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Trek Factory Racing rider shocked by number of bare-headed riders — in the Netherlands

Fabian Cancellara has this morning sparked a revival on Twitter of the eternal helmet debate, after saying that all cyclists should wear the headgear – his comments prompted by the sight of bare-headed people riding bikes in the Netherlands, where he is currently taking part in the Eneco Tour.

The Trek Factory Racing rider tweeted:

 

 

Shortly afterwards, he added:

 

 

The fact Cancellara was tweeting about the Netherlands, which together with Denmark has the highest levels of cycling in Europe but one of the best safety records, did not escape attention:

 

 

 

 

Some also pointed out that everyday cycling is an entirely different proposition from racing, where helmets have been compulsory since 2003 – although the speeds that racers travel at means that the velocity of any impact would in all likelihood be well above the maximum stipulated under EU standards for cycle helmets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While Cancellara’s original posts were widely retweeted and favourited, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Twitter users doing that were endorsing his views.

One person who lives in the town where Cancellara noticed the lack of helmets happened to be visiting the rider’s home country, Switzerland, and said:

 

 

Not everyone took exception to Cancellara’s stance. One Twitter user said:

 

 

Another added:

 

 

Finally, this tweet sums up an opinion shared by many:

 

 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

109 comments

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antonio [1124 posts] 1 year ago
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OMG!! here we go again.

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DaveE128 [539 posts] 1 year ago
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It seem funny to me that you see pros pootling around on bikes at the end of races without helmets (eg the photo above), or taking off their helmets after completing a race in a velodrome, etc, and then one of them criticises people who are just pootling to the shops etc for not wearing one.

I wear a helmet when cycling but really it's not that clear-cut an issue and IMHO we ought to respect each other's ability to make a rational decision on it. We don't all wear full body amour when cycling even though it could potentially save us from a serious injury. Everyone has to decide what is a sensible level of protection for them and the inconvenince/comfort vs risk equation works out differently for everyone.

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DaveE128 [539 posts] 1 year ago
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Just to be provocative, could sponsorship from helmet manufacturers be a factor?  3 (No I don't really think so!)

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KiwiMike [1204 posts] 1 year ago
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SPORTYMAN OUT OF DEPTH KLAXON

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farrell [1950 posts] 1 year ago
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Hit by a Mother Bike?

Christ, the Parliament/Funkadelic stage show has really been hit hard by the recession hasn't it?

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Das [242 posts] 1 year ago
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Well all I know is that when I was hit and knocked off by a motorist I was glad I had my helmet on. The damage to the helmet was minimal, but without it my head would have connected with the tarmac.

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Must be Mad [514 posts] 1 year ago
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One of the problems with cycling is that we can do it in very different ways - one rule frequently doesn't work for us all - and it can sometimes it be difficult to remember that.

For the cycling I do (road bike, skinny tires, high speed), I feel that a helmet should be worn.

But for people who are happy riding along at a more gentle pace, on more stable (upright) bikes, away from busy traffic... I can see that a helmet probably isn't necessary

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Critchio [176 posts] 1 year ago
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FWIW I felt safer on the roads in the Netherlands without a helmet because of their roads infrastructure, attitudes and laws towards cycling/cyclists. Its probably also a safety in numbers type of preconception that people have.

I feel very vulnerable and unsafe on UK roads if I dont wear me helmet. Thats why I could half understand FC's comments if he were riding in the UK, but not the Netherlands... Weird.

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a.jumper [846 posts] 1 year ago
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Das wrote:

Well all I know is that when I was hit and knocked off by a motorist I was glad I had my helmet on. The damage to the helmet was minimal, but without it my head would have connected with the tarmac.

Or maybe your neck would have been able to support a lighter helmet-less head and avoided any impact with the tarmac at all? Would you like to repeat the experiment multiple times with and without helmet to verify the anecdote?

It's sort of outside the real debate though, because not even helmet makers claim they offer any protection in collisions or falls onto spiky things at the minute. They're nearly all designed for protection in standing falls onto flat surfaces and personally, I've not done that since I learned to ride a bike.

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HarryCallahan [24 posts] 1 year ago
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"velocity of any impact would in all likelihood be well above the maximum stipulated under EU standards"

Doesn't mean the helmet isn't effective. Better to have concussion than mashed brains.

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 1 year ago
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HarryCallahan wrote:

"velocity of any impact would in all likelihood be well above the maximum stipulated under EU standards"

Doesn't mean the helmet isn't effective. Better to have concussion than mashed brains.

Except the impact mitigation for cycle helmet material is not to lessen the impact, but in fact to take it all unto itself

This results in the rule that ANY impact involving your helmet has almost certainly resulted in it splitting

In a real crash, impact directly to the helmet will result in it splitting like a watermelon hit by a hammer - providing NO protection to the rider

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 1 year ago
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HarryCallahan wrote:

"velocity of any impact would in all likelihood be well above the maximum stipulated under EU standards"

Doesn't mean the helmet isn't effective. Better to have concussion than mashed brains.

Except the impact mitigation for cycle helmet material is not to lessen the impact, but in fact to take it all unto itself

This results in the rule that ANY impact involving your helmet has almost certainly resulted in it splitting

In a real crash, impact directly to the helmet will result in it splitting like a watermelon hit by a hammer - providing NO protection to the rider

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leqin [171 posts] 1 year ago
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I wear a helmet and I am a proud helmet wearer and I went out of my way finding a helmet that fitted my head... some would say my big head.... properly, but I am constantly amazed by the fact that professional riders in the same team and even when they go from one team to another they all wear the same brand of helmet - they all wear a Specialized helmet - all wear a Kask - all wear a Bell or a Giro or a you perm any brand name of helmet and every single rider on the team is wearing that brand of helmet.

