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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Suggesting that riding without a helmet is a good idea is, in most circles, about as popular as proposing a “Crack for Kids” program at the local School Board meeting. People get pretty agitated, and tend to think you’re out to undermine the very foundation of society. Regardless of that, I think riding without a helmet can be worth the risk, and I want to say so. If your mind is made up, you might as well skip the rest of this rant and move on. If you want to talk about it, I’d enjoy hearing your opinions.

I literally grew up wearing helmets. They were mandatory in Florida long before I could ride a motorcycle, legally or otherwise. The first bike I rode was a Honda 150 back in 1968; I used to borrow it from a friend and ride it around the neighborhood at the age of 12. I always borrowed the guy’s helmet too. About 4 years later I got my first tickets on two wheels when I borrowed a guy’s moped and rode it down a dirt road at a park. The cop decided to teach me a lesson and wrote me for no helmet, no license plate, no turn signals, and no registration. That incident clearly set the stage for my future relationship with the Florida DMV, but that’s another rant.

Not long after that incident, I got my first real bike, a Yamaha RD-350 in black and orange. The guy I bought it from gave me the standard helmet of the day, open front with the three snaps across the top to secure a face shield. I think it was purple with metal flake. I bought this goofy bubble-shaped hard plastic shield in yellow, which for some reason I thought was really cool. Not long after that, I got to borrow my friends Bell full-face helmet (back in those days Bell was synonymous with full-faced helmets, at least with the guys I hung out with) and from that point on, that’s what I wore. Eventually I settled on Shoei, and always got white ones to try to keep the heat down. And, in fact, when I do wear a helmet these days, that’s what I still wear.

As the years went by, I was peripherally aware of ABATE, the nationwide anti-helmet law organization. Originally their initials stood for “A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments,” but once the 70’s were over they toned it down to “American Bikers Aimed Toward Education.” Or something like that depending on what state you're in. They had fund raising events, lobbied the Legislature and Governor, and had an annual ride to Tallahassee to try to get the helmet law repealed, or at least modified. Back in the summer of 2000, they finally succeeded. The law wasn’t repealed, but it was changed to allow riders over 21 to ride without a helmet as long as they had a special $10,000 medical insurance policy to cover the cost of stuffing their brains back in their heads after an accident. Two interesting notes here: nobody could find any insurance company that offered this policy, and nobody could clearly explain what the heck this caveat really meant, so de-facto, the clause was meaningless. The other interesting side note is ABATE. Not long after the law was passed, I met a member handing out flyers for another fund raiser at one of the local motorcycle parts stores. When I asked what the heck they were collecting money for since they’d won, she looked confused and said: “well, they may change their minds!” Frankly, I think she was simply proving the “Iron Law of Oligarchy,” which essentially states that no matter what an organization is formed for initially; eventually its purpose becomes its own continuation, growth, and the aggrandizement of its leadership.

When the new law was announced, I said to myself and others that I’d never ride without a helmet. I reasoned that it would be pointlessly risky, and I didn’t want to end up a vegetable, disfigured, or dead. But it didn’t take too long before “it” happened. I tasted the forbidden fruit. I’ve forgotten exactly when, where, or why I wound up riding without a helmet, but I did. I loved it. I didn't want to wear a helmet any more.

I decided to try a small helmet instead of a full-face one to see if I could get the same feeling I had with no helmet. It was better, but still not the same. The only downside I found was the rain. I cannot ride without a helmet and face shield in the rain, it just hurts too much. I’ve always worn earplugs when I ride, so the wind noise without a helmet is manageable.

I don’t always ride without a helmet. In addition to rainy conditions, I usually wear a helmet during commuting hours, long trips at high speeds, and when it’s cold out. But last night I took a ride under the stars without, and I will say this: for me, that ride without the helmet was far more enjoyable than it would have been with. I can’t explain it, any more than I can explain to a cager why I take the risks of riding a motorcycle at all, versus just getting in the car. And, as I rode along last night, I decided to write this and share my thoughts.

So, here it is: I suggest that if you ever get the chance, take off your helmet and give it a try. If you’ve never done it, you might be surprised. And if you splatter your brains all over the highway, don’t blame me. It is, after all, just a suggestion. To paraphrase Robert A. Heinlein, “a zest for living requires a willingness to die.”

PS: I suspect my fun will end soon. I can’t imagine this society of ours allowing this type of individual choice for too much longer. Frankly, I was stunned when the law was repealed. I'm sure the Feds will link mandatory helmet laws to highway funding or something.
 

