Is there an affordable bicycle helmet that won't make me look like a dick?
July 29, 2010 4:42 PM   Subscribe

Is there an affordable bicycle helmet that won't make me look like a dick?

I recently received a restored vintage bicycle from my grandfather as a gift, and I intend to use it to travel fairly short distances around the city I live in (Glasgow). I never intended to wear a bicycle helmet, because I've never seen anyone wearing a bike helmet who didn't look like a complete dork. However, I also feel as though permanent brain damage would be detrimental to my current lifestyle (I enjoy not drooling on myself). Can I have the best of both worlds and buy a reasonably priced helmet that is at least vaguely stylish? Best case scenario, is there a bike helmet that will make me appear cool and edgy, like some kind of dashing two-wheeled road warrior/sex machine? If so, what is this magical babe-magnet mega-helmet and where do I buy it?
posted by Spamfactor to Shopping (45 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I like the designs Nutcase put on their helmets.
posted by zsazsa at 4:48 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @zsazsa not bad, but "Nutcase" seems a little too much like "Ballsack" to be really cool. Like I'm riding around with a scrotum on my head
posted by Spamfactor at 4:52 PM on July 29, 2010

I like my Triple Eight brainsaver. I do not think I look like a dick wearing it.
posted by anthropoid at 4:52 PM on July 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

I do not think so--Helmets just look "dorky"--but hey, the alternatives seem to be vegetative, dead, "with special needs", bankrupt or needing extended care and assistance with daily living. I will be interested to see what is posted
posted by rmhsinc at 4:57 PM on July 29, 2010

I was going to suggest something more traditional, like an astronaut helmet or a pickelhaube, but those skate helmets are pretty nice.
posted by theodolite at 4:59 PM on July 29, 2010

Well, wearing a pickelhaube, at least if you get hit by a negligent driver, you have a good chance of taking them with you.
posted by griphus at 5:02 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nothing makes my loins ache with longing more than seeing a cyclist wearing a properly fitted helmet. Any helmet. Helmets are inherently uncool. But permanent brain damage is even less cool. Hell, even non-permanent brain damage is pretty un-sexy.

Buy whatever helmet is readily available. No one is going to care. It's personal protective equipment, not a fashion statement. And don't wear it all pushed up on your forehead. If you do that, when you fall forward and smash your forehead, all it will do is unpleasantly pull on the chinstrap. And, for heaven's sake, fasten the chinstrap securely.

As helmets go, this one is non-offensive enough. This one comes with a covering designed to look like a hat (nevermind that it's a style of hat I associate immediately with douchery, maybe things are different in Europe).
posted by charmcityblues at 5:03 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cowboy style
posted by Confess, Fletch at 5:04 PM on July 29, 2010

Response by poster: @charmcityblues things aren't really that different in Europe, most guys who wear hats like that are douchebags. Plus I'd be kind of afraid that if I wore a helmet like that people wouldn't realise it was a helmet and just think I had a really massive head. Although I like the idea of people's loins aching over my properly fitted head protection.
posted by Spamfactor at 5:08 PM on July 29, 2010

Response by poster: @Confess hmm not so sure about that, that's like if the Tour de France were organised by the producers of "Dallas".
posted by Spamfactor at 5:11 PM on July 29, 2010

inexpensive, safe, and cool-looking: pick 2, can't have all 3. How about this?
posted by TDIpod at 5:14 PM on July 29, 2010

As far as I'm concerned, the skateboard/snowboard style helmets look decidedly more dickish than the traditional, dorky bike helmet. It's pretty obvious those bicyslists are trying way too hard.
posted by halogen at 5:16 PM on July 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: @TDIpod hmm that one's a little too swiss-cheese like for me. I prefer something simple with a classic durable design. Also, it's $280! That's 180 of the Queen's pounds! I'm a university student, I need that kind of cash for beer and prostitutes
posted by Spamfactor at 5:19 PM on July 29, 2010

Skate helmets don't have enough vents, and, personally, I think those fake-hat helmets are ridiculous.

The Bell Citi is plain and unobtrusive. Most helmet manufacturers offer something fairly similar.
posted by box at 5:20 PM on July 29, 2010

I haven't tried them, but I faved a comment from Our Dear Leader™ a few years back to these Bern Baker Helmets and will certainly look into them on the occasion I hop back on two wheels again.
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:21 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Nutcase" seems a little too much like "Ballsack" to be really cool. Like I'm riding around with a scrotum on my head

What, like you're going to be shouting to people, "Hey, the brand name of this helmet is Nutcase!" as you ride by? Nobody will know, much less give a shit what the name of your helmet is.

