Bern is a company that’s known for producing helmets for the ski and skate industries, and this year they’re applying that know-how to a new line of mountain bike helmets. Based in Massachusetts, these guys and girls know how to keep heads safe and protected, even in nasty conditions. I’ve been testing the Morrison helmet this fall and winter, and here’s what I’ve found out on the trail.
At a glance, the Morrison looks like a cross between a skate-style helmet and an all-mountain lid. The visor is detachable, and the back of the helmet extends down for extra impact protection. Overall this is a low-profile mountain biking helmet, which means it looks good on your head and won’t rattle around or create too much wind resistance as you slash down the trail.
Bern uses a process called Zip Mold on the Morrison, which results in a tight, nearly-seamless connection between the helmet’s outer PVC shell and the foam inner shell. The inner shell itself feels harder and more dense than a typical lightweight cross-country helmet. In fact, at nearly 1lb. for the size-large I tested, the Morrison is nearly 50% heavier than many lightweight, vented helmets on the market.
The Bern Morrison is an “all season” helmet, meaning it’s meant to be used in cold, wet, and even hot conditions. Honestly, I don’t see myself wearing the Morrison in the summer but then again, you couldn’t pay me to wear a skate-style or even all-mountain helmet in July. Still, the Morrison features 16 vents, including two right at the forehead, which many riders will find sufficient on warmer rides.
The Morrison really shines as a cold-weather mountain bike helmet. The included padded liner is thicker and nicer than any I’ve seen in a mountain bike helmet, and offers almost all the insulation I need for winters in Georgia. The liner snaps and velcros into place, and features a ratchet-style adjuster in the back to get just the right fit.
For those who live and ride in colder climates, the Morrison is compatible with many of the knit liners from Bern for added head and ear warmth. They even offer audio inserts in some of the liners if you’re into that sort of thing.
The included straps are easy to adjust and are comfortable under the chin. Unlike other helmets that utilize a breakaway harness system, the Morrison straps are embedded in the inner shell and held in place with a pin. This seems to keep the straps more secure, yet they’re still removable for washing.
As an all-season helmet, I think Bern missed the mark with the color choice on the Morrison model I tested. In an urban environment or even on the ski slope, olive green might stand out, but in the woods it’s just camouflage to hunters. The bright orange highlights and straps are a nod in the right direction, but for me it’s not quite enough.
Mounting lights or a helmet camera should be a cinch thanks to the wide, flat spots between vents on top.
I’ve enjoyed wearing the Bern Morrison helmet this winter on the trail, and even on my commute to work. In many ways, the Morrison is unlike any of the mountain bike helmets on the market today, with clear nods to the company’s ski and skate heritage inside and out. If you’re looking for a helmet that both protects and keeps your head warm, trust the folks from Massachusetts to take care of you.
Thanks to Bern for providing the Morrison helmet for review.