I recently discovered that Japan is the only place in the world to offer motorcycle helmets specifically for women.
I’m not just talking about specific paint and graphics jobs… I’m talking about a motorcycle helmet that caters to a woman’s hairstyle - the ponytail.
Now… I’ve had a ponytail, so I’m unsure why I wrote that this is a woman’s hairstyle… but in Japan, the ponytail is predominantly a female thing.
Hmm… 27 years ago after watching Japanese comedian Shimura Ken on television, I figured it was okay if I did the same and grew a ponytail just like him.
Mine ended up longer and thicker and wasn’t meant to cover up a bald spot, but I grew one.
So… I guess men… Japanese men… can have ponytails.
The point is… if you are a motorcycle riding women, and you have a ponytail, you either had to scrunch it up into your motorcycle helmet, or take your hair out of its ponytail and let it flow behind you as you squeezed a helmet on.
But in Japan, there’s a hole in the back of the helmet so you can push your ponytail out through it.
As far as I know, Japan is the only country that has such a fashion accessory for its pony-tail wearing motorcycle riding population.
Perhaps other countries see that hole in the back as a safety flaw in the helmet. Perhaps having an opening could weaken the overall structural integrity of the helmet. Perhaps Japan doesn’t feel such structural weakening is too much, while other countries say it is.
Perhaps some of you are in places where there is no law demanding the wearing of a motorcycle helmet - places like Illinois in the US.
My late-friend Tom W. joked to me from his sick bed while awaiting death:
Q: What do you call a motorcycle rider in Illinois?
A: An organ donor.
Obviously, he was awaiting an organ transplant (kidney).
Dark humor aside… I understand the whole freedom thing… but dammit… a helmet could save your life… then again… is there a difference between hitting a bus a 40 miles per hour (64.4 kilometers per hour) or 140 mph (225.3 kph)?
Okay… dark humor aside now. I’m not judging - I’m only concerned for your safety. That’s all.
I do think that the Japanese motorcycle helmet that allows room for a ponytail to peek out is a pretty cool invention.
Many, many Japanese women have long hair. I have no idea how many female motorcycle riders there are in Japan, and I have no idea how many of them have long hair or even how many of them ponytail it.
Even so… to ponytail or not to ponytail while riding….
What would you estimate - 50 women? Heck… even if we say 50 women with ponytails who ride a motorcycle per prefecture… that’s 50 women x 47 prefectures… that’s a possible 2,350 people interested in the helmet.
I’m guessing that’s a pretty small market. Maybe it costs $10,000 per helmet... that would make it worthwhile. :)
I suppose if we extend the riders to include smaller CC vehicles like scooters, the number goes up a lot higher.
Could you wear such a helmet while riding a bicycle? Could an old grandmother wear this? No… too heavy.
Is there a bicycle riding equivalent? I don’t ever recall seeing a Japanese girl riding a bicycle with a ponytail… it doesn’t mean they aren’t out there… maybe they remove the hair band when they ride and tie it back up when they dismount.
Then again, I'm pretty sure the bicycle helmets rode a little higher up on the head, so perhaps a low ponytail could be more easily exposed under the bike helmet.
Far too many questions for me about what is a kind of a neat invention.
This is the problem with having a curious and analytical mind.
Somewhere on a bus,
Andrew "Too damn curious" Joseph