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.
Better Yourself from North Carolina on November 21, 2013:
Really enjoyed your hub! Great way to encourage people to wear helmets, focusing on stuff that is important to them like fashion. Anything to get people to wear a helmet and stay safe!
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 04, 2013:
Good choice, Kathy! I always get compliments on mine. :D
Kathy on February 02, 2013:
Thanks so much for this amazing article! I'm just about to buy a bike, and was horrified at the range of horrendous helmets that perch on top of your head like a pea on a drum. Am buying a YAKKAY tomorrow!
Dominique on April 01, 2012:
Just wanted to let you know, the women's helmet with a real visor is now available.
And the women's and men's helmets have the same sizes available, but the men's is a little too wide for my head!
so the small (6 and 7/8) is the same for both.
louromano on March 19, 2012:
Fantastic helmets. Nice information ! great hub.
fashion on August 02, 2011:
Beautiful and informative hub.Great work
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on July 13, 2011:
Aren't they adorable, Jennie Demario? I think they'd go great with a Gary Fisher Simple City 3 :D
LOL@Wesmann Todd Shaw! Bike riders FTW! But you've GOT to wear a helmet, dude! Safety first ;)
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on July 12, 2011:
Now Simone, I knew you were awesome without looking at your profile url even! But when you say that you ride your bike everywhere, and do not own a fossil fuel burner. . . .my coal black little heart starts turning red again.
THAT'S SO AWESOME!!!!!
Of course I NEED a vehicle. . . .for my planned a/c service thingo. . . .but I ride my bike everywhere, six miles one way to town for ciggys and beer. Yes, I bike to town to buy smokes. That's just how much sense I make.
But wear a helmet? NEVER!
Venture Boyz from Floating in the clouds on July 11, 2011:
This is so awesome!! I didn't even know that these exists - where did you find this? The tokyo new jazz is totally my style. Now I just need a bike that is as stylish as the helmet. ha!
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on June 30, 2011:
danfresnourban from Fresno, CA on June 30, 2011:
Awesome, a Hubpage staffer said my name, cool. Now I have to ride to work tomorrow. Thanks Simone
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on June 29, 2011:
Oh, seriously! You've GOT to go for it, danfresnourban!
danfresnourban from Fresno, CA on June 29, 2011:
Truly awesome, I love almost everyone of these helmets. Now I have absolutely no excuse for not riding my bike the .7 mile to my office.
StephenSMcmillan on May 10, 2011:
That is great hats, nice hub.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on December 22, 2010:
Thanks, LillyGrillzit! Yeah- I'm really thankful that helmets have become more stylish, too. One should not be forced to sacrifice style in the name of safety ^_^
Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on December 21, 2010:
Very stylish! Thanks for sharing all of the research. Finally one can bike safely and stylishly. Voted up.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on October 19, 2010:
Yeah! It's nice to see that we have more options now. Hurray for stylish safety alternatives!
omcj1234 on October 19, 2010:
Really cool helmets. I've been looking for ones that don't look corny and these actually look stylish.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on October 14, 2010:
Hehee, me too! Though pretty much everything makes me want to ride through the French countryside >_
Yena Williams from California on October 14, 2010:
I LOVE the Yakkay Smart one helmets! It makes me want to ride my bike all around the French countryside.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on October 13, 2010:
I agree! It's a shame that being safe should be so unsightly. I just wish the stylish helmets were not so unsightly ToT
Om Paramapoonya on October 13, 2010:
Very cool. Most bike helmets look pretty dorky and shape kind of like a homo-erectus' brain. I prefer round ones like these. :)
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on October 03, 2010:
@Patsybell- thanks! Oh, and I SHOULD do one on kids' helmets- they're important, those little noggins!
@Lavina- Thanks so much for the link! $175 is a very steep price... but they have the one I want!! Now... gotta start saving @_@
@akirchner - You're right to lecture those kids- when I get lectured about helmets, I start wearing them more! And wow- I am so glad you were wearing a helmet when you fell off that scooter! I've yet to take a bad spill, but it's just a matter of time, so I had better man up and put a helmet on EVERY time I ride. Once I get one of these, I'll WANT to put on on, too. That'll help XD
Audrey Kirchner from Washington on October 03, 2010:
How cool! I am a fanatic about people wearing helmets and usually am lecturing all the kids in our neighborhood if I see them speeding by without one - in a nice way. Blows to the head are not pleasant and I do too many reports on folks who were normal 1 minute and not the next thanks to a fall without a helmet.
I also learned from personal experience that a helmet can save your life - and your brain. When I first started the mushing, I took a terrible bounce off the scooter onto the pavement. Had it not been for the helmet, I shudder to think what would have happened. As it was, I ended up with a concussion!
So it is an extra added BONUS that I can purchase one of these classy looking helmets now and still protect my melon! Thanks for bringing these stylish ones to my attention! Bob may be sorry I saw it!
Lavinia on October 03, 2010:
I love the Yakkay too. I have bought mine on www.thebicyclemuse.com!
Patsy Bell Hobson from zone 6a, SEMO on October 03, 2010:
Any thing that will encourage bike riders to wear helmet is good news.I really like your story. Helmets have come a long way. Would love to see a story on childrens helmets.