100 good reasons to wear a full face helmet

The single biggest cause of tragic ends to fellow foreign resident’s stays in Taiwan seems to be traffic accidents, or more accurately motorcycle accidents… I’m no statistician, but I’d hazard a guess that crashing a motorcycle is the most significant life threatening danger facing foreigners living in TW… and the biggest cause of serious or fatal injuries in motorcycle crashes is head trauma…

So, enough with the (unintentionally) patronizing drivel, time for some facts… these figures are from The HURT Report, a very in depth study into motorcycle crashes and injuries sustained in bike crashes that was conducted in the US some years back and in which hundreds of motorcycle accidents and injuries were analyzed and quantified… Somewhat dated crash studies from the US are not relevant to Taiwanese riding conditions etc. etc. a pedant might protest… not true… of course the factors surrounding the causes of motorcycle crashes and the types of motorcycles and road conditions may vary quite a bit between TW and the US but unfortunately for all of us, in the nanoseconds immediately following a motorcycle crash, riders from every country on earth follow the standard crashing procedure outlined by Sir Isaac Newton, which is “rag doll down the street hoping your guardian angel is on duty until you hit something solid”… Hitting or getting hit by a car while riding a motorcycle is a fairly universal and horrific standard procedure as well…

So these images outline the areas where helmets took the most severe and most frequent impacts… as you can clearly see, using the standard issue NT$150 cap helmet piece ‘o crap, will protect you from a pathetic 30% of impacts and head injuries, none of the most serious and most frequent impact areas are protected… the ever popular 3/4 helmet ups the protection level to a feeble 40 odd percent… the rear of the head fares better, but you’ll still be looking at serious facial reconstruction surgery… Lastly the full face helmet, the 100% figure is perhaps a bit misleading since naturally that is as comprehensive as modern helmet designs get, and that’s the yard stick by which the statistics were calculated, but pretty clearly, if you value your head and it’s contents, that is what you want to go for… If you take into account the very poor fastening strap systems on cheapo cap style and three quarter helmets, the risk of head injuries in a crash increases exponentially…

I’ll spare you the link to the horrific picture of a bloody, mangled, mess of flesh that used to be a motorcycle rider’s face that is plastered all over the internet, but the next time you think it’s too hot / inconvenient / expensive to wear a full face helmet, just think of these statistics and consider just how convenient having the use of your brain really is…

[/slightly patronizing but well intentioned rant]

Calculated risk. I like my NT$11,000 Shoei 3/4 helmet. It fits far better and is therefore much safer than any of my previous helmets here in Taiwan, all of which were full-face.
If I was riding outside the city on a fast bike it would be a different story, but for putt-putting to work and back the Shoei is just fine.

I believe that’s why the ‘cap’ style in Belgium/Europe is not allowed and only approved helmets can be sold, used …

Great post plasmatron! :bravo: It always amazes me when I see a foreigner riding down the street with one of those little cheapo death caps on. Hopefully people will listen if the message is driven home often enough.

And while we’re at it, note that the thickness of the styrofoam core and the quality of its construction has a lot to do with how much impact the helmet, instead of your brain, will absorb. The better helmets like Arai have thicker foam cores and thus protect better.

Thanks for that Plasmatron…I’m fully in agreement with these statistics…

Another point to mention is that 3/4 face helmets by Arai and Shoei use the front visor as a locked piece of the structure when in the down position!..still not as safe as a full face, but reasonable good…!


there was a great pic on rotten a while back of a biker (that’d be the full-on, tattooed moustachioed Hog riding type) after face surfing, with what appeared to be a full jar of strawberry jam emptied on his face. oh no, that WAS his face…

couldn’t see it now, but anyway, its NSFW, and for those who have not eaten. or are about to.

you get the point.

but for tooling along at 20-30km max, the half a head deal is better than the full face in summer here, and its only the faster trips that really get you in trouble. (especially coming around a corner knee down head-on into a blue truck).

strapping the damn thing on properly would benefit a few people on this island too.

Is it just the safety angle, or has this support for the full-face helmet got something to do with you blokes being ugly bastards? :slight_smile:

I of all people am quite embarrased to admit that I wear a half helmet. I used to wear a full face helmet and I was fairly happy with it although… At the time I bought it, there were nearly no foreign import helmets around. I bought a Penguin, but soon found out that it was FAR too big for my little bird head. It was also heavy, causing my head turns to be slower. It also had a mirrored visor which I found great, but only to see myself when it was raining, I couldn’t see outside. It was a crap helmet indeed, but your informative post reminds me that I should go and look at them all over again.
So you full helmet users you! Is there a difference in protection between, let’s say…the bigger of the brands out there i.e Shoei, Bell, Aria etc And then is there greater protection the more one spends? Or does helmet protection top out with a certain style, brand, or price range?
Simply put, which is the lightest and most practical helmet for the money?

