Folding helmets can end up being terrible teases. I’ve seen plenty that look great on crowdfunding sites, only for nothing to materialise, and sometimes the realities of actually manufacturing a helmet result in significant changes to the design so it doesn’t pack down anywhere near as much. But a few folding bike helmets have made it past the “great idea” stage and into production. Morpher is one, and the Plixi from French company Overade is another.
I tried the Morpher earlier this year and was very taken with the thin, backpack-ready form it packed down into, but at something like ￡110 that convenience came at a hefty cost. The Plixi is €99 (around ￡87) on Overade’s website but you can find it for as little as ￡51.85 on Amazon. As you may have guessed, at least in this case, the size of the folded-down helmet is in inverse proportion to the price.
While the Morpher collapses along a central spine down to a width of just 6cm, the Plixi balls up like a hedgehog, ending up something like the size of a cantaloupe melon. That was a still a useful enough shrinking down for me, allowing me to stow it in my backpack where normally I’d hang it off a strap, getting progressively more annoyed as it clanged around.
Folding the Plixi up is easy and takes little time. There are three central panels running back to front with a clip mechanism holding the back and middle panels in place.
Unclip it and fold in the side panels to bring the back panel underneath the middle panel, then the middle panel slides over the top of the tucked-in back one to create a neat little package that fits snugly into the drawstring bag provided – a useful addition because you can’t tuck the chin strap into the folded-down helmet. It’s well done, and that thoughtful design extends to a smart range of accessories: a backpack with a dedicated bottom compartment that fits the Plixi, a visor that Velcros into the helmet and a cover to plug the 14 ventilation holes when it rains.
Speaking of ventilation, those holes did the job – I didn’t unduly suffer when cycling my 40-minute commute during the recent heatwave. It certainly isn’t as lightweight or breathable as a standard road helmet, but if you’re purely a commuter it’ll suffice.
I also found the Plixi comfortable, much more so than the Morpher which rides high on the head. The Plixi has a neck cradle which folds down for a more secure feel, although unlike traditional helmets it isn’t adjustable vertically. The helmet also comes with three sets of pads to help refine the fit and there’s foam material that wraps around the chin strap.
Personally I liked the feel, although – thanks to the lid shape and black colour – some rascal proclaimed that I looked like I was a dressage rider. There are blue and white styles available if you’re keen to avoid that interpretation.
The Plixi is a worthwhile addition to the admittedly limited (but growing) range of folding helmets, mainly because it’s the cheapest going. I think that’s key because these type of helmets are designed for the “last-mile commuter” or bike share user, and I’d wager that that type of person is unlikely to want to spend three figures on something that’s only used on occasion for short periods. Someone like me who has a longer bike commute will be better served by a cheaper, lighter and better ventilated bike helmet – even if I have to put up with it swinging off a backpack strap from time to time.
€99 (approx. ￡87), buy on overade.com, check price on amazon.co.uk