to help keep you cool and less sweaty. And if it's good enough for Lance Armstrong, who can argue?

Lance Armstrong celebrating his 2005 Tour de France win, wearing a Giro Atmos

At £129.99, the helmet is expensive, but Wiggle are currently selling them in last year's colours for £40 less if you want to grab a 'bargain'...

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