The Illustrated History of Hat Head

Dyn-O-Mite!, October 1997


The Illustrated History of Hat Head
By Andrew Tilin and Mike Grudowski


Who could have guessed, way back at that family reunion when your cousin Larry snuffled down one Schlitz too many and ended up with a Styrofoam cooler on his head, that he was really onto something? In 1977, most of us would sooner have donned a feather boa than a bike helmet; now few would risk a spin around the block without an expanded-polystyrene lid. Herewith, a crash course in helmet history.

CINELLI HAIRNET

c. mid-1960s to 1980s, $20

5.6 ounces. Synthetic leather. Tagged "the blood bucket" but still popular in Europe.


BELL BIKER

c. 1975, $35

16 ounces. First foam-lined hardshell; hot and hefty but spared many a noggin.


GIRO PROLIGHT

c. 1987, $70

7.5 ounces. Just foam, so half as heavy as its forebears. Actually allowed sensation of wind in hair.


GIRO
AEROHEAD

c. 1988, $100

8.75 ounces. Skeptics scoffed at conehead shape until Greg LeMond won 1989 Tour de France in last day's time trial, nipping Laurent Fignon and his flapping ponytail by eight seconds. Lab tests suggested the helmet made the difference. Bonus: Paint on almond-shaped eyes for an instant alien-abductor mask!


BELL EVO2 PRO

c. 1997, $100

9.8 ounces. These days a $20 helmet can save your life; five times that pays for marketing, aerodynamics research, and a groovalicious paint job.


Photographs by Clay Ellis

Copyright 1997, Outside magazine

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