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Bell Biker bicycle helmet, 1970s

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Bell Biker bicycle helmet, 1970s
Photo by Melissa Lew


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Bicycle Collection — Bicycle History from the late 19th century

On the Interstate:  I-10, 1956–1990
On the Interstate: I-10, 1956–1990 — Safety

Bicycle helmet
Catalog #: 2002.0250.01, Accession #: 2002.0250
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
This helmet was worn by the donor, an avid bicyclist, in 1979. Cyclists have always been concerned about head injuries. In 1975, Bell Helmets Inc. manufactured one of the first effective safety helmets for cyclists using a polystyrene foam liner covered by a lexan hard shell.
Physical Description

Artifact. Dimension: Overall - 10 1/2" L x 8 3/4" W x 13 1/2" H (metric: 26.67 x 22.225 x 34.29cm). Size: 7 1/4". Materials: Polystyrene, Lexan. Color: White and red. This helmet is white with red tape on its outer shell and red straps. The liner has nine foam pads that are worn down by use. The pads are held onto the liner by Velcro, allowing the pads to be replaced when the helmet no longer fits snuggly on the rider's head.

Date Made:
Dates Used:
1975 - 1982
Dist of Columbia
object around the DC area
Gift of Neal L. Grotenstein
In the early years of cycling not many people wore helmets. Some riders donned pith helmets and racing cyclists would wear leather head covers mostly to protect themselves from scrapes and abrasions in case they were thrown from their bike. Later in the twentieth century, hockey and motor cycle helmets were tried but they were not effective and the latter was uncomfortable. During the 1970s, the foam lined lightweight plastic shell cover helmet was introduced on the market for cyclists. These protected against head injury and were more comfortable to wear.

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