A chat with Dennis Leedom from Bern Unlimited
‘Our goal is to make it cool to wear a helmet. You don’t have to sacrifice style when you wear one,' says Dennis Leedom, of helmet maker Bern Unlimited.
Where did it all begin?
I began working in the early nineties with a brand called Boeri from Italy. A friend I worked with wore a Boeri helmet as a kid in the 60’s. Together we had an idea to create recreational helmets.
What’s unique about the Bern concept?
The whole idea of Bern was to create some differences that the market had never seen, like making head protection specific to women; no one has ever really done that, from a style standpoint, from a fit standpoint and from a profile standpoint.
What is Zip Mold technology?
It’s a liquid injected foam that provides a thinner, lower-profile helmet, that simply looks better when worn, and is engineered from a style standpoint.
Has your mission changed?
In the beginning it was one lid for all action sports. Now we are becoming more specific to each sport, like the Allston, our new helmet that’s doing great. It has a lot more vents in it for the biker, this helmet is our first specific all season bike helmet.
What do you think about the cycling revolution in London?
It’s huge. I think London is arguably the biggest bike city in the world. You guys have to make biking safe and inviting. I was riding in London yesterday and it was insane how many bikers there were, competing with the cars and the buses to get a piece of the road.
Why wear a helmet?
It lets you protect your brain, the only part of your body you can’t fix. I heard a lady say ‘I don’t wear a helmet, I don’t go fast, I’m always on the pavement’. But it’s not about you, it’s about the other guy out there.
What are you working on in the UK?
Our mission is to raise awareness about the value of head protection. Almost half the cyclists in London don’t wear head protection. Our goal is to make it cool; the safety is common sense.
What’s new for the girls?
The new Berkeley, Bern’s most popular women’s bike helmet, provides superior protection, and is made from a new material. The Berkley is also stylish, great fitting, and comfortable.
What makes Bern stand out?
I think a lot of the success with Bern comes from the fact that we are super-passionate about action sports. We are not doing it just for a job or the money, we are doing it because we are experts at protection, and to accomplish our mission, which is to make head protection cool and something that all action sports athletes want to use. We are 100 per cent focused on protection for non-motorised sports.
What does cycling mean to you?
I’m a skateboarder, a snowboarder, and I ski with my family, and now I’m way into biking. I cycle 12K to work, and I’ve just bought a new bike in New York; it’s an urban commuter bike and I love it! Since I have being riding my bike to work, I have this psychology where I don’t want to get in my car and drive anymore. If I have lots of samples and paperwork I think, ‘Oh man, do I have to drive my car to work today?’ Once you start biking to work, you never want to go back, and that’s what’s happening in cities across the world. It’s a cultural phenomenon. Cities are smart to support this revolution – and it’s so exciting to be part of it.