Saturday, August 14, 2010

round helmet roundup

It surprises me that people are still surprised by my helmet. Usually I get asked: "Is that a skateboard/snowboard helmet?" It's happened twice in two weeks: once was a coworker (male, used to have a bike but doesn't currently) and once was the girl at the bike rental shop where I recently rented some beach cruisers for my Mom and sister when they were visiting.

I think it's about visibility, because I would say that at least 30-40% of the helmets I see on cyclists these days are the round style. That's not inconsequential at all. And yet ... if you aren't looking, you don't seem to notice. Cyclists are invisible until they get in your way. They're generic "entities" on the road; no one looks close enough to see what kind of helmet or shoes they're wearing. I didn't.

The manufacturer with the most variety is the well-known, well-stocked Nutcase. My preference is for their subtle, classy "Super Solids" line.

I own the purple and have seen it around on a few other people, both women and men.

More stores, however, seem to stock their line of prints.

Another brand that carries an extensive selection of round helmets is Bern. Their Muse line comes with a short, formed brim as part of the shell.

There are more colours and patterns; these are just a few of my favourites. These shots also show the helmets with the snow-sport insert but apparently they come as a typical bicycle helmet as well. Sidenote: if you're in the market for a snow-sport helmet, most of these manufacturers I'm mentioning have options for that as well.

Alternatively, Bern offers a line called Berkeley with a soft brim.

And lastly, a brimless version called Brighton.

Bern divides their helmets into 'Mens' and 'Womens' so I've only shown the Women's lines here. There are comparable versions in their Men's sections which, depending on the size/shape of your head and colour preference, may easily be suitable for some women, too. These definitions are really just suggestions, anyway.

For brand #3, I looked at Mace.

I find that as a whole I like the patterns on their C4 line (above) and Trigger line (below) better than many of the ones by Nutcase. They feel more "grown-up", which, I'll admit, does sound a bit odd coming from me, considering how I'm always talking about how cycling makes me feel like a kid again. That said, there's a difference between feeling like a kid and looking like one, and when I'm going to work in heels and dress pants I just wouldn't feel right with polka dots on my head.

I guess there's just no accounting for taste.

There are a number of brands other than Nutcase, Mace, and Bern that produce round helmets and I hope to cover them in a future post. I have to admit that I've seen a few "sporty"-style helmets here and there that don't look too awful. Usually they've been in black or another subtle colour and suit the person who's wearing them. My preference is still for the rounder shape because (a) that's what our heads are shaped like, and (b) they remind me of scooter and motorcycle helmets, which have a certain romantic/sexy image.

Until our bicycle infrastructure gets considerably safer and the mandatory helmet law goes away, bicycle helmets could use all the positive association they can get. You might as well buy one in a colour/pattern/shape you like.

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