Monday, April 18, 2011


A Bike Helmet That Doesn't Make You Look Like a Dork

I have long wished that someone would invent a bike helmet that wasn't hideously ugly and utilitarian. Finally a Danish company has done it, and they're actually fashionable — and, dare I say it? — flattering. Now there is no excuse for not wearing a helmet! (Seriously, I used to work at a bike shop and saw lots of helmets that had been in crashes. Even the most minor accidents led to very smashed helmets, but better the helmet than your skull, right? So please, please, please promise me that you will never go anywhere on a bike without one... Love, Mom)

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I like the one on the right! It looks like a denim pith helmet. I'd like to go forcibly attaching them to the heads of every helmetless rider I see biking in Wicker Park.

Tuna Surprise

The one on the right could use a few minor modifications then it would be just what I'm looking for:



Is your mustache more Bismarck, :(, or Wilhelm, :3 ?

Tuna Surprise

@wallsdonotfall: Wilhelm for sure.


seriously on the helmet tip! a semi-profesh bicyclist was leisurely riding home in Philly a couple months ago and was hit by someone who they're estimating was driving 60mph! They think it was some loon who has a "thing" against bicyclists. Anyhoo, nice bike guy has a bunch of broken bones, but none of them is his head, and he's likely to make a full recovery. DEFINITELY would have been a different story if he was sans helmet.


@teenie It can happen, even without the homicidal cyclophobes. I wore a helmet to a hair appointment and thought my stylist fellow was going to yell at me for crushing his creation after my appointment. Au contraire mon frere, he instead praised me for wearing it. Turns out he's a semi-pro racing cyclist. He told me about the time he was lazily riding around the track, just warming up, maaaaybe going 10 mph, when he somehow crashed. He's not sure how it happened but he woke up on the pavement with his helmet all dented but his skull intact.


@spiralbetty: Husband skidded on gravel while road biking a few years ago, got a minor concussion and serious road rash on his face but recovered quickly. Would not have recovered quickly without helmet. Made me a devout helmet-wearer, no matter how bad it looks.


@Bittersweet I was once hit head-on by a kayak that became detached from the back of a car coming at me at 30 mph. A KAYAK. Needless to say, I was damn glad I was wearing a helmet that day.
Also, my grandmother crashed on her bike (she was in her 70s and totally badass) and ended up with a concussion and some fluid causing pressure on her brain that required surgery to deal with even while wearing a helmet. I am sure things would have been much much worse if she had been sans helmet. Anyway, my point: wear. a. helmet. Because you just never know when some weird shit that is totally out of your control might make you crash.


Oh man, I would really like these if they had bigger vents. I sweat a lot and therefore love my douche-alert helmet with the visor. I tried a skateboarding helmet for a second, but it looked like I had just taken a shower whenever I got where I was going.


For the longest time I was planning on making wig-helmets (and then eventually saw it on Flight of The Conchords) and then never did it.

The one I wear is from Bern and it looks like you're wearing a baseball cap UNDER it, which is somehow okay. (I wanted to include a link but their site is taking forevs.)


I saw a cyclist wearing one of these yesterday and was thinking how much nicer it looked than a normal helmet! I thought maybe it was a modified horseback riding helmet, but apparently these are now a thing. Definitely want.


I always thought they should make them more like riding helmets, which I think look nice.



I have a nutcase helmet and it's totally adorable! Safe and sassy, just the way I like it. I looked into helmets that look like hats, but to me they just look like weird giant hats floating slightly above your head. My helmet looks like a helmet straight-up, just trendier.


@redkite I love being safe and sassy! Bookmarked, thanks!

Paige Colbert Van Otten

@redkite We've bought 3 or 4 Nutcase helmets over the years. The company is really awesome/nice too!


What kills me is seeing people wearing bike helmets... that are not clipped shut. This is REALLY common amongst teenage boys and delivery dudes. I want to run over to them (to them. on foot. not run OVER them) and ask them why they are comfortable enough with themselves to to look dorky in their helmet but apparently not lacking the self-worth to think they deserve TO LIVE.

I was hit by a car when I was 14 on my bike... would deeeefinitely be brain damaged, very likely dead, if it weren't for my dorky-looking helmet.

Emma K@twitter

I really don't get what the fuss is about dorky helmets. I'd rather look like a dork on my way to work while wearing my $40 helmet (that seems like it's much lighter and better venilated than these fancy ones) than look 'cool' on the way there and sweaty-headed once I take it off.


Some (yeah, me) may even find these supposedly fashionable helmets rather dorky...

Perhaps on account of their pretense to stylishness?


@Emma K@twitter Yeah, bike helmets are going to be ugly, but I can deal with the ugly in exchange for a working brain.

Ralph Pizzani@facebook

@Emma K@twitter kinda blowin' their own horn! helmets are needed ,but helmets are ugly ,period!


'Love the little shady brims on these, but the white fuzzy one is just the best: http://www.yakkay.com/SmartOne.aspx#23.