It appears that you are determined to shoot down every single suggestion, but for what it's worth, I have ridden wearing a matte grey Bell Faction for something like six years with no net detriment to my sex life. (The first helmet I owned saved me from a severe concussion, if it didn't in fact save my life.) Just like with sex, get over your own ego or whatever issue(s) you have and wear some protection.]

On preview: gross.
posted by cog_nate at 5:23 PM on July 29, 2010 [9 favorites]

I have found that an edgy and elegant solution is to go with a kayak helmet. Hear me out. See this company. I own and wear this helmet in olive green and I have had more complements on it than I can count. Even my girlfriend likes it and she's the type to be brutally honest. I still have my suspicions that I look like a massive dick wearing it, but the anxiety is quelled enough by the unsolicited positive feedback that I have received that I wear it every day when I ride.
posted by jnnla at 5:24 PM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: @Ufez Jones so far the Bern Baker helmets are my favourite in terms of style, but saying that I still think there is no helmet out there that isn't just inherently dorky. It may come down to simply weighing up my desire not to look stupid and my desire to not have a fractured skull and see which wins
posted by Spamfactor at 5:24 PM on July 29, 2010

What do you mean by 'a durable design'?

The days of foam helmets without plastic covers are mostly over, and bike helmets, even full-face downhill ones, aren't usually designed for multiple impacts.
posted by box at 5:25 PM on July 29, 2010

I've never used anything but Pro Tec Helmets, but then again I've never been concerned about how I look wearing them.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:26 PM on July 29, 2010

Response by poster: @box sorry I should have been more clear, by durable I meant more classic. As in something that isn't just a fashion fad. I don't intend to bash my head repeatedly. Not at all in fact
posted by Spamfactor at 5:32 PM on July 29, 2010

Confess, Fletch: "Cowboy style"

Do they make one in fedora?
posted by griphus at 5:33 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I prefer this style of helmet. Whether or not it looks good on you depends on your face/head shape. Something about my husband's head shape and beard works with any helmet he wears but I just end up looking weird.
posted by collocation at 5:33 PM on July 29, 2010

Mod note: SpamFactor, you do not need to reply to every comment and please don't be snarky to people who are answering your question for free, thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:54 PM on July 29, 2010 [6 favorites]

Eh, it's the nature of the beast -- I suspect you're going to look like a dick no matter what you wear.
posted by MeiraV at 5:54 PM on July 29, 2010 [5 favorites]

I know this isn't what you want to hear, but I think you should try to not worry so much about looking like a dick. Nobody cares about your helmet choice nearly as much as you do.
Your other fashion choices should suffice to make you look sexy and cool. A helmet isn't so much a fashion accessory, it's a safety accessory. Pick something simple and understated and let your clothes and looks do the rest.
posted by Jeeb at 6:03 PM on July 29, 2010

Response by poster: @jessamyn sorry I like replying to the comments, I just thought it let people know I was paying attention to what they said. I didn't think it would bother anyone. Also I didn't mean to sound snarky, I was only joking. Like I said I really appreciate everyone's input and I'm glad that cog_nate made a good suggestion to try to help me. In fact the only person on here who hasn't provided any useful input is the one who's just made me feel stupid for replying to people's comments (that's you). But seriously, I've got a lot of good stuff from people's posts on here and I appreciate it
posted by Spamfactor at 6:04 PM on July 29, 2010

Response by poster: "Ask MetaFilter is as useful as you make it. Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer. Wisecracks don't help people find answers. Thanks."

Ah just noticed that, guess any stupid replies and comments I made really aren't in the spirit of the website so I'll stop immediately. Sorry if I seemed snarky at you too jessamyn, I know you're just doing your job as moderator. Thanks for all the good suggestions guys!
posted by Spamfactor at 6:11 PM on July 29, 2010

Hmm, well, I've pretty much never noticed someone's helmet. Like, do you look at an attractive person in a car and think to yourself about how awkwardly that brown seatbelt matches their outfit? It's not designed to match or look amazing, really.

