Monday, March 14, 2011

Scootering in Taiwan: New Helmet Technology

I’ve been riding a scooter in Taiwan now for a little over a year. Riding a scooter is the best way to get around town. Generally, parking isn’t a huge issue, especially if you have a scooter designed for disabled people, like I do. I have parked in a place where a lot of other scooters were parked, albeit, illegally to see all the scooters, except mine, towed away and their license number written on the street in chalk. The towing guys are a bit more compassionate about disabled scooters than they are about the regular scooters. As for me, I can live with the special treatment, in this one case.

For all the time I’ve been riding I have been using the helmet that the Yamaha dealer gave me. It’s a standard round-headed helmet. In fact it makes my shadow look like Charlie Brown’s. Sometimes I like it well enough. I know it’s a safe helmet and will protect my head, but it has its disadvantages.

First because of its construction it whistles as I ride. The way the faceplate is attached restricts airflow and there is a constant whistle. I ride with the faceplate up it catches the wind and tries to fly.. I feel the helmet getting lighter on my head and I have to reach up and pull the mask down a little so the wind hits across the plate and it loses lift. Finally, it just isn’t cool looking. I see all these Taiwanese kids with cool helmets and I think, “Hey, I want to be cool, too.” Then I see my shadow and well, I look like that other famous blockhead…Charlie Brown. So after all this time I decided I needed…I know what you’re thinking…I NEEDED not WANTED. I’m sticking to that story…a new helmet.

There’re a lot of different helmets you can get. There’s one that looks like a strawberry, it even has some felt leaves up on the top. I might get one of those for Emily. There are some with cool pictures on them. Some of them look like a hardhat with a chinstrap. I’ve even seen some with a Mohawk. Some have words misspelled on them, though, I don’t think that’s intentional. Of course, Hello Kitty and a lot of other cute girly stuff are available, but I wansn’t in the market for that. One thing that’s interesting is that I see a lot of tough looking bin lang chewing guys wearing pink helmets and rain gear, but I’ll save that for another post. .

I finally chose one. I found it at Costco. It’s Glossy black but it isn’t a Charlie Browner, it’s kind of space age looking. I’ve seen this type around but I didn’t realize what it all meant. On the top are two raised areas. They look like airfoils. In fact, that’s exactly what they are.

I didn’t know that when I bought it. It said what they were on the box, but I can’t read a lot of Chinese so I didn’t know. But when I put it on and went for my maiden voyage, I felt an odd sensation on the top of my head. It was cool. My hair, what’s left of it, ruffled slightly in the breeze. It felt cool and nice, and stimulated my somewhat lonely follicles. The helmet has vents in the front that scoop air into the helmet and it runs through and escapes out the exhaust vents in the back. Your head has a nice breeze while being protected.  The vents even run cool air down the inside of the faceplate, so your face can be cool.

But, you might think, what about when it’s cold and you want your head to stay warm? What if you don’t want cold air and rainwater rushing through your helmet stimulating all those follicles? There are two little switches on the helmet that when you switch them they shut off the vents and your head stays warm and toasty, although your follicles are constantly, by this time, crying out for more stimulation.

This is a great design in a place like Taiwan, where the weather can change in a matter of minutes. The summer has a tendency to be hot and humid and this ventilation will be a welcome addition to my scootering experience.

Other Posts you may be interested in:

Traveling With M13:  Custom Scooters of Taiwan
Random Asianess:  Valentino Rossi...Baby
Cultural Unawareness:  Ticked Off in Taiwan

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