Geek Out Your Bicycle Helmet

Why protecting your skull is too little to ask of your helmet

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Some bicycle helmets come with visors. These are quite useful for attaching bicycle helmet mirrors to, but are otherwise there apparently just to look cool. They do shade part of your forehead, and so arguably they are slightly cooler, but they're useless for keeping the setting or raising sun's blinding light out of your eyes. Some sort of functional visor could be engineered and sold to The-Deep-Pocket-Ones at a satisfying profit, but KISS to that. Just consider a baseball cap to be part of your helmet. You could put the cap on, put dabs of glue (Goop) on the inside of the helmet, wear the helmet an hour until the glue dries, and really make the cap part of the helmet, but if you want the option of taking the helmet off outdoors, it helps if you can continue to wear the cap. So to glue or not to glue....go figure.

Removable bicycle lights fit on handle bar clamps or seat post clamps so that after locking the bike, you can take them off least they be pilfered. On, off, on, off..., or why not just mount lights on the helmet which is also not left on the bike? Mounting the headlight on your head makes sense, since as you move your head to look about, the light illuminates what you look at, such as signage. If a car cometh, you'll naturally look at it and thereby flash your headlight all the better to make yourself seen. The tail light is best mounted high up, as on the back of your helmet—all the better to be seen. Fortunately, typical bicycle helmets have ventilation openings that allow the clamps that come with the lights to work. If the fit is a bit loose, cut short sections of the black polyethylene tubing used for drip irrigation to fill in with, or find something else. In some cases the bolt that comes with the clamp will be too short and a slightly longer one will be required. So, hardware store time or dig through the doodad box.

Bicycle helmet mirrors are an acquired taste. They can clip onto glasses, but on they go, off they go..... Since they are only used with helmets, mount them on the helmet. Clipping onto the decorative visor is quite temporary as they will move easily if touched. A couple of pieces of electrical tape wrapped around fixes them nicely to the visor. If no visor, make three holes in the foam material and glue in place (Goop is good). The wire part has to be bent to find the sweet spot, which will vary with wearer.

Whether going fast or into a headwind, wind can be disconcerting, even if wearing glasses; adding a face shield does wonders. This is a bit more of an engineering challenge, but is doable. If a helmet mirror is used, the face shield has to go around it and the ball cap visor. To make a proper project of it, buy lexan, cut, bend, heat, reshape, and go totally DIY. Or buy a helmet shield for a motorcycle helmet and attach to the bicycle helmet.

As on a motorcycle helmet, only two points attach so the face shield can be raised if desired. Go to a motorcycle shop with bicycle helmet in hand and a smile on your face, pick a shield that suits you and your helmet, and you're almost there. A couple of bolts going through holes you provide, with large washers on either side of shield (on helmet side, glue the washer on), and perhaps a wing-nut to tighten, and it'll be practically perfect. A moon shaped visor can be added and glued to the shield to give better sun and rain protection. It will also prevent the shield from sliding down too far.

Rather expensive sport video cameras are available and, for a price, a helmet adapter can be had. While such offerings appear to be the best money can buy, there are alternatives. Already have a digital camera that can shoot video? Then attach to your helmet and shot what you look at. With the headlight removed, a camera clamp can be attached. The leading edge of the headlight clam is rounded and to make for a firmer grip, drill a hole in the clamp where it grabs the headlight clamp. Now go forth and film.

If you haven't been attacked by a dog on the loose, wait for it. I ride a recumbent which puts me down low, all within biting reach. So a small pepper spray dispenser is rubber-banded to the helmet within easy reach. Rip it off and spray any too aggressive mutts. Could save a trip to the ER.

Thus the well geeked helmet is formed. Decorate to suit. Add a neck cover if neck burn is a risk, and, of course, what do you care what other people think?