Adult Bicycle Helmets That Look Cool

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Sunday, July 3, 2011
I used to think bicycle helmets look dorky. A bicycle helmet makes my big head look even bigger.

In the warmer months I enjoy biking. It's a nice change of pace from my usual exercise routine and I get to see some nice scenery. It makes exercising more pleasurable. In the past I've even used my bike to commute to work.

When I'm riding my bike on the road I never wear a helmet. I own one because I used to do a bit of trail riding in parks that required them.

If you're reading this, you probably think like me about how bike helmets look but, as I do, you understand the safety benefits if god forbid your head hits the pavement. Or maybe helmets are required by your local laws or the regulations of areas you'd like to go bike riding in.

After thinking about it, I've determined that I can look OK in a bike helmet if I choose the right one. Hopefully  my thoughts and recommendations on adult bicycle helmets for the more casual ride or urban commuter can help others.

** Check out my Giro Hex helmet review to find out more about the helmet I selected. Other helmets I considered are below.

These are the things you have to keep in mind to get a bicycle helmet that you're comfortable wearing. 
  • Get over yourself!
  • Get a helmet that fits properly.
  • Get a helmet that matches your style.
I'll discuss each point in more detail.

Get Over Yourself

This is a big obstacle you have to get over. Stop being so vain. There are lots of great reasons to go bike riding. One of the reasons you ride your bike is so that you look good the 99% of the time you're not riding. You may feel a little silly wearing a bike helmet but it's important for your safety.

This past weekend I went on a bike ride along an area where there are lots of other riders, joggers and walkers. There was one out of shape guy jogging. He was having a hard time. He was all sweaty and would jog a few yards then walk, then jog and walk.

That's how I looked when I decided to get back into shape and tried jogging. I knew it wasn't going to be good so I picked a very quiet area and I waited until after dark so nobody could see me and here's this guy huffing and puffing, starting and stopping in a public area in full daylight. I envied him.

You don't look as bad as you think you do in a helmet. When you wear a helmet you look like you take your biking seriously and you're not some dude out for a joy ride. That's the way most people will see you.

Get A Helmet That Fits Properly

It's important to find a helmet that fits you properly. The better the fit, the less awkward it will feel and look.

If you have a smaller head, try to avoid one-size-fits-all helmets because they're probably going to look to big on you. If your head is on the larger size a one-size-fits-all helmet could have a natural look on you and they are easier to adjust than helmets that require you to insert or remove pads for a good fit.

How to Measure Your Head

To get a good fitting bicycle helmet, you first need to know the size of your head. You can use the type of measuring tape tailor's and seamstresses use or just a plain piece of string that doesn't  stretch.

Wrap the measuring tape or string around your head just over your ears and eyebrows and note the measurement. If you have thick or curly hair pull it a little tight, but not too tight.

Get A Helmet That Fits Your Style

Even though I don't like a helmet on me, the strange thing is that I think bike helmets in general don't look all that bad. When I see someone riding on the street wearing tight bike shorts and a cycling jersey on a racing bike, a helmet looks normal. In fact I think the person would look odd without one.

That's not the type of rider I am. I'm usually in a  t-shirt and baggy cargo pants on my mountain bike. Strapping a bright blue racing helmet would look odd. But helmet manufacturers are aware there are many types of riders and make helmets in different styles.

The two types of helmets I looked at were the pot-style helmets and the urban commuter style helmets.

Pot Style Helmets

Pot style helmets are usually multi-sport helmets that look a little like a small open-face, cruiser style motorcycle helmets. 

They have a nice casual look for my style of riding and fit style of an urban commuter, casual rider, trail rider, etc. They also look and work well for skateboarding and rollerblading.

The down side to the pot-style helmet is that they don't have as good ventilation as more traditional style cycle helmets. That might be good for the cooler months though, and in the summer the pads do a good job of absorbing your sweat.

Here are some of the pot-style helmets I was considering. I ultimately went with the Giro Section Bike/Multi-Sport Helmet in black because I got a really good deal on it and it was the smallest, lightest helmet of this style. It was a toss-up between this one and the Giro Flak Bike Helmet which has better ventilation and is a little tougher with its ABS Shell. I'll use my old bike helmet when I need better ventilation.

Update: Had to change the previous. I placed my order, wrote this blog post and then later realized I wanted a bike helmet with better ventilation that looked more like a traditional bike helmet. I'll discuss more about my purchase in the next section.

Click on the images below for more details, current pricing and various size and style options.

Giro Section Bike/Multi-Sport Helmet, Matte Black, LargeGiro Flak Multi-Sport Helmet (Matte Black, Small)Giro Surface Multi-Sport Helmet (Large, Matte Black)Nutcase Black Plaid Street Helmet, Large/X-LargeNutcase Black 8 Matte Crossover Skate Helmet, Large/X-LargeBell Faction Bike Helmet (Matte Black, Large)Protec CPSC Classic Helmet (Matte Charcoal, Medium)

Urban Commuter Helmets

Helmet manufacturers recognize not everyone is training for the Tour de France and have made traditional bicycle helmets styled to fit with the urban commuter or casual rider. Unlike other bike helmets, they have a more rounded back instead of the elongated, aerodynamic design that just makes the helmet too long in my opinion. At least for more casual riding.

They look a lot like what you think a bicycle helmet looks like but there are subtle differences to give it a look that fits better if you're riding in the streets in your work clothes, or casually taking a ride in your neighborhood or local trail

The Bell Citi Bike HelmetBell Muni Helmet and Bell Arella Helmet are nice in they have a mount for a light and specially designed Bell Metropolis/Citi Bicycle Mirror that mounts to the visor to help you see what's behind you along city streets and easily tucks away when not in use.

Update:  After changing my mind about getting a pot-style helmet, thanks to the long weekend I was able to cancel my order. It was a close call between the Bell Muni and the Giro Hex Mountain Bike Helmet. The Muni is nice in that you can attach a mirror to the visor and the rear straps have flashing red LED lights which can be helpful if you ride at night. The Giro Hex looked a bit smaller and I liked the design and matte finish so I purchased the Giro Hex.

Here are some other urban commuting helmets you might like.

Click on the picture for more details, options and current pricing.

Schwinn Urban Lighted Adult Helmet (Grey)Uvex Urban Bicycle Helmet - C410107 (Soft Black - 58-63 cm)Bell Citi Bike Helmet (Black, Universal Fit)Giro Indicator Bike Helmet, Titanium/SilverBell Muni Bicycle Road Helmet Matte Black, Universal SizingBell Variant Bicycle Mountain Helmet, Matte Brown/Gold Blocks, LargeGiro Rift Bike Helmet (Titanium/Carbon, Universal Fit)Giro Stylus Bike Helmet (black/titanium, Medium)
Hope this info helps convince some of you to put a lid on!

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