The Goal: Find the best helmet for Sunday Citi Bikers and daily commuters alike. Bike-shop owners guided us away from typical racing helmets (breathable but unattractive) and toward more stylish skateboard-inspired, urban-riding options, after agreeing that a helmet’s no good if you don’t want to wear it.
The Verdict: Kask’s Italian LifeStyle helmet is the rare model that comes with a built-in visor — ideal for protection against both the sun and unavoidable city dust. Four vents along the top keep air flowing, even on the hottest days; a dial in the back adjusts your fit; and while the LifeStyle doesn’t yet incorporate MIPS, the latest technology in helmet safety, an inner gel lining provides extra cushion for your head. The 11 color options and real-leather straps mean you won’t mind carrying it around, either.
Other runner-up helmets
The much cheaper Bern Diablo comes equipped with MIPS, the newest helmet safety system, where the helmet adjusts to protect the specific point of impact. This is the helmet you’ll see everyone wearing as they ride across the Williamsburg Bridge.
Also equipped with MIPS, the Giro’s low-profile version comes with a visor that won’t quite block dust, but it will shade some summer sun. There’s also a lock port, so you can lock the helmet to your bike.
Overloaded with features, the Bell Annex has an adjustable venting system that uses a lever to open the vents for warm weather, or close them for winter. It comes with a free year of ICEdot emergency notification (it measures impact and notifies family members if you’re injured), with an online profile that links to a sticker on the helmet for emergency responders. There’s also a removable soft visor and an integrated rear light. For $175, Bell will also throw in a face shield, much like the one on the above Kask.
Smith rose to fame making helmets and goggles for snowboarding, and this is the brand’s entry into stylish street helmets.
Thousand is an L.A.-based company founded with the goal of making beautiful helmets that people will want to wear. The chin straps are vegan leather, and clasp with easy and comfortable magnets (if you prefer matte black, you can buy the similar Heritage model, too).
Perhaps the most stylish of them all, the Hedon Cortex, designed in England, is made specifically to protect the prefrontal cortex, where the brain’s pleasure center is located. The copper and brass hardware and calf-leather trip help increase that pleasure.
*This article appears in the May 29, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.
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