We’re not going to assume that everyone enjoys wearing a helmet when they ride, and while we are of the mindset that safety is always a top priority, we realize not everyone shares our opinion about helmets. For a lot of riders, the decision is made for you based on the particular laws of that state but if given complete freedom to choose, what’s your position on wearing a helmet?

  • Old MOron

    I sure am glad we have these moronic polls instead of JB’s MOronic poetry as he rides the K1600 Bagger back from North Carolina.

    “BMW is launching its new K1600 Bagger to the world in a couple weeks in North Carolina, and they said we could ride one home to California if we wanted to … The … idea was shot down immediately. JB needs to be back populating the MO web the next day, not meandering back on a five-day road trip blogging moto-poetry along the way!”
    http://www.motorcycle.com/features/whatever-the-good-old-days.html

  • schizuki

    “Timmy, have you ever run out of gas while you’re riding? Have you ever owned a scooter? Have you ever seen a grown man naked? Do you like movies about gladiators?”

    • Starmag

      Nailed it.

    • Douglas

      You forgot “Timmy, have ya ever been in a Turkish prison?”….

  • ColoradoS14

    Only time I have not worn one was when I was just heading around the block after a chain adjustment or something like that. I will say that it feels great without the lid, but man the consequences… All helmet all the time for me.

    • Eric

      Local dealer’s mechanics would do the same thing when moving or checking their work. Then one of them slipped on an oil spot and fractured his skull. Now they have a helmet policy. Even the low-speed stuff can hurt you…

      • john phyyt

        Seems that lady Stunt rider died at Low MPH.

      • John A. Stockman

        Even a low-speed knock on the head, from the distance your head is above the pavement, can have deadly consequences, or life-changing effects. Just sitting still, at about 6ft above the ground and falling so your head hits a solid object, will generate a g-force spike that can cause severe head injuries or death. Add in 10-20mph, well it’s obvious. That Indian Larry guy died from head injury going approx. 20mph, head hit a curb. Sure helmets are not a panacea of protection, but the old adages about increased neck injuries and decreased vision that come from the no-helmets crowd have been dis-proven for decades now. Some still cling to it, like laying ‘er down or using the front brake will flip you over. I can only control what I do, but through my own experiences I won’t ride with someone or a group of someones that don’t wear a helmet. Their riding skill levels are either negatively affected by not wearing one, or they simply think they’re good enough to not wear any gear or get some training and/or practice.

  • Matt O

    i’ve ridden without my helmet exactly one time, just to see what it felt like. It was great! until i got to about 50 mph, that wind blast in the eyes is no fun. turned around pretty much immediately.

    • 12er

      My visor is up below 50 as I like the air flow and I wear wrap around shades but a 50mph grasshopper to the forehead will reset your brain.

  • Jack Meoph

    To not wear a helmet is a choice, but it’s a bad choice. Even if CA didn’t have mandatory helmet laws, I would wear a full face helmet. I’ve seen what not wearing a helmet, and not wearing proper gear, does to people. No thanks. I learned to ride motorcycles during a time when helmets were pretty much plastic shells with a thin layer of foam and an even thinner layer of padding, and dedicated motorcycle gear was almost non-existent. Today, we not only live in a time of the best motorcycles to ever grace the stealerships, but we live in a time when we have top notch protective gear for any climate condition and any budget.

  • JWaller

    I don’t know how people ride without a helmet. My helmet’s face shield always get spattered by bugs and occasionally gets smacked by a rock. I see cruiser riders mostly wearing no helmet around TX, with the occasional sportbike or ADV guy going without a helmet. It makes no sense.

    • hedrek

      I love to watch helmetless riders deal with winter and rain and dust storms. It’s hilarious.

    • John A. Stockman

      I would wear my helmet no matter what the law is. My grandfather rode when there were no helmets. When the very first “safety” helmet hit the market, IIRC it was a Bell 3/4, he bought one immediately. Said it was the best thing to happen to riders at that point. He also used ear protection, from the time I can remember. Without a helmet, the wind noise is horrific, Try it at about 60mph. Maybe poseurs who just ride down the street, or to a bar, don’t realize how much damage can occur, but I’ve seen the results from those who never thought to wear some form of ear plugs. It’s not just the dB level, but the frequency of the combination of road noise and wind noise. Being hit by large bumble bees, small birds and numerous little rocks, etc. on the helmet, I would’ve been knocked unconscious or off the bike by many of those objects if I hadn’t been wearing my helmet. False sense of security? Maybe someone who doesn’t have much experience, but when wind/road noise isn’t distracting me, nor being afraid of whatever might hit me in the head or eye, I can focus on being AWARE of what’s going on around me and reacting before I lose my choices.

