and Michael Morrow. (Photo: Nutcase)
Portland-based helmet company Nutcase Inc., has announced major plans to extend their brand into Europe. The company, launched in 2006 by graphic designers Michael Morrow (formerly Nike’s Global Creative Director) and Miriam Berman, has gained a strong foothold in the U.S. market with their urban-focused bike helmets.
In a statement released today, Nutcase said they’re partnering with outdoor sport distributors, “covering all major European markets.”
“The Nutcase brand has had a love affair with European customers for over five years now, and our romance with Europe is only just beginning,” says Morrow.
Nutcase has also announced the launch of their next generation of helmets and is hinting at a “more comprehensive apparel and accessories product line.” Their new Gen3 Street Sport helmet due out this summer will have new graphic designs and product features like their magnetic chinstrap buckle.
The European distribution and apparel announcements mark a major expansion for Nutcase into, “a year round, multi-dimensional consumer lifestyle brand.”
Morrow puts it this way: “We are on a mission to create the most inspiring urban mobility brand in the world.”
In other Nutcase news, be sure to check out their helmet design contest being held in conjunction with this weekend’s PDX Bicycle Show. There are categories for children and adults, you can submit your designs online, and the best design takes home $300.
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Watch out Europe, America’s helmet obsession is coming your way.
Europe seems to have obsessions of its own that may help nutcase helmets with their, creative, artistic, whimsical aesthetic, become popular over there…even if it’s true as some suggest, that Europeans regard any safety benefit possibly derived from use of a bike helmet, to not be significant enough to have people there actually wear a bike helmet for safety benefits. Should be interesting to watch what the response from Europeans is to this helmet line.
Then of course, there’s Australia and some people in the land down under, with their ‘studies’ that purportedly show Aussies readily give up cycling if it means they’ve got to wear a bike helmet. I wonder what thoughts Miriam Berman
and Michael Morrow may have about the prospects of selling their helmets in that country.
Those studies about Australia are usually based on stats from the 1980s and used by people who wish to argue for repealing helmet laws. Regardless, Australians have been buying thousands of Nutcase Helmets each year since 2008, and riding their bikes.
Interesting but misinformed view. Australia had rising numbers of cyclists before helmets became mandatory in 1991 (a law that is religiously enforced) based on very little science and the emotive campaigning of a handful of pro-car politicians. States were largely strong-armed into accepting this by threats of central government withholding funding for roads if they didn’t comply. The number of cyclists plummeted post-law by 25-40%, especially non-sports cyclists (tending to be women, children and the elderly). New Zealand followed suit in 1994, based on emotive (science-free) campaigning and lobbying by one woman. A very recent study in Sydney showed around 40% of people would ride more if the helmet law were repealed.
kudos on shifting the comment focus from the story on the expansion of a supportive local company to your anti-helmet crusade.
Sarcasm aside (though I am complicit in chuckling at the observation), considering the general lack of helmet wearing in Europe, doesn’t this seem like a poor business decision?
It depends if you have been to Europe or just read newspapers. A lot of Europeans wear helmets by choice, and that preference is growing daily.
…a supportive local company who feels that the Dutch (and, I’m assuming, greater European) market would be amazing if only they were more afraid of cycling…
It should be no big surprise to anyone that it’s beneficial for a helmet company if you feel uneasy about getting on your bike.
I have nothing against making helmets available to people, but don’t expect me to jump for joy that a company that operates on those principles is thriving and expanding, as that obviously means there are more and more people out there who feel uneasy about getting on their bikes. I don’t see how that is a reason to celebrate.
The marketing of cycle-branded clothing as a ‘multi-dimensional consumer lifestyle brand’ is a whole other issue… In the future, everyone wants a normal pair of sneakers that say “Nutcase” on them? Looking to move in on Chrome’s territory? Ok, it’s their company, they have a right to do whatever, I just personally find it a little silly.
It doesn’t seem to have occurred to you, that people wear bike helmets for other reasons than the only two you came up with: afraid of cycling…uneasy about getting on your/their bikes…and whether those two reasons actually have much validity as to why people wear bike helmets, is debatable.
I don’t know what Berman and Morrow have or haven’t done to check out the potential market for their helmets in Europe, but smart business people tend to do some kind of market research before starting a new venture, to get an idea of what their chances are of actually selling what they’re thinking of putting on the market.
