50-year flashback on helmet safety

Helmet safety

As international-standard helmets are now approved in most of Australia, we thought we’d look back 50 years to helmet safety standards.

Today’s rigorously tested helmets are made of tough and lightweight materials such as carbon fibre, polycarbonate plastic, fibreglass and kevlar in the shell with a polystyrene foam inner.

Studies show that today’s helmets reduce the risk of head injury by about 69% and death by about 42%. Critics of mandatory helmet laws say they increase neck and spinal injuries in a crash, but there is no evidence to support that assumption.

By comparison, check out these advertisements for helmets from 50 years ago.

In the 1960s, helmets were made of a variety of materials including leather, wood, canvas, shellac, plastic and lightweight metals such as aluminium.

There were no full-face helmets and many offered less protection than today’s cricket or American football helmets.

Meanwhile, the future for modern motorcycle helmets is looking more hi-tech with head-up display, vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems, noise-cancelling capabilities, night vision, instant visor tinting control and various other electronic accessories coming.

Sena Smart Helmet
Sean Smart helmet has noise-canceling technology

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Fifty years ago, the most technological helmet accessory was the “turbo visor”, a round piece of perspex with turbo vents to make it spin.

Helmet safety

It was attached via a central hub to the front of any helmet and was designed to rotate in the wind and flick off water, providing good vision in the rain.

We’re not so sure how safe it would be at highway speeds to have a spinning piece of perspex right in front of your face.

We think today’s electronic accessories might be a little safer than the “Turbo Visor”.

5 Comments

  1. Blimey, the TurboVisor can’t have been 50 years ago! I remember it as if it were yesterday. Even worse, used to wear a snappy black and white Kangol Meteor on my 125cc Bantam powerhouse. And still riding 🙂

  2. Well, I must admit some of them are pretty snappy looking.

    I certainly think that the “Gents Model” would suit a rider in the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride.

    Now, there’s a challenge for a helmet designer…….

  3. I had a turbo visor in the 1990’s for kart racing. They worked to keep the dirty water spray from the kart in front from spoiling your vision. From memory they worked quite well, but not sure about on motorbike riders.

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