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What's Your Brain Worth?


How good is yours?

A long time ago I remember seeing a Bell helmet advertisement that said, “if you have a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet”, or something very similar.

That ad was run more years ago than I care to remember; But it stuck with me so obviously it was a well thought out ad. Boy have times changed, with helmets now ranging in price from a cheap $79 to approaching $750 for the latest and greatest in quality and technology that also doubles as a fashion statement as they have literally become works of art!

I see some absolutely beautiful helmets these days on the road, at the tracks and in the desert. But since I spend so much time on a bike, in so many different locations and types of riding I also see some very scary looking things on peoples’ heads. If I were independently wealthy I would carry around high quality helmets to trade people when I see them. Sometimes I cringe when I see such so called protective gear.

I have destroyed several helmets and suffered more concussions than I care to remember, uh, maybe I can’t remember! Lol.  So I am speaking from experience while I stand on my soapbox here and rant. What spurred me to write this tirade was a recent week long off road trip with a group of riders that ended on a sour note.

Our group had ridden several hundred miles over about 5 days and was on the last 40 or so miles before arriving at our motel for the night. We were all looking forward to a shower and a nice meal with the daily B.S. session where we all could tell how fast we went and how high we flew! Unfortunately, just before we reached the pavement to ride into our motel, one of our riders named Jeff crashed and took a serious blow to the head. He was knocked unconscious and would not regain consciousness until sometime the next day. It turned into quite the ordeal to stabilize, monitor, extract and transport him to medical facilities.

It has been almost 2 months now and Jeff is doing better at home but is not back to being himself yet. This is one of the most scary, long term serious head injuries I have seen.

It was purely coincidental that some of us on this trip had been discussing helmets, quality, cost, protection and age just the day before the incident. Someone had questioned why a helmet with all the certifications like SNELL and DOT stickers and only cost $99 was not as good as one that sells for $600 with exactly the same certifications.

While cost alone is NOT a rating for a good helmet, you generally get what you pay for in the helmet arena to a point. Now here I go on my soap box. I have worn decent helmets and VERY hi quality helmets in my 48 years of riding. I have also crashed on both types and whacked my noggin hard enough to destroy more than one helmet! Both the decent and the hi quality ones. So I am speaking from experience when I tell you I can tell the difference in energy transfer and dissipation when channeled through the hi quality helmet. It is noticeable and worth every penny when it finally happens and rest assured if you ride enough it will happen. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

I recently put it to one of our doubting Thomas types that was concerned with over spending on a helmet this way. I buy a top of the line helmet for around $600. I can wear that helmet safely for 5 or so years if I take care of it and barring any big crashes. That breaks down to maybe $125 a year to give myself the best odds possible to keep participating in my favorite sport.  I wish my auto insurance was that cheap!

Just food for thought, how good was your helmet when you bought it, how has it been treated, how old is it and what is your head worth? We can fix bones, stitch gashes and even repair joints most of the time. But unfortunately no doctor has been able to fix a head/brain injury yet. A good helmet is our best line of defense for participating in the sport we have chosen because it is our passion.

I hope if you read this it made you think, I am really glad you can, probably because you have a good helmet!  Ride safe.


‘Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first, and the lesson later’

Reader Comments (3)

Great article Eric, though I'm only an intermediate rider I can easily ride fast enough to hurt myself pretty well. The way I've always treated safety on the bikes is there are a few items I just won't skimp on, obviously the helmet is the main one but also chain and sprockets (probably a nearby second in my book) I can run with half a clutch lever, wore out grips, even bent bars, but my helmet has to be absolute perfect condition structurally. I found the MIPS package truly does work, it's simply like a Teflon liner that lets your skull slide a little to dissipate impact, again I think it has helped.

June 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Burch

Here Here. I agree with Eric and Tom. I won’t skimp on buying a quality helmet whether it is from my street bike or dirt bike. Don’t cut corners when it comes to safety.

June 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Smith

Tom and Pat, I wondered how many wise men were still riding!
Thanks for being wise men, weren't there three wise men in the original story! lol.

June 9, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter#33

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