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Bicycle and Motorcycle Helmets (cont.)

History of Helmets

The potential for injury and death - especially from head injuries - was recognized early in the use of bicycles and motorcycles.

  • Early bicycles with a large front wheel and small rear wheel were notorious for sending a rider over the handlebars from a dangerous height.
  • Early motorcycle racing, known as board racing around a wood board track, often resulted in spectacular crashes from loose boards and close racing.

Helmets evolved slowly, and initially without scientific basis.

  • Early helmets used various materials such as pith (spongy material from plants) or leather and served to cushion the rider's head from other objects during a crash. They weren't very effective, but they represented all that was available at the time.
  • Advances in technology and crash mechanical studies brought improved function and design for bicycle and motorcycle helmets.
  • Helmet improvements include the shape of helmets, the introduction of plastics, improvement in methods of securing the helmet to the head, and the layering of materials.
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