P1110970 WPSorry if you were expecting a post about helmets. This has little to do with helmets.

A recent photograph making the rounds on the internet showed a young man wearing a baseball cap at a sporting event. The cap was on backwards. He was shading the light of the sun from his eyes with his hand. The photo was captioned: SUN SHADE     if only you could attach it to a hat 

An friend of mine, Al Morrow, commented on the photo via email. “The only people who should wear their hat like that are Catchers*… it looks really dumb on anyone else…”

* (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Baseball, Catcher is a position that requires the player to wear his hat backwards due to the protective face mask worn.)

Al and I have discussed this before and I agree that the backwards baseball cap looks stupid. But like any “rule” there is a legitimate exception. I believe that Al doesn’t think of this because he doesn’t ride a motorcycle. My reply to his email follows.

“You keep forgetting the other category: In Free States where there is no helmet law, this positioning of baseball caps is legitimately used by motorcyclists in lieu of a ‘do rag to keep their hair untangled, minimize the number of dead bugs in it, and avoid the Christopher Lloyd look (as in Back To The Future). Without a hat or ‘do rag it feels like every hair on one’s head is being pulled straight up, which is not that good, though I suppose it could help with a really bad case of dandruff. It is also useful when one stops because the brim can be turned to the front to shade the eyes when the bike is parked. It is a multi-purpose piece of equipment…

I have a Fox Racing hat that takes care of all of that when I’m riding in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, etc. I bought it at the Victory dealer in Flagstaff, Arizona some years ago when I had forgotten to take a ‘do rag on a trip. It is sort of tricky buying a hat for that purpose and involves some guesswork about the aerodynamic properties of the hat & whether it will fit tight enough to not go airborne at 85 mph. I’ve lost one hat and two ‘do rags that went airborne on relatively dangerous road stretches where I wouldn’t turn back for them.

I have 5-7 baseball caps around the house, but the only one that is good for riding in Free States is the Fox (which makes a certain amount of sense because they are made for motorcyclists). I don’t wear the caps often, which explains why Tim had a hard time finding me at the recent St. Valentine Car Show – I wanted the shade of the brim because the sun was strong and there were a lot of reflections coming off the cars and I don’t wear shades when I’m shooting because they don’t show the real light conditions.”

After sending my email reply, I remembered another reason why a baseball cap is a multi-purpose piece of motorcycling equipment. If one is riding into the east just after sunrise, a baseball cap can be worn, brim forward, under a helmet to provide eye relief and help avoid sun blindness.

In review, the following attributes make a baseball cap a useful multi-purpose piece of motorcycling equipment.

When not wearing a helmet in a Free State, a baseball cap worn backwards,

  • Helps one hide/avoid the dreaded “helmet hair”, also known as the Christopher Lloyd look.
  • Minimizes the number of bugs in one’s hair at the end of a ride.
  • Helps bald headed people avoid sunburned domes.

When riding east just after sunrise a baseball hat worn brim forward under a helmet,

  • Helps the rider avoid sunblindness.

P1110973 WPA ‘do rag is only useful for the following reasons.

  • Helps one avoid/hide helmet hair.
  • Helps the bald avoid sunburned domes.

Featured Email Comment:

Bob Alexander: I wear a ball cap to shade my eyes and protect my dome. Try taking pictures, however, especially with a flash attached, with the cap’s brim facing forward. While I am shooting, I turn my cap around. Sometimes it is brim backwards for more than just a minute or two. I am not going to stop taking pictures because Al Morrow thinks I look “really dumb.”

RRAlexanderYeah, I do the same thing when photographing, though I rarely use an attached flash (or the built in one, for that matter). Lately I’ve become better at keeping the eye shade in place while the camera is up to my eye, but that may be a result of the particular hat or camera. There’s another backwards baseball cap use. I wear one that way when painting walls & ceilings in the house. Keeps any paint spatter out of my hair, though it does nothing to shield my mustache…