Yay, dashing hats that will keep my brains inside where they belong.


sorry you guys, but when I see that picture, all I can think of is this: http://screamer.alt-world.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/dark-helmet.jpg


I live in London and would never ride my bike without a helmet but I was tired of looking like a nerd in my helmet so I bought one of these Yakkays - I love it. In fact it has changed my whole riding experience so much I couldn't resist writing about it. http://fabricatedtaleslondon.blogspot.com/2010/11/cycle-helmets-can-be-cool.html


@natsw whoah! tres cool! bookmarked - thanks!!!

tea tray in the sky.

I put giant knit berets over my helmet when the weather's still cool enough to get away with it. It looks silly in an adorable way. Cheaper alternative!

Nicole N. Conti@facebook

Rita Leeds anyone? MRF?


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@apple0619: Huh.

Paige Colbert Van Otten

I was coming here to be all "these aren't new, I've known about them for years blah blah blah" but I guess the new thing is that they're available in the US now?

I haven't gotten one because they're fucking gigantic so I feel like I'd look weird, and because I heard that part of the thing that makes helmets "successful", as it were, is that they're slippery, so rather than catch in the road where they land and gripping, thus probably breaking your neck, they allow your head to slide along the pavement, thereby deflecting some of the force. Since these are coated in fabric, they grip right onto the pavement and don't provide that feature.

Also I did a transportation-related major in college and so the seeds of doubt re: whether or not we should use bike helmets to begin with have been planted. I do happen to wear one though.


@pumpyumpyumpkin Not trying to be a butt, but what are some anti-helmet arguments?


@doil my understanding is that there are some suggestions that a) helmets do not protect you in a large %age of accidents because common bike accidents don't involve your head [I'm not making this argument, but some people do]; and b) that cars are more likely to be careful around bikers with no helmet on. I also think of places like Holland, where there is a critical mass of bikers (with their own traffic lights, which they all obey, etc) and basically no helmets. If you live in a culture where bikers have enough space, and you are not riding like a racer, your need for a helmet might not be as great. Yes, there can be freak accidents but by that logic you might want to wear a helmet just walking around too.

- philly biker who always wears a helmet - in a city of potholes, trolley tracks, and NJ drivers - but where almost no one else does


@bb and here is someone else making these arguments:

I do think it would make more of a difference to make a big deal out of riding safely (talking to you, reverse-bike-lane salmon, hipsters in all black and no brakes in the rain going the wrong direction, etc) rather than helmet wearing as the #1 emphasis.


@bb as a fellow Philadelphian who takes helmet wearing VERY seriously (as do all my other bike friends here in the city, so I take a bit of an exception to your claim that "no one else does"), I have to say that those arguments are pretty piss-poor. I know you're not advocating them. But still. If anyone ever poses those arguments to you, here are some logical replies:
a.) besides the fact that this is SO illogical (many bike accidents don't involve the head so don't wear a helmet? whaaa? sooo, what if the accident does involve your head? no sense.) other injuries usually heal to the point where you can function in life again. brain injuries - not so much. i work with a neurologist who treats people with traumatic brain injuries. you'd be surprised how little impact it can take to turn someone into a vegetable.
b.) cars don't give a shit whether you have a helmet on or not. that is likely one of the most asinine arguments i've heard. cars are interested in getting where they need to be, and usually don't even SEE bicyclists, much less whether or not they're wearing a helmet.
and c.) (the argument that you kind of made but didn't explicitly) - we don't live in Holland, and that's likely to be the case for a very very long time. bike culture is not the norm here, car culture is. you can argue that people should wear a helmet while walking, but people rarely walk at 20-35mph in traffic. on wheels.

Safety is a "whole picture" subject - so of course be aware and obey traffic laws and have reflectors and lights etc etc, but a helmet is at LEAST in the top 3 of any safety list.

Paige Colbert Van Otten

@bb Yeah, that about covers it. Thanks! I was asleeeep.

Paige Colbert Van Otten

@teenie I get where you're coming from, and like I said, I do wear a helmet, and the dude I'm going to marry in a few months is a Paramedic and he would slay me himself if I didn't but...

It's been shown very clearly that the more people riding their bicycles in a given city, the fewer bicycle fatalities there are (and it's usually literally FEWER fatalities, not just fewer per mile ridden or whatever. Like you'll see a city increase bicycle usage over 10 years and there will be fewer fatalities every year). One of the reasons a lot of people say they won't ride a bike is that they'll get too sweaty and they feel stupid wearing a helmet. Now, that's by FAR not the only reason people don't ride. I'm not saying we'd be living in a booming bicycling country if only people didn't feel they had to wear helmets. We need more infrastructure, more of a culture of bicycling, etc., etc. But it's one of the reasons, and anything we can do to get people to ride their bikes, the safer it's going to make everyone else.

