Imagine the facial rearrangement had this helmet not existed.

“I like my face as it is,” says bike rider wearing full-faced helmet

Throttle Therapy examines end-of-life issues as it relates to the sanity of wearing a motorcycle helmet.

Let me begin by saying this: I don’t ever want to die doing what I love. If I need to go, I hope to be in the middle of something that I absolutely detest, so that I can at least find some consolation in seeing its end.

Indeed, it is my most inner hope that I never die while riding. If it were suddenly to end while riding, I would feel such great sorrow in the moments leading up to my demise.

A part of my personal strategy to stay alive while riding — and I’ve brought this up before — is the very cool acronym, ATGATT or All The Gear All The Time. A component of ATGATT is to wear the right helmet.

On June 1, 2012, BC’s Motor Vehicle Act was amended to include helmet certification. Helmet’s must be certified by one of three labels: DOT (US Department of Transportation), Snell, or ECE (Economic Commission for Europe).

Novelty helmets, also known informally as “beanies,” tend not to meet the standards of these three organizations (although there are some skullcap style helmets that do have a DOT certification). Failing to meet these standards results in a $138.00 fine. If you cannot produce a certified helmet, then you will need to park your bike and catch the bus to the nearest motorcycle shop. I don’t think the police that pulled you over will offer you a ride.

My attachment to my face, as imperfect as it is, leads me to be an advocate of the full-faced helmet. If I were to go sliding, face-first down the road with anything less than a full-faced, I’d leave a chunk of skin-and-chin behind. Sure, my skin is weathered a tad and aging, but that doesn’t mean I’d be okay with leaving bits behind. And no, it would not expedite the nip-and-tuck, the one that I never plan to have anyway.

When I taught at the Vancouver Island Safety Council, we academically advocated both the three-quarter and the full-faced helmet. In practice, though, we only allowed the full-faced to grace our training areas.

I’ve heard and listened to the arguments against a full-faced helmet. And, I’ve countered them.

Too heavy? Technology today allows for the helmets to be light and manageable. Maybe the ones from 1950 were too heavy, but that’s no longer true. While my neck is not so muscular to be as thick as my head span, I can manage a full-faced just fine. I’ve even crossed the country in one, and suffered no neck pain whatsoever.

Too visually restrictive? If you put both your index fingers against your temples just before the softness resurfaces to the skull around your eyes, you will notice that you can’t actually see your first knuckle. You will be able to see your second knuckle on the very edge of your periphery. If sized properly, the helmet will move with your head (this is important; if it stays in one position when you move your head, you must get a smaller helmet).

When something is on the edge of your periphery, you will need to swivel your head, full-faced helmet or beanie.  Especially if your life is depending on it.

Too loud? Most helmets produce some sound, whether it be due to coverage or lack thereof. Regardless, if you want to protect your hearing longterm, look into getting earplugs from your local motorcycle shop. Your aging nagging partner will thank you for it, years from now.

Too goofy looking? Try the sans-chin look. That’s even goofier.

I like my life, for the most part. I also like my face just the way it is, thank you very much. And I’ll certainly do everything I can to keep police hands out of my wallet.

When I go, I want it to be because I am done with life. Not because it is done with me.


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