TCI Friday

I stopped, because we all stopped maybe. I’m not sure why we stopped. When grambling, you don’t need a great reason to stop, because stopping is just part of it. Also, the more people you have along, the more likely one of them is to need do something that requires not moving.

Bruce rolled up behind me, which I took particular notice of, because normally Bruce will run into me when we stop. It’s one of the things we do. I run into him. He runs into me. Then we make an apology that’s not an apology. It’s fun. Try it.

Gravel – For Reference

Anyway, there was Bruce, suddenly standing behind me, and I noticed he had a mountain bike helmet on. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll refer to any helmet with a brim as a mountain bike helmet, while a brimless helmet we’ll call a road helmet. I know there are other helmets (crash, commuter, BMX, etc.), but for this particular Friday, we’ll pretend there are just the two kinds.

I said, “Is gravel riding a mountain helmet activity?”

And he said, “Is it not?” not understanding that I was asking an actual question and not trying to entrap him in some sort of low-brow insult. Then he said, “Actually, this is my only helmet that’s not disgusting, so I wear it for everything right now.”

I did not point out that the distance between where we were standing and the point where that helmet would become disgusting was maybe not as far as he thought. I was actually looking for information.

I had on a road helmet. To be more precise, I had on a road helmet with a cycling cap, which is what I normally do, in effect making a brimless helmet have a brim. Still, somehow I see a distinction here where clearly there is no difference. The cap, as long as we’re down this rabbit hole, is actually there as a sweat absorbent. It is only ever partially successful in this role, but I take what I can get.

I looked around at the rest of our group, a few mountain helmets, a few road.

I asked out loud, “What is the right helmet for gravel? Road or mountain?” The few who acknowledged the question shrugged, blinked, and said nothing.

We should all thank our lucky stars that no one in the bike biz has yet come to market with a gravel-specific helmet. I don’t like to imagine the product managers out there are so cynical that they think they can sell us anything as ludicrous as tap water in a bottle, but you never know.

I’ll be honest with you. If you were to chime in here with the somehow verifiable correct answer to the question, I’m not at all convinced that it would change my behavior, but this week’s TCIF asks, what helmet do you wear for gravel? The road or the MTB? The crash? The commuter? Can anyone give me any reasons that one of the two primary genre of helmets wouldn’t suffice for gravel riding? Please. Go ahead.

Join the conversation
  1. Jeff vdD says

    I wear road. Because that’s what I have.

    I suspect the best actual reason will be the supposed better back-of-head protection that MTB helmets offer. But that’s perhaps too thin a reason.

    This strikes me as being more Rules terrain than it is reason terrain. Run what ya brung.

  2. khal spencer says

    I wear whichever helmet I happen to grab. Often it is the one with the visor just to keep the sun out of my eyes, esp. if it is early or late in the day. If I am going to be going fast rather than half-fast on a gravel ride, I grab the other one with the MIPS gizmo.

    As far as your statement “…We should all thank our lucky stars that no one in the bike biz has yet come to market with a gravel-specific helmet….”

    Now you did it, Emlyn…now you did it.

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      @Khal – And I expect royalties.

  3. Dan Murphy says

    First, thanks for reminding me that I am waaaaaay overdue for a new helmet. FWIW, it’s a road helmet, my only helmet. I never understood why I needed another helmet for mtb. Never got one.

    By now, you’ve probably guessed what I use for gravel. But, I’m sure some marketing team will not disappoint us.

  4. bluezurich says

    Cottage industries hire the coolest cats straight out of marketing school and charge 50% more for the same product used elsewhere just to pay the hipster salaries. Like they say in the camera world, shoot with what you got.

    You don’t need gravel specific chamois cream.

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      @Barry – What I learned on my last ride was that I needed chamois butter, and didn’t have any, not even a pat. I would have traded my helmet for some.

  5. Jeff vdD says

    You think it’s chamois butter. But it’s not. It’s embro.

  6. khal spencer says

    Speaking of gravel-specific helmets, you all realize that you cannot be without the Acme GRV-R and GRV-D adapters that optimize your gravel bike if you ride it on the road or in dirt. Can’t be without them. Available for $499 individually or $997 as a package through your local bike shop.

  7. Dad Cat says

    I actually wear my road helmet, because on a gravel bike I’m leaned forward and my mountain helmet comes down far enough in the back to hit my neck when I’ve got my head up to look straight ahead.
    Which I am grateful for because just two days ago that part of my mountain bike helmet hit the ground mildly hard after my bike hit the tree rather hard and my body humorously demonstrated inertia.

Leave A Reply

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More