U.S. Olympic cyclists, 1948. (Photo courtesy of United States Olympic Committee.)

Hey, did you know that bike helmets in the 1940s looked kind of like a cross between a Devo outfit and a bouncy castle? Because I didn’t, so I was pretty surprised by this photo of Olympic cyclists at the 1948 games, unearthed by The New York Times(That’s an amazing photo essay of nonagenarian former Olympians, by the way, and well worth a look.)

If you’re one of those cyclists who avoids wearing a helmet because they look uncool, please take a second glance at your aerodynamic head-carapace and think how much slicker it looks than these balloon-animal concoctions. And these guys wore them in front of zillions of fans! Surely you can put yours on to go to the store.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!