  • Eric

    I used to ride with an open face (3/4) helmet and glasses. Worked for a few years until I had a rock break my cheekbone. Now it’s full-face or modular 100%.

    And it’s not just crash/impact protection. One cold evening when temps were in the low 40’s I stopped for coffee. There was a pudding bowl dude in the lot getting back on his cruiser. He was clearly in pain as his face appeared to have severe wind burn and possible frostbite. Gave him a bandana I carry and he was very grateful.

  • John B.

    To square this poll with the reality I see on the streets, I need to know what percentage of helmetless riders can read.

    • schizuki

      Before or after they crash?

    • Gabriel Owens

      You will see a lot of people without one in Texas. You know the types. No helmet, but loud pipes because theyre “safer”.

    • E-Nonymouse A

      haha wonder if the poll asks how many riders wear riding specific foot wear or flipflops. To this day the most ridiculous visual is me getting pulled over for a traffic offense largely because I was wearing shorts (but was wearing: full helmet, riding jacket, riding boots and gloves) while a dude on a Harley wearing pajamas and flip flops rides right past (on the opposite side of the intersection from) me as i’m being interrogated by a state patrolman.

  • Gabriel Owens

    Have I ever ridden without a helmet? Yes.
    Is it foolish? Yes

  • Randy R. Lebel

    12% of people will be eating their cheeseburgers through a straw…

  • JWHunnicutt

    Remember, the poll said “no judgement!” Can a helmet save your melon? Of course!! Do some choose not to wear one?? That again is of course but that doesn’t make them stupid or morons. Granted most KoolAid drinkers don’t wear lids but for them it’s a matter of style. I think of wearing a helmet as a comfort just like gloves. I don’t wear one around the itty bitty town I live in but I do wear a modular anytime I go out on the highway and it’s not for the reason you might think. I’m allergic to bee stings and my doctor warned me a couple of years ago that if I didn’t want to find out what a respirator felt like in the ICU I should probably protect my neck and noggin from the little beasties that I’ve developed an allergy to.

    Wear a lid or not, it doesn’t effect my life one iota. I do get a kick out of the aforementioned KoolAid drinkers stating that they would “NEVER” wear shorts and ride a bike but don’t bother protecting their head. To each his own.

    • bvail

      You should also secure the cuffs on your jacket. I got bit three times by a yellowjack. Not allergic, but it sure did hurt for a few days.

      • JWHunnicutt

        Funny you should mention that. Two years ago my brother-in-law came out to Wyoming to visit and drug his HD with him so I could take him up over the Beartooth. On the way back I asked him if he wanted to ride a Victory Cross Country and of course he jumped at the chance. I was wearing a long sleeve shirt with the cuffs rolled up which isn’t an issue on the Victory. I hopped on his bike that only had a window on it and within two miles I got nailed on the forearm. No anaphylaxis but of course I was out of commission with an arm the size of my thigh for the next five days.

    • John Smyth

      “….it doesn’t affect my life one iota.”? Wrong–indeed it does. Who is paying for the (sometimes life-long) care a helmetless crasher receives if they are not farsighted enough to have absolutely killer health and short/long term disability insurance? I would argue those who are short-sighted enough to not wear a helmet are very often those who do not have that insurance. Guess who picks up the healthcare/other bills in that case? You and me and all the other taxpayers, brother. For my money, i could give a sh*t if someone doesn’t wear a helmet (even tho’ I think that’s cookoo), but I do think there should be an implied waiver that no one other than that rider is responsible for his healthcare costs if/when the worst happens (and yes, I know, this argument could be extended to all sorts of things like drunk driving without insurance, etc, but for now, in this context, it’s apropos). For something proven to save lives and reduce injuries, I want my tax dollars spent on other, more worthwhile things than those freedom-lovin’ fools who ride without.

  • wolzybk

    I always do; my risk tolerance is lower than that. I understand why people ride without, though — it feels *really* darn good.

    Each person should be free to choose for himself, according to his own risk tolerance, just as he does when choosing to (or not to) ride in the first place.

  • RyYYZ

    So only 10% of the people here would consider taking a spin down the block to hit the convenience store or gas station without their helmet? Or from place to place around the race track? Or is it that only 10% will admit to it?

