When the first motorcycles were invented, they were so slow that donning helmets never crossed their minds. But as time and technology went on, motorcycles became faster. And as the law of physics dictates, the faster you go, the deadlier that “sudden stop” would be.
One of the first designs could be attributed to Gottlieb Daimler, the inventor of one of “the first” three motorcycles with an internal combustion engine called the Reitwagen. In 1885, he introduced a relatively simple leather cap to protect riders’ heads.
In 1914, Dr. Eric Gardner was a doctor who got to a point where he has to see motorcycle crash victims every so often, that he commissioned Bethnal Green to make a crude helmet that he will present to the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. The race organizers and the racers themselves rejected the proposal. But the race organizers came around and implemented the use of helmets much to the racers’ disagreement. When a motorcyclist crashed, it was deemed that the helmet saved his life and from thereon, all the TT racers would be required to equip the head protection.
Lawrence of Arabia and Hugh Cairns
Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, more popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia, was a British army man, a writer and a motorcyclist. In 1935, he sustained fatal head injuries in a motorcycle crash when he avoided 2 kids and was overthrown over his motorcycle’s handlebar. One of the doctors that looked after him was Dr. Hugh Cairns. He saw the needless deaths of motorcycles riders due to the same injuries as Col. Lawrence and dedicated his life to research and increased use of helmets.
“Shorty” or “Pudding Basin”
The half helmet, also referred to as a “Shorty” in the USA and “Pudding Basin” or TT helmet in the UK and popular with Rockers and road racers of the 1960s in the British Isles. It has essentially the same front design as an open face helmet but without a lowered rear in the shape of a bowl. The half helmet provides the minimum coverage. As with the open face, it is not uncommon to augment this helmet’s eye protection through other means such as goggles.
Modern Motorcycle Helmets
Today is an ideal time to be riding motorcycles. With all the technological improvements that were added to it from the very first helmets, to its fashionability, and even to its affordability, it is almost a crime not to wear one. Actually some countries including the Philippines, it IS literally a crime not to wear a DOT or Snell approved helmet. So if you’re on a motorcycle, be sure to be safe. Wear your helmet.