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There are a lot of cool things out there that make us wonder — do they really work? In our I Tried It series, we set out to use them in the real world and have determined that, in fact, they really do.
On Trial: Thousand Chapter Helmet
Tester: Melanie Yates, a fledgling cyclist who should be adding “helmet” to the “phone, wallet, keys” checklist before a ride
The Brief: When it comes to bicycling gear, there's a world of possibilities to consider. There are rechargeable lights that you can strap onto your bike, front and rear racks for holding essentials securely in place on the go, reflective and neon vests for making yourself more visible to cars and pedestrians, and even specific cycling shoes that better grip the pedals. None of these things are superfluous, as they add to your comfort and safety while on the road, but they are perhaps one tier of importance below what may be the most vital piece of gear aside from the bike itself: the helmet.
According to a study from the National Transportation Safety Board, bike helmets have been proven to reduce the likelihood of serious head injuries by 60%. So, for me, it wasn't a question of if I wanted to get a helmet for my new bike, but which one. I had the chance to try out Thousand's Chapter MIPS Cycling Helmet, and it feels like it was made for me.
Thousand sets itself apart from the competition with its helmets’ unique dome silhouettes and fun colorways inspired by midcentury moto lids. According to Thousand’s founder Gloria Hwang, “Our goal is to make a helmet that felt like something you’d find in your grandparents’ garage, but with modern detailing that fits seamlessly into your daily life.”
Of course, the brand's products don't stop at just looks. Both the original Heritage Helmets ($89) and new Chapter Helmets ($135) feature magnetic chinstrap buckles, a dial-fit system that secures the helmet to the back of your head, a magnetic pop lock that allows you to lock your helmet more securely to your bike, and vents for increased airflow, but the Chapter is slightly more leveled-up in features (and a little pricier as a result).
The Chapter Helmet, available in white, navy, and black, is additionally equipped with a detachable visor, a rechargeable bike light that attaches magnetically to the back, and MIPS technology for added safety. MIPS is a third-party research facility and safety system based in Sweden, and they develop technology for helmet manufacturers that's meant to eliminate rotational impact to the brain in the event of an accident by allowing a sliding motion between 10 and 15 millimeters inside of the helmet.
The MIPS tech for the Thousand Chapter Helmet looks like a yellow inner lining affixed to the inside of the helmet that isn't noticeable at all when the helmet is on — and that's the point. Helmets with MIPS technology are typically more expensive, but I see it as essential added insurance in case of severe impact. After all, if there were anywhere not to scrimp when it comes to getting yourself new bike gear, it would be the helmet.
Another safety feature that I really liked was that this helmet came with its own rechargeable, 50-lumen LED taillight and even a silicone strap for it — if I wanted to affix the light onto my bike instead of magnetically attaching it to the back of the helmet. The light can either glow steadily with a 1-hour run time or blink on a 2-hour run time. But after living with the helmet for a few months, I found the light's battery life to be less than ideal, having to take it off of the helmet after each ride, charge it, and remember to reattach it to the helmet. It's a minor inconvenience, but when the light is on and fully juiced up, it’s incredibly bright and works like a charm.
I wore the Chapter Helmet on every one of my near-daily bike rides in the suburbs this past summer, appreciating the vents and front visor keeping me cool in the heat. Now that I've relocated back into city life, I'm grateful for its safety tech, ingenious pop-lock functionality, and magnetic taillight, imperfect though its battery life may be.
Closing Argument: I love the look and fit of this helmet — it fits my style perfectly and I never feel like it's a burden to wear. But beyond looks, it's clear that it was designed with absolute intention, taking into consideration everything a new biker would want in a helmet: a lightweight build, convenience, and above all, safety.
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