("This pen smells like ass."--William Shakespeare)
Way back in 1590, William Shakespeare started the helment debate in his play, "The Training of the Fred," when the titular character uttered his now-famous soliloquy:
"Helments. To wear or not to wear? Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to don a bulbous foamy brain-bucket, or to forego the overpriced beer cooler and let thine pate shine heavenward..."
It rages to this day.
But let's set the debate part aside for the moment and instead focus on the helments themselves. For thousands of years, bicycle helments remained unchanged, from the one worn by Spartacus in the first century BC:
To the one worn by Spartacus in the 21st century AD:
Sure, they may look a little different, but wind tunnel tests confirm that the Spartacus BC helment is in fact slightly more aerodynamic.
However, in recent years this has changed, and thanks to technology and computers and electronics and stuff humankind is now witnessing helment innovation for the first time since a caveman had the brilliant idea to strap an armadillo to his head before riding his pet dinosaur. Granted, almost all of this innovation is utterly useless and patently ridiculous, but nevertheless it exists, and therefore it's about time some bike blogger undertook a comprehensive survey of the futuristic helment technology available to cyclists today--and I is those bloggers:
So let's begin. After this commercial message:
I have a recurring nightmare in which a group of robotic triathletes emerge from a German luxury car and pursue me, and I was utterly horrified to discover that it's actually been put to video.
Now let's begin.
The first futuristic helment in my definitive guide is the so-called MindReader, as forwarded by a reader, which purports to do exactly what its name suggests:
At first, I was skeptical. Why do I need a helment that can read my mood while I'm riding my bicycle? Not only do I already have this information, but so does everyone else around me when I give them the finger. Also, what's the point of this?
In the coming weeks we're going to put a bunch of MindRiders on our friends and bike the streets of Manhattan, where we'll be developing a psycho-geographic map of the city.
Psycho-geographic map?!? Whatever. I've already completed the same project, and all I needed was a pen and a pad. Basically, I just rode around Manhattan and stopped every few blocks to take note of how I felt. Here's the result, which I subsequently paid a graphic design firm $30,000 to digitize:
Back in the 20th century the area around Times Square might have read "mildly aroused," but those days are long gone.
Nevertheless, I kind of wanted one of these helments anyway, because I thought it would be fun to wear while watching TV. So I visited the website:
My first reaction was to point out that I already let my brain express itself with my mouth, but then I realized that the MindReader effectively bypasses your super-ego and is pure, unalloyed id distilled into three colors: red, yellow and green. Then it hit me:
It's only a matter of time before the streets are taken over by self-driving cars. However, there still won't be any self-riding bicycles. So, what will happen is that they (it's always "they") will make MindRider helments mandatory, and as soon as your little mood light turns red you'll be pulled over by the Thought Police who will bring you to a rider reeducation camp, where they will fit you with a device they call the "Happy Helment:"
(What happens in Room 101 stays in Room 101.)
Your light will stay green and you'll be a good little cyclist after that, believe me.
And as for the "psycho-geographic map," the red is where the proles live:
Brooklyn is at war with Portland. Brooklyn has always been at war with Portland.
And so forth.
Needless to say, I signed myself up for a test helment:
I can't wait for my helment to confirm that I hope the driver who just cut me off crashes into a lamppost, and that his airbag malfunctions and somehow forces him into the act of autofellatio.
The next helment in my survey is the LifeBeam SMART helment, which measures your heart rate:
The world's first cycling helmet that continuously measures your heart-rate without using a chest strap. SMART uses electro-optical technology to continuously measure your heart-rate. The optical sensor is placed on the helmet's front, gently touching your forehead. The sensor samples the blood pulse in a high frequency and transmits a raw signal to the processing unit, which is placed in the helmet back.
Assuming you give a shit what your heart rate is or need confirmation that you're still alive while cycling, you may be wondering what happens if you decide to wear a hat under it. Do the sensors still work?
Well, probably not.
But LifeBeam has that covered, because now there's the Sports Headband!
Just have your local tailor sew one of these into every one of your cycling hats. See that? Much better than a chest strap.
Okay, so now you have a helment that confirms you're still alive. But what if you've crashed, and the life is slowly draining out of you? Well, if you're wearing a helment it's extremely unlikely this will happen, because nothing bad ever happens to people wearing helments. Even so, better safe than sorry, so here's ICEdot, the helment that will alert others if you go ass over tea kettle, scranus over coffee maker, vulvanus over French press, or whatever your preferred body part/beverage maker metaphor combo may be:
I've mentioned the ICEdot before, but I can't be bothered to look up where or when, so instead I'll just point out the following: A popular cyclocross star like Jeremy Powers probably has lots of friends--so many that he can program his ICEdot helment to send texts to his ten (10) closest pals in the unlikely event that his awesome skillz fail him and he goes ballsack over soda fountain machine on his next training ride.
But what about the rest of us? If you're a cyclist odds are you have few friends as it is, and if you're riding alone, well it's probably because you don't have any friends, so it's totally not viable. Take this guy I know who's not me. He doesn't really work per se, he mostly just goofs off on the Internet. He also has no friends, because nobody can stand him, so his riding basically consists of knocking around behind shopping malls in the middle of the week. Now let's say this guy gets an ICEdot helment and he crashes, which he's bound to do because he sucks so bad. Then the ICEdot goes into his phone's contacts, but because he's such a loser the only contact in his phone is his wife, and he's not even supposed to be riding, he's supposed to clean the house before she gets home because what the hell does he even do all day? So basically he's in pain and he's in trouble.
Thanks for nothing, ICEdot.
Of course, when you're talking about helments it's easy to get carried away by the safety aspect, but what good is being safe if you don't know where you're going? Here's a helment that purports to keep you both safe and oriented, which I'm also sure I've mentioned before at some point but can't be bothered to verify:
Yep, a helment that warns you with bright lights when you venture outside of the gentrified parts of town. It had to happen.
And lastly but certainly not leastly (as far as helments go anyway), don't forget the helment that goes pee-pee on your head:
All that's left is a helment that feeds you while you ride, but I expect the Kickstarter to launch any day now.
And now lastly lastly, here's a video to which I was alerted by Stevil Kinevil:
If that guy had a MindReader helment, the "Fucking Moron" light would be strobing like crazy.