I’d say this is highly probable. I, for instance, wear an open face because I’m so dashingly handsome it would be such a shame to deprive the Taipei public of my matinee idol charms.

Well, IMO the flip-ups are better for summer, as you can flip the chin up while at stoplights to stay cool, and they let you drink some water while stopped, too. Plus you still get the full-face protection in an impact.

in this little article they compared cheap and expensive helmets (with some surprising result that forced some helmet manufactures to withdraw their adds in that magazine…)

have a look here: motorcyclistonline.com/gearb … et_review/

based on that you can actually wear whatever you like comfy with, as long as they pass some safety standards.
i trust my flip-up nolan, has a good reputation and that’s what i used to decide what helmet to buy.

but in many cases, related or not, i made the experience: you get what you pay for. a cheap helmet can protect in certain circumstances but not all compared to an expensive one that most likely protects you in most circumstances. there is always the odd freak accident where no helmet would help, but i go with the ones i trust (and are a bit more expensive). i’m quite conservative.

have a safe next ride

i generally go much faster on my bicycle than on my motorbike in taiwan. no way you’ll see me wearing a full face helmet on my bicycle, especially whilst i’m pushing 250-400 watts for a few hours.

and i spend ten times more time on the bicycle than on the scooter, so its a cycling helmet i rely on most of the time… i have of course spent months in hospital before from motor cycle accidents at 50km’h or so. wearing a full face helped then.

go figure.

But these are the baddest:

[quote=“Stefan”]in this little article they compared cheap and expensive helmets (with some surprising result that forced some helmet manufactures to withdraw their adds in that magazine…)

have a look here: motorcyclistonline.com/gearb … et_review/

based on that you can actually wear whatever you like comfy with, as long as they pass some safety standards.[/quote]Of course that’s a very big “as long as”. The helmets that most people wear here wouldn’t even count as helmets in most western countries. Full face ones here do tend to be a bit more expensive – and a bit better – than the others. But a full-face helmet that costs a thousand NT still isn’t going to offer nearly as much protection as one that costs three thousand. (And it’s roughly around the three thousand NT mark that you start getting helmets that come with safety certification, the kind that are equivalent to budget helmets in the west).

absolutely right. but there are only 3 standards around that specify limits for helmets, 2 of them being american (and a bit controversal). the rest of the world has quite a struggle to develop their own - or adopt.
but one thing stands out: people just don’t care about certified helmets, they just want to obey the law with as minimalistic effort as possible - how else do you explain a mother on the scooter wearing tupperware and her 3 children nothing?
truth is, standards and designing according to them is expensive and as long as the end-user does not demand them - no-one will do (except for a handful of brands, thank god)

[quote=“urodacus”]but for tooling along at 20-30km max, the half a head deal is better than the full face in summer here, and its only the faster trips that really get you in trouble. (especially coming around a corner knee down head-on into a blue truck).

strapping the damn thing on properly would benefit a few people on this island too.[/quote]

Sorry to be contrary but I have to disagree on this point, especially since my gf and others try to get out of wearing proper safety gears with the old ‘I’m just riding to work’ line. Damn heathens.

Anyway, how many accidents have you or people you know had while just ‘tooling along’ versus high-speed sportsbike runs? Every single accident I’ve had in Taiwan has been under 10km/h or stationary, and I can tell you the mess of my helmet that could have been my head after the last hit ‘n’ run made me go and confiscate half-helmets from everyone I knew.

When you’re barelling down a country road I’d argue that you have a much lower risk of crashing than you would doing 40km/h in the city. Sure, the risk of dying at high speed is higher when you actually crash but look at any study on motorcycle safety and you’ll see that high-speed crashes are surprisingly very rare. There is so much going on in your head on the daily commute and combined with the intersections, rush to be on time and all the other impatient people trying to get to work it’s a veritable effing carnage out there.

Some people think I’m a pain in the ass but after a few months of motorcycling and meeting people with various missing limbs and facial grafts* - all from low-speed car collisions - I refused to go five yards without my passenger and me having at least proper helmets, gloves, trousers, jacket and sensible shoes. * and bear in mind this was just in the UK.

I could only maintain the patience to get 3/4 down that article. So did it basically say that we don’t need snell helmets then? That’s pretty much what I understood from it. A simple DOT will do.

llary: I am half with you and half not.

