March 9, 2009

Birth of the cool

What is cool?

Besides being a state of mind relative to the cultures and individuals that express it, there is something in the north american context that we can say is 'cool.' Miles Davis is cool. Blue jeans are cool. Kissing is cool. In 1953 Marlon Brando leaning on his Triumph was cool (today it's quaint).

My new helmet is uncool.

What makes it uncool? Well, the colour to start. It is bright and not something you would think a cool person would wear (and you'd be accurate with me as the model). It's not cool because it is not black, and it seems that in North America only black motorcycle clothing or gear is cool. They might let you slide with grey. To be even more uncool the helmet has neon on it!! Oh man, we can't get anymore uncool. Lock up your sons or they'll be corrupted into a life of D&D and pantomime.

On my helmet search i didn't even consider the cool factor at first. I was thinking that statistically a bright helmet is one of the best things you can do to be safe riding. If cars see you they are less likely to run into unless you've really pissed them off. I was hoping it wouldn't have to be too ugly, but it is really hard to find a non-ugly helmet these days! When i saw the Corsair that i finally ended up with i thought it was perfect: it fit, it was bright, and it was on sale. Only later when my wife started laughing at me and I poured my heart out to SM did i start to think the coolness implications of my helmet choice. Had i gone too far? Will anyone ever ride with me again? Will i drive impressionable children into a life of pantomime?

For me, it's cool to ride, and if I have to wear some bright colours to be safe doing it that's the price of cool (like emphysema is the price for looking cool smoking). I'm sure all you cool people will agree.

Tomorrow i'll try post some pictures and look at what the safety implications for being uncool really are.


indigoid said...

Cool be damned. My last two helmets (both Shoei XR1000) have been solid white, and before those I had one that was overwhelmingly white with some sharply contrasting designs (black and red)

Visible is win! :-) and my riderwear is BMW's Rallye2Pro suit anyway, very far from all-black!

LumpyCam said...

There are some stores in my town that literally only sell black leathers and black helmets, and these are not just the Harley dealers. I think it's different than Europe and possibly Australia (yet to visit your great country). But there is hope here and i think as good design brings at least a bit of refinement to the visibility race.

In the mean time i'll enjoy my black/grey reflective RallyePro with red striped helmet.