May 28, 2010 6 Comments
Ah, the ’80s, an era that gave us hairstyles as varied as teased bangs, the rocker mullet, the side ponytail, and the always classic Flock of Seagulls. But all this reminiscing about hair brings us around to our subject of helmets, and, as you can read in this Bicycling magazine article,the bicycle helmet saw its fair share of changes in the decade of the ’80s as well. Looking back through the pages of our catalog archives, you can trace that evolution as it progressed from the humble leather “hairnet” to the high-tech (for it’s day) original Giro Prolight. Sadly no mullets made an appearance on our models.
Here in one of our earliest catalogs, from 1983, you can see the full assortment of hard shell bike helmets available. The Bell Biker, top left, was the very first bicycle helmet made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam bonded to a hard plastic shell. One major drawback with the Bell Biker, other than the size and weight, was that the overhang from the shell was so big that you could barely see when you were down in the drops. Our personal favorite from this era was the Brancale Sport helmet, top right, but only because it looks like the one worn by Belov in American Flyers!
But for the racing enthusiast of the day, hard shell helmets were still too heavy and poorly ventilated. The leather “hairnet” style helmet still ruled the peleton, as ably demonstrated in this vintage photo of “Breakaway” Bob, one of the distributors in our bike division. Basically thin strips of foam wrapped in leather, these lightweight helmets provided relatively little impact protection. Read more of this post