A Note from Fatty: As you will soon see, today’s post is about helmets and helmet cams. In that spirit, wouldn’t it be awesome to win a GoPro helmetcam? Why yes it would, as a matter of fact. Well, my good friend Chuck Ibis is giving exactly such a thing away to a lucky winner. You should click here to find out how you can be that lucky person.
Dear Helmet Manufacturers of the World,
First of all, I want to say “thank you.” Thank you for making helmets that are light, comfortable, affordable, and life-saving. I think I speak for all cyclists (except the stupid ones who don’t wear helmets) when I say we appreciate it.
That said, I have a bone to pick with you. Specifically, I think it’s time you take a look at the rapidly-evolving helmet accessory landscape and make some changes to your products to make your helmets more useful.
Allow me to explain.
Like many cyclists, I love filming my rides. Most sports camera manufacturers create helmet mounts for their cameras. Riders use these because the first person perspective gives a “feels like you’re along for the ride” feel to the video. Like this:
I do pretty much all of my video using a VIO POV camera, attached to my helmet, like this:
(Yes, my expression is always like that. Thanks for asking.)
Well, it recently occurred to me that by filming only what is ahead of me, I am missing half the action. My video doesn’t show the riders behind me. Doesn’t show what the trail looks like as it recedes into the distance.
And with the availability of inexpensive high-definition helmet-mounted cameras, it seemed foolish not to get a second setup, this one pointing behind me. So I strapped a Contour HD to the other side of my helmet, facing back. Like this:
Sure, it’s a little heavy, but I’m willing to make sacrifices for my art.
Here’s the thing, helmet manufacturers. I don’t want to ride (and film…in both directions) only during the daytime. I want to be able to ride at night. So naturally, I’ve connected up my helmet-mounted lighting system.
This was not easy to put on, helmet manufacturers, due in large part to the fact that I started running out of helmet vents to push velcro straps through. But I made it work, because I certainly don’t want to go without light, and everyone knows that helmet-mounted lights work better than bar-mounted lights: they point where you’re looking, which is a useful thing for lights to do.
Now my helmet’s almost ready to go, but one thing’s missing: tunes! As a responsible cyclist, I would never wear headphones, because if a semi is going to run me over flat from behind, I want to hear it just before it happens.
What’s this? Why it’s a cool little speaker setup that attaches to my helmet, then works with my phone over bluetooth to let me listen to my rock and roll while riding. And filming. And lighting stuff up.
So, helmet manufacturers, here’s my helmet now, all ready for me to ride:
And here’s me, wearing it:
Clearly, helmet manufacturers, you need to get busy rectifying what I am sure is this all-to-common problem, among others I shall hereby enumerate.
As you can see in the highly illustrative photograph above, my head is bowed down, lolling due to the weight of all these (highly necessary) helmet-mounted accessories. And my tongue is sticking out, because all these velcro straps going inside my helmet have made it fit extra-tight, so that the chin strap is cutting off my air supply.
When I turn my head quickly, the problems get even worse. The effort required to get past the massive inertia of the helmet strains my neck. Then, once the helmet is finally in motion, it wants to keep moving, often giving me whiplash.
Also, it’s hard to see, what with all the cables and straps jabbing me in the eyes.
And I don’t even want to think about what might happen if I were to suffer an actual crash, wherein I hit my helmet. But I can easily imagine the following scenarios coming to pass:
In the best-case scenario, all the electronics I have strapped to my head would have a contest with my skull to see which is harder and better-built. I have high confidence that the VIO lipstick lens in particular would remain intact long after my skull splintered.
In the worst-case scenario, of course, all the electronics would break upon impact. I don’t even want to think about how much that would cost me.
Suggestions for Improvement
Helmet makers of the world, I’m quite sure that by now I’ve got you on board with the impending crisis you face by not considering the literal cornucopia of helmet accessories either being made or about to be made available to the electronics-hungry cyclist (And I do mean literal; I keep my helmet accessories in a cornucopia. It’s very handy).
In order to accommodate the needs of my accessories and my head, you need to start updating your helmets to be geared more toward the electronic-savvy cyclist. Now.
I have suggestions.
- The Helmet Helmet: Consider making your helmets so that they have a nice hollow area — a space between two styrofoam layers — in which accessories can be mounted. That way, when I crash, I’ll have an outer layer of helmet protecting my electronics, while the inner layer protects my noggin. While I understand this may make the helmet look like a giant beach ball and create new problems when a stiff wind blows, I think these are trivial issues that can be safely ignored.
- The Harness: As my accessories approach 40 pounds (total, not each!), I need to move the weight so instead of being supported by my neck, it’s transferred to my back. Perhaps a couple of bars that extend out from the side of the helmet and then curve down to hook over the shoulders. While I imagine this may in fact make it a little more difficult to turn my head, I am willing to make that sacrifice.
- Cable / Strap Routing System: All those cables and straps get in my way. They flop in front of my eyes and wrap around my neck, causing me untold nightmares as I imagine getting riding too close to a protruding tree branch. At night, I now dream about spiders. I recommend strategically-placed loops and tunnels placed on the helmet, as well as pseudo-vents to wrapt the velcro straps around.
- GPS / Cell Phone / SiriusXM Booster Antennae: As a modern man, I like to always know where I am. And to be able to make a clear phone call. And to have my choice of 400 commercial-free radio stations. An antenna built into the helmet would go a long way toward making sure that all of my other gadgets get good signal.
- Propeller: I swear, I’m riding into a headwind more than half the time. And when I’m not riding into a headwind, it feels like I am, because riding into no wind at all still feels like a headwind. Right? Anyway, if you were to put a propeller on your helmets and then attach that propeller to a little generator, I think that might supply enough electrical power to my gadgets to keep them all running for the duration of the ride. Imagine how much I’d save on batteries (both in weight and cost!).
Thanks for your attention to this matter, helmet manufacturers. I look forward to seeing my ideas implemented soon.
The Fat Cyclist
PS: You may also want to consider some kind of lead shielding for the inside layer of helmets. Currently when all my gadgets are on, the fillings in my teeth starting humming and become uncomfortably hot.