Friday, 27 July 2007

Lids lids lids ...

Brought a new crash helmet yesterday. Like most riders I have grown up with helmet compulsion and cannot remember the good old days when it was permissible to wear a beret, leather flying helmet, or flat cap and goggles. Or nothing at all.

Much as I believe in the right of consenting adults to decide whether to wear a helmet or not - personally I always would, compulsion or not.
But given that we are compelled - we are also doubly penalised.

1.Why is VAT charged on helmets when other safety equipment ( builders' hard hats and steel toe-capped boots etc) are tax exempt ? When VAT was first brought in under Harold Wilson the rationale was that it was a tax on luxury goods. A helmet is hardly a luxury when you face a fine and penalty points (or even imprisonment) for not wearing one.

2. Why are helmets so bloody expensive ? A top of the range helmet can go for more
than I have paid for some bikes. And why is it that if you want a plain colour or style, this is only available at the very top end of the market or at the very bottom end of the market ? In between, helmets are covered in the kind of gaudy graphics that everywhere else died out in the eighties.

My own preference is for the traditional
black open face (or as they call them in the US; 3/4 helmets). Maybe it doesn't give as much protection as a full face but then I am more concerned with saving my brain than my good looks. And of course there is a style aspect to it - I choose not to look like Darth Vada.

But to get such a simple classic helmet the choice is either the very cheapest Chinese-made copies of long-discontinued styles, all of which seem to fit badly (and whatever the
kite mark standard, a helmet that doesn't fit is useless), or , at the most expensive end there is the retro style craft-made option.

I have opted for the latter, which is supposed to be the Rolls-Royce of helmets. And at the price it bloody well should be.

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