    • Jason

      Never been on a racetrack but the farthest I’ve ridden my bike without a helmet is from my driveway into my garage. If the bike is on a road I have a helmet and gloves on.

      I have very rarely run down to the store or around the block without a jacket or riding pants though.

      • 12er

        My stich just makes it too easy, 10 secs on / off and a plethora of pockets to stuff whatever in.

    • 12er

      I just camped at Sonoma for Moto AM and Laguna Seca back in July, I wear my lid rolling around at the track. Buddy was asking and I said “its your head” he put his on as well. Many o pit bike zooming about with nothing, to each their own.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    No helmet law in Alaska. Was there in June. Local riders don’t wear helmets, only sunglasses with their hair flying in the wind. The only riders with helmets are out of state visitors on rented bikes.

    • bvail

      Really? I didn’t rent my bike and rode it from Denver to AK and back. I did have a getoff up in the Yukon and that would have be the end of my trip if I wasn’t ATTGATT.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        These are visitors who rent bikes in Alaska.

    • Bryan Spears

      I live in AK, and ride every day that there is no snow/ice on the road. I’d say 3/4 of cruiser riders do not wear helmets, but the vast majority of people on other styles of bike wear helmets. I wear full gear 95% of the time (skipping gloves for quick trips to the store less than a mile away). If you’re <18, a passenger, or do not have other eye protection (including a windscreen at least 15"), then you are required to wear a helmet.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Yes, I know passengers are required to wear a helmet. I rented a bike from Motoquest and did a two day tour of Central Alaska. Back in Anchorage I had to give my helmet (which I brought with me from CA) to a passenger and ride bare headed for half a day. Haven’t done that in 30 years.

        • Bryan Spears

          Speaking of renting bikes.. some guy at my work who I see every now and then, and whose name I do not know, came up to me a few months ago and asked “That’s your Ducati out there, right? Do you mind if I borrow it to get my motorcycle license again? I am going to rent a bike out of state in a few weeks.” Heh.

          If I remember correctly, this isn’t the first time I heard you say that you came to AK to ride. Have you been to Hatcher Pass? Taken the ride between Anchorage and Seward?

          • Sayyed Bashir

            I go to Alaska almost every year to volunteer with the Park Service at Denali or Forest Service south of Anchorage. This June is the first time I rented a bike. I went to Tok, then up to Delta Junction where I spent the night, then came down Richardson Highway, one of the most beautiful rides in the world. Next year I may go down to Valdez, the most beautiful part of the Richardson Highway. This year we worked on Spencer Glacier which you can only go to by train, then worked in the historic gold town of Hope which is on the way to Seward. I have been to Denali a couple of times by train but not by road.

  • is that even a question a rider should ask himself ? Helmets are proven to save lives. There is absolutely no excuse not to wear them. If you dont wear them it’s like a suicide.

  • I wear a helmet, you don’t, so what. I do not care, it is none of my business what you do.

    August 23rd, 2017 will mark 51 years on two wheels, I love helmets. Always have. I bought my first Bell Star back in 1969 [bright orange] the day I picked up my Mach III. Wearing a helmet was part of the fun of motorcycles.

  • Joe Romaella

    I get a chuckle reading responses from self professed safety nazi’s that know better than anyone else, what I, or anyone else, “SHOULD” do.
    (are these “experts” govt. employees ?)
    As a long time rider.. (50+ yrs), retired health care professional, I’ve seen what a helmet can, & can’t do. I will agree a helmet CAN prevent or minimize injuries in an accident. Unfortunately, IMO, too much trust is (can be) placed on a helmet, instead of
    learning to focusing attention on accident avoidance.Yeah, some accidents are avoidable. Most I’ve witnessed were more from poor judgment, or rider error.
    I’ve ridden around the U.S., Canada, Mexico, & in Japan, both with & w/o wearing a helmet. Still alive..imagine that. Helmets are / should be a personal choice.
    Some may find this hard to believe, that I wear a helmet mostly to role model for other riders.

    • Douglas

      Yep, exactly, just like seat belts. I don’t get into wrecks, no point in doing so….and I don’t believe there’s such a thing as an “accident”….

    • denchung

      The argument seems pretty flawed to me, the idea that helmets create a false sense of security that lets people feel like they don’t need to pay as much attention. Yes, focusing attention and accident avoidance is important, but it’s not like it’s just one or the other with helmets. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Helmets actually allow you to focus on your riding by keeping the wind off your face and the noise out of your ears. The more comfortable you are, the better you will ride. I ride at freeway speeds in heavy traffic every weekday and couldn’t do it without a full face helmet and ear plugs. Also a heavy leather jacket, leather over pants, leather gloves, motorcycle boots and dark sunglasses.