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Snuggles
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I've ridden with and without a helmet. In AZ I never wore a helmet. I felt it was just too damn hot and I enjoyed the open air.

I moved to PA and started wearing a helmet. I don't have to, but I CHOOSE to. PA doesn't have mandatory helmet laws.

Why do I wear one now? Not sure. Probably for a few reasons. One being I'm not single anymore and my actions affect the people around me. I have plenty of insurance so I wouldn't be a "tax burden", but I have a house payment that requires both of use to be working among other things. If I whack my head and can only drool for a living it would effectively turn my wife's world to crap. So I wear a helmet and protective gear every time to decrease my chances of severe injuries. Least I can do, really.

One of the things I've found from wearing a helmet is that it greatly reduces fatigue. My face doesn't feel as beaten up and wind burned after a day of riding. But there is something about going helmetless. You tend to grin more when accelerating and you feel the speed hitting your face.

As far as mandatory helmet laws go; I am against them and will always be against them. There is no stat, study, survey, or claim that will ever change my mind.

Don't care about the supposed tax burden. If you want tax relief than focus on an efficiently running government.
 

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The Toad
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We'll see.

I don't know. I think most of the hardcore helmet Nazis left. They don't like freedom of choice and they don't like forum change.
Myself, I almost always wear a helmet and I won't let a passenger ride without one. About the only time I ride without is on my IT175 on my cabin property in the mountains and sometimes down to the nearest town (rural road all the way) for odds and ends. I'm just putting easily along when I do that at about 30mph.

In the past I rode extensively without a helmet and dumped hard twice without hurting my head. I've still got the pin in my ankle to prove it.

So, is it stupid to ride without a helmet? Usually. But then some might say it's stupid to ride at all....in fact most people think so. So what? This parsing the pros and cons of helmets is pointless because some people are safe without one and some people are a menace to themselves no matter how much gear they wear.

Oh and by the way, no matter how many safety restrictions we implement your insurance rates and taxes for health costs are never ever ever going to go down.
 

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I always wear a helmet. Period. In places like Arizona and Nevada, it's actually cooler to wear a helmet than it is to ride without it once the temp gets up over 100, so I don't buy the "it's too hot" claim.

But then I'm a stickler that way.
 

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Snuggles
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Whoa, there. It wasn't a "claim". I said I "felt" it was too hot. I didn't say it was a scientific fact. So there was nothing there for you to "buy".

Fact is if you don't want to wear a helmet I couldn't care. Rode without and I ride with one now. I've seen and heard people die and get f'ed up with a helmet and I've seen and heard people make it out without one.

It shouldn't be mandatory. Period.

The tax burden claim is bulsh!t and insurance companies will use something else to justify rate increases.
 

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Snuggles
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The more people b!tch about wanting helmet laws to be mandatory the more I want to ride without one.

Right now I have a strong need to pick up smoking, drive a big ass car, and have a strict diet that contains only meat from only the cutest looking animals.
 

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Aging Cafe` Racer
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I always wore a helmet riding dirt bikes. When I got out of the Navy and started ridng street bikes in '79 I didn't bother wearing one and no one I rode with wore one. The worst thing about it was my hair would get tangled so bad no matter what I did until my wife started braiding it for me, in the winter I just wore a watch cap and goggles.

A couple of things happened in the mid 80's that changed my mind, one I got the K 100 RS and sold the Harleys, then one of my close friends got crippled from a low speed head injury, another one got killed flipping a dirt bike and landing on his head and finally, Washington started talking about and then passing a helmet law so that was that. Since that time I've got used to wearing full face Shoei's and find that I'm much more comfortable with then without in most cases to the point that if they ever repealed the law I'd still wear a helmet about 99% of the time.

I suppose if I had to come down one way or the other I'd say I agreed with helmet laws, people that are dead set against them can wear the little DOT beanies and have the same wind in the face feeling as without but for myself, I'd rather have the protection for my chin and face that a full face lid provides.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Nom de Plume

I always wear a helmet. Period. In places like Arizona and Nevada, it's actually cooler to wear a helmet than it is to ride without it once the temp gets up over 100, so I don't buy the "it's too hot" claim.

But then I'm a stickler that way.
Just curious, why are you the "Safety Queen?"
 

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I have only one complaint about helmet laws: Medical bills. I wreck a bike and it is my fault I am forced to pay my own bills. That should be true for ANY motorcyclist that goes down without a helmet. Joe Taxpayer should not foot the bill! Other than that, I could care less. I've given up on the whole subject of helmet laws, tiering, training- the whole lot of it. Just don't make me pay for someone else's stupidity.
 

