Skid lids

I recently bought a new helmet, because I wanted to get away from the discount store helmet I had. I simply didn’t like its looks. I wanted something more contemporary, more “cyclist,” less “family-man-on-a-hybrid-cruising-the-park’s-bike-trails-with-the-kids.” It was pretty dorky.

The Giro Indicator.
The Giro Indicator.

I got the Giro Indicator helmet. You could call this a discount helmet, too, except that it’s not sold in discount stores. This one is the inexpensive choice in bike stores, next to the $100+ race-style helmets. I paid about $32 plus tax for it, at a local Performance bike shop.

Giro is actually a subsidiary of Bell, so it’s not surprising that they offer what is essentially the same model. The Indicator is the same helmet as the Bell Solar, with one difference: the Giro comes with a snap-on visor.

I don’t like the look of snap-on visors. Especially black ones, on a white helmet, which is what I got. The first thing I did was snap off the visor. Now it looks exactly like Mrs. Noob’s Bell Solar.

The Bell Solar.
The Bell Solar.

Except for one thing: Three small holes appear along the bottom edge of the helmet, where the visor used to be.

Oh, well. I suppose 99 out of 100 bikers who see it won’t even notice.

I got it in white, because I think it’s important that the helmet is visible. It’s a safety thing with me, and I’m willing to pass up the multiple color combinations available on most helmets these days. In fact, plain white seems to be hard to find on a lot of models.

I wanted lots of vents, which this helmet has. It’s definitely cooler than the helmet it replaced, which was kinda stingy with vents.

But as it turns out, I might have traded safety for looks.

The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute researches helmet safety issues and reviews helmets. I was surprised by one of their conclusions. They maintain that the safest bike helmets are ones that are “smooth, hard, round and slick.” The Institute says aero tails on helmets are bad for safety, because they can be jammed to the side during a crash, and leave part of the head unprotected.

My old discount store helmet was smooth, hard, round, and slick. It didn’t have anywhere near the aero tail most helmets today have. But it was pretty dorky.

So, I guess as a class, bicyclists have decided looks are the top priority when getting helmets. I have. Have you?


  1. says

    I used to wear helmets. In fact, got a second helmet when the first one’s innards peeled off and started smalling very offensive. But once I discovered that it is perfectly fine, feasible, comfortable and safe to go without one, I stopped using them.

    Now I use cotton bandannas or a Buff depending on the wash cycle. They provide adequate visibility, look good and instead of opening a can of worms debating the need for helmet, let me say that I don’t miss wearing one and don’t feel any less safer. I ride in pretty heavy traffic (fast moving some times) in Singapore if you wish to know.


  2. says

    I need a new helmet in a bad way. I think I saw the solar at the Performance store and liked the price. Looks are less of a concern to me than price.

  3. The Other Brian says

    Hmm. I thought “experts” wanted the bump in the rear of the helmets to reduce brain stem injuries? This sounds similar to the endless “Coffee is good for you/Coffee is bad for you” discussions, where the POV depends on who you read or speak to. If anyone reading this has a medical background or other authority, I hope you’ll chime in…

  4. says

    I understand the use I helmets and used to wear them religiously. Accidents can be prevented if one pays attention to the traffic.

    Anyhow, it is lot more comfortable and airy without a helmet.

  5. Matt says

    @ Nat –

    “Accidents can be prevented if one pays attention to the traffic.”

    By that reasoning, you don’t need seat belts or any safety devices in a car either, as long as you’re paying attention. Not so! Sometimes you can’t do anything about an accident – I was in a (car) accident last year where someone rear-ended me in stop-and-go traffic – there was nothing I could do to get sufficiently out of the way to avoid it.

    Accidents can happen to anyone, and often can happen when you are not at fault. If you don’t want to wear a helmet, don’t – up to you. But don’t fool yourself that not wearing a helmet is “as safe” as wearing one.

  6. says

    The Nashbar catalog has the Solar for $16.99 — but only in red. Performance’s catalog has the Solar for $34.99 — but only in black.