      • mike no

        I ride in Atla traffic and I never ride without my helmet, I have seen bikes wreck in my 52 years of riding. As for Joe, I have not read here where anybody told him what he should do.

    • TriumphRider87

      Look at the data. If you’re in a crash while riding, you’re ~30% more likely to die if you’re not wearing a helmet.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3228469

      Why are you so offended by this? People will also tell you you shouldn’t walk in front of a freight train, grab a live power line with bare hands, or eat cyanide – would you find those offensive enough to call those people Nazis too?

    • Joe Romaella

      I wonder if many responders have difficulty with reading comprehension. My statement was not made to provoke an argument, or meant to influence other’s point of view. It was a statement of my beliefs. When I choose to ride w/o a helmet , it’s my choice. Others opinions are just that..THEIR OPINION…unfortunately, respondents think what they write is going to change my mind. That they possess knowledge or experience that I lack, & if I read what they write, I’ll become enlightened & see their point of view is better / more correct than my own.

      I would never criticize anyone for wearing the safety gear they choose to wear.
      That is their choice, just as it is mine to wear (or not wear) what I want when I ride.
      Though I do usually wear a helmet..& goggles/glasses, gloves, boots.
      I DO enjoy the option of being able to ride w/o one if & when I choose.

  • Glenn

    I never ride unless I have full protective gear on. I always wear a helmet. I do not like the feel of riding without a helmet on. The breeze in the face feeling soon becomes bugs in the face and that is definitely not a good feeling.

  • Bruce

    About 10 years ago I high sided at 55 wearing a 3/4 with a full visor. The helmet itself was unmarked, but the visor was ground down almost completely through the plastic…. I might have lived without the helmet, but I wouldn’t have had a face.

  • Bmwclay

    In 1972, I wore a helmet once, and crashed hard. Never again.

  • mikstr

    Riding without a helmet (more specifically a full-face helmet) is providing proof that you have nothing worth protecting. Darwin had it right all along…..

  • Auphliam

    Why do poll entries always have some added justification to each response. It’s an easy enough question, with really only 3 answers…Yes, No, Sometimes

    By adding qualifiers to specific answers, you’re actually marginalizing and/or eliminating responses…and in turn, skewing the results of your poll.

  • Uncommon Sense

    I’ve ridden around the block without a helmet, but that is about the extent of it. I don’t like the feeling of not riding with a helmet. I don’t see the pleasure of getting hit in the face with bugs and debris. Even though the speeds are relatively slow where I ride it is fast enough to do some serious damage to your noggin if you aren’t careful.

    I’m not an ATGATT nazi. When I am putzing around my little town, I basically just wear my helmet. Shorts and t-shirt. I figure the odds are largely in my favor. I literally ride 2 miles to my office and it is far too impractical to gear up. Rarely ever get above 35 mph. However, if I am going to actually get out on the open road or highway or anywhere with sustained speeds above 50 mph consistently, I usually will at a minimum wear my gloves and riding jacket along with helmet. Sometimes riding boots.

    We all have to gauge how much risk we are willing to take. Helmets are not required here in IL and I’d guess 75% of the cruiser riders I see don’t wear helmets. Most of the sport bike and other style riders do. I don’t think there should be a law mandating helmet use but in my opinion, people that don’t wear them don’t value their lives.

  • Phil Rounds

    I once spoke to a person on this very subject…safety gear. He was of the opinion that it was optional. I asked, “What happens if you fall?” to which he replied, “You just never fall.”
    A couple of years later, he fell.

  • elgar

    From my experience…I choose to wear a helmet at all times. Waaay back as a very young teen, I crashed/fell/slid down numerous times on my dirtbikes and I visibly saw the ground moving about an inch away from my mouth, nose, eyes at a high rate of speed. If not for the full face helmet I was wearing, I don’t imagine my face or teeth would be as pretty as they are currently, and nor would I be as cogent as well. Experiences and lessons learned from youth tend to have an impact on one’s manner of thinking and perspective. We’re all free to do as we wish, and I’m cool with all that understand and fully accept the reality that decisions do have consequences. Choose wisely friends!

    • hedrek

      As a criminal defense attorney I meet a lot of irresponsible people, hence a lot of people with bad head injuries. Gun shots, car wrecks and helmet free motorcycle accidents.