However, I will try to help you out regardless. Since you specifically want to look like "some kind of dashing two-wheeled road warrior/sex machine," I googled "Mad Max helmet" and came up with this, which you could see if it's gone into production yet. If you do have to buy some kind of lesser helmet, you should definitely augment it with this line of helmet accessories. Or, if those suggestions are too futuristic 1970s punk, you could bring back a style that is much more retro.
posted by salvia at 6:22 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is the helmet I wear (in black): Specialized Echelon

Three bikes, one helmet. I care a lot about protecting my head, not my ego, since I commute every day and enjoy riding for sport, as well. I also find it very attractive when men wear well-fitted safe helmet. My fiance has a nice Bell that is similar to mine. Crazy sexy. Sure, the helmets are a bit dorky, but who really cares?

My bikes, on the other hand, are beautiful.

(Also, those helmets are so much lighter in terms of weight/heat. Definitely something to consider.)
posted by two lights above the sea at 6:23 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh no, wait, hang on, hang on. What you want is to find on ebay the Oakley Medusa. It's not as much impact protection as many bike helmets, but still a fair bit of cushioning and abrasion protection.
posted by salvia at 6:29 PM on July 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

Do they make one in fedora?

As good as it gets, apparently.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:55 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sheldon, as always has you covered.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:57 PM on July 29, 2010

Response by poster: @confess, fletch ha very good, maybe I'll try something like that, he seems a nice guy. Oh crap I said I'd stop replying to people's posts. I still don't get why the moderator didn't like that though, is replying really so detrimental to the flow of the answers? Oh well, thanks for the link fletch
posted by Spamfactor at 7:02 PM on July 29, 2010

Beware repurposing helmets for other sports for cycling. A cycling helmet should be certified to ANSI or Snell standards specifically for biking.
posted by werkzeuger at 7:06 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nobody cares about your helmet choice nearly as much as you do.

This. I have been laughed at for wearing lycra, but never for my helmet. I don't even have a nice newish air-cooled one, I have a motorcycle-cop-shaped 90s Bell.

When protecting my brain, I really lean more toward "functional" than "stylish", but even so, the typical Tour de France rider has a sleek-looking helmet. Seriously, I think if you cannot find something on this page to like, you are really trying hard to overthink this plate of beans so that you can someday smash your bean.

All that said what bicycle-friendly countries like the Netherlands and Denmark are doing is at least as effective in promoting overall safety, numbers show. Bike facilities that many people ride, nearly universally helmetless, and both feel and are comparatively safe. But Glasgow isn't there yet, as far as I can tell, and even when that's the case you have more to worry about than car-bike accidents. In fact, I crashed my bike a year ago, and two people in my local club have had accidents that put them in the hospital, and none of these involved cars.

If wearing a helmet is an impediment to you riding a bike, I say, ride the bike. The odds do favor you. But if you're determined to ride anyway, I say, think of your brains and wear a helmet. There's not much bike-riding to be done when your brains is smushed.
posted by dhartung at 9:42 PM on July 29, 2010

Can I have the best of both worlds and buy a reasonably priced helmet that is at least vaguely stylish?


What you can do is find a reasonably priced helmet, like a Bell Venture in black or white that will adequately protect your head, provide decent ventilation so that you don't sweat your brains out, and is correctly designed for proper airflow such that wind noise if/when you get above about 15 mph doesn't deafen you to surrounding traffic. In case you ever wondered why we roadie racers wear those wedge-shaped alien fetus looking things, well, there's your answer. Wind turbulence may not seem like a big deal, right up until the moment you've worn one of those shitty, badly designed helmets on a fast descent on a busy road. Also, I don't know how much or how far you ultimately plan on riding, but I will tell you this as well: a couple extra ounces may not seem like much until you're 50 miles into a long day and your neck muscles give out, so the light weight and added ventilation of a proper cycling helmet ultimately does make a real difference.

IMO skate helmets look a whole hell of a lot douchier than regular bike helmets. In general I have found them to be indicative of an individual who's either stuck in permanent adolescence or just trying too hard to be "cool". It's like putting a picnic-table sized spoiler and a loud exhaust on an Opel Corsa, and thinking that makes you a rallye driver.

But then, the way you worded your question, and the responses herein, make you look like a douche far more than wearing simple protective gear would, so maybe I'm feeling a tetch snarky myself.

OK, more actual serious stuff. Please keep in mind that "durability" isn't one of your primary concerns here. Given standard exposure to UV rays, sweat, sunscreens, and normal everyday wear and tear, bike helmets need to be replaced on average of every 2-3 seasons, if not more frequently. They're also single-use, so any impact pretty much means they're shot.

