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Help mama chari helmets?

wexford

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So... The wife has now fallen off her mama chari twice with the kids on it. Well, at least with one on there. The kids both wear helmets but the wife doesn't. It's an electric bike so rather heavy. She usually gets stuck underneath it until someone comes to rescue her :-( Last fall, she was trying to pass someone and clipped a bus stop apparently. Guess she doesn't have enough experience cycling and then added on top of that the weight of kids over the front and back. Not easy.

Needless to say, I've broached the topic of getting her a helmet several times but she still insists that she won't wear a helmet. Any ideas??? I'm not liking the trend here. I think I need to find her an attractive helmet she won't think twice about wearing. Anyone gone though this? Found a nice brand that looks good, is cool and is not going to stand out so much? It's causing a bit of stress at home and I've yet to see other Japanese mama chari cyclists wearing a helmet... It's actually not so common to see kids wearing helmets either, but at least the kids are sold on that.
 

GrantT

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Oct 2, 2012
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Maybe lessons in bike handling would be a better fit?

Edit: The ideal would be to prevent falls to begin with, as helmets only offer so much protection anyway. So if there was some kind of road awareness course that could be an idea. I've fallen once on slippery asphalt while riding a mamachari with my child. He was wearing a helmet and I wasn't, but I was certainly more worried about injury to him after the fall than myself, and recognised the problem was to adjust my own attitude to how I rode the bike.
 
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wexford

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Jul 3, 2012
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Hey @GrantT. Definitely. Bike handling is probably the main issue here. Getting her to think ahead and not just go in situations because that's what she sees the majority of the other mamachari do. She forgets they grew up doing this - no excuse but... Btw... are there bike handling classes for this type of thing? Not sure I could get her to go though unless perhap I went too which I wouldn't mind doing. I could probably ride with her more also. Still - a helmet, I feel, goes a long way too as sometimes it won't be your fault.
 

Kangaeroo

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I had a strong aversion to helmets, even after crashes and being hit by cars (which probably suggests I had little for a helmet to protect anyway).
What changed it for me was this:
https://www.overade.com/shop/en/
I could fold it up and put it away. I think the novelty factor was a help. Within a few weeks of riding with a helmet, it had become indispensable.
I really hope your wife can change her mind without needing something other than advice to convince her. All the best of luck.
 

OreoCookie

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Dec 2, 2017
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I think parents who make their kids wear their helmets but don't wear one themselves set a very bad example. I wouldn't want my wife to get on any bike without a helmet, and at least in my mind this is an issue worth fighting over. (Luckily, I didn't need to with my wife, she wasn't objecting to getting a new helmet with her new bike.)

If your wife doesn't have experience riding bikes, I think these electric, two-seater bikes are not an ideal choice for beginners: they are heavy, bulky and if something goes wrong, you have 20-30 kgs laying on top of you (with kids or groceries on board). Starting to learn how to ride a bike with these, taking things like weight distribution into account is non-trivial. Is it possible to get her a cross bike in addition so that she can learn how to ride properly?* They are lighter, the weight distribution is much better and because they are so light, you don't really need an electric motor.

But even if you have great cycling skills, there is always a risk of an accident because people pull out of driveways without paying attention, cyclist go on the wrong side of the road and pedestrians do random walks without minding that they are in fact walking on the bicycle path.

Regarding helmets, there is plenty of choice, including some that I'd call “stylish”. (But what do I know about fashion?) But people who initially don't see the point in wearing a helmet will in my experience object to wearing any helmet.


* My mom thanked us tons when we replaced her mama chari-equivalent with a cross bike that had mud guards fitted. Not only was it 5 kg lighter, had better gears and way better brakes (hydraulic rim brakes), the weight was more centered which made the bike more nimble. She loves her bike and after a small accident (a car pulled out of a garage without looking, and she fell over the handlebars), she even saw the light and started wearing a helmet.
 

kiwisimon

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Dec 14, 2006
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If she is only riding on the sidewalk then I wouldn't worry about it. Speed is not so high and she's not going to get hit by a car,probably. If she wanted to use one y now she would have gotten one. Maybe just ask her to keep to the sidewalk and nothing over 20kph?
 

OreoCookie

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If she is only riding on the sidewalk then I wouldn't worry about it. Speed is not so high and she's not going to get hit by a car,probably.
You are right that speed is a factor to consider (kinetic energy scales with the square of the speed), but I would disagree about cars not being a problem: there are still driveways, quite a few Japanese cyclists cross roads when it is red and there is always the possibility of getting doored.* (On my rides I see plenty of mama charis, fully loaded with children, that cross red lights without looking.)
If she wanted to use one y now she would have gotten one. Maybe just ask her to keep to the sidewalk and nothing over 20kph?
Wanting or not wanting to wear a helmet is different from whether it is better to wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet is like wearing a seat belt: if you grow up wearing a seat belt in a world where everybody is wearing a seatbelt, you feel naked without one.

* How likely which factor is depends very much on where you live.
 

wexford

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If she is only riding on the sidewalk then I wouldn't worry about it. Speed is not so high and she's not going to get hit by a car,probably. If she wanted to use one y now she would have gotten one. Maybe just ask her to keep to the sidewalk and nothing over 20kph?

Some of the harder falls I have had were all at low speed. Never "remember" banging my head though. I think the problem is that she is currently falling off a little too much for my liking. Maybe a helmet would make her less careful too which would not be a good outcome. Sidewalks are less safe than the street though if you ask me.
 

