Urban Bicycle Helmets - A Guide to Fashionable Bike Helmets
Finding a Balance Between Safety and Style
I ride my bike everywhere, regardless of weather, time, or temperature. Heck, I don't even have a car. But here's the problem: I am quite particular about style (you'll also find me riding in dresses with full petticoats, bright jumpsuits, and thigh high stockings), and have had trouble finding helmets that suit my aesthetic needs. The result: I used to ride around for months with no helmet. I was death on wheels.
In an effort to rectify my stylish but unsafe ways, I embarked on an epic research journey, searching for the perfect, stylish urban bike helmet (and testing quite a few in the field). You'll find the helmets that made the cut below, as well as my discussion of the pros and cons of each. Enjoy the world's most stylish bicycle helmets below!
YAKKAY Bicycle Helmets
When it comes to bicycle helmets, the ultimate in style is YAKKAY. YAKKAY is a company from Denmark that makes low profile bike helmets with removable hat covers. The hats are gorgeous: so low-profile, that you can hardly tell they're over helmets (the straps are the biggest giveaway). They covers also interchangeable and removable, so you can easily switch your style and clean the hats should a bird have its evil way on your head (this happens in cities... cursed sky rats...).
I couldn't have been more impressed when I received the helmet YAKKAY sent me as a (free) sample to review. Out of all the other helmets I've researched and tested, it definitely wins in the style department. In the past, YAKKAY only provided foam helmets to go underneath the hat covers that did not feel very secure or protective. Their new line of base helmets is far better. They have comfortable chin straps, more support, and additional optional padding. What's more, the helmets come in multiple colors and has a nice, shiny sheen. In short, it's attractive enough to be worn without a cover.
Of course, you'd be silly to get a YAKKAY helmet without a cover (or several!). These covers are the key to making this helmet so fashionable. I went with the herringbone design and absolutely love it. It was very easy to slip over the helmet base (no velcro, buttons, or zippers needed), and it looks great. One of the most fun things about wearing these helmets is that you don't look like a doofus when walking to and from your bike. Most people don't even realize you're wearing a helmet!
If there is one downside to these helmets, it would be that they lack additional coverage offered by other brands I own, but it's a necessary trade-off. If you are doing some serious trail riding or working as a bicycle messenger in busy city streets, go for something a bit more heavy duty (you probably won't care about fashionable hats, anyhow). These helmets are designed for commuters and around-town riders, and for that sort of bicycling, they're perfect!
Nutcase - Union Jack
If you're going to go for a more typical bike helmet (or skate helmet), Nutcase has some more interesting styles to offer. While I would not recommend all of them, I do rather fancy the Union Jack - what's not to love about sporting those colors?
The benefits of Nutcase helmets are, of course, their more practical design, which I believe makes them on the whole safer.
Some Nutcase helmets are fashionable, but few are conversation pieces like their YAKKAY alternatives, hence you can be allowed to enjoy your commute with fewer interruptions. As this helmet is of more conventional design, you can also expect more conventional pricing. Low cost helmets are good- even for fashionistas- because it allows them to spend money on other things, such as AWESOME clothes.
The downsides are that this helmet is, well, on the more conventional end. People have seen it before- you're not going to make huge waves with this.
Other recommended Nutcase street helmets: Urban Caution, Danger, and Superstar.
Bern - Berkeley Bike Helmets
Sometimes the key to fashion is minimalism, and Bern has this down with the Berkeley bike helmet. Available in several styles, Bern offers a streamlined appearance plus added fucntionality in the form of a small, low-profile visor protruding from the front. For the men's helmets, the visor is part of the helmet; the women's bike helmet visor is fabric.
Of all the available styles, I recommend Gloss Black, Gloss White, and Matte Black Bomber. I also recommend going with a men's helmet, even if you're a woman. I have a relatively small head, and the men's small fits me just fine, plus it looks cooler, and I don't have to worry about a cloth visor getting mucky and grody (though take note that the inner padding is easily removable should you care to wash it).
Particular benefits of these helmets: Decent pricing, the aforementioned visor, and generally low profile design. What's more, Bern helmets are REALLY comfortable! I wear my Gloss white Bern helmet all the time and love the Sink Fit feature, which involves a band that fits to the base of your skull.
What's more I took a pretty gnarly face plant wearing this helmet (I flew over the handlebars of my bike, fell chest first into the street, and had my bike fall on top of me) and the helmet's brim kept my face from hitting the ground at all. YAY!
The only downside of these helmets is the prominence of the Bern logo. I'm the type to be slightly allergic to logos, so I find it disquieting, but I don't think this should be a problem for most.
Pro-Tec Military Helmets
I've had a Pro-Tec helmet for years- I stopped wearing it because I switched styles and the one I had- now cluttered with sticker detritus and my old Burning Man goggles- did not match with the persona of a young lady who refuses to wear pants and won't leave the house without a prominent bow somewhere on her person.
That said, Pro-Tec offers some pretty nifty, very functional helmets- and ones that are darned good at protecting your noggin. The downside: many of them are cluttered with large logos. Bleh!
There is one excellent exception in the Pro-Tec collection of military helmets. They're pretty nifty looking, plus there's the added niche novelty of wearing a modern military helmet- an accessory with very intereseting sartorial, cultural, political, social, and functional heritage. What's more, the helmets are "produced for the Department of Defense and not a Pro-Tec product." Novelty abounds!
Another bonus: the price is VERY reasonable.
I recommend the A-Alpha Matte Black or Urban Gray.