It’s hailed routinely here on bikeportland, that many people in European countries like Denmark and the Netherlands have little or no qualms, uneasiness, or fear about getting on a bike without wearing a bike helmet.
Obviously then, uneasiness and fear related to riding bikes, wouldn’t be reasons people in those countries and elsewhere in Europe would buy and wear something like Nutcase’s helmets. There may though, be other reasons Europeans would buy and wear bike helmets while riding.
Because they want to identify with the multi-dimensional consumer lifestyle brand? Why do you wear a helmet? It’s not because you feel uneasy getting on your bike without one? I’d (honestly) be interested to know what other reasons people wear helmets for.
People can take measures to protect themselves without being nervous or afraid about whatever they’re protecting themselves from. Sometimes it’s just being smart. If I ride as a passenger in a car, I wear a seat belt. Not because I’m afraid of riding in a car. If I’m riding my scooter, I wear my armored jacket- not because I’m scared of riding my scooter. I also lock my doors at night, but I don’t really think it’s highly likely someone is going to try and break in. All of the above are just easy ways to protect oneself (like wearing a helmet) in the event that something could happen, however likely or not.
That still tells me you have some uneasiness about getting on your bike. A helmet is a perfectly reasonable and easy protection to wear, for instance, when climbing a ladder (an activity which is known in its own right for causing head injuries) – but I bet you don’t. And you even have a bike helmet you could use sitting right over across the room.
The point is, to put a piece of protective gear on, you obviously feel some misgiving about going without it. To go from not feeling the need for a helmet to not being able to ride without one, to me, is a sign that something else is wrong (that is, something in your environment changed for the worse).
Simply not true. I was riding a bike for years without wearing a helmet and I never felt the slightest bit uneasy about it. What caused me to start wearing a helmet then? Commuting to work every day, 5 days a week instead of mostly riding on the weekends and occasionally during the week (paired with the realization that it’s a pretty simple protective measure and not uncomfortable to me). Since I might climb a ladder, oh, once every 5 years, it doesn’t seem reasonable to have a special “ladder helmet” (disregarding that the specific dynamics of riding a bike make it much more likely to sustain a head injury than falling down from a ladder, where you’d be more likely to sustain injury to an arm or leg). If you continue to stand by your statement, do you then think that everyone who drives is uneasy about driving and that’s why they wear a seatbelt? Everyone who buys insurance of any kind is afraid or uneasy about the thing they’re buying insurance for? If so, I think we just have different definitions of what it means to feel uneasy about something. I’ve never once hesitated about riding my bike or felt any conscious worry or concern before getting on it, helmet or no.
Actually, I suppose two reasons I have heard for people wearing helmets that are not uneasiness about riding without one are:
1.) so as to not get shouted at on the street, cajoled by strangers, harassed by law enforcement.
2.) so as to not get blamed for their own injury by an ignorant court in the case of a collision with a car.
I wear a helmet because in my day I’ve busted two. You could be a jerk and tell me that I obviously suck at riding bikes and should stop, but that’s your prerogative. I just know that I can buy new helmets, but I’ve only got one skull. Make sense?
No, to me if you ride a bike, you’re certainly doing something very right. Just be careful not to overestimate the protective powers of a small layer of stiff polystyrene. Ideally, to prevent crashes in the first place, we need to try to ride as if we weren’t wearing one…
I’m all for local companies. I’m all for bicycling. But I won’t support any company that sells helmets (other than for my kids in which the law makes it mandatory.)
Just because a company is local doesn’t make it good or worthy of support. Any company who promotes it’s products in the name of safety, yet always fails to produce a product that passes independent safety testing, to me is borderline fraud.
Tests and studies clearly show that helmets affect rider numbers (which more riders coincidentally improves the safety numbers for cyclists) , that they (all of them) don’t work at speeds over 10 mph, and that the stats “they” give for the helmets working when combined with the nearly 33% decrease in ridership means a roughly 15% increase in injury accidents for cyclists.
If they are so effective how come all helmets come with disclaimers and don’t offer a small insurance policy with purchase like bike locks do? Through such a lack of actions the helmet manufactures themselves show at best they lack faith in their products. At worst it shows they clearly know that the product they offer doesn’t work.
On a side note Australia has mandatory helmet laws.
