Riding season is here boys and girls, and one of my favorite aspects of the change in weather is shedding of clothing layers. Wool overcoats give way to leather jackets, sweaters peel off revealing cotton t-shirts, and, the most enjoyable and telltale signs of Spring is revealed as pretty girls kick off Uggs, slide into sandals, and sashay in short skirts. Yes, it’s a glorious time to be alive.
So when I finally get back in the saddle and take those first few turns around the block, the last thing I want to do is put on a helmet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in saving lives and riding safe, so I always wear head protection. But that doesn’t mean I like it. Given a real choice, and a world where street riding wasn’t treacherous, I would much rather feel the wind in my hair. I’m willing to bet most other riders feel the same. Still, we abide by the law in 47 states that require helmets (19 of them require helmets for all riders, the other 28 have restrictions based on age). We know it’s smart to do, not simply to avoid citation. In 2008 alone, 1,800 lives are estimated to have been saved by riders who wore helmets. But most of us still gripe about it.
Personally, I wear as minimal a covering as allowable. I know guys who still wear gear that is not DOT approved and get by with novelty lids. Some of them are just trying to rebel and cheat the system, but others have a legitimate gripe that most helmets are just plain ugly. In response, I will not offer an exhaustive list of manufacturers, but get to the meat of this blog and suggest you have a look at Ateliers Ruby helmets. Parisian designer Jerome Coste drew on Steve McQueen iconography, old-school racing cars when he set about developing the Pavillion range of motorcycle accessories for Ruby. He also sold his own motorbike to finance the production of the full carbon fiber shells, the kind used in Formula One racing. They are lined in decadent Nappa lambskin, chosen for its comfort and anti-bacterial properties, and are really friggin cool. I particularly like the slight signature crest that runs along the top, sort of like a medieval knight’s adornment. Standard designs offer some unique detail, but you can also create your own combinations. Okay, so $700 is an extravagance that might initially cause laughter, but considering what we lay out for other gear that is not nearly so protective, and the chance to actually feel cool wearing a lid, maybe it’s worth the investment. It sure beats the cost of being scraped off the pavement. — Mark Mormar