So yea, you're way overthinking this, and your attempts to be cute are not only pissing off the mods, they're also "leading" the post, confusing your audience, and ultimately making you seem more like the douchebag you're trying to avoid resembling.

Last but not least, you should look into why you care so much what other people think. Seriously, most people are too self-absorbed to even notice what kind of helmet you wear. Honestly I find most drivers, nay, most individuals sharing road space in general, are hard-pressed to even notice that there's even a cyclist on the same roadway as them much less what sort of lid you're sporting. So yea. Really dude, no one cares.

For my money the most stylish cycling gear is generally something in dayglo safety yellow, preferably with strobes attached. But maybe that's just because I'm continually at the mercy of US road rage.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:57 PM on July 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

I think the answer is customization. E.g.
posted by aubilenon at 10:38 PM on July 29, 2010

How about Rib Caps made of D3o?
posted by serazin at 11:55 PM on July 29, 2010

I agree with everything that lonefrontranger’s said. I’d go a touch further and suggest that you’ve not really got the feel of the way that we interact with each other here at Mefi. Humour can be difficult to convey in a text-only medium, irony even more so.

Now, finger wagging over – welcome to the greatest site on the internet.

You mention that you’re a student. That being the case, stay out of uber-expensive Evans and head over to Decathlon for bargains galore. The B’Twin bronze is £20 and doesn’t look like a traditional road helmet. The Rockrider MTB helmet is closer to the Bern Baker helmet you liked and at £35 won’t break the bank.

You’re an idiot if you don’t wear a helmet, cycling in the UK.
posted by dmt at 6:27 AM on July 30, 2010

Get whatever nerdy-looking helmet you can find, then go from being mocked to being feared by adding a helmet mohawk to it.
posted by mullingitover at 7:42 AM on July 30, 2010

Beautiful helmets do exist! But they are expensive...

Gorgeous hand painted Belle Helmets (Etsy store)
Silly looking monster helmets from Captain Blueberry (Etsy store)

I can't afford any of these, so I just bought a Bell Faction helmet and am using acrylic paints to make my own!
posted by MeowForMangoes at 10:56 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

FYI, the fewer ventilation holes there are in whatever helmet you choose, the hotter you will be. I thought I could get away with a Pro-Tec style helmet in hopes of making my head look slightly less gigantic. However, summer in the southeast US quickly taught me that sweaty, stringy hair and heatstroke are even lamer than a giant bike helmet. If you live somewhere that doesn't get blazingly hot, it may not matter.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 2:53 PM on July 30, 2010

Lecturing the poster about his poor etiquette AFTER he's apologized for it seems gratuitous. Focusing on wind speed and noise, the kind of riding "roadie racers" do, and quibbling over how a few extra ounces will feel during a 50+ mile bike ride may be a bit of over-thinking too, and shows that the original question was not closely read.

The poster intends to ride short distances around the city where he lives--which is Glasgow. I'm guessing he's not going to be doing too much racing.

As a car-free utilitarian cyclist in Chicago, I log a lot of miles on many short urban trips, where obstacles and hazards are many, and safety is job #1. I too would enjoy a stylish helmet, particularly one that looked nice with my pretty-yet-practical Dutch commuter bike. If I could find one that would make my hair look nicer after the ride than when I started, that would be most desirable! Kidding aside, I don't find the question an unreasonable one. People care about the aesthetics of things--that's why all helmets come in different colors and styles!

I found many of the suggestions made by people here to be good ones--I saw several affordable (less than $100) helmets that were adequate for cycling and looked pretty good. Whether the poster likes those is a matter of taste.

But I don't think the interest in a good looking helmet is something to be so readily dismissed as vain insecurity or something. Someone who likes their helmet will wear it more regularly, and perhaps in circumstances where they may otherwise vacillate, like when going out socially. It may seem petty, but I have witnessed this behavior again and again.

I have a close friend whom I've been unable to persuade to don a helmet because of how it looks. Dismissing him as stupid, naive, insecure, vain--whatever--none of that will get a helmet on his head. I would be overjoyed to present him with one so stylish he couldn't resist. You can criticize that all you like, but if a stylish helmet gets worn, I think that's a good thing.

One more thing: assertions from anyone--the original poster or the cyclists responding here--that certain kinds of helmets (any kind of helmet) might make you look like a dick, or a douchebag, or whatever--totally not helpful. Do you wonder why some people are reluctant to wear a helmet? THAT's why.
posted by ViolaGrinder at 4:23 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

« Older How do I set up a proxy server for China?   |   Losing the lower gut Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.