Forum Report: Helmet Use, Gearing, and Cycling Socks

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Editor’s Note: The Forum Report is a weekly round-up of the most talked about topics within the forum, the world’s busiest road cycling forum. Find out what’s moving the needle this week.

Helmet use, front chainring gear options, and a lively discussion on what makes cycling socks special were among the hot Forum topics during the last seven days.

Tops on the list was a thread about the merits of helmet use. The conversation was kicked off by a poster who said he didn’t use one and questioned whether helmets were a true safety measure or simply provide a false sense of security. Replies ran the gamut, but most agreed that not wearing a helmet was the domain of the dumb.

“I foresee a Darwin award in your future,” replied one poster.

“If you understood what happens when you suffer a head injury you would wear the helmet,” said another.

Another posted the photo below, writing, “My head is fine thanks to my helmet. No concussion or any other head injury. I didn’t even see stars when I hit the pavement.”

Yet another poster wrote, “My brother knew an EMT who used to say that it was very easy for them to respond to calls for bicyclists without helmets who had been in accidents. All they had to do was bring out the body bag… No need for emergency life-saving procedures.”

Needless to say, RoadBikeReview is a strong proponent of helmet use. If you are looking for a new one, here’s a starting place.

Another hot topic was a post about gearing, specifically a question about the pros and cons of making the switch from a 53×39 to a 52×36 chainring. Not surprisingly there were lots of opinions – and a little sarcasm.

“If your cadence is 50 with a 29 pie plate in the back now, you’d probably be better off getting a 34 ring in the front so you can use a more reasonably spaced cassette in the back,” hypothesized one poster. “It’ll be okay. Women won’t start looking away from you and men won’t kick sand in your face if you get a compact. Mountains of Utah are different from the internet and people who know what a gear ratio is realize that.”

“Two things make you faster on climbs,” wrote another. “1. Training 2. Weight loss.”

“Keep in mind that the change from the 53 to the 52 will be almost imperceptible and that the change from the 39 to the 36 is the same gear percentage change you would get by making a 1-tooth change around the middle of the cassette with your shifter,” explained another poster. “Point being, don’t put too much hope into this proposed change.”

Finally, there was an off-the-wall thread on the merits of cycling socks that started with this simple line of questioning: “What’s the deal with cycling socks. Never owned then. What’s makes then special? What’s the pros and cons of them? What should I look for in non cycling socks?”

Some replies were more on the literal side, such as this one: “You look for whatever you’re comfortable wearing. “Cycling socks,” worn with “cycling shoes,” tend to be thin (for a good shoe fit, and you don’t need the cushioning of running socks), low-topped (though fashion shifts around a bit, and some riders like tall ones) and, most important, made of a fabric that wicks moisture (synthetic or wool). Groovy designs and colors are a fashion statement, Not [That There’s Anything Wrong With That].”

Some were a little less serious: “Lets talk about socks, lets talk about socks baby!”

That’s it for this week. But check back next week when we’ll have another round-up of what’s hot in the Forum.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the / staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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