Regarding your point b: I must say, cars in certain cities here are conditioned not to have to look for bicyclists, and in some cities aren't even used to looking for pedestrians. Not noticing bicyclists/pedestrians is not inherent to car drivers; it's inherent to car drivers in cities with terrible bicycling/walking rates. I lived in Portland until a couple of years ago, and it quickly becomes standard practice to check your rearview mirror before making a right turn to make sure there are no bicyclists in the bike lane, and to check your side mirror before opening the door so you don't door a bicyclist. And then taking it to northern Europe, yes, sorry, have to do it. I lived in Denmark for a year, and though I never drove there, just as a pedestrian and bus rider, you very quickly become used to looking out for bicycles. If you step off a bus or try to cross the street on a red in Copenhagen without looking for bicycles, you're going to get hit by one.

And there's the additional thing that if more people are riding bicycles, that means that more of the people driving cars are also bicycle riders. When you know what it's like to ride the streets on a bicycle, you become a much more aware driver in regards to those issues.

Again, yeah, I wear a helmet, and even though I've read the studies, I don't really buy into the whole "people drive slower around helmet-less bicyclists/give them more room" thing. But I do think that the "no-helmet" argument has validity.


@pumpyumpyumpkin whether or not drivers are looking for cars, anytime someone is going as fast as bicyclists go, in a street, with other cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians, they should wear a helmet. I don't think that a car being "aware" of a bicyclist is any argument for not wearing a helmet.


@teenie I'm surprised and kind of delighted that you find Philly to be a bike-helmet-populated city! Without revealing too much personal info, where do you live and bike? Are you mostly a city-streets commuter or a bikeway/highway long distance rider? I generally find the latter are more likely places to see helmets, but in my everyday commutes between west philly, south philly and old city, I rarely see helmets and often see people riding the wrong way on one-way streets, wrong way on the bike lanes, all in black at night, etc. My bf, for example, works in a bike shop and neither he nor any of his buds wear helmets regularly.

As for the argument, I basically think it's more hypothetical than anything (agreed on the Holland comparison). But when I first read about it, it did make me more aware of the things that I do that are not safe other than wearing/not wearing a helmet. So ideally it should be more like "helmet vs. helmet + safe riding" than "helmet vs no helmet" which is why I don't really engage in this argument in most contexts (too subtle).

Paige Colbert Van Otten

@bb "So ideally it should be more like "helmet vs. helmet + safe riding" than "helmet vs no helmet" which is why I don't really engage in this argument in most contexts (too subtle)."

Yeah, that's a great way to put it.

More than anything, I just don't like the idea that local police departments giving kids bike helmets or cities writing ordinances requiring helmet use is like the bingo presto magic cure for bike safety. It's way more complicated than that.


@bb totes with you on that. well stated.

and we truly probably know each other, since i know quite a few fixie peeps, a number of our lovely bike shop employees, and some messengers to boot. i know the messengers are waaaaayyy too punk rock to wear a helmet, but all my other bike friends are pretty militant. they were really helpful when my beau was being a stinker about wearing one, calling him names, putting him down, ya know, until he eventually did. we're mostly city riders, (mostly fishtown/kensington/port richmond) but a lot of them engage in the occasional 15-40 mile ride on the weekends. i don't ride that far, but i'm paranoid about hurting my noggin, since i work for a neurologist and hear crazy stories about people slipping on ice and now they can't talk, walk, or see anymore. i'm someone who may eventually wear a helmet. all the time. just in case.


avid helmet-wearer here...and I think these look even dorkier than regular helmets, wompwomp. to each her own?

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I used to not wear my helment, because I was riding in a park where there was minimal interaction with autos. Then, I was passing a pedestrian at the same time as a oncoming rollerblader was passing another pedestrian. He clipped my handlebars, which turned 90 degrees, and I went flipping over the handlebars, apparently did a half-twist, and landed on my ass followed by the back of my head. Luckily, I just needed a couple of stitches (and a joint). The roller blader had some road rash, but was ok. He was a dentist, came up to the ER with his family to check on me, and since I didn't currently have a dentist, he became my new dentist! Great guy. Then, 5 years later or so, he died of cancer at about age 50. :^(


If I'm going to get a stylish helmet without vents, I'm holding out for the bowler:


I was an intermittent helmet wearer (only wearing it on longer day treks or when commuting to work) until last summer, when I ate it HARD on Houston. My husband and I were riding back back to Manhattan from movie night at Brooklyn Bridge Park. I tried to hop a pothole going east on Houston, and instead of clearing it, my tire landed exactly IN the pothole, sending me over the handlebars (or maybe I was launched off the side?) and depositing me in the middle of the street. As I lay there on my back, I opened my eyes to see my husband and about a half dozen very concerned strangers standing around me, protecting me from oncoming traffic. I felt the back of my head, entirely expecting to feel some brains or at least a damp blood spot. Like the total ass that I am, I refused to go to the hospital, and instead chose go home and peroxide 20% of my body and stay up all night, seized with the fear that if I fell asleep, I'd drift into an eternal coma. Went to my primary care first thing in the morning, where she checked my vitals and the lamburger-esque road rash on my shoulders and back (I was wearing a dress when I fell!) and berated me for not wearing a helmet. I left her office, went to the bike store, showed the sales guy my war wounds and he hooked me up with a super sweet, super light Giro helmet which I now wear whenever I'm on my bike, even if it's to ride to a friend's house a few blocks away.

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