The equestrian-style, low-profile design and muted, wearable colour palette of SAHN’s helmets prove that protection for the urban environment doesn’t have to look ridiculous. SAHN, a play on the French term sans (without), will appeal to chic-y cyclists, the growing number of two-wheeled fashionistas.
“People are starting to cycle for all sorts of reasons,” said Christine Breakell-Lee of SAHN. “They’re just going for a leisurely bike ride, cycling in the city and they’re usually not wearing gortex pants with straps around the ankles.”“These helmets are perfect because it looks like what you would normally wear,” said Breakell-Lee.
“We are trying to sell to the people who think, ‘I should probably wear [a helmet], but I’d rather people be looking at my shoes and my jacket than some big aerodynamic racing helmet,’” said co-founder Matt Kelly.
Kelly knows a thing or two about designer helmets. As the long-time designer and owner behind OF Vancouver-based Predator Design, he has been creating and designing helmets, growing a solid reputation in the skateboard and water sport communities. He co-founded SAHN with Sen-Huy Tan, a Vancouver-based industrial designer, in 2012.
Key to the integrity and design of their urban cycling concept, Kelly and Tan envisioned a helmet without fancy graphics and excessive vent holes — they wanted something stripped down — merely a sleek and understated design.
There is one graphic that appears on SAHN helmets and it’s by the renowned artist Carson Ting of Chairman Ting industries. Kelly first approached Ting after admiring his work in a magazine and discovering he worked locally. “He loved the helmet — he’s a cyclist, and he’s from Vancouver… he said he wanted to get involved no matter the budget,” said Kelly.
Ting and SAHN collaborated for a limited edition helmet: a matte grey helmet, featuring the unique drawing technique that Ting has popularized. As with all SAHN helmets, it is made for durability and comfort. The uniquely shaped helmets look nothing like traditional Tour de France helmets, but more like the helmets of a revolutionary militia. Albeit, one with a sense of style.
Instead of just putting a graphic on the helmet, he adds a lot to what we’re doing,” said Breakell-Lee. “There’s a cool factor there that he certainly exudes and he’s just this nice, positive and friendly guy who’s incredibly talented and modest.”
Not only are SAHN’s helmets attractive enough to be worn by the most discriminating of Vancouver customers, but they also feel as good as they look. “It looks bare inside, but it has this really nice rear adjuster that makes the fit really good,” said Breakell-Lee. “People are surprised how comfortable it is.”
Comfortable, contemporary and cool, SAHN’s full lines of helmets are available at Walrus (3408 Cambie St.) and retail for US $129.