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to helmet or not to helmet???

So here’s a question?? Are helmets required for Ragbrai?? I don’t generally wear one as they are hot and uncomfortable. Now I know that they are supposed to prevent brain damage (I haven’t got any to damage) and protect your noggin. But when I did some research, statistically(in Australia, I know gravitational pull is different on that side of the world) they have been found that since the introduction of a law requiring helmet use, head trauma has gone up but the number of bikers has gone down. Makes you wonder why? SO, lets start this conversation. To helmet OR, NOT to helmet?

89 Replies

Tom, June 22, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Helmets are not really an option. They are required for any sanctioned ride.


Ken Reed, June 22, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Listen, you HAVE to wear a helmet. I had a teammate a couple of years ago on RAGBRAI get hit by another cyclist. He fell backwards and hit the back of his head on the pavement with enough force to crack his helmet in three places. All he got was a concussion. His conclusion (mine as well) is that if it wasn’t for that helmet, he would have died. There really shouldn’t be any discussion on this subject.


Sam, June 22, 2017 at 1:03 pm

My helmet saved my life three RAGBRAIs ago, so I am biased, but I say helmet.


Surlyman!, June 22, 2017 at 1:35 pm

First of all, sorry to hear of the accidents. Glad to know you are OK.
watch the TED talk at this link. Just an interesting look at the Helmet.


Craig Parson, June 22, 2017 at 1:38 pm

You have no choice here as “foam hats” are required by Ragbrai via insurance nanny institute of america. I left a stop and rode away without one for several miles and people acted like I was dragging a dead body behind me, they were horrified.

Try to find one you don’t hate and get used to wearing it. The new helmets made in the last 3 to 4 years are much lighter and less noticeable. Sorry that’s how it is and it’s something I’m willing to do to participate even though I strongly dislike wearing one.

The reason for that statistic is that drivers are more likely to hit you when you wear protective clothing.


rjjensenia, June 22, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Here is a review of studies that finds helmets do help save lives and prevent major injuries.



iveaux3, June 22, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Anyone can find an article or study that will match their opinion or ideology. So let’s just table that part of the conversation. Anyone who even asks the question about wearing a helmet has never crashed or been in an accident with another vehicle. My opinion on this question is one of experience. A helmet has protected me on more than one occasion and I will not get on a bike without one. Most people driving cars don’t notice if you are wearing a helmet, they don’t even see you when you wear hi-vis yellow. If you ride a bike it is not if you are going to crash, but when you are going to crash. So wear an approved helmet, you will not be sorry.


Carl Anderson, June 22, 2017 at 3:29 pm

I have had one accident that was not on Ragbrai and my head hit the pavement, would have cracked my head open if I did not have one on. Will it save your life if you get hit by a car, most likely not, but it will save your life if you have an accident with another cyclist or you take the ditch to not get hit by a car.
As far as comfortable. Go to a bike shop and have one fitted for you with the style you like. My First one cost me $86. The second one cost me$150 but it is lighter with more inlets for better air flow because I had I had gotten the first stage of heat exhaustion. When ever I go to my local bike shop, I bring my helmet just encase I want to test ride a new bike. I personally don’t feel right getting on a bike until I have my helmet on.


aredgar, June 22, 2017 at 4:18 pm

For me its definitely helmet, regardless of what the event sanctions require. My doctor-friend had a solo accident on a rail-trail. With his helmet on it would have been minor but instead he sustained significant brain trauma and has lost his career as a result. Even moderate concussions these days take people off work or unable to continue school for weeks or months. I sustained a concussion playing softball in a lush grassy field – why would I not protect myself while riding on an paved highway among thousands of weaving, half-awake cyclists?


RDaryl Daryl, June 22, 2017 at 6:03 pm

New helmet purchase arrived today after trail crash last Saturday.
It happened so fast. . . . . my body took the full blow resulting in no damage to my bike.
Also kids. . . . buckle those straps correctly so that a loose helmet does not CAUSE injury if you fall.
My brother always said that those who don’t wear them don’t need them.


RDaryl Daryl, June 22, 2017 at 6:12 pm

A good friend Joe had a crash a few years back.
When he submitted the lifetime warrantied helmet for replacement, the European helmet manufacturer was surprised that he survived based on the damage to the helmet.


david636, June 22, 2017 at 6:48 pm

This was a great topic of discussion in the late 1990’s, now, not so much.

See if this helps: Concrete/asphalt = hard; head = not so hard.

Wear a helmet.


Mike Murphy, June 22, 2017 at 7:50 pm

Bottom line is that it’s Ragbrai’s rule to wear a helmet. So follow their rules or find another ride.


Surlyman!, June 22, 2017 at 9:06 pm

Can someone tell me where the rule section is? I have scoured this web site and can’t fine where it says that a helmet is required. Found several including the video that say recommended but not required. I do know that Iowa doesn’t have a helmet law.


jelly0317, June 22, 2017 at 9:24 pm

I think I can safely say, as a fellow poster has often pointed out, RAGBRAI “don’t care” whether or not you wear a helmet.


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