View Full Version : Bicycle Helmet?

April 18th, 2011, 09:10 AM
Hi everyone! I haven't visited in a while due to a forced computer switch for mechanical failure, but I remembered that I had a place to come for hair advice, and finally remembered the page!

So, here is my question: I've recently gotten a shiny new bicycle and want to use it for exercise and maybe transportation eventually. The bicycle is awesome- the helmet is not. While I completely agree that helmets are necessary for safety (yes, I'm very fond of the head that all my hair is attached to), I'm a bit stumped on how to manage one with grace.

The one I currently have came with a mountain bike I got in trade for sewing services and is too large but, I figure, better than nothing. It is a Bell Bellisara I think- has no adjustments other than chin strap. There are two white reflectors on the back and a stretchy elastic at the bottom of an upside-down plastic U in the back. This is their True-Fit thingy. Truely, it is the only thing allowing me to wear the helmet, as the elastic can stretch over my ponytail and the helmet being large means the thing has room in the front-to-back measurement for an extra inch of hair. But it's very floppy and I realize that improper fit might be better than nothing, but I need a real helmet.

I'd like to keep my ponytail, I think and I've heard of ponytail ports to allow this: what are those? Target stores don't have helmets which work unless I thread my ponytail through in between their adjusting band and the bottom of the helmet- this is a very tiny space to try and be grabbing hair through! I'd like a helmet that can go on and off vertically with no messing around like its an oversized sewing needle.

However, the internet doesn't commonly show the backs of helmets to let me see a ponytail port. The only helmet which looked good was a mountain climbing helmet. (It was really cool though.)

So- does a helmet exist for a ponytailing longhair- or do I just need to find a new style?

I did discover the hard way that loose ponytails are major bad ideas. While a trim I'm sure would help, I get a HUGE nest of knots from looking about so much and my hair rubbing on the material covering my back. Braids it is then!

Any advice regarding helmets for bicycling and long hair (mine is classic I think) and how they can work together would be helpful. Thanks! :D

April 18th, 2011, 10:18 AM
Well, the helmet shape's a little different, but I wear my hair in a crown braid while caving. It's a nice change from struggling with french braids and ponytails. :)

April 18th, 2011, 10:23 AM
If you're not afraid of stare-eyed idiots, I'd say try on a motorcycle helmet. Those generally don't come with a million straps and leave you room for a flat bun or a braid or two. But my first idea was :cut a hole in this helmet, then paint it with nail polish so it doesn't stand out:p

April 18th, 2011, 10:31 AM
Check a local bike shop (or failing that, a sports store) and see if you can't find a helmet that fits better. Big box stores aren't nearly as good for that sort of thing. If you wipe out and bang your head, you don't want much movement between your head and the helmet, since this will reduce how protective it is.

I tend to think that a ponytail gets too tangled, so I prefer braids. (Not just for biking, but in general.) My helmet doesn't have a ponytail hole, unfortunately, so I tend to end up with a fairly low braid. Because my bike has me leaning forward quite a bit, I like to loop my braid back up to its base, which keeps it from swinging near the top tube. I'm a little paranoid my ends will tangle in the brake wires....

You might also want to consider tying a bandana or a Buff around your head, between your hair and the helmet. Some people complain of the rubbing and hair breaking or catching in the helmet. A layer of fabric between you and a bunch of velcroed-in pads solves that problem nicely.

April 18th, 2011, 10:53 AM
Not sure if a crown braid (if I could ever learn to do one! I can't do a french braid yet either) would sit well under the helmet styrofoam- it tends to be head-shaped with little room under there.

A motorcycle helmet tends to look too bulky, I think. The smaller ones don't qualify as true helmets I think, just covering enough to get by the laws where they have (or had) them. I briefly entertained the notion of my old riding helmet but I think it had even more coverage than a regular bike helmet. Your idea of fashioning what I want out of an existing cheapy helmet is also one I've considered. I'm handy with a sewing machine and could redesign straps that fit plus perhaps a simple back-of-the-head cincher which could be used once the helmet was in place on the skull- cinched from under the ponytail rather than moving the hair around the helmet parts.

