I loathe helmets.
Working as a bike messenger in a major metropolitan city, I’ve come to expect regular harassment regarding my lack thereof.
“But it’s so dangerous!”
“What if you hit your head?”
“I worry about you.”
Helmets annoy me. More often than not, they’re more hindrance than help. Commuter helmets, while fashionable, are often nothing more than giant heat sinks; the result of poor design and a lack of ventilation.
On the other end of the spectrum, racing helmets are very well ventilated, but generally uncomfortable and cost-prohibitive. As an industry professional, being forced to choose between the two led me to believe that I was better off not choosing at all.
I was quite satisfied with my helmet free life. That was until a press release from the Los Angeles based company, Thousand, came into my life.
It's important to wear a helmet while biking, but most are ugly, awkward, and uncomfortable. As a result, helmets often get left at home instead of keeping you protected.
I’ve always been a sucker for a press release that knows its demographic.
Thankfully, Thousand Helmets; creators of classically-designed and innovative bicycle helmets, celebrates the company’s second anniversary with the debut of their new Epoch helmet line.
I clicked through the link and perused the Thousand website. It was clear that these helmets were the antithesis to the norm; equipment for racers and those who wish to emulate them.
Instead, the designs put forth by Thousand were aesthetically pleasing, with specific attention to the smallest details that often make the biggest impact. Vegetan leather straps. Metal buckles. A beveled brim that doesn’t protrude, but still can serve as shade from the glare of a sunrise or sunset.
I bit the bullet. I did need a new helmet, and should the Thousand not work out, I could always keep it around for visitors. I fired off an e-mail to my marketing contact and requested a Thousand helmet in my size for review.
Within a few days, a beautiful seafoam box found its way to my desk. Inside, a brand-new Thousand helmet concealed within a tastefully branded cloth bag. Pressing deeper into the box, I discovered a Thousand Bike Club shop rag, as well as a handwritten letter from Thousand’s Brand Manager.
Thanks for the support! Let us know if there’s anything else you need.
I hadn’t even laid eyes on my new helmet and already I was immersed in an experience. Like a young Audrey Hepburn drinking her morning coffee peeking into the Tiffany’s storefront, I was enamored. A full service shop, catering to my every whim and desire, all neatly packed within the confines of the seafoam box sitting on my desk.
As I had requested this helmet for review, I had no control over which helmet was sent, aside from a request in size. Excitedly, I slipped back the branded bag and let out a short gasp as Thousand’s color choice makes itself known.
Speedway Creme, featuring bronze accents and three racing stripes straight down the middle. I ran my hands over the surface. The lack of drag from the matte finish is welcoming to the touch, as is the subtle beveled edge forming at the base. Minimal. Quaint. Elegant. A euphoria of nostalgia overcomes me, as the memories of my childhood begin to stir from their dormant slumber.
As a child, I was obsessed with Speed Racer. Each Sunday morning was spent stationed in front of the TV, donning my white bicycle helmet while watching my Speed Racer VHS tapes. I had even gone so far as to request my parent’s assistance with puff-paint so that my little white helmet could also bear a red M on the front like that of the titular hero’s. Each time I put on my homemade Speed Racer helmet, I too, was participating in dangerous races, thwarting dastardly villains, and saving the day.
Back in the present, laughter erupts from my gut. It really should come as no surprise that a child growing up watching Speed Racer would end up working as bike messenger. And yet, before seeing the Thousand helmet, I had never been so invigorated by a single piece of cycling gear. Having been cooped up in the office all day, I use my lack of physical activity as an excuse to go out and try the new gear.
Fixed gear in hand, the Thousand helmet quickly attaches to my head with an effortless swing of the magnetic buckle. Channeling my old Speed Racer tapes, I tear out of the office like a bat-out-of-hell, straight into the heart of Downtown. As my vehicle begins to pick up speed, it becomes apparent that this helmet is unlike any I’d ever worn before.
Typical cycling helmets, especially MTB helmets, have a tendency to protrude from the area protecting the cerebellum. While most riders aren’t affected by this design, those of us who wear backpacks or messenger bags for a living will constantly find the base of our bags rubbing up against and/or striking this portion. What is completely tolerable for a last-mile commute from train to office becomes an absolute living hell when you’re pushing thirty-miles a day, seven days a week. This design flaw is absent in the Thousand. In fact, as I began to pedal through a tight one-way city corner, I begin to forget I’m wearing a helmet at all.
Prior to setting outside, I had spent a few minutes engaging with the fit, swapping out interchangeable pads and adjusting the straps. To my surprise, everything was of immaculate quality with a special attention to detail. Specifically, the rear buckle for adjusting the helmet positioning. Usually, this detail is left to a cheap plastic mechanism, requiring re-adjustment each time the helmet is equipped. Not the Thousand. Having found the sweet spot for my curvature of my skull, I was able to set the strap and never even give it a second thought.
I’m hitting the main drag through Downtown. Cars are honking, buses are running stop lights. Still my momentum gains; now matching the flow of traffic. And for the first time in a very long time, I feel a very welcome sensation.
Cold air. Flowing through the helmet as well as over it. The seven vents and three internal channels are clearly serving their purpose. As noted earlier, one of my biggest gripes about non-race helmets is in how quickly a helmet can become an oven. Not so with the Thousand. At 72 degrees fahrenheit, with my pace approaching and exceeding 22 mph, the breeze surrounding my head is more than welcome.
I catch a glance of my reflection in a store window as a I pass by. The Speedway color scheme flourishes against the dull city background. The helmet’s shape, reminiscent of an old fashioned scooter helmet, creates an aesthetically pleasing silhouette as I continue into the heart of the city.
I begin a descent and subsequent climb beneath the train station depot, spot checking my blind spots as I tear through an emergency right. Despite being an enclosed, wrap around helmet, there’s no obstruction in my line of sight. I let out a sly grin. There’s not a single doubt in my mind; Thousand has not only created a helmet that’s a joy to wear, but a helmet that has done away with the flaws of its predecessors.
As I pull back into the office, I find I can’t stop smiling. A sleight of hand and the magnetic buckle comes undone as I use my free hand to walk my bike through the door. Never again will I have to fuss with those stupid plastic buckles which always managed to somehow pinch my chin, despite the years of practice. I chuckle as I swing my bike into its resting place; like my childhood self, I’m stuck back on helmets again.
Thousand Helmets is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale industry. With their latest entry into the market with the Epoch line, riders are no longer subject to choose between fit and function. There will always be a push towards lighter and thus “faster” products in cycling. More often than not, these pursuits are made at the cost of comfort and style. With Thousand’s brave new helmet design, riders will never have to choose between fit and function again.
Thank you Thousand, for making the helmet fun again.
Looking to add some chic to your cycle? Explore our selection of Thousand Helmets in the Bike Pretty shop!