They do currently sell helmets that will help save your life but they’re called motorcycle helmets. So if your really concerned with safety while riding I’d recommend hitting the local Harley or Honda motorcycle shops and buying your safety gear there.
Shell is now sponsoring a helmet campaign in The Netherlands. Earlier Volvo was doing it. I’m sure Nutcase is glad to be in such good company.
translated press release
Best clasp ever.
cool. I love my nutcase helmut. The more use it gets the prettier it becomes 🙂
Whatever came of the poor safety ratings that these helmets were receiving?
Rob…re; past poor safety ratings: your answer is ‘sorta’, in this bikeportland story of last year: http://bikeportland.org/2012/05/31/nutcase-bern-helmets-receive-poor-impact-rating-from-consumer-reports-72616
and here: http://www.helmets.or/helmet13.htm#nutcase
To maybe save you some time, I’ll try summarize: It was a Consumer Reports (if you read the story, a Danish test-review outfit came up with a negative review as well) testing and review that to me, seemed vague and maybe evasive on the results the organization came up with and used to arrive at its conclusion. Biggest issue probably is that certain model nutcase helmets were found by CR to absorb less impact force, but how much? They don’t really say.
It would be great if Nutcase founders Miriam Berman
and Michael Morrow would happen to see this bikeportland story, and maybe post an update on the testing issue.
They don’t wear helmets in Europe. Only America is still into helmets, religion, and other things that provide illusions of protection.
Yes they do wear helmets in Europe, it’s just not a law. I wear one. Many of my friends wear one. Some people may have a bad attitude to it but no one is forcign them. It’s a myth that Europeans won’t wear helmets. In my neighbourhood in Denmark alone there are many many people using helmets and many Nutcase one too. If you have not been to Europe it is unfair to say otherwise, but please come and visit anytime!
It’s quite recent though, that people wear helmets in Europe. It’s also spread very unevenly, with more helmets in cities with less cycling. Stockholm is the bicycle helmet capital of Scandinavia with 70% ofcyclists wearing helmets, though most people don’t cycle there. In Malmö, Linköping and Lund it’s the other way around. 20% of cyclists wear helmets, and there’s a 30-40% modal share for bicycling. See graph:
Cykelstäder eller hjälmstäder, bara att välja. Ecoprofile
I think the whole helmet thing is unfortunate. Every study shows that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by at least a factor of ten. Cyclists live longer and have fewer sick days. Cycling just isn’t dangerous, whatever people try to tell you.
Living in suburban Berlin, I was surprised to find that more than 80% of the people I saw on my regular commute wore helmets. What I discovered is the non-helmet wearers were the fair-weather cyclists, while the folks that cycled through the harsh Berlin winter almost ALL wore helmets. And these aren’t “spandexer” or “road warrior” cylists – they’re still typical German suburban family commuters – riding 45lb bicycles with internal hubs, chain cases, street clothes, and possibly carrying a child or two. But they also wore helmets.
Berlin, however, is less safe infrastructure-wise (though still much better than any US city of its size, especially when you throw in highly trained and considerate drivers) than many other cycling cities in Germany, so I agree that things are unevenly spread.
Nice! You still in Berlin? If you are back (or either way) you should check us out!
Can’t speak for Europe, but I see that Australian bike company sells a huge range of Nutcase. And, eh hem, did you all totally miss that they’re putting out apparel? I’m curious what they do in that arena, given their unique take on helmets.
How odd, it edited out the company name, Papillionaire. Try again?
Unless something has drastically changed in Europe, I don’t see this being a great business decision. A better move might have been to branch out into a different line of products rather than helmets. Nutcase’s brand is all about irreverence. It seems to me that there might be some room for some of that in fenders, lights, etc. Example: How about fenders to match the crazy design on your helmet? (Can I trademark or copyright that idea now?) That might help sell helmets in Europe. “Might”.
Nutcase – please, Hands off The Dutch!
just cruising here ,
helmet wear is high in my remote part of south of France,
even elderly roadies wear them,
city riding is helmetless for most.
don’t all cycling helmets go threw this:
Why don’t they sell their helmets to motorists? Huge market opportunity. I’m only half joking. Motorists spend way more time in hospital due to head injury than cyclists do, and Australian researchers have come up with a design that they say is much more effective than padding the inside of the car.