I bought the Bern Muse helmet because it’s getting cold out.* The previous years, once the temperature dropped below a certain level, I stopped wearing a helmet and switched to a wooly hat instead to prevent my ears from freezing off on my commute. The helmet I wear during the non-freezing seasons is a Giro Skyla, so I suppose in theory you could fit a hat under it if the hat was very snug – and this is where we run into problems: hat hair! I can’t shower once I get into work so the hair I arrive with is the hair I have to carry on around all day.
This year, having discovered the existence of winter helmets, I decided to give it a shot. Bern defines this one as a snow helmet rather than a bike helmet, but I’m not entirely sure where the differences lie (maybe due to the fact that I neither ski nor snowboard), and it was marketed to me as a “BMX” helmet – and it’s been doing the trick for me. The reason I didn’t buy the Berkeley – my second option – was that (a) it was more expensive and Muse helmets aren’t exactly cheap to start with, and (b) I wasn’t entirely convinced by the Berkeley’s fabric visor. It seemed to me that this add-on that might get dirty quite quickly and then it won’t look as dashing anymore.
The Muse comes with two inlays, a summer and a winter one, which are simply buttoned into the helmet and are washable. The winter one, which I’m currently using, is incredibly warm and furry. I think I may never be cold on my bike again. Indeed, the first few days I got so toasty it was almost too much. It covers my ears nicely as well. So what about the crucial factor of the winter inlay, the hat hair I was trying to avoid? Granted, the inlay sits quite snugly on my head so I do get a bit of hat hair, but not nearly as bad as I would if I wore my other helmet with a hat underneath. The reason for this is the ingenious thin netting the good people at Bern have put in, which doesn’t press down on your hair as much as a normal hat would (see picture below).
Other than that, the Muse feels very substantial and I feel well protected by it as a result. It sits very low on your head so it’s a bit like wearing armour – but very stylish armour. I really like the colour I got, even though they don’t seem to be selling that particular colour on the website any more, and love the kind of old fashioned riding hat shape of the Muse. Since I haven’t tried it with the summer inlay yet, I can’t give an opinion on it.
Summer, however, brings us to where I fear one of the Muse’s weaknesses will lie, even with the summer inlay: ventilation. Perhaps this is the difference between a snow helmet and a bike helmet? The models Bern offers for women that are ‘officially’ marketed as bike helmets – the Berkeley, Brighton, and Lennox models – all have ventilation slits, while the Muse does not. This doesn’t really matter right now, but I’ve got a feeling that in the summer, I will much prefer the airiness of my Giro Skyla, even at the risk of wasps flying in (this is the stuff my nightmares are made of – I hate wasps). I could also imagine that this helmet would be more inconvenient if you had long hair and wanted to wear it up – but then again this problem exists with most bike helmets. It’s just that because of the low fit, with the Muse you would have to either wear it down or in a very low pony tail.
The other issue, you can see it in the first picture, is its proneness to getting marks. Yes, yes, I know, the most important thing is that it keep my brain safe. But still, the marks you can see in the picture are from only just slightly scraping (more like touching) the door of my office building as I walked in – it’s painted white – on the second day I had the helmet. It’s difficult to get the marks off, though I haven’t yet tried my luck with a rubber (eraser for the Americans) yet. The problem with buying a stylish product, I suppose, is that you get more annoyed when it gets dirty/damaged.
So far, I’m very happy with my new helmet. It keeps me warm and protected while looking as good as can be with a helmet on, all of it without giving me too serious a case of helmet hair. This is what I asked for, and so far I got it. I may update this review if necessary.
* I bought the Bern Muse with my own money and haven’t received anything from Bern in return for this review.