In a world where everyone is always “on-the-go” it’s no wonder we are obsessed with portability. Packing everything you need into in a briefcase, backpack, or purse, making everything as lightweight as possible – that seems to be the driving force behind reinventing everything for commuters and personal transportation, from backpacks and water bottles, to collapsible electric scooters and folding bikes.
Helmet is no one’s favorite accessory. In fact, they are very easy to hate. Helmets are inconvenient, take up a lot of space, they often make your head look huge, and mess up your hair. But they are necessary, not just because they are required by law, but because they are literally a life-saver. So designers and engineers have been working for years on making the helmets not just safer, but more convenient and more appealing to riders. The pursuit for convenience led up to one very curious invention – a collapsible bike helmet.
The first folding bike helmet that was in accordance with the US CPSC standard was the Motorika Snapit, introduced in 1997. It was designed so one half could be collapsed into the other, reducing its size in half. It ended up being a total flop, probably because it was plain ugly, and it weighed a pound. For years after that folding helmets were more of a novelty and less of a real piece of safety gear.However, it the last few years, with the explosion of bike sharing and scooter sharing programs around the globe, the demand for a helmet that that you can easily pack up and carry with you at all times skyrocketed. Many riders didn’t like the idea of using a rental helmet, no matter how cleaned and disinfected it was.
So, the folding bike helmet has emerged as a perfect solution. While some of the big names in bike safety equipment industry, like Bell, Giro or Bontrager, are yet to get into the game, there are plenty of small companies and crowdfunded companies that produce folding helmets in different sizes, shapes and designs. All of the helmets on our list are CPSC certified, in accordance with all the necessary safety standards.
1. Overade Plixi Fit
Overade is designed by Patrick Jouffret of French design studio Agency 360 in collaboration with engineer Philippe Arrouart – the innovative design that offers the same protection as a standard helmet but folds up to a compact size for convenient transport when not in use. It folds to approximately the third of its size, thanks to lockable dividers and its especially designed adjustable fit system. One you get the hang of it, it is very easy to fold/unfold. Once folded, you can easily toss it into almost any backpack and carry with you.
This is a solid helmet; outer shell is made of ABS – inner shell is made of expanded polystyrene designed for shock absorption, which is pretty much the standard for bike helmets. It has 14 big holes for air circulation, which you will appreciate in hot summer, and for colder and rainy days there is also a complementary soft rain cover that a helmet can still be folded with. It comes in only two sizes, S/M and L/XL, but it is sold with inner fitting pads of various thicknesses, so you can adjust it to some extent.
Outer shell is made of ABS – inner shell is made of expanded polystyrene
Adjustable straps with chin protection
Sold with inner fitting pads of various thicknesses
Plixi Helmet complies with US CPSC & the European EN1078 standard and can be used for all types of cycling, skateboard, roller-skating and kick scooters. For larger and faster electric scooters though, a proper scooter helmet is a more fitting choice.
2. Closca Collapsible Helmet
Closca is not a new helmet concept, it has been around since 2013 when it was first launched as a successful Kickstarter campaign. But the first iteration of Closca helmet was not up to expectations – it was too bulky, and the design was just bad. The new Closca helmet is much sleeker, looks like baseball cap and the quality is drastically better than the previous model. In fact, Closca Fuga is the winner of several design awards, such as 2015 RedDot Design Award for Product Design.
Closca is very elegantly designed to look like a cap. It is comprised of three movable concentric rings hinged together with 2 stable positions, which makes the helmet fold smoothly when you need to store it, but sturdy and safe while it’s covering your head. Folding flat to under three inches thick, allows you to easily stash it inside a backpack, a messenger bag, or a large purse. The three-ring structure also serves as a ventilation system that guarantees constant airflow while protecting from sunstroke and light rain.
