Hi, everyone. This is my latest product review for Commute by Bike (and this time, we wade into controversial waters!) All my friends and family know, often to their irritation and embarrassment, that I never shy away from controversy, even if paid to do so (which I haven’t been). My three favorite topics to bring up at a party or around the dinner table are sex, religion and politics. I am probably on “hidden” status with most of my Facebook friends, with the possible exception of my fellow policy wonks and perhaps my husband. Personally, I’m not sure why sex, religion and politics get such a bad rap in the social graces department; I mean, what else is there?
Oh, I’ll tell you what there is – it is the secret, fourth forbidden topic never to bring up in polite conversation. Bicycle helmets! Now talk about a way to clear a room! Or at least get me to clear the room. I do not want to get caught in a debate between people on the opposite sides that hot potato. I definitely have my opinion, and I keep it to myself because friendships can end on this subject in the world of bike commuting.
I will say that I don’t really care if people wear helmets or not; I care that people do whatever makes them most comfortable riding a bike (except pedaling the wrong direction in the bike lane; please for the love of God don’t do that). For some people, only a bike helmet will make them feel safe on a bike.
I occasionally wear a helmet when I think conditions warrant such as when there are patches of ice on the road (which never happens in Phoenix, but does all the time in Flagstaff where I used to live). Most of the year here in the Valley where it is hot to warm nearly every day, I don’t wear a helmet because they leave my thin, baby fine hair glued to my head and beyond repair. I’ve heard the lectures about vanity and closed head injury but have made my choice.
Unfortunately for years, people who care about fashion and style had to suffer through one dorky, unattractive helmet after another; mostly the kind designed for recreational bike riding. Later versions were offered in a variety of colors or with graphics like lightning bolts or the Union Jack but they were still sports helmets. The cycle chic set just didn’t feel the love.Then, along came brands like Bern and Nutcase and suddenly the fashionable bicyclist had some options.
Finally listened to, these newly helmeted bicyclists began demanding more. “I must have a cover for my helmet,” they insisted. And the market responded. Okay, well, an acute care nurse responded. Inspired by her exposure to brain injury patients, she came up with a helmet cover that she felt would increase bike helmet usage by providing an answer to the growing number of people who to ride a bike without necessarily looking like a cyclist. Her resulting product is RockiNoggins helmet covers.
RockiNoggins offers covers for both men and women, and boys and girls. The fabrics include herring bone, plaids and geometric designs and come in a variety of weights. The women’s’ and girls’ versions come with accessories such as knit flowers and pins to further personalize the look. Waterproof covers are also available for those climates where you can count on rain. Elissa at RockiNoggins sent me the lightweight Kate helmet cover to review.
The Kate cover is a black and cream bucket style giraffe print with a black band and brim. The design shades the eyes and provides some protection from sunburn. Very nice. The Kate cover is offered in S/M and L/XL. The sizing specs suggested that people wearing Nutcase helmets should probably opt for the L/XL, which I did. I previously purchased a Nutcase in medium so the L/XL Kate cover was just right. Attaching the cover to my helmet was really easy.
The cover comes with 4 Velcro adhesive strips that can be placed on your bike helmet. The Velcro attaches to the inside of the cover just above the brim. A loop is sewn on to the back of the cover that one can attach a red blinkie light, a nice and very helpful feature if you pedal around at night.
I tested the cover on a fairly warm day in October, which means it felt like a mid-summer day feels in most of the country. Surprisingly, I did not feel like my head was melting and I arrived at my destination, about 15 minutes away not looking like a wreck when I removed my helmet. I tested the helmet first wearing shades, because I always wear sunglasses when I go outside here, and then without. I must say, the brim protected my eyes and entire face quite nicely from the scorching effects of the sun. I think it also kept the sun off my neck as well, an area where I almost always get a little bit of a farmer’s tan. I wondered if the cover would come loose from the helmet but I didn’t notice any problem during my ride or when I took the helmet off when I arrived at my destination.
I really like the bucket style, although my husband said that it made my head look outsized. I’m short so I am easily overwhelmed by large or loose fits. If I were to make a selection in a store I think I would probably have chosen the Kelly racing cap style or a bonnet style such as the Annie. I almost chose the Annie but to be quite honest I didn’t care for the pink and grey plaid as much. Ideally, I would have preferred a selection of solid colors. I’d really like a bright yellow cover as it is such a high visibility color during the day.
My friend Lisa has the water resistant Rayne cover pictured here. She has had her eye on RockiNoggins for quite a while and was thrilled to win one recently in a raffle. I know she is getting a lot of wear out of hers. Like me, she is also short so I think the Rayne is probably a very good choice for her.
Normally, my reviews come with a bunch of suggestions for further improvements to the product but other than offering the cover in some solid colors, I really don’t have any complaints. The product is well made, stays on the helmet, does what it says it will do and offers a further they layer of style. The heavy weight styles look like really good choices for cold climates like Flagstaff, Denver or Chicago and if I lived in one of those cities I’d definitely get one with the ear flaps that secure under the chin with a ribbon.
I’ll close by noting that the company owner, who I assume is Elissa, is an acute care nurse. I’ve never met an ER doctor or nurse who was not adamant about bike helmets because of what they see in their work. Brain injury can be tragic in its effects on patients and their families so I have great respect for the intent of this product. The company is working in partnership with the Brain Injury Association to assist patients and families with TBI and I hope they are very successful in their efforts.
Karen Voyer-Caravona is a some-time city cyclist living in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a founding member of Phoenix Spokes People, which is dedicated to promoting bicycling as a viable transportation option in the city of Phoenix. When she is not conspiring socialist plots against her city’s infamous car-centric culture, she is studying for her masters degree in social work at Arizona State University.