  7. says

    @rainycamp: Thanks. That’s funny considering Nashbar and Performance are the same company aren’t they? I need to go to the store and find my size so I can order one.

    I’m not even wasting my energy on Nat. Just remember rule #1…the stupid shall be punished.

  8. says

    Sorry guys, I do not wish to start on a debate I suppose Noob’s intention was also not to start one. To each their own I guess, at the end of the day. Whatever gets anyone out riding is fine in my book.

    Ride safe.

  9. tracywilkins says

    I also wear the Giro Indicator and have been pleased with it. Actually, my wife and I got matching helmets in fire engine red to match our tandem. Mine had been in the sun so much that it was faded to a pinkish tinge and hers is still looking pretty good. Sometime last fall, someone knocked my bike over at work and a couple of weeks later I noticed a pretty good crack in the inner foam lining. Did you know that Giro offers a replacement discount through the LBS? I took mine back and they gave me a new one at what I recall as a 30% discount. I was pleased…except the new one no longer matches my wife’s!

    For what it’s worth, I’ve broken two helmets with my head in them. Both on fairly innocent crashes. I’ll never ride without a helmet!

  10. ha1ku says

    I went pretty dorky instead of stylish: Bell Metro (now the Citi). I use the visor though, because of the mirror attachment. Plus, I’ll admit that without the visor I look like a Super Mario Mushroom character.

  11. says

    Thanks for chiming in. You’re right, my intent was not to debate the pros and cons of helmets. I am firmly in the pro-helmet camp. I just wanted to vent my frustration at my inability to come up with a good looking helmet at a reasonable price.
    Just be careful, Nat. Both my crashes were unexpected, and unavoidable.

  12. says

    Good discussion, needless to see I am firmly on the pro-helmet side of the issue.

    At Lazer Helmets we take helmet comfort seriously as well as it’s our thought that the more comfortable a helmet is the more likely the user it to wear it each and every time.

    Next time you are in the market for a new helmet please stop by a Lazer helmet dealer and try one on!


    Chris Smith
    Lazer Helmets

  13. says

    I tend to think that we’re talking about a percentage of a percentage of a percentage. You have a X% chance of getting into an accident. If you do, you have a Y% chance of benefiting from a helmet. If you do, you have a Z% chance of the shape of the rear of the helmet making a difference.

    All things considered, improving X is most important.

    But there’s some weird interactions. If you don’t make helmet usage required and don’t push helmet use too hard, you are more likely to have people think of biking as a fun recreational activity and you give people one less reason to not ride. More people on the bike makes everybody safer, thus you improve X.

    Which is why I wear a helmet whenever I’m on a bike (except for the one time I was testing out my newer, more powerful front brake, heh heh) but always make a point to remind newbies that in California that helmet use is not required over the age of 18.

    The problem with the back is that it turns out that the cerebellum is a fairly critical part of the brain. Police snipers are trained to aim the bullet through it because if there’s a guy with a gun in his hand, he won’t be able to pull the trigger, as long as they hit that part. So you want to protect the cerebellum. But you also don’t want anything twisting the head in an impact because that’s going to snap the spinal cord. This includes visors in front and tails in back.

    I’m really not sure what to think about the visor. It’s on my helmet and I don’t feel like I ought to rip it off. But if you look at the old school pre-helmet biking caps, the visor was a little bigger and was thus able to redirect airflow away from your eyes and actually shade them. But I’m also obsessive-compulsive enough that I can’t just rip off the visor. 😀

  14. trainingfromabarkalounger says

    Yeah Nat – In Singapore you’d probably damage the motorized traffic. Vespas, tiny cars and tiny people. I’d wear a gas mask before I’d wear a helmet !

  15. says

    Interestingly, The traffic here is mostly Japanese and European Sedans. Couple that with a very well laid out public transportation network, tons of buses run around. Dedicated bus lanes can be used for cycling and traffic is well behaved. If one can stand the temperature and humidity and the urban setting and traffic, it is almost pleasant to be cycling here.

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