I Am in Love With My New Thousand Bicycle Helmet

Finally, I've found a helmet that I look forward to wearing.

Thousand bike helmets


I have a confession to make: I hate wearing bike helmets. I hate it so much that, for years, I have left my helmet at home for most short rides around town, opting instead to ride bareheaded. I like the feeling of wind in my hair, of not having a strap around my chin, of enjoying a view unobstructed by a visor, of not having something extra to carry wherever I go. 

When I got an electric cargo bike last November, however, that habit had to change. It's illegal to ride an e-bike in Ontario, Canada, without a helmet—not to mention unsafe—so I reluctantly dusted mine off and went back to wearing it. One day it fell out of the back of my car as I was driving my kids home from the BMX park (the trunk was partially open, due to a bicycle hanging out) and I was unable to find it. It was time to buy a new helmet.

This was my chance to invest in a helmet that I actually liked, which I had come to realize makes all the difference between despising a helmet and actually wanting to wear it. I started to look online and one name kept popping up, a company based in Los Angeles called Thousand. Not only did I like the sleek, urban, minimalist look of its helmets, but I was impressed with the company's raison d'être.

thousand white helmet


It was founded by Gloria Hwang, a longtime cyclist who hated wearing a helmet until a close friend died in a fatal bike accident. She realized she had to start wearing one, so she designed a helmet that departed distinctly from the "sci-fi-looking" helmets on the market. Hwang said,

"We named our company 'Thousand' as a promise—a commitment and a goal of helping to save 1,000 lives by making helmets people actually want to wear. Our name serves as a daily reminder of why we do what we do."

The company clearly takes that commitment seriously because it offers an unusual Accident Replacement Policy. If any rider gets into an accident while wearing their Thousand helmet, the company will replace it for free. Talk about an incentive to shop.

I bought the basic, original Heritage model that has a sort of equestrian look to it; Thousand describes it as inspired by the "vintage moto lids and heritage color ways of the '50s and '60s." It has vegan leather straps, which add a classy touch, and two of the company's well-known features—a magnetic, German-engineered clasp that allows for single-handed buckling (so amazingly convenient when you've always got your hands full, like me) and a secret PopLock channel behind the logo that allows you to add your helmet to a U-lock and attach it to your bike when it's locked up.

Lloyd Alter, Treehugger's resident bike expert and design editor, offered some thoughts when I asked his opinion on what makes a good, appealing bike helmet. Comfort is crucial, he tells me. "If it isn't comfortable, you won't want to wear it. My helmet has a dial on the back so I can adjust it exactly to my head." Thousand helmets have the same, an easily adjustable fit system that lets you tweak the helmet with every ride.

Ventilation also matters to Alter. He says, "I have two helmets, a sort of racing helmet that is all vent, which I wear in summer, and a rounder fuller helmet that I wear the rest of the year." In terms of safety, he thinks "the full helmet is probably better than the racing helmet, since it covers most of your head rather than just sitting on top." Again, a win for Thousand with its round, full shapes—not to mention vents with internal channeling.

Lloyd Alter with bicycle helmet
Lloyd Alter, all decked out for winter bicycle riding.

Lloyd Alter

Other collections include Chapter helmets, which are a bit sportier, fancier, and expensive than the Heritage ones, and Thousand Jr. for riders aged 5 to 11. The children's collection just launched in April 2021 and is safety-certified for biking, rollerblading, and skateboarding. 

Part of what attracted me, too, was the nearly 2,000 five-star reviews on the Heritage collection. People clearly love these helmets and have a great deal of praise for them. There are numerous comments on how attractive they are, which makes people more inclined to wear them—exactly how I felt. 

The best bicycle helmet you can buy is the one you want to wear, so don't be afraid to splurge on a style that draws you in. If you keep peeking at a brand's Instagram page and scrolling through the colors, that's a good sign. Let yourself feel excited about the look, rather than settling for a style that makes you cringe whenever you put it on. 

Check out Thousand's lovely helmets here.