On a hunt for the best helmet? Talk about decision overload! We know it’s impossible not to scroll down the bike helmet rabbit hole looking at brands like Bontrager, POC, and Specialized to find the right fit for you. Been there, done that. But, you made it here. That means you’re heading in the right direction.
Wearing a bike helmet is your first line of defense against accidents. It makes sense that you’d want to protect that precious noggin’ of yours. The Snell Memorial Foundation reports that 85 percent of bike-related head and brain injuries can be prevented by a cycling helmet. Interestingly, men are less likely to wear one than women (21 percent vs. 28 percent, respectively), according to the Journal of Brain Injury. When you’re fully equipped with the right head gear, like an MIPS helmet or mountain bike helmet for instance, you’re proactively choosing to protect yourself from potential life-threatening consequences. Because, let’s face it, accidents happen.
Curious what to look for in a road bike helmet? Whether you’re new to biking because you needed a pandemic hobby (hi, hello, welcome) or you’re a daily bike commuter, we’ve got you and your dome covered.
Like most decisions of this kind, picking out a new helmet is a highly personal choice. First, you need to decide on a brand (Bern and Nutcase come to mind as close competitors to Thousand). Then, you have to decide on a place to purchase your new helmet. Think outdoor gear stores like REI, online from Amazon, or straight from the brand’s website (always a good strategy for warranty purposes). You might also consider whether or not your road bike helmet can moonlight as a skate helmet — we’re all for versatility. And finally, price. Budget plays a star role in most pro/con lists and for good reason. An expensive helmet doesn’t always equal better.
Without further ado, we put together a few considerations to keep in mind while you’re shopping.
Bike helmets have come a long way. In the 1800s, high-wheel riders wore something called a pith, which was a cloth-covered helmet made of sholapith (dried, sponge-y plant matter). Decades later, racing helmets were made out of leather. Despite the thick material, racing helmets were more ventilation than cycling helmet. This made them pretty aerodynamic. Fast-forward to the 1970s when Bell delivered the first bike helmet made of a foam liner and a hard outer shell. It didn’t look pretty, but the company was onto something. Truly. It was the official jumping off point for modern helmets that we know and love today. Shortly after Bell’s launch, Giro hit the grounding pedaling and also released its own version of the foam road helmet.
As you can imagine, innovation and safety have played a huge part in helmet evolution. Now, we see more streamlined and comfortable options. Characteristics like fit, breathability, strap material, and weight all contribute to a helmet’s comfort level. So does well-placed padding. In fact, there are perks to buying a helmet with removable padding because you can both customize the fit and adjust the comfort to your liking.
In talking with real riders, we found that weight ranks high on their list of important comfort characteristics. Dipping back into our history lesson again, one of the first Snell-approved bike helmets was actually a motorcycle helmet that weighed a whopping two pounds in 1970. We laugh just thinking about it. Today’s lightweight helmets weigh about 300-500 grams depending on the size. That’s a relief, because wearing something that weighs two pounds on our head sounds miserable, especially when we’re on the road actually riding.
PHOTO COURTESY OF: @needyawisangko TAKEN BY @_siogie
We believe that bike helmet design should be useful. With that in mind, we urge you to consider what you really need out of a helmet before purchasing one. Sure, all those bells and whistles might look cool. But are they really serving a purpose for you? That “for you” part is key.
Most bike helmets are unisex in design and fit. You’ll also find that helmet styles come in a variety of colorways. Black might seem basic, but it’s one of the more versatile colors for obvious reasons. That said, we can’t help but appreciate bright-and-bold color choices and stand behind using your dome as a statement maker.
Shifting gears a bit to other features, you might pay attention to the type of buckle on the chin strap. Some buckles are snaps and others are magnetic. The latter makes getting in and out of a helmet super easy and without the risk of getting pinched.
Vents are also common, if not standard at this point. The number and size of vents will determine the amount of airflow and breathability your head will feel while you wear the helmet. Those who are into mountain biking and road cycling — two potentially sweaty biking activities — might opt for a helmet design with more airflow than, say, a casual cruiser.
In terms of weight, we find that bike commuters prefer a lightweight helmet option because they’re always on the move. This goes for last-mile riders, too. It’s highly recommended that bike share and e-scooter users wear a helmet — even if it means carrying it around or packing it in a bag. If you’re commuting by bike at night, you might opt for a fluorescent helmet or add extra reflective stickers to help you stand out in the dark.
Speaking of accessorizing your helmet, consider the all-mighty bike glove as a complement. Your hands will thank you for thinking of them on rides of all kinds (especially the long ones). A good bike glove should have a layer of cushioning and be constructed out of lightweight fabric so it’s breathable.
All bike helmets sold in the U.S. are required to meet Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. Certified helmets will have the CPSC label. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it. You might also notice that some helmets meet other safety standards like ASTM, Snell, and/or ANSI. These labels mean the helmet underwent additional testing.
In recent years, MIPS technology was introduced to the world. MIPS means Multi-directional Impact Protection System. It’s a brain-protection system (BPS) that’s integrated into helmets to protect cyclists when they fall at an angle (which, turns out, is the most common way to fall while riding a bike). MIPS offers protection against rotational force caused by falling at an angle. The way MIPS works is the internal low-friction layer allows your head to move just enough inside the helmet (10-15mm in all directions to be exact) to prevent serious head injuries.
We outfitted our MIPS helmet with a 50 Lumen magnetic tail light, a removable visor for personalization depending on your mood, and a secret PopLock for extra security when locking up your bicycle helmet.
PHOTO COURTESY OF: @mountain.and.cloud
Your new helmet should fit like a glove. And by that we mean it should be snug but not too tight. It should sit level on your head and should not tilt back while you’re standing still or in motion. Not sure what size head you have? There’s an easy solution.
Thousand makes safety seamless to get you moving. We’d also like to think that we make safety stylish, too. Bicyclists love us and have some really nice things to say. [blushing] There’s a reason why our bike helmets have five stars.
@prunesmith says, “I kickstarted you guys! So happy to see you make it big!”
@travis71nm says, “I love my new Thousand helmet!”
@luxefacade says, “I’m seeing more of your helmets everywhere. Just the other day, a woman complimented me on the one I was wearing.”
Frank M. says, “Not only is it stylish for street use, but it is very comfortable and I feel more protected on rides through my city. Opted for the personalization for an extra touch and it looks beautiful all around.”
Katelyn R. says, “This is my first helmet purchase for my new electric bike. I am very impressed with the design and the functionality to make it a comfortable fit. My favorite feature is having a hole in the helmet to loop it through my bike lock when needed.”
Cori says, “I am over the moon with my new chapter helmet. The fit is fantastic thanks to the customizable interior sizing strap, and the magnetic clasp is genius.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF: @kimmyjean__
The best bike helmet isn’t a one-size-fits-all choice. Sometimes function (besides keeping you safe, of course) is more important than personality. Or, why compromise when you can have both with a Thousand bike helmet? Remember to keep comfort, design, safety, and fit in mind as your search continues.
If you need a little something to sweeten the deal while you’re here, Thousand offers an Accident Replacement Policy. If you’re ever in an accident, we hope that you brush yourself off and make it out unscathed. And we promise to replace your damaged Thousand helmet for free so you can get back out there on the road or bike path or mountain bike trail — whichever strikes your fancy.
Ready to ride with Thousand? Shop our Chapter MIPS Helmet or the vintage-inspired Heritage Helmet collection, which started it all.