Best Foldable Helmets to Use With Bikeshare [2023]

The Fend Foldable Helmet

Some people have asked me what I do with regards to helmets when riding the bikeshare bikes or scooters. The short answer is this: I just ride the bike without a helmet.

Would I prefer to wear a helmet? Yes. Is it going to stop me from riding a bike? No. More on this below.

With that out of the way, I’ve discussed this with other friends in the Bay Area who ride the bikeshare bikes or scooters more regularly, and they’ve solved this problem by buying a Foldable Helmet!

Foldable Helmets

With bikeshare systems taking off in the United States where people place a higher cultural norm on bicycle helmets (as opposed to other bike cities), startups have begun to innovate solutions.

None of these foldable helmets have been around for very long, and most of them are still pricey, but if you want to have a helmet with you for a spontaneous bikeshare or scooter ride, this will solve your problem.

For right now, some of these helmets can fold down by as much as 50%. Even though that sounds like a lot, don’t expect it to be as small as a those fold up backpacks or down jackets, they still have some size. I figure with more time, all helmets might eventually become foldable…

The Closca Foldable Helmet

If you’re in the market for a folding helmet, here are the main options (updated June 2023):

  1. Closca Helmet (aka 174Hudson Stack Helmet) ($) – Collapses directly onto itself for a flat look. They claim a near 50% size reduction. There are lots of different colors and sizes.
  2. Fend Foldable Helmet ($$) – This helmet folds up to a small but not flat design. They claim 50% space savings.
  3. Overade Plixi Fit Foldable Helmet ($$) – If you’re interested in a smaller fold up design, this helmet may be more of the right size for you as they claim 66% space savings. I’ve only seen it online so I can’t say much for it’s true to life size.
  4. Brooks England Foldable Helmet ($$) – This helmet doesn’t really fold, it just squishes together, therefore it doesn’t get that much smaller. If you’re in the market for a foldable helmet, I wouldn’t recommend this one. I’m sure it’s a nice helmet and has brand name recognition, but only folds down 10 or 20%.
  5. EcoHelmet (In Development) – This is one of the coolest most innovative designs. It uses only paper! The paper is connected in an interesting mesh that creates a helmet when opened over your head. By far the smallest & cheapest “foldable” helmet, but we’ll see if they have success bringing it to market and passing the CPSC certification tests.

Note: All of the above helmets, unless otherwise noted, have passed the CPSC certification, which is the most rigorous bicycle helmet certification.

I’ll work on keeping this list updated, so send me a message if it looks out of date!

Discontinued Foldable Helmets

Unfortunately, in the innovative field of new foldable helmets, there are a few helmets that weren’t able to keep their product in the market. Here’s a list of previously recommended helmets that are no longer available.

  • Morpher Foldable Helmet ($$$) – After sales discontinued in 2019, the CPSC recalled all Morpher helmets. No incidents occurred, but maybe some updated safety test revealed a flaw. What a terrible outcome. It seems like they may try to make a new one as per their website. A friend of mine had this helmet, and the flat fold up design was pretty cool.

The Helmet Controversy

I thought it fitting to weigh in on the helmet controversy in this article as well. I prefer to wear a helmet because it’s obviously safer if you get in a crash involving your head. However, I don’t think they should be required, and I’m not going to let a lack of a helmet stop me from riding. It’s important to note that not all bicycle accidents even involve hitting your head. In fact, a recent study showed that less than half of fatal accidents in the sample group could’ve been prevented with a helmet.

With that being said, a friend of mine in Amsterdam mentioned 3 reasons why helmets aren’t necessarily good for bicycling, and I’ll repeat them here.

1. People think they’re safer with helmets

Even though you may not realize it, when you’re wearing a helmet, you may take slightly more risks than if you weren’t wearing one. This effect can be subtle, but can lead to more accidents statistically speaking.

2. Cars think bicycles are safer with helmets

Studies have been done that show cars giving people more distance when passing a bicyclist if they aren’t wearing a helmet. This obviously makes for less accidental collisions and a generally less stressful bike ride.

3. Regarding a helmet with high importance can cause people to use their bicycle less

For whatever the reason being: laws, culture, whatever, if people think they have to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, they may not end up riding a bicycle at all. This of course leads to less bike commuting and awareness of biking commuting in general, causing the general health of the public to decline.

Case in point: I happen to be visiting Holland while writing this post, and this is a great example of safe cycling that doesn’t require a helmet. My Airbnb host had 3 bikes and she doesn’t even own a helmet. All the while, the bike culture in Holland is stronger than ever. I wonder if this bike culture may not have made it this far if helmets were a requirement years ago…

Anyway, just some things to think about next time you see some news about helmet requirement laws. Go get that folding helmet and be safe out there!

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