The Thousand Helmet
This urban lid will have you looking for excuses to ride your bike
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
Sometimes, when my seven-year-old sees a cyclist without a helmet, he’ll roll down the window and yell, “Hey, put a helmet on!” That’s probably my favorite thing about kids today, whom I’ll call the safety-first generation—helmets are second nature to many of them. The thought of riding a bike without one doesn’t cross their minds.
I don’t come from the safety-first generation. Chances are you don’t either. The only time I ever wore a helmet as a kid was when I was parachuting off the roof with a trash bag. Unfortunately, that youthful disregard for brain trauma will occasionally creep into my adult life. I always cover my head when I’m mountain biking, but that quick jaunt into town for a beer or cup of coffee? Sometimes I don’t bother protecting my dome.
If I’m being honest, it’s a matter of aesthetics. Bike helmets, in general, look stupid. My trail helmet looks like a prop from Mad Max and my space age roadie lid looks like a douchy space age roadie lid. Also, what the hell am I supposed to do with the thing once I get to my destination? Leave it on the bike to get stolen? Carry it with me? Both options just feel so…inconvenient.
I know. I’m an idiot. My wife tells me all the time.
Helmet companies know there are a bunch of idiots like me out there, so they’ve developed a whole sub-style of lids for those of us who are too self-conscious to be bothered with safe cycling practices around town. These urban helmets are basically better looking versions of our mountain and road helmets. Bern makes the hip Brentwood, Nutcase puts out a bunch of different arty lids, and Giro has the Sutton. The whole idea is to create a helmet that looks more like an accessory to your wardrobe than a piece of safety equipment. And the new Thousand Helmet might be the most successful of the lot.
Inspired by vintage scooter helmets, the Thousand was designed to look so good, people will actually want to wear it. While the Thousand is as safe as anything else on the market, this helmet is as much about form as it is function. It looks good with jeans and a leather jacket. Or a suit. It’s a helmet that turns heads at stop lights. A helmet that you wear on the way to the art gallery, but also that makes you want to get a tattoo and roll a pack of smokes up in your sleeve.
Like all great pieces of design, the Thousand was born out of necessity. Designer Gloria Hwang lost a friend to a bike accident, and began thinking about all of the times she herself had never worn a helmet. After digging into the statistics (there are roughly 1,000 bike-related fatalities every year in the U.S.), Hwang set out to design a helmet that even idiots like me would go out of their way to wear.
I’m happy to say, Hwang was successful. Not only do I always wear this helmet in town, I look for new reasons to get on my bike.
Each helmet is outfitted with vegan leather straps and a magnetic buckle that’s easy to snap or release with a single hand. There’s also a cool pop-out port on the side that allows you to lock the Thousand to your bike. So you don’t have to carry it with you and it won’t get stolen.
And just like that, Thousand has taken away all of my excuses for not wearing a helmet around town. Consider me an honorary member of the safety-first generation.