I lived in Delhi for a few years, quite a few years and during different phases, I got hitched by a few colleagues. As I never entertained the thought of buying a bike, most of the times, I would buy a ‘topa’ from a roadside seller just before an unplanned hitch. Remember, those were days before Ola and Uber and ride sharing, and Delhi Autowalas used to be like Salman Khan, ek baar (fare) commitment kar diya to… thus, this Rs 50 topa used to be rather popular among my non-driving colleagues.
If you are not from Delhi, let me explain what a Topa is, it is one of those cheap, plastic, yellow, half helmets which you can see the construction workers wear on site. Forget a style statement, these are not even safe. We wore it only to avoid the fine (or the demand of bribe, make your choice) of Delhi police.
Why such an uninteresting story to start with? Because, I want you NOT to follow me for both the reasons. Please wear a certified and safe helmet whenever you ride and please give the same protection to the pillion rider as well. Secondly, wear something stylish because there are certainly a few different models available to match your personality and after all, style matters bhai!
What are these different models? I wouldn't name a brand, so let's go for the technical classification. There are basically 4 types of helmets.
1. Full Face Helmets: Explains itself, doesn't it? It covers the entire head; the back of the helmet covers the base of the skull and there is another protective circle around the chin. There is also the tinted or transparent face shield. This means, you are fully covered and you play it safe in life.
If you can relate to slogans like “make sure this journey isn't your last one” or “there is always someone waiting for you to return home”, then this is the type of helmet you need. You value safety and security over anything else but without completely sacrificing values like style or polish. These helmets can get some really fancy look if one wants and look flashy and dependable at the same time.
2. Off-road/Biking Helmets: This variation of helmet has distinguished chin and visor portions, allow (controlled) flow of air to fight the exertion and the face is partially open to accommodate biking glass. The type also carries a chin bar which completes the protection. Off-road helmets are great when it comes to sunlight shielding or debris protection.
Obviously, this is the type of the helmet which goes well with the adventurous type. If you are a young thrill seeker and want your helmet to exude that, go for off-road helmets. You might be a college or university student or a young executive who want to go daring and let people know it from his accessories, this is the helmet you wear.
3. Open Face Helmets: Once you remove the chin protection of the full-face helmets, you get an Open Face helmet. Although not always, it mostly carries a wind shield or sunlight protection glass. The rear protection is up to the back of the skull as well.
This is often ‘dad’s helmet’ which depicts a responsible, law-abiding and dependable person for whom the safety matters a lot. This is a no-gimmick, optimum protection helmet which is very effective and provides more than enough protection if you ride a 125CC bike to work and drive between 40 to 60 km/hr and respect every traffic signal (appreciable habit, we all must) then this is surely your helmet.
4. Half Helmets: Finally, the Topa! Or, the better version of the same. This is basically half of a sphere with some leather behind the neck to protect from the dust mainly. There is also a strap to hold this thing on place. This is more like a skull cap, than anything else.
The reason behind purchasing a half helmet is surely not to avoid the fine by the traffic police. This model was made popular by the British road racers of the 1970s. A distorted version of the same was seen in many Hindi films as well. Half helmet is not a standard or completely safe helmet and this often denotes the rebellious or escapist mentality.
However, no matter what helmet you use, they keep you safe during the accidents; they don't prevent accidents from happening. I assume that you are smart enough to have a life insurance and health insurance with injury benefit which would cover the expenses. Do the same for your bike as well. By injuries, I mean the damages, of the bike can be avoided as well if you have chosen a decent two-wheeler insurance. It would be a smart thing to do because bike repairing can be a costly affair and in India, bike insurance premium is generally very little.
- Ruchir Chauhan
The views presented in this article belong to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of You & I.