Closca helmets became popular not only for their stylish, minimalistic looks, but also for number of different accessories available to customize it. There is the Brilliant visor that features a reflective section of fabric at the back to make sure riders are visible to nearby traffic, and also the Nordic visor, made from ribbed wool, designed to keep your ears and back of your head warm. Kids’ Helmet comes with colorful visors and a sticker collection, so your little ones will have fun making it their own.
The Morpher Helmet was designed by Jeff Woolf, an English inventor, businessman, journalist, and innovation specialist. Morpher Helmets are very lightweight, due to their foam structure. There are 14 vents that are small so they may not provide the best air flow in the hot weather, but it’s their small size that makes the structure stronger.
The folding system is incredibly simple – it folds flat to about the size of a textbook, and 4 magnets keep it flat. Folded, it can fit even the small purse. To unfold it, you just need to pull the sides and put them in place with the help of the intuitive click system.
The traditional chin strap buckle is replaced by a magnetic one, which is very easy to handle once you get a grasp on it, making occasional regulation possible even while riding. Morpher is certified for heads with a circumference of between 20.5 inches to almost 23 inches. This makes it suitable for most teens and adults, but not necessarily suitable for very large heads.
It takes some time to get used to this helmet when you first get it, and to adjust it for the best fit, but once you do, Morpher is very comfortable to wear. We can say that this is the most practical folding helmet of all – it is very lightweight, super easy to fold, and so comfortable you will hardly notice wearing it. While it’s not sleek in design as Closca, it comes in a variety of colors and designs, including Matte Black, Regal Red, and super fun Spotty Dot.
Integral adjustable fit system for safety and a comfortable fit;
Innovative magnetic chin strap;
Comes with a lightweight storage bag.
SIZE: Fits head sizes 52-58 cm (20.5 – 22.8 inches)
Morpher helmet has passed all applicable cycle helmet safety tests: it has CPSC certification which covers the USA and Canada and CE EN1078 certification which pretty much covers the rest of the World (but not Australia).
4. Brooks England Carrera Helmet
The Brooks folding helmet, created in collaboration with the Italian helmet-maker Carrera, is retro with a modern touch. Inspired by the old leather “hairnets,” this hipster helmet is finished in a range of tasteful weather proof textiles for an elegantly modern look that is sure to complement any fashionable urban cyclist. It is not really foldable, it can be squashed to about 80% of the full size allowing it to fit more easily in bags, lockers, etc.
Collapsible design reducing size to 80%;
Brooks leather carrying strap;
Full surface ventilation providing optimal air flow.
All of the helmets include a Brooks leather carrying strap that is designed to keep the helmet collapsed when not in use, and also as a strap for your pant leg while riding. The helmet meets all EN 1078 and CPSC certifications for impact resistance, which means you can use it in US, Canada and Europe. It’s secured via a simple elastic and Velcro fastening at the chin, and the interior is trimmed with allergenic, removable and washable padding. This snazzy helmet is a fashion accessory as much as it is a piece of head protection gear.
FEND is a folding helmet designed a minimalist and streamlined approach while maintaining maximum protection. Perfect for the urban commuter, this lightweight and collapsible helmet is easily portable and storable. It is made out of ABS and with an EPS Foam lining, just like any classic bike helmet, but its advantage is the ability to be collapsed to the third of its size.
Durable ABS shell and In-mold poly-carbonate with EPS foam;
This helmet is comprised of “ribs”, which are linked together via metal-fixture-secured nylon straps, and click into the open configuration using a proprietary joint system. FEND is designed to exceed US CPSC and European EN 1078 safety standards.
Are Foldable Bike Helmets Safe?
As we stated before, all of the helmets on this list meet the US CPSC standard, which means they are capable of protecting your head if you fall or crash. While they are probably not the safest helmets you can buy, they are not designed for the adventure-seeking mountain trailblazers in the first place. Collapsible helmets are mostly intended for urban commuters, and users of the bike and scooter sharing system that put the convenience first, so they are more likely to ride without any protection than haul a bulky bike helmet with them. They are the ones that can benefit from buying a helmet that can be folded and packed up, because any kind of protection for your head is better than none.