By Stan Purdum
Sporty Cycling Helmet Visor Brim
$44.95 manufacturer price
Reviews are often reserved for new products, and Da Brim’s product line has been around since 2010, so their detachable helmet visors and brims are not new. But they are mostly unused by road bike riders, making them new to us.
Da Brim’s helmet visors and brims are for use not only on bicycle helmets, but on helmets for many sports — equestrian, rock-climbing, skiing, boating — and even on construction helmets. Their brims offer wearers significant sun protection.
I’ve known about their visors for quite a while, but I never thought seriously about adding one to my helmet because, until recently, I’d had little noticeable skin damage from the sun despite years of pedaling in it. I’ve been one of those people who simply brown up a bit when outdoors for extended periods, and I also have a high tolerance for being active in sunshine.
And in addition to not seeing a need, there was the dork factor. The wide brims make bike helmets look like oversized safari headgear. Considering that we cyclists are already wearing shorts that are only one step removed from girdles and jerseys that give Hawaiian shirts competition, adding full brims to our helmets seemed to me to push the boundaries of flamboyance. And it didn’t help that when I mentioned to my grown daughter that I was thinking about getting a Da Brim but was hesitant because of the appearance, she responded — intending to put me at ease, I’m sure — “Don’t worry, Dad. People are used to cyclists wearing weird clothes; they won’t think anything about it.”
But she added, “I’m glad you’re taking steps to protect yourself from the sun.” (She’d been bugging me for years to at least slather on sunscreen.)
That all changed recently when I discovered small growths on my ears, face and top of my (bald) head. A dermatologist diagnosed them as “pre-cancers,” and froze them off with liquid nitrogen. She said I should not only wear sunscreen but should also reapply it throughout my rides because it breaks down on exposure to sun and is dispersed by sweat.
That’s a lot of reapplying, and it’s a hassle on long rides. But I did it. But when a second crop of pre-cancers sprouted anyway, I decided to buy a Da Brim, which has a UPF50+ rating.
The company offers two versions of the full brim: the Classic and the Sporty. I chose the Sporty, which is slightly smaller than the Classic. The oval shaped brim measures 18.5 inches from front to back and 15.25 inches from side to side. The brim extends 2.75 inches beyond the helmet in the front and at the sides. In the back, it extends 3.75 inches. The Classic is 0.75 inch larger all the way around.
I opted for the Sporty because, being slightly smaller, it’s rated for combined wind speeds of up to 35 mph (the sum of rider speed and wind from all directions). The Classic is rated for wind speeds of only 25 mph and Da Brim says it “is not designed for high-speed downhill descents or performance cycling.” So far, I have worn the Sporty while rolling downhill at 30 mph without problem.
The brim attaches easily and securely to the helmet by means of an adjustable strap. Other than removing any visor your helmet already has, no modification of the helmet is required. The front brim has a strap that permits it to be adjusted so as not to block your vision when your head is angled down, but I’ve not found any adjustment necessary.
It did take a few moments to get used to wearing the brim. During my first ride with the brim in place, it felt like it was going to lift off as my speed increased. But I tightened both my chin strap and the helmet’s adjustable head band and that problem lessened. I also found that tilting my head a bit down when descending helped. And as I got used to the slightly different feel of the helmet with the brim in place (it weighs about 5 ounces), I became less conscious of whatever effect the wind was causing.
Because the brim doesn’t cover the top of the helmet, air still flows well to cool my head. That does mean, of course, that when I’m not wearing a skullcap, I still need to put sunscreen on my head. But my face, ears and neck are all in shade, and applying the cream to just the top of my head seems less of a nuisance. And in direct sun, I feel cooler with the brim in place.
I’ve not yet worn it in rain, but it’s advertised as water resistant, and it would clearly help keep rain off my glasses.
Da Brim offers one warning that could affect your decision about using their brim: It “may affect the ability of the helmet to slide during a crash.” And failure of the helmet to slide can increase the likelihood of injury. On the other hand, failure to protect the skin of my face, ears and neck can cause skin cancers. So you pick your risk, I guess.
The Da Brim Sporty is available in six colors.
After seeing me wearing my Da Brim, my brother, who is also a cyclist, decided to get one as well.
So now we are the Brothers Brim.
Stan Purdum has ridden several long-distance bike trips, including an across-America ride recounted in his book Roll Around Heaven All Day, and a trek on U.S. 62, from Niagara Falls, New York, to El Paso, Texas, the subject of his book Playing in Traffic. Stan, a freelance writer and editor, lives in Ohio. See more at www.StanPurdum.com.