Almost all of my accidents (i have lost count, but at least 20-30) have been at 50-70km/h. I used to work as a motorbike courier in Sydney. All happened with a full face helmet on, mostly a Shoei or an AGV, or a Bell. I still have my head in one piece, and am probably alive due to the jacket with back protector i wore too. I sent two months in hospital after my last accident, when my helmet was torn off my head during the accident, ripping my lips and nose in the process. (broke my back 3 places, busted both hips, knees, etc…). I agree that a full face helmet is a wonderful thing… sometimes. and in some places it is more necessary than others. Sydney is a case in point, where traffic speeds are twice what they are here, and no-one has any patience for fools.

Here, I spend so little time on the scooter, and I go so slowly on my wheezy old thing it is often faster to walk. It is certainly faster to cycle, and more dangerous (less visible, and most people don’t expect a bicycle to travel at 40-50 on the flat), and I spend maybe 15-20 hours cycling a week. When I cycle I only wear a cycle helmet (admittedly a carbon fibre reinforced one but only a skull cap all the same) so I figure that for a trip to the shop, or to the movies, the scooter is Less risk than cycling, so I am content with a 3/4 helmet, which still fits under the seat. Too hot in summer traffic to wear a full face, and I think you lose concentration and road awareness from a) being too hot and b) not being able to use your peripheral vision and hearing to spot the stupid drivers and brainless people driving the wrong way, etc. If I go on a longer trip on a bigger bike, or if I am going up to Yang Ming Shan on the scooter, (or when i finally get my hotted HOT back from Jeremy), i DO wear a full face helmet. and gloves.

But the safest part of the driver is not his or her equipment, it is the DRIVER. It is about reaction times, it is bike control, it is going the correct speed fr the consitions, it is about always having an escape route, it is anticipation, it is experience. These are much more important than relying on a helmet. In fact, a Helmet and other gear is only necessary if the rest has failed. I am not saying that all accidents are the riders fault, but they are certainly a major contributor to many of them.

I agree with you that the stupid Hello Kitty platic bowls should be banned. But amah and agong are not going to ride with anything on their head if it costs the 5-10,000 it would to get a real helmet. And a bit of protection is better than nothing.

I fully understand the “it’s just the regular ride to work” mode of thinking that you slip into when considering how much risk you’re exposing yourself to… I regularly catch myself pushing it a bit too far on the usual routes around the city, it’s just because humans are very poor at risk analysis, since we base perceived risk on previous outcomes of simliar tasks/experiences, and since we’ve all ridden to work “n” times the perceived exposure/risk/reward equation comes out in the “I’m sure it’ll be okay, nothing ever happened before” category…

It’s such a cliche it’s almost meaningless, but it’s the one you aren’t expecting that gets you… that one idiot answering the cell phone at the wheel and swerving into your lane, the “looked but didn’t see” taxi driver doing a U-Turn in front of you, or even the check your mirrors, look back and “oh sh*te, some areshole’s parked in the scooter lane”… Personally I just can’t justify an open face helmet, especially for city riding/commuting… I do both regularly, and IMO tearing around the moutains on a big bike is a lot safer than commuting in the city on a 125cc… the reason being that the higher the density of other road users the more dangerous the situation is, there are a lot more solid objects to potentially hit and crucially, be hit by in the city… countless thousands of idiots at the wheel with no law enforcement, no driver training and no qualms about you ending up in a wheelchair if it means them saving 3 mins on their morning commute… and you don’t need to be going fast to have an extremely serious and/or fatal accident…

Take a look at these crash test videos, they’re crash test dummies, there’s no gore, just extremely poor music… The impact speeds are only 60km/h, but imagine what your face would come out looking like from any of these impacts without a full face helmet… :astonished:

click for motorcycle crash test video WORK SAFE, NO GORE.

Yup, i am not recommending the use of anything other than a full face helmet, gloves and leathers, all the time, for anyone. To do any less would be wrong. But to rely on a helmet for your safety is plain wrong…

By far the best solution to accidents is not having one in the first place. Expect the unexpected, leave adequate space, always have an escape route, be aware of the traffic around you, go through the same thought processes as the car behind you: see the road from his viewpoint and anticipate what he will do. And do this for ALL the other vehicles and pedestrians near you, continuously. Ride in the safe part of the lane, where you can see others and they can see you. Ride with lights on. Do not let cars sidle up past you: move over and force them to stay behind you, making them know you are there. After a few years, this becomes automatic.

And did i say in a previous post i ride 15-20 hours per week? Oops, I think i added up two weekends of riding in that one week! More like 10-15 hours per week. (Hour and a half commuting to/from work each day, say four days, often two hours interval training on sunday or another morning, and usually four-six hours long ride on Saturday)