Protecting your face from falls

Okay, so maybe we don’t travel quite as fast as a downhill biker, but we do travel fast enough to have a significant facial impact.

I don’t wear a full face helmet for riding or skiing, though I have one. When I kayaked I wore a face mask to protect against paddle slashes and rock bashes. A friend of mine lost a bunch or teeth and part of his jaw on the Green Narrows in North Carolina; he now wears a facemask :roll_eyes:

So a full face helmet can provide more protection, BUT not all full face helmets are created equal. Imagine what would happen to your face if the “chin bar” deformed or broke into your face!

The following link is graphic, so be prepared:

Having gone through facial reconstruction from a dog bite, I feel his pain, it is devastating to have a significant facial injury. What makes this worse is if had not been wearing that helment, he might have had a broken jaw, but the laceration would likely have been prevented.

There is a reason that bicycle helmets do not have chin bars: you need a substantial helmet to back up the bar, i.e. motorcycle helmet.

All I want to add to my helmet is an eye shield. I’ve had three

corneal scratches that required medical attention and whose scars keep me from wearing contacts. Should be easy to combine the thing with a visor and snap it right on.

I should clarify that I didn’t get any of those injuries riding.

They had three different causes.

I was in a minor motorcycle crash about 6 yrs ago. Little injuries to my left knee, shoulder from the bike slamming me down on my left side. My helmet (full-faced) had considerable gouges all over and the left side had major patches missing.
Had I not been wearing that helmet I don’t know what my face would look like today.
The helmet in the mtbr forum looks cheap. If full faced were in my future it would have to be full motocross/dirt bike, which are pricey and heavy but worth it.
The “extreme” downhill mtnbikers wear MX helmets with full MX crash gear. I don’t blame them either with their 10+ ft drops at 30mph.
I’m not doing crazy stuff on my muni, at least not yet, but I do give my mtn bike everything I’ve got and never felt I needed full face (although I’ve thought about it).
I always wear safety glasses, clear or sun lenses, to protect my eyes. Ever had a random branch/ twig scrape across your cheek? That would hurt like %##$ if it drug into your eyes.
Anyway, I think a quality full face would be too heavy and uncomfortable for uni, but if your chin has a ground magnet then it might be worth the investment.

I was just talking about this in another thread. I’m asking Santa Claus for Oakley RadarLock sunglasses. As for a full face helmet, the heat and humidity in Kentucky (which also fogs up cheap sunglasses) would make it very uncomfortable when I ride MUni (slow & stop often) but it might work when touring (fast and never stop) on my geared 36er. I looked into it when I bought my last helmet and decided against FullFace. Then again, I ain’t that pretty. I might revisit the notion when my kids get old enough to ride mountain bikes considering all the $ I’ll have tied up in orthodontia by then.

The front wheel came out of the fork whilst I was riding a bike - that resulted in a face first impact (it all happened so fast I think my hands were still on the bars). That was wearing a normal bike helmet with no face protection. Nowhere near as bad as the chap in the link, but I folded back my lower lip and tore it on the inside, put my teeth through my upper lip and completely separated my septum (my gf wasn’t quite sure what to say when I commented that I was surprised how easy it was to breath through my nose!) I really don’t recommend spending a couple of hours getting your lips stitched back together under local anaesthetic. Then had a couple of nights in hospital and a couple of weeks of liquid food and still have fairly obvious scars (though they’re small and not all that noticeable unless you look).

Anyway, I still don’t own a full-facer - have thought about the idea a lot and nearly bought one, but it just doesn’t fit in with the type of riding I do. That goes even more so for riding a uni, where I haven’t even ever come close to landing on my head - and I tend to wear less protection than most of you lot. I really hope not to have an accident like that again, but you can’t protect against everything (who here wears a helmet when driving - statistically more likely to be of use than when biking?)

In December I had a upd and ran into a tree breaking a couple ribs and tearing the cartilage that connects your ribs to your sternum, now I am considering wearing a chest protector for off road.

A year and a half ago I did a face plant while riding a steep muni trail. Fortunately, my nose took the impact and functioned as an excellent crumple zone, thereby protecting my brain case. Having a proper sized nose has its benefits.:stuck_out_tongue:


Just out of interest, what lead to the front wheel coming out of the fork?

I’ve recently started doing a bit of biking (still unicycling as well) and the thought of the front wheel coming out is pretty scary!

My MTB has a quick release front wheel which I was wary of at first, but, according to what I’ve read on the net, quick releases are more secure than the standard old-style bolt (assuming the quick release is properly done up, of course).

The usual thing that causes bikes to lose a front wheel (apart from failed skewers) is disc brakes. With the brake caliper mounted behind the fork (the normal position) any braking is trying to force the axle downwards out of the dropouts. The little “lawyer’s lips” on most modern forks helps a bit, but they’re not that strong. IMO disc brakes on QR forks is asking for trouble - some designs of mounts being worse than others, the further from the top of the disc the caliper is mounted (the one in the picture attached is suicidal, and not unusual at all). Rim brakes mounted at the fork crown don’t have that problem - the axle is forced backwards under braking rather than downwards.

Lots of new mountain bikes are using bolt-through axles rather than QR skewers, which is more like a motorcycle setup without slotted dropouts and stops this being a potential failure.

More on topic… I have hit my face on the ground once while unicycling, when I missed a mount and had my foot catch behind the pedal. Straight down on my face before I knew what had happened. The front of my helmet (road cycling type with no peak) hit the floor, followed by my nose and chin. Gave me a nose bleed but nothing worse luckily as it was flat ground. Wouldn’t have been so lucky on rocks. I still think a full-face helmet is overkill for the way I ride though - I may just as well wear one while walking or running the same routes.


About a year ago I was riding muni at a mountain bike festival and faceplanted in a rock garden on the last ride of the weekend. I broke my two front teeth and cut up my lower lip pretty badly. On my dentist’s recommendation I tried a mouth guard, but it was a hassle. I’ve since invested in a full face helmet (Specialized Deviant) for riding muni. Fortunately I was able to get it on sale at our local bike shop. It’s hot in the summer, but the peace of mind is worth it. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it restricts my lower peripheral vision where the chin bar is.

I have not hit my face from a fall while riding, but I have done a “brow grind”, which is covered by a standard mtb helmet.

The reason I posted that link is to point out how sometimes more protection can cause unintended consequences. I would not use a helmet that could collapse into your face, so take care if you are shopping for a full face helmet, lighter weight helmets are lighter weight for a reason: less mass.

I have a Giro Remedy, it’s a super beefy mtb DH helmet, not Snell approved, so it would probably be unsafe at highway speeds, for biking and skiing it’s a nice helmet; if only it weren’t so hot!

As Rob says, I’m sure it was disc brake related - was also using a lightweight skewer which probably didn’t clamp very well (though it was still done up when I picked up the wheel), and a brand new fork with hard smooth dropout faces which didn’t provide much friction and no lawyers lips to help prevent ejection. A bad combination all in all.

I agree with Rob’s comments about lawyers lips not doing that much, but I’m fairly convinced they would have saved me, as I was just riding down a fireroad rather than anything extreme involving high forces. I wouldn’t use a fork without them again (my preference would be for “bolt through”, but at the time of my accident - which is when I last bought a fork to replace the one which broke in the crash - they weren’t available on lightweight XC forks). The skewer also got retired, despite being undamaged - I still have a lightweight skewer, but functionally it’s far better than the one involved in the crash.