  • Jack Lefkowitz

    Wear what you want. And if you want to use your own head as a helmet, fine. Just remember, nobody ever mounted their bike, ever, thinking, “Yeah, this’ll be the day the accident happens.” Ask any ER case, but then, they probably can’t answer you.

  • David Cogswell

    Having gone over the handlebars of my Triumph Thunderbird, 2 years ago I was glad I was wearing a full faced helmet, even though I live in live free or die no helmet law New Hampshire. I had over 50 years riding experience at the time, my brain was a little scrambled but the only real injury was sore wrists because I didn’t let go I guess.

  • Buzzsaw52

    My brother and I have been riding for 30+ years. We always use helmets just to keep the bugs and rocks from our eyes/faces. We both have had low speed wrecks and the helmets help a lot, not so sure for anything over 30mph though. The law of physics apply when you run into a car, metal guardrail, or tree at speed.

  • Ron H

    I think the numbers got turned around somehow.. I see about 2% wearing helmets and 82% not.. the other 16% aren’t riding when I am so can’t say about them.

  • bgreen2266

    I don’t ride a Bicycle without a helmet

  • bgreen2266

    lets discuss something less controversial. Lane splitting

  • Bill Oakes

    Rode first leg of trip to Yellowstone from Falls Church to St Louis MO. Hit three hail storms along the way and rode 15hrs on a ZX14. Hail, I thought and from experience, was pretty uniform in size. Meaning if it’s golf size it’s all golf size if smaller it’s all smaller. At night and in traffic a big chunk of ice hit my face shield and cracked it. If I had not had a full face helmet It would have dropped me in fast moving traffic. You can image the rest. Will never ride without a full face helmet. The evening I got there Ferguson broke out. Before I even got out of VA the biggest black bear I have ever seen, even on TV, ran in front of me on the Highway. Always wear a full face lid!!!

  • symun buuntw

    Riding wth helmet is better thn no helmet at all.

  • Gary

    California, where I live now, requires it. So I always wear one.

    When I first started riding in the mid 70s in the deep south, helmets were optional. I most often wore one, but sometimes I didn’t. Channeling my inner rebel. Probably only 5 percent of the time.

    Would I ever go helmet-less again if it became optional in Cali-fornicate? Probably not. Age has a way of bringing mortality into sharp focus.

  • Gary

    Here is a follow-on question:

    Who is at higher risk, the Harley rider chuffing down the freeway with nothing but a bandana on his/her head, or the sport-bike squid, riding through a canyon at nine-tenths, wearing a full-coverage Shoei?

    • mike no

      To answer, I am a 67 year old Harley rider, been riding 52 years. I never get on my bike without my ZR1 helmet. I have been known to crank it up sitting in the drive way but never ride without helmet.

  • patrick Callahan

    My brother crashed when I was in high school, he suffered major head trauma and nearly died, it took him about a year to learn to speak. He wasn’t wearing a helmet!
    I have been riding for 50 years, I’m 62 and love sport bikes. My current ride is a CB1000R, and my helmet is a Shoei RF1200. I always wear my helmet……

  • John Holcombe

    Live in a helmet law state. In 1993 visited 30+states and enjoyed riding w/o helmet. Got home and gave away my Kawasaki Vulcan, and Honda S/S. Sometime ride the little ladies Honda, to get gas. Started riding in 1958 and wrecked/crashed/used up helmets several times. Wife didn’t want to wear fullface because of makeup, etc. Wouldn’t let her ride. She saved what is left of her first helmet when she went face first over a curb. I will buy a new M8 Softtail the day I can ride w/o a helmet. Should be my choice. We both have modulars, but mine is still in the box it came in.

  • 2chilled4u

    I wear a Helmet and a Leatte neck brace, plus jacket, gloves and ankle boots on and off-road. Riding pants when I am doing longer distances. Been riding for 30 years and plan to ride another 30 at least. They wont stop the morons in cages from taking me out, but they improve my chances. The Leatte brace is great on long trips, takes pressure off your neck muscles, but it takes some practice using it in traffic.

  • William Buffton

    If Hailwood, Agostini and Reed needed helmets, who the hell thinks they’re so damn good that they don’t need a helmet?

  • StripleStrom

    OK, so truth time. I ALMOST always wear a helmet. But sometimes on a really nice and hot summer day I have been known to do a short country ride to the nearest town in sandals (not flip flops), shorts, and a tee shirt. The benefits are worth the risk at that time.