Forgive me if I am stupid, but how on earth can professional riders on the same team all have the same shape head, or do they have helmets specifically made to fit their head, or are the helmets adapted in some way to make it that the helmet fits each riders head perfectly.

If as I suspect is the case, which is that the helmet is just another piece of team sponsorship advertising then that means that most of the riders in the peleton are riding without helmets that fit their heads properly, or at least not as properly as the one I wear - a Specialized and only after trying endless brands and models... oh and I still try out any new helmets I happen upon just in case I can find a better fitting helmet.

If that is the case - that it is just sponsorship money - then that means that there is a very good chance that Fabian Cancellara is compromising his own safety, or his own interpretation of safety, for money rather than just in case he gets involved in a accident and needs his helmet to fit his head properly and so it helps save him from injury because the helmet he is wearing fits correctly.

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kcr [107 posts] 1 year ago
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The only word you need to read in the article is "eternal".
Carry on...

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fukawitribe [1746 posts] 1 year ago
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HarryCallahan wrote:

"velocity of any impact would in all likelihood be well above the maximum stipulated under EU standards"

Doesn't mean the helmet isn't effective.

Indeed, there often appears to be an issue with understanding how helmets work to try and mitigate physical damage in these debates - and equating bike velocity with velocity of the head in accidents, impact mass with total body mass, efficacy with KSI tables and so on and so on.

There certainly are issues with helmets and helmet use, physically and psychologically, but IMO they aren't always sensibly dealt with by some of the more simplistic arguments that tend to appear.

I think one issue which most or many of us can agree on is that blanket compulsion is not the answer.

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ricky1980 [26 posts] 1 year ago
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the man is being a bit of a silly boy for advocating helmet uise for all cycling...

i commute on my foldable and I don't go more than 15mph on it and constantly slowing down and weaving in and out of traffice...so i don't wear helmet and touch wood never had an accident on it.

however when i am training on my road bike i wear helmet as i intend to go a bit faster and is on roads that are likely to be quieter but still with occasional traffic...and the helmet has saved me a couple of times when i fell off so all for it in those instances.

although he does have a point regarding children...

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Some Fella [890 posts] 1 year ago
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Pro cyclist sparks helmet row on Twitter that sparks helmet row in comments section of road.cc .........

And so the wheel keeps on turning ......

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fukawitribe [1746 posts] 1 year ago
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mad_scot_rider wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:

"velocity of any impact would in all likelihood be well above the maximum stipulated under EU standards"

Doesn't mean the helmet isn't effective. Better to have concussion than mashed brains.

Except the impact mitigation for cycle helmet material is not to lessen the impact, but in fact to take it all unto itself

No, that's not a fact - one of the primary functions is to increase the time over which deceleration of the head occurs. That is mitigation not prevention or total protection.

mad_scot_rider wrote:

This results in the rule that ANY impact involving your helmet has almost certainly resulted in it splitting

There is no such rule.

mad_scot_rider wrote:

In a real crash, impact directly to the helmet will result in it splitting like a watermelon hit by a hammer -

Come on, that's clearly dependant on the impact unless you're appealing to your 'rule'.

mad_scot_rider wrote:

providing NO protection to the rider

Nah - just doesn't follow.

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marcswales [31 posts] 1 year ago
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Are you sure?

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parksey [343 posts] 1 year ago
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Sweepstake on how many comments this article will get...?!

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HarryCallahan [24 posts] 1 year ago
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If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

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Kim [228 posts] 1 year ago
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And Cancellara gets paid how much by a company which makes cycle helmets? Does he think we are stupid? It is not as if the damn things make a significant difference to safety.

Hey Fabian, just tell kids not to cycle at all, it will have the same effect!

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a.jumper [846 posts] 1 year ago
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HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

Often some of the energy is lost to air resistance and some is transferred to the impact of whatever part of the body hits the ground instead of the smaller, lighter head which the body can now protect by tucking in.

I tell you what, strap a large half-pound weight to the outside of your elbow, then try walking around and see how many door frames and walls you hit that you usually avoid. That's not dissimilar to the effect of these crap commuter cycle helmets on a head.

Now if you're taking risks like racing or doing serious mountain biking or BMXing, then I can understand that you'd want a decent helmet, probably stronger than the junk sold to commuters, but that's a different calculation to everyday cycling.

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pedalpowerDC [334 posts] 1 year ago
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Love the helmetless Fabs pic at the top!

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HarryCallahan [24 posts] 1 year ago
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a.jumper wrote:
HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

Often some of the energy is lost to air resistance and some is transferred to the impact of whatever part of the body hits the ground instead of the smaller, lighter head which the body can now protect by tucking in.

That's great advice.
.
.
.
For Turtles!

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nuclear coffee [209 posts] 1 year ago
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I think, at last, I get it.

Helmets aren't about preventing injuries. They're about Being Safe. How foolish I was to think the number of injuries was in any way related.

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nuclear coffee [209 posts] 1 year ago
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HarryCallahan wrote:

If the helmet isn't there where does the energy that cracks the helmet go?

It gets focussed into a raw concentrated form of idiocy that's then handed out to people like you.

Tell me, how much energy, in J or kCal if you like, is required to create a few square inches of crack in expanded polycarbonate?

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Mr Agreeable [172 posts] 1 year ago
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You missed the best Twitter response, from the always-on-the-money @AsEasyAsRiding

//pbs.twimg.com/media/Bu_YwyRIUAEzUWd.png)

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nuclear coffee [209 posts] 1 year ago
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Being Safe is wearing a helmet. Being Safe cannot be questioned or challenged with numbers. It is above that.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 1 year ago
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Next: Lewis Hamilton's opinion on 20mph zones. Not relevant, don't care.

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