Helmets -- Glass/Foam -- & Rocks- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Sep 2007

    Helmets -- Glass/Foam -- & Rocks

    If you headbutt a rock at a good pace, do you get more cushioning/protection from a hard shell helmet (i.e. park/skateboarding) or from a typical foam XC MTB helmet?

    I have a few both types...and a long history of concussions. Not sure which I should be wearing.

  2. #2
    Nickel Havr
    Reputation: Eckstream1's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Either will be fine...
    I think the BMX/Skateboarding helmet will handle multiple hits.... And the XC helmet is a once and done thing!
    Quote Originally Posted by William Blake
    Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street .

  3. #3
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    Sep 2007
    Thanks for the reply. I have read about the multiple hits thing, but I couldn't find any data on which one absorbs more energy, which would be helpful to know before I use my brain as a wrecking ball...

  4. #4
    Picture Unrelated
    Reputation: zebrahum's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    Skate style helmets can only absorb a certain amount of impact. Foam helmets generally can absorb much greater impacts and of course are one-time-use items. If I had been wearing a skate lid when I cracked my head on a rock I am certain I wouldn't be typing this right now. I could actually feel the helmet deforming as I was striking my head.

    Here is a "take it for what you will" graphic I found while searching the topic.

    I'm no expert so let's just say that:

    hard foam (typical XC helmet) > soft foam (skate style) > no helmet

    At least a skate helmet will protect you a little, but I'm not trusting it with my brain based on past helmet destroying impacts of mine.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  5. #5
    Boom bap ambassador
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    May 2009
    Bicycle Helmet Standards has a bunch of information on bicycle helmets.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: cerebroside's Avatar
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    Jun 2011
    It's basically the same as crumple zones in cars, when the helmet deforms it is absorbing the energy from the hit.
    If the helmet (or car) didn't deform, that energy would be absorbed by you. This would not be a favourable outcome.

    Edit: Obviously its going to vary a lot from helmet to helmet, and on how hard the hit is, but in general a foam helmet will offer more protection.
    Last edited by cerebroside; 09-01-2011 at 04:47 PM.

  7. #7
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    Jun 2011
    I think the original question was regarding the exterior shell construction - i.e. the hard plastic ABS shell you find on "skate style" helmets vs the thin plastic/carbon exterior shell you find on in-mold "bicycle" helmets. This is a different (but related) question than the interior liner material.

    Interior Liners - absolutely, the photo above with the info comparing an EPS (or similar) hard foam interior line to a soft foam non-CPSC liner is correct. If you are on a bike, either XC, dirt jumping, or downhill, you "should" be wearing a helmet that meets the CPSC bike helmet safety standard. Any helmet sold in the U.S. as a "bicycle helmet" must - by law - meet the CPSC standard. Helmets sold as a "skateboard helmet" does not have to meet any standard whatsoever. But, many helmets marketed as "skate helmets" DO meet the CPSC bike helmet safety standard.

    Generally, the interior liner material (NOT the outer shell) is what distinguishes a helmet that meets the CPSC standard and one that does not.

    Outer Shell - the original question lostinNH asked was regarding the protective differences (if any) between a hard plastic ABS outer shell (which is what you typically find on skate style helmets) vs the thin outer shell you find on XC helmets. Head injury protection comes from the ability of the helmet to reduce/disperse the impact force. And that protection primarily comes from the material and design of the interior liner, not the outer shell.

    lostinNH - I would be comfortable recommending either an ABS outer shell helmet OR an XC style helmet. The outer shell isn't the big difference. It's the interior liner material that really counts, and whether the helmet meets the CPSC standard. If your speeds are high - i.e. bombing down Mt Washington - the next level of protection would come from moving up to a DOT rated fullface helmet. Hot and heavy, but with your concussion history, it's something you may want to consider. The DOT testing regime requires a higher impact force as well as puncture tests - i.e. more than the CPSC bicycle test.
    Jim B
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