Joe McCarthy

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If the objection is mostly aesthetic then I feel like all helmets look equally silly on a mamachari. Although foldable helmets like the one Kangaeroo mentioned really appeal to me too from a technical perspective, I doubt it would solve the problem. I might be interpreting it wrong, but it sounds like she's mostly just toppling over at low speed, so she's probably not at great risk of serious head injury. If you're determined though, you could suggest one of these Swedish inflatable helmets: https://hovding.com/ It's the only thing I can think of where you don't look like you're wearing a helmet at all. They are eye wateringly expensive though, and I imagine they'd be uncomfortable in a humid Japanese summer. They do have retailers in Japan mind you.
 

wexford

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I had a strong aversion to helmets, even after crashes and being hit by cars (which probably suggests I had little for a helmet to protect anyway).
What changed it for me was this:
https://www.overade.com/shop/en/
I could fold it up and put it away. I think the novelty factor was a help. Within a few weeks of riding with a helmet, it had become indispensable.
I really hope your wife can change her mind without needing something other than advice to convince her. All the best of luck.

Never saw anything like that before. I'll show it to her. Thanks! Might get one myself too if I ever commute to work.
 

wexford

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I think though the main thing I need to get her to do is to be more cautious and put her feet (both) down more often. The electric bikes make that easy as you can get back up to speed really easily once the coast is clear. With 2 kids loaded, getting off the line without the motor can be hard fought.
 

Chuck

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With two kids + whatever else loaded on a bike, handling is not easy for anyone. Weight distribution is messed up and it is especially difficult at slower speeds. Ever think of loading the bike with weights equivalent to kids weight then setting up some pylons or something and making a small maneuvering course she can practice on? Practicing stops, starts and slow turns at sharp angles might level up her confidence and skill. (Regardless, I'd push her to wear a helmet.)
 

armmewitharmony

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Mar 10, 2014
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Can’t dispute the benefit of wearing head protection.

Also riding skillfully and smart are critical factors in minimizing/ preventing injury or property damage.

Where do we draw the line though. Full face helmets are not common. Hip / Spine protectors? Gloves? Elbow and knee pads? Special shoes?
 

Bruno BQ

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I don't want to sound mean, but if she has trouble with the bike but needs it, one idea might be to use side wheels?
 

OreoCookie

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Where do we draw the line though. Full face helmets are not common.
Cycling accidents follow standard patterns, that are well-known by now. If you go over the bars, for example, the typical injury pattern is a side impact to the head, one shoulder and the opposite hand. That is dictated by the laws of physics (conservation of linear and angular momentum). Similar patterns arise when a cyclist is “doored” or impacted from the side. Cycling helmets are not a new invention, and they are designed to take these injury patterns into account. Full face helmets and body protectors are not necessary outside of MTB downhill riding and the like. Also, given that who we are is due to the brain, prioritizing the protection of our gray matter over, say, hands makes sense to me.
 

wexford

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I don't want to sound mean, but if she has trouble with the bike but needs it, one idea might be to use side wheels?

I reckon I'd need full body armour to even suggest that to her. It would be rather crap too. LOL.

To be honest, we have the bike around 3 years or so. We recently got a rear seat installed as we now has to carry two on it. Having ridden it myself several times with the bigger kid on the back, the dynamics of the bike have completely changed. I find it quite interesting to ride it because of this as its something new. I guess you could say that she is doing quite well having ridden around for 3 years now with only 2 accidents, both of which have happened since installing the rear seat. Just makes me nervous knowing the 3 of them are on it... I think helmets are great personally and I'd rather wear it than not (but don't always). I'm sure she'll get used to the bike's dynamics and I guess she just needs to realise that she should be more cautious when it's loaded.
 

Bruno BQ

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I see, I was thinking she never got used to the bike. If that is the case probably a bit more getting used and she should be fine.

Still if you have the bucks, I would also suggest the inflable ones, https://hovding.com/ , they will protect her even more than a normal helmet and there should be not even scratches in her face (what can be a good selling point).
 

armmewitharmony

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Mar 10, 2014
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Cycling accidents follow standard patterns, that are well-known by now. If you go over the bars, for example, the typical injury pattern is a side impact to the head, one shoulder and the opposite hand. That is dictated by the laws of physics (conservation of linear and angular momentum). Similar patterns arise when a cyclist is “doored” or impacted from the side. Cycling helmets are not a new invention, and they are designed to take these injury patterns into account. Full face helmets and body protectors are not necessary outside of MTB downhill riding and the like. Also, given that who we are is due to the brain, prioritizing the protection of our gray matter over, say, hands makes sense to me.

O-re-o cookie...

Don't mean to get stroppy but as usual I seem to be missing your point and I can't figure out if it's me or you. Probably me. So not to dispute "the laws of physics" or anything but...

Are we talking about high speed crashes in traffic or 2 or 3 block errand runs on a mamchari to the supermarket or Yochien? Eggshell skulls? (Well children do have delicate skulls and if I had children I don't know if I'd have the wife riding a mamachari with teh kids up high like that, I'd probably opt for the lower down "wagon" style kids things I've seen, TBH) Anyways, what kind of impact forces can we expect out on an everyday errand run? I accept the fact there are risks we must undertake the second we step out the door. However, though of course we are free to make up our own minds about how much protection suits each occasion, seems to me most epeople in this country and in places like (The Netherlands) who use bicycles as part of everyday life consider a crash helmet or body armor on a simple errand run as slight overkill.

Don't know what to make of it. Set me straight if I'm being a dummy.
 
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