I ride more upright, so I haven't yet had the fear of my braid getting caught in anything because it stays behind me on the bike. But I already have decided to go with a braid or sometimes maybe a caterpillar multi-tail, with hairthings every few inches at least. But I find that I have TONS of wispies that escape to annoy me if I don't first pull my hair back into a secure ponytail.
Also, I'm working up to the bicycle shop idea. My husband has the car all day and I'm stuck at work. I've been riding most days, I think my longest circle was 8.5 miles. I'm just worried about the time it took- what I have available, and doing it in two trips with a bit or rest in between. Would I be too tired after a pause like that to make it back on time? So far I'm just trying to keep going out every day even when windy- wind is the biggest obstacle here. Eventually though, I'll get to the shop :D

April 18th, 2011, 10:56 AM
I use low do's that fit below my helmet's adjustment thing in back. Chinese bun, say, or a folded braid secured with a horizontal stick plus elastic (above the stick, the folded braid can stick up on the outside of the helmet's back strap). A braid will also work for me with no hassles (I just usually prefer other do's). Maybe try starting your braid lower?

I haven't tried a helmet with the True-Fit feature you describe, so maybe my ideas wouldn't work with that. I wear a Bell Citi purchased at REI.

I would not try a motorcycle helmet for summer cycling, I think it would be quite pricey, heavy, and hot as blazes. I also would not cut a hole in your helmet; would seriously compromise its protective effect.

I have not had success buying a helmet without trying it on first (mail-order was a failure), so I would second the suggestion to check out the selection at a bike shop or REI and try stuff on until you find something that works for you.

April 19th, 2011, 06:43 PM
Hey look at this!!! Though isnt this a baseball helmet?


April 19th, 2011, 07:08 PM
I just put my hair in a low pony and it comes out the bottom of the helmet, no problem. My friend does have a ponytail helmet and it's cute! I think it's made by Giro. You can find some online if you search for "ponytail compatible bike helmet". Also, if you are worried about your hair pulling you could maybe put it in a satin wrap, the kind found at ethnic hair stores, before the hemet, but it most likely would be very hot, especially if you are riding in the desert!

April 20th, 2011, 07:32 AM
Well I rode 11 miles yesterday! Partially to test how far it would be to my health appointment next Tuesday, but also I decided to go to the bike shop which is north of there.

I found TWO helmets I like, though I did have my hair in a relatively helmet-friendly low braid. But, my head is apparently really small (at 20.5-21.0 inches) and these helmets were hiding in a back storeroom not even on display, he said I could have one on sale at $25, which seems really awesome to me for the not-cheapo features.
The pink one seemed higher in the back and so more ponytail-friendly, and there was a blue one which fit very nicely also that might be good. I'll try the fit more extensively (maybe with a ponytail) when my husband drives me back to actually buy one.

The Diva-Do thing made by Raci-Babi (pronounced Racy Baby) looks really good too, although I'd have to agree it might keep a head hotter to wear one.
I'd actually once thought of making something like that to work in the garage with the boys. A bun doesn't allow a head to lay flat back on a creeper (and you might not have a lot of room under a car anyway) but a ponyail is also uncomfortable to lay on. Plus long dangling hair could get in all kinds of nasty fluids when it falls down from behind your back if you're bent over. I usually tucked my braid into the back of my shirt- but this is a less than ideal method in the sweaty summer months. Plus, that didn't do anything for the forehead wispies, and even though I concentrated on not touching my hair with yucky hands, I'd usually end up with a streak or two on my face from gently moving the hair out of my eyes. The diva-do looks like it covers both problems.

Anyway, we'll see what happens when I go back to the bike shop.

For those who were wondering about the True-fit I mentioned, you can see it on any Bell helmet in a big store like Wal-Mart or Target, but also here is a picture (http://www.bikerumor.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/bell-truefit2.jpg). I had trouble because the straps are fixed, and aren't in the correct most-comfortable spots for me. I did better with a youth helmet I think, but these seemed cheap to me (perfectly fine for a kid who might not ride a lot or will beat up their equipment anyway, but I need something that will last a while). The elastic, as I said, will stretch out over a long time, and some people don't like the initial tightness. Overall its still a nice easy one-step helmet that should obviously protect better than a bare skull.

April 21st, 2011, 03:25 PM
Those plastic straps on the back of the helmet are designed to cradle the occipital lobe of the skull and keep the helmet in the proper position.

Most helmet designs today (Both of the major brands, Bell and Giro, are owned by Bell Sports, so their technology is essentially the same) are unisex in design. Some manufacturers do have women's specific designs with ponytail ports, but you'll find most women are satisfied with the unisex helmet features.

These features include an abbreviated back and a gap in that plastic occipital lobe strap which permits you to pull your ponytail through. You just have to figure where on your head to make your ponytail so it lines up properly.

Better helmets have an occipital lobe adjustment device for "on the fly" tweaks. Giro's Roc Loc 5 is one such device. See a video here: http://thurly.net/1ct3

Also, if you don't like your hair getting snagged by the straps, velcro, and whatnot on the helmet, consider wearing something like a Sweatvac Ventilator Cap. See here: http://thurly.net/1ct4