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Bell Biker bicycle helmet, 1970s

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Bell Biker bicycle helmet, 1970s
Photo by Melissa Lew

IN CONTEXT

This object appears in the following sections:


Technology
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.

Details
Date Made:
1977
Dates Used:
1975 - 1982
Locations:
Dist of Columbia
Note:
object around the DC area
Credit:
Gift of Neal L. Grotenstein
History
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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