A velojoy reader and great friend, Shumei, sent me a note to say that she just bought an annual Citi Bike membership (Hurray!) and she’s going to start commuting to work this fall. She reached out for advice on the most stylish bicycle helmets for city cycling. The good news is that we around-town riders have more to choose from than ever in head gear that blends protection with the same considerations that inform our fashion choices.
I find some of the most timeless and versatile designs to be inspired by classic equestrian helmets and by vintage moto styles. The eight below are some standouts that I shared with Shumei. All meet current safety standards. It’s the styling and individual features, like finishes, interior padding, venting, and chin strap and closure designs, that vary.
Still, the bottom line has got to be how the helmet feels on your head; you want comfort and a secure fit — no pinching at the crown, no wobbling! Fortunately, once you settle on the right size, many helmets have features that allow you to fine-tune the fit. It’s ideal to try a helmet on before buying. But if you purchase online, pay close attention to the sizing information provided by manufacturer.
As a New Yorker who lives in and loves neutrals, I tilt toward the simplicity and goes-with-everything versatility of blacks, whites and grays. But most of the companies below also offer a variety of colors and prints, so have some fun exploring!
Above: Thousand Stay Gold, $95
The warm luster of gold paired with the faux leather brown straps lend retro appeal to this lid. A magnetic makes the closure easy to manipulate with one hand. Vents, plus interior air channels provide air flow. Another cool feature: You can slide your bar lock through a pop-out opening on one side to secure the helmet to your bike when you reach your destination. explorethousand.com
Sawako Crocodile, $130
Sawako’s highly tactile faux croc helmets take sophistication for around-town cycling to a new level. The richly embossed black is a versatile choice for commuting, complementing both tailored and more relaxed looks. Luxe details include stitching of the material across the crown, as well as a fixed visor to help shield your eyes. sawakofuruno.com
Nutcase Metroride, $79.99
It’s a Union Jack, but the graphic reads more abstract in black and gray. This one is part of Nutcase’s lightweight, compact line-up packed with commuter-friendly features like a spin dial to adjust fit, a no-pinch magnetic buckle, chin pad for comfort and snap-in visor. Nutcase offers a particularly wide variety of eye-catching patterns and colors. nutcasehelmets.com
Kask Gloss Avorio, $239
Whenever I see one of these on the streets of NYC, it summons up cruising along the Italian Riviera on a moped. This urban helmet’s most distinctive feature is the ultra-cool, mirrored, snap-on eye shield, but this lightweight model also has four air intakes, a faux leather strap with chin pad and quick-release closure and adjustable sizing. Winter pads and a liner cap are available as optional accessories.
Bern Lenox, $59.99
This classic style with its integrated visor is the soul of minimal elegance. A thin shell around a hard foam lining delivers light weight and a close profile with less bulk. A micro-adjustable crank helps you dial in the fit, and, as shown above, you can add extra warmth in winter with an optional liner. bernunlimited.com
Lazer Street Deluxe, Chrome, $65
The Lazer’s highly reflective finish not only adds visibility, but also polish to your ride. The Street Deluxe comes with 16 vents and interior channeling for air flow, leather straps and metal strap separators, and a detachable visor. An optional winter liner also is available. lazersport.com
Bicycle Helmet Covers
Left: Yakkay Paris Oilskin Bike Helmet, $135 Right: Bandbox Dubliner (similar to photo above), $124
If favor a hat over the look of a conventional bike helmet, you’re covered, too. The options above by Swedish maker Yakkay and U.S.-based Bandbox Helmets, respectively, are hats that fit over helmets. The prices here include the cover and the hard shell beneath (which meets safety standards), but part of the beauty of these is that you can buy the covers separately and change them according to your mood, outfit or weather conditions. Yakkay gives you a choice of shell colors. Bandbox also gives you the option to select the helmet strap color, so you can, for example, match your hair color. More info:
- Here’s how to make sure your helmet fits properly and provides maximum protection.
- Here’s how to turn your helmet strap into a temporary bike lock.
Photos: Courtesy of manufacturers