If you’re riding a bike, you should wear a helmet. Period. But with more people using bicycles for short commutes, not to mention the prevalence of e-bike rentals in urban areas, a helmet isn’t always around.
The solution, at least according to a few enterprising vendors, is a collapsible helmet that folds down to slip into your backpack or purse. I tried out such an example, the Plixi from Overade, as I resolved to bike more in my small town this year. The Plixi uses an ingenious system of hinges and folds to make a safe, standards-compliant bike helmet that scrunches down like an anime robot, shedding its volume by 60%, to easily to throw into your bag for your on-foot adventures.
The design really is remarkable. In three steps (slide up a quarter-panel, fold in both sides, and then fold the top over the bottom), the Plixi halves its size, going from the space of two footballs to about one. But that’s not the most impressive feat. What’s particularly notable is that, when fully expanded in “riding mode,” the helmet doesn’t feel any less sturdy or safe than a conventional one-piece design. The rigid plastic, foam, and felt sizing makes it more or less the same as you’ll find in any helmet you get from Walmart or your local bike store.
And the Plixi does accomplish what it sets out to do. With a helmet that takes up only a big chunk of my bag instead of nearly all of it, I felt more comfortable roaming around town for a little light shopping and hitting the cafe or my local bar. (Just one beer, thanks—riding a bike tipsy isn’t any safer than driving.) If you’re looking for something you can bring along with you for a quick ride on a city center bike or electric scooter, the Plixi is a fantastic choice.
But there are drawbacks. Due to its folding design, the helmet needs more material than a conventional one. That means more space (not much) and more weight (quite a lot). The Plixi is a bit over 18 ounces on my kitchen scale, 30% more than my standard helmet, which isn’t anything particularly special or expensive. It doesn’t help that the Plixi has almost no ventilation on the very front and rear, making all that weight particularly hot and sweaty in any kind of muggy environment.
The fit leaves a lot to be desired, too. With a body that folds three times, a standard internal headband is out of the question, and the Plixi has to make do with a small bar that rests on the back of your head with pressure from a couple of spandex strips. The package also includes some extra foam for the internal padding, in case the helmet moves around too much on your head. With a few adjustments it fits all right, but calling it comfortable would be generous.
Is it asking too much for a helmet that can fold itself in half and be cool and comfortable at the same time? Perhaps. That being said, the Plixi isn’t a good choice if you’re looking to get into cycling and you want one helmet you can use for both regular, medium- or long-distance rides, and short urban hops.
It’s fantastic for the latter—especially if you’d go without a helmet on your rental bike otherwise—and would make a great gift for a college-bound kid who might be tempted to skip a helmet between classes. If your budget can only stretch to one helmet, get a standard model. If you can afford the Plixi ($80-100 at various retailers), and you’re desperate for a helmet that can hide in your bag when you’re not riding just for the sake of a ride, it’s worth the asking price.
Here’s What We Like
- Amazing folding design
- Feels solid and safe
And What We Don't
- Very heavy
- Poor ventilation
- Uncomfortable fit