A Motorcycle Helmet Made by Hand Gives Bikers a Happy Head Space

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- It’s fitting that motorcycle helmet maker Hedon takes its name from the ancient Greek hedonists, who believed they gained knowledge by experiencing pleasure through the senses. This sentiment—the visceral understanding of speed, freedom, and individuality—is gospel to bikers. Hedon makes all of its shells by hand from resin-saturated carbon fibers and fiberglass. The open- or full-faced options (where the chin is covered, as in this $759 Heroine Racer) are molded piecemeal and baked in a proprietary “autoclave machine,” which cements their signature form.

THE COMPETITION

• The Illinois-made Bell Bullitt ($420) is inspired by the Bell Star helmets that dominated off-road riding—and parking spots in front of street cafes—in the 1960s and ’70s. It’s the go-to choice for low-profile style, with a leather interior and reliable, safe construction.

• The Japanese company Arai has been making helmets since the 1950s, earning respect for their edgy looks and technological functionality. In the Signet-X (from $680), massive air vents are so user-friendly they can be opened with gloved fingers.

• For Harley-Davidson’s $425 Vanocker J08 modular helmet, ample venting at the top, mouth, and rear of the headgear combine with a moisture-wicking and washable liner. It’s slightly tinted for both day and night riding, with a bubble shield to increase visibility.

THE CASE

Getting a handmade motorcycle helmet off the rack is almost unheard-of. But that level of customization allows Hedon to accurately match its brain bucket to your preferences. On the outside, the hand-painted Heroine Racer, with a glossy or matte varnish, is trimmed with metal hardware and Spanish calfskin. There are five colors and tinted visors available—this option, metallic ash and coffee haze, looks smart for either a man or a woman. Ventilation comes via three channels across the chin and three on the forehead to prevent fogging. And the helmet possesses an almost supernatural lightness: A medium size weighs 1,080 grams, or less than 2.5 pounds. (Sizing is determined by measuring your head in inches, regardless of gender.) The helmet’s advanced technology, combined with its classic materials, is a pleasure indeed. $759

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