Hurling. 30 (presumably inebriated) Irishmen running around a field, with sticks, hitting a ball very similar to a baseball that travels at speeds over 150km an hour. If there was a piece of protective equipment that stops them regularly being sent home vegetables or in a bodybag, I wanted to wear it playing bike polo. This is how I ended up purchasing my pink and white custom large Mycro facecage.
When bike polo competition started in Australia, the rules where very clear that the mallet should never go past shoulder height. Mallets to the face were frowned upon, treated as penalties and were thus few and far between. Revisions to the worldwide rules have taken a lighter stance on high-swinging, recommending players wear facial protection if competing.
The advent of capped heads and harder polo specific balls have also lead to an increase in facial injury for bike polo players.
As there is yet to be a purpose built bike polo helmet, players have turned to sports such as ice hockey, lacrosse and hurling to prevent balls and shaft to the face.
The helmet weighs 570 grams dry and cost about $110 AUD shipped from Ireland (it was extra for the custom graphics). During gameplay, visibility is only slightly decreased by the bars. Peripheral vision remains intact with a correctly sized helmet but can be restricted if you go too big. The chin strap reportedly makes beards a little itchy. Sweat only becomes an issue at higher temperatures, but nowhere near the problem with perspex ice hockey helmets, which literally bake your head and turn the visor into a fogged up window.
I played in the helmet for 4 days of polo, maybe 6 hours of gametime. I found I was more confident to lean in a lot further when trying to tackle opposing players, leading to more break away goals. However I also found that I became a little bit more reckless with my own mallet swings. I don’t know if they are suitable for pickup unless you wear glasses when playing, but I do think they are a must for tournament play. Although I didn’t get hit in the face in the week that I tested it, I lent it to Dom for a game, who was promptly smashed in the face by an airball from his own teammate Ollie. There is no doubt he would have sustained some serious facial injury or broken glasses.
The Mycro is not a cycling approved helmet. In the information booklet, it states that it should only be used for the sport of hurling. There isn’t as much padding inside as a cycling or icehockey helmet, so don’t expect it to take the impact of a full speed crash.
By Jamie Barber
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