RE: [CR]Info needed on .... Bailen cycle helmet

(Example: Racing)

From: "chris ioakimedes" <>
To: "'HM & SS Sachs'" <>, <>, "'Classic Rendezvous'" <>, <>
Subject: RE: [CR]Info needed on .... Bailen cycle helmet
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2004 16:35:25 -0800
In-Reply-To: <>

I rode 40 miles in the rain today wearing my Bailen helmet. I like to use it on rainy days because by not having vent holes, it is waterproof. Mine is also bright yellow which is good in bad weather/visibility conditions. I also have the MSR, but its sweat band in the front has deteriorated and needs to be replaced. It does have 3/8" holes to let air in, heat out and rain in. In addition, I have a skid lid and I agree that it won't do much in a hard impact. Both the Bailen and the MSR work much better than modern helmets for protecting one's head from branches. chris ioakimedes fairfax california

-----Original Message----- From: [] On Behalf Of HM & SS Sachs Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 2004 3:18 PM To:; Classic Rendezvous; Subject: [CR]Info needed on .... Bailen cycle helmet

Dale's note (not copied) addresses Don's first paragraph, but his second seems to address the infamous "Skid Lid." Please let me help with some sequencing and comments.

I am quite sure that the first "real" helmet that would come close to current standards and was manufactured in the US was the Mountain Safety Research/MSR. I wrote them in 72 or 73 to ask them to make a bike helmet, patterned after their climbing helmet (but without a brim). Conversation ensued: they had prototypes available, medium only. So, I passed the medium around among some junior racers in Corvallis (OR), to see if they could stand wearing it while training, especially on the rollers. It passed. The helmet was a hard shell, with a styrofoam ring headband and removable sweatband. The top impact was not handled by foam, but by nylon webbing and deformable steel links. It had 4 holes each fore and aft, about 1.5 cm diameter. It was not perfect, but quite professional.

I'm not sure if the Bailen (Australian) or the Bell Biker came next, but I would assume the Bailen, but not by much. The Bailen was unique in having hardshell inside and out, and the head was held in a hard-hat type web assembly. If you head was small relative to the shell size, you got air flow. And the converse was true, too. The very last issue of the LAW's monthly magazine before the name changed had a cover picture of three kids (7 or 8 yrs old) in their Bailen helmets at a Mel Kornbluh Family Tour. The middle one was our son, now 28...

The Bell Biker was a radical shape, with 4 NACA-type air inlets on each side and three on top, plus reflective tape.

All of these, except the Bailen, used a Double-D-ring strap attachment instead of the buckles we now have.

And then there was the Skid-Lid. By the time it was introduced, it was well known that its design was useless except to keep hair in place or perhaps prevent abrasions. Soft, deformable foam, incomplete shell whose "fingers" did not meet at the crown. If I recall correctly, they advertized that it was designed to come off after an impact! There is still a sense of bitterness that the proprietors of the firm were said to have fought all attempts to get the ANSI Z90.1 impact test accepted. I was told that shortly after it was accepted, the firm declared bankruptcy; rumors were that there were already several court suits about its defective design.

Randy Swart's Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute did a lot to represent cyclists' interest in these processes, and they have a fine web site at

If someone wants to post pix of these early helmets (Dale?), I'd be happy to shoot pix and send them.

harvey sachs McLean VA.

Don Gilles wrote:

I believe that the "Bailen Bucket" helmet was the first or second plastic helmet released for bicycles in the USA. Along with my very first raleigh grand prix, my parents bought me a bell biker helmet in either mid 1973 or maybe january of 1974. i think that the bailen bucket was the only other non-hairnet helmt available at that time - they might have preceded Bell by a few months or maybe a year.

Sadly, the Bailen Bucket was not a great helmet. It very much looked like an enlarged "thumb protector" in that it was a hard circular headband with 4 wide tangs at 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock that went up towards the cranial peak, but did not meet nor connect. Because they did not connect the headband did not have much stiffness to resist ovalizing (your head) during an impact. I think that helmet was lined with open-cell foam, so that with even a light impact your head would hit the shell at nearly full speed.

I believe that this is exactly the helmet used by competitors in the movie "Breaking Away" during the "Little Indy 500" race in the movie.

- Don Gillies
San Diego, CA