Wacky Helmets

Story by Ray Seidel.

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Skid lids. Love ‘em or hate, in nanny states like California, ya gotta wear ‘em.

Now, I PERSONALLY think helmets ought to be optional, as there ARE occasions when it makes no sense AT ALL. Having said that, I am less likely (in the day of the cell phone) to ride without one if given the option. I will briefly share a couple anecdotes so you may have some chuckles at my expense.

In my earlier days of riding here in California, helmets WERE optional, and on one lunch break riding past a mall, a grandpa and grandma pulled the nose of their ’73 Cadillac onto oncoming traffic (me) and stopped. That allowed me to perfectly T-bone their left front fender and fly over the hood of their car. No helmet, no damage in a 35 mph collision, though my bike looked pretty miserable on its side in the median, still puttering away with gas flowing out the fuel tank. Off to the ER, where on the bed next to me (with a curtain between us) was another biker, not so lucky. He came down Palomar Mountain Road, hit an oil slick, went down and without a helmet and lost his ear. Says the nurse to him, “Are you in pain? We can’t give you anything until the doctor sees you.” Yeah, it’s pretty clear what the problem was in this case. Where’s Dr. McCoy to give a general hypo-spray?

A later bike was a NOS (new old stock) 1980 Peugot moped with all of ten miles on it, and without the optional speedometer. A plus was that it got over 100 miles per gallon. A minus was, the brakes did not stop the bike, they only slowed it. Top speed was 35 mph on the flats with a tail wind. Uphill was a different matter. At this point, helmets were the law in California, and one summer night I was riding up the hill that left the San Diego baseball stadium. The Peugeot did not have enough horsepower to push the bike up the steep hill, so I had to pedal the moped as much as I could to supplement the engine. I was sweating like a roasted pig as I frantically continued to pedal away, with the pedestrians on the sidewalk next to me going up the hill faster than I was. Note to the California legislature: when walking speed of pedestrians

is faster than a person on a bike, a helmet might not be mandatory!

My final comment is that in just the last few years I’ve been rear-ended multiple times by inattentive drivers, and my BRAND NEW motorcycle has been rebuilt accordingly, and luckily I’ve had on a good helmet to ride again. So, if you HAVE to wear a helmet, or just want to, you can have some fun doing so by being a bit creative with just SOME of the examples here.

To go FULL retro, how about the 40’s helmet of The Rocketeer? Same as the comic book by Dave Stevens, and the Disney feature film Stevens co-produced. Stevens told me the movie made a hundred million dollars, but Disney didn’t see fit to make the sequel. The fin on the helmet almost got dropped in the film, but director Joe Johnston said he wouldn’t make the movie without it.

Clowns are in, because clowns are SCARY! What better for an already “scary” biker? STAR WARS is on a roll now that Disney bought Lucasfilm, so we’ll have a new STAR WARS film EVERY YEAR. To feed your fix, you can get a helmet to be your favorite character such as Kylo Ren, a storm trooper, an X-wing fighter pilot, Boba Fett, even Darth Vader.

Characters from comics are quick to be recognized, also. Iron Man, The Joker, Venom, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Batman are all there. From more films, Predator helmets are very popular with many variations on the theme, and Robocop from the remake has that futuristic look.

Steampunk has been gaining traction, and the tinman look is there for that genre. Cute cats for the ladies are complete with pointy cat ears on top. For something really different, just a faux face will get a double take – be it Anonymous, a Cyclops, an ape, or the most striking of all, a HUMAN face.

Take a look at these examples, and let your imagination go wild next time you’re due for a new lid. (They DO expire, check the date on yours.)

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