There is absolutely no reason for road cyclists to wear helmets with visors. Visors are more of a threat for road cyclists than a help.
Why don’t the helmets need visors? Because road cyclists aim to be aerodynamic and visors cause a major drag, slowing down the cyclist. Being on the open road means fewer obstacles to face that a visor can help with, and therefore, a visor would not serve its purpose. In fact, visors on road bike helmets have proved to be more of a safety risk and potential threat than a benefit.
Understanding the reasons why road bikes do not need helmets will be valuable for all biking enthusiasts. It will help novice road cyclists weigh the pros and cons, and come to a well-informed decision when faced with the question of, “does my helmet really need a visor?”
There are also little known threats that visors may potentially cause to road bikers when they wear them. Understanding these risks will help future and current bikers when deciding on purchasing a helmet with a visor.
Why a Visor Doesn’t Belong on a Road Bike
A visor on a road bike is more of a hazard than a benefit. As mentioned, visors certainly cause drags and slow a rider down. That alone detours a bike rider from wearing a helmet with a visor, due to the visor physically working against their goals.
However, they also pose a risk when it comes to blocking a riders’ field of vision.
Think about it, visors are designed to block the field of vision and shield a bike rider’s eyes from the sun and flying debris. How safe is that out on the open road when cyclists are surrounded by vehicles zooming past them in every direction?
Doesn’t that sound like a major safety issue? The visor directly blocks the field of vision, impeding a biker from being able to be completely sure of their surroundings.
What about the glaring sun? Although most road bike riders keep their heads down, once again to benefit themselves when it comes to aerodynamics, the sun can still be a pest. What the majority of road bike riders do is purchase a cycling cap and/or sunglasses. Both work just as well as a visor without posing the safety risk that a visor can out on the open road.
The Purpose of a Road Bike
A road bike is exactly what it sounds like, a bike out on the open road. Riders who enjoy this sport aim to go as fast as they can, and as far as they can in the quickest amount of time. The key to going fast is aerodynamics.
If you were to spot a road cyclist out riding, you would see they try to be as sleek as possible. This type of cyclist takes every precaution to be aerodynamic from their helmets to their tight fighting shirts and shorts, even to the way they position themselves on their bikes; low and tight.
Those who bike out on the open road have enough challenges without incorporating issues that can be avoided. There are many factors that cannot be avoided at all. Other pedestrians, cars, semi-trucks, dogs, cats, and other wildlife, all pose threats to a cyclist because of the quick and sudden movements they each make.
A road cyclist has enough working against him/her, so why add more to it by wearing a helmet with a visor that is not needed?
When a cyclist is out riding, their main goal is to be as fast and as safe as possible, limiting any obstacles in their way. Their helmets are made to be as aerodynamic as possible, carefully constructed to replicate the shape of ahead. Air is able to flow up and over the helmet, thus lowering the chance of a drag. Most riders also help by crouching down as well.
The Purpose of a Visor
A visor serves its purpose on a riding helmet in some instances, just not on a road bike helmet.
A rough-terrain bike rider has different types of obstacles than an open road bike rider has. These riders deal with a multitude of mud and gravel slinging out in every direction, as well as low hanging tree branches that could cause an injury. A visor helps to protect a rider from each of these potential hazards.
A visor is useful when a bike rider is not worried about speed and being aerodynamic-something a road cyclist is most definitely conscious of.
While visors do a great job at protecting a cyclist’s eyes, they actually pose more of a threat than a benefit for open road bikers.
The History of the Helmet
The start of the 20th century brought clarity to biking enthusiasts. Through research and analysis, it was discovered that the most common injuries and the highest rate of fatalities that bicyclists were reporting were none other than head injuries. These head injuries, researchers concluded, could be prevented, or at the very least lessened, with protection on a bikers head.
In order to provide cyclists with safer rides and peace of mind, early helmets were constructed to protect bike riders while allowing them to continue with the hobby they enjoyed.
The helmets they first started to use had rings of leather and wool. Eventually evolving to having more strips of leather surrounding the entire head. Inventors thought this would be a source of protective padding. However, it was found that these inventions were slightly better than wearing nothing at all, but still, a larger safety change was needed.
The next variance was a hard exterior with a foam liner. Upon testing and research, these were still not as effective as desired due to their heavyweight and inability to withstand a crash. The foam did not protect as well as inventors had once thought.
The ’70s brought the start of a helmet evolution when The Snell Group, founded in 1957 after Pete Snell died in a crash while wearing an ineffective helmet, decided to take on the challenge of the issue with helmets out on the market. After discovering that most of the helmets on the market were still ineffective, they took it upon themselves to establish a new set of criteria for biking helmets.
Later still, in 1984, The American National Standards Institute came up with a set of standards for bicycle helmets. These new standards have paved the way for the helmets out on the market today. Each year the styles get sleeker and the safety modifications are improved upon.
It is widely agreed upon not only in the bicycling community but in general from a safety aspect, that helmets are an absolute necessity. When a bike rider chooses to wear a helmet while out on a ride, they are making a conscious effort to stay as safe as they possibly can.
Some road bike riders choose to wear helmets with visors because they feel they can work around the vision obstructions and prefer a visor to sunglasses, goggles, or caps.
Most road bikers, though, opt for no visor. There have just been too many reports of vision hindrances, accidents, and even fatalities.
When looking at the statistics, they prove that visors on road bike helmets do more harm than good. The same cannot be said for another type of bikers, as they face different obstacles. Many states in American have actually set forth laws that require bicyclists to wear a helmet. There are no laws requiring a visor.
Given the information, there is no need for a road biker to wear a helmet with a visor. Visors cause more harm than good on the open road, and therefore, are not favored.