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Weekend before last I went riding with two friends. Two days on sportbikes in the Berkshires, Catskills and Adirondacks. Rode as hard and fast as conditions would allow. Full leathers, full-face helmets, armored gloves, motorcycle-specific boots.

Yesterday afternoon I went for a putt through the countryside on my old BMW with my bride (and riding partner) of 32 years on the back. Never got over 45 mph on lightly traveled country roads. Blue jeans, polo shirt, Wellington boots, light black gloves, cool-looking shades, no helmet.

I could have significantly increased my safety this weekend by wearing the same gear I did the weekend before. I could have significantly improved my safety the weekend before by taking a car instead of a bike. In both cases, I traded safety for the joy I get from motorcycling, and chose the gear I felt appropriate for the occasion.

Motorcycles are dangerous. It is not possible to “ride safe.” I choose to ride. I choose my level of protective gear when I ride. Can’t think of anything wrong with that.

Bill
 

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I understand why other riders don't wear a helmet. I don't think it's very smart, but it's your life, not mine. The way I see it, no matter how good a rider you are, a cage can still do something stupid and cause you to crash. So I wear all the gear, all the time. Leather or mesh, depending on the heat.
 

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The Toad
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Don't stop there...

I have only one complaint about helmet laws: Medical bills. I wreck a bike and it is my fault I am forced to pay my own bills. That should be true for ANY motorcyclist that goes down without a helmet. Joe Taxpayer should not foot the bill! Other than that, I could care less. I've given up on the whole subject of helmet laws, tiering, training- the whole lot of it. Just don't make me pay for someone else's stupidity.
...skiers, bicyclists, pedestrians, hikers, kids playing sports, people using swimming pools, surfers.... we could go on and on and on. All these are dangerous activities and anyone being hurt doing these things should be denied taxpayer funded medical care, even though they are paying the "premiums". Yeah, that's the ticket. People being taxed to death and when they get hurt deny them any treatment. We can save lots of money that way! Just hire a couple of guys and a wheelbarrow to haul the bodies away to the landfill. That'll result in lower taxes and premiums you bet!
 

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Snuggles
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And some will say (not I) that you are stupid for not wearing leather at all times as mesh is less "safe"/durable.

And that is where legislation gets sticky. At what point does it stop. If helmets are now mandatory throughout the country and a study comes out later that states riders are safer if wearing all leather gear, does that than become the next item that is debated? Will the insurance companies use that as an excuse to raise rates because uninsured riders wrecked and had a larger than needed bill due to the fact they weren't wearing leathers?

History tells us “yes”.
 

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The Toad
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It's amazing...

And some will say (not I) that you are stupid for not wearing leather at all times as mesh is less "safe"/durable.

And that is where legislation gets sticky. At what point does it stop. If helmets are now mandatory throughout the country and a study comes out later that states riders are safer if wearing all leather gear, does that than become the next item that is debated? Will the insurance companies use that as an excuse to raise rates because uninsured riders wrecked and had a larger than needed bill due to the fact they weren't wearing leathers?

History tells us "yes".
... how few people understand the "letting the camel's nose in the tent" phenomenon. They spend myriad hours arguing the pros and cons of nanny state legislation completely ignoring that the goal of the nannies is total control of thought and behavior from cradle to grave and issues such as this is just another brick put in the wall. They immediately demand more every time. "compromise" comes to mean that those who want to be left alone have to cave in. It's always one way "compromise" with the fascisti always gaining more.

You don't negotiate with such. You destroy them.
 

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Aging Cafe` Racer
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...
You don't negotiate with such. You destroy them.
F*CKIN' A, GOD DAM RIGHT START THE REVOLUTION POWER TO THE PEOPLE RIGHT ON F*CK THE PIGS KILL A COMMIE FOR CHRIST BURN IT ALL KILL THE WHITE MAN.....(ummm, hold up on that one,,,)HANOI JANE WAS RIGHT SO WAS THE ASSA-HOLA..WE ARE THE GREAT SATANS AFTER ALL SUPPORT FIRST STRIKE WE START BOMBING IN 5 MINUTES..(oh was this mike on? tee hee)UMMM...YEAH POWER TO THE PEOPLE THE SLA HAS SPOKEN.....

jeezuss, where's the beer, this riot incitin' is thirsty work ....................
 
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