Hip helmets are enough of a thing that even us racers* can bear to vary our look from the usual hairnet style. We can stand to get... dare I say it... stylish?
[* Just go with me, OK?]
The hardshell helmet look is all the way back in style, and has been for a while now. Everything from motorcycle dudes to kids rockin the Spongebob lid at the park. I get it, a nice smooth, clean look is a welcomed break from the same old four-ribbed bike helmet. But if you’re going to look stylish, well, can we have some actual style?
Yes, we can.
Item: Thousand helmet, the Epoch Collection
Maker: Thousand, Los Angeles
Material: Lightweight (450g) hard shell plastic, vegan leather straps
Price: Epoch Collection $115; Heritage $85
Order? You can buy them directly from their website.
What it is: Stylish hardshell looks for the casual rider.
Strengths: They look great, very detailed, function well.
Weaknesses: Just could maybe offer more choices.
Thousand is all about taking that blank canvas and making it sing with clean looks, minimalist detail, and small practicalities that make their helmets the choice for the grown-up casual cyclist. The latest is the Epoch Collection, three new looks from a revised painting technique, and each with its own story.
Thousand are a Los Angeles company founded on the idea that helmets might be necessary but need to be fun too. Their founder was ambivalent about wearing them until a friend’s accident convinced her it was necessary, and from there the company set out to not just make helmets but make them attractive. Yes, other companies had already run with the full hardshell look, but Thousand had a few tricks up its sleeve.
The uniting concept is that while it was fun to make hardshell helmets painted to look like a watermelon, something different was needed in the older (yeah, hipper) person world. Thousand offers a variety of colors, uses a bottom edge as another design feature, outlining the design, and adds leather straps to the modern, minimailst look.
From there, they got even smarter, with a practical innovation that shows they knew their audience: a hole behind the right ear that serves as an unbeatable method for locking the helmet to the bike, something their audience of casual riders would want. They back it up by saying they’ll replace it if stolen while locked to your bike. The hole is covered most of the time by a cutout that holds fast magnetically, so this feature is all bonus, no downside.
The look is the key. The Speedway Creme is an homage to Steve McQueen; the Willowbrook Mint a tip to the old Cadillac Bel Air, and the Nordic Wood a nod to modern Norwegian design. I went for the wood, being in the Northwest and all, and wasn’t sure how I’d like it. But in person, I think it works.
As far as the wearing experience, I use it to get around town or to work, basically for rides where I’m not trying to get in a workout. The hardshell concept will never breathe as well as a typical rib design, but the venting on the Thousand is a positive step toward reducing sweat. The fit is good, the strap stays snug, and the magnetic clasp is a breeze. Thousand includes extra padding to customize the feel of your helmet, so comfort is within reach no matter what.
I love the PopLock opening, it’s definitely a secure way to leave your lid behind on your lock. Everything about the helmet is well thought out to simplify the experience.
But mostly I appreciate the style. The matte finish and the detailing is just distinctive and appealing, in a way that’s not at all silly. “Fun” in cycling quite often tips toward the absurd, but Thousand takes fun and fashion in a more dignified direction. It’s a good value by helmet standards, and a solid fashion statement for people who like to look good and still get around by their bike.