Hedonist: from the Greek hédoné (‘pleasure’) — one who regards pleasure as the chief goal of life
A number of figures, both real and fictional, have done more than their fair share to make crash helmets cool — James Hunt, Judge Dredd and Boba Fett among them — but perhaps none more so than Reginald Flint and Lindsay Chong, the duo behind Hedon, the company that makes the most dashing, comfortable and impressively crafted motorcycling headgear a man can wear. And there is more to these wares than the cool factor and quality: Hedon’s helmets, as the name suggests, are about capping off the sheer, unadulterated pleasure to be found on a motorised two-wheeled steed.
Hedon’s story begins in 2011, when Flint and Chong decided to blend their extensive experience — the former oversaw the operations of the oldest helmet producer in the world, Lazer, in China and south-east Asia; the latter is a respected product and graphic designer — to plug a gap in the market by fashioning stylish helmets using traditional methods. Without losing any emphasis on state-of-the-art methods and outstanding functionality, the pair also wanted aesthetics to be a major priority (“My passion has always been about creating and making beautiful things with an added edge and innovation,” Chong tells The Rake). To that end, they’ve taken urban motorcyclists’ headgear back to the drawing board, and come up with inconspicuous, light, openfaced helmets that exude style and grace, and yet are road-legal for the U.K. and Europe.
Hedon’s cake-and-eat-it approach to form and function derives from a design and manufacturing regime that is unique to the London-based company — and it’s striking how many of the procedures involved, with their emphasis on the tactility of the human touch, call to mind those you’ll see on the Aston Martin production line. “Our helmets are made of a composite of carbon fibre and fibre glass,” says Chong. “All our fibres are pre-impregnated with resin, giving them a very even finish. Each panel of fibre is hand-laid and moulded on to our head moulds, piece by piece, to be finished in our autoclave machine, in which the result is baked under pressure to reach its hardest and strongest state.”
The resulting shells, explains Chong, then go through one of the trickiest steps in the process: priming a fibrous and porous spherical shell to be silky smooth — which it needs to be in order for the paintwork to be up to standard — requires unwavering focus, tenacity and an attitude to detail that might be clinically certifiable. “We then paint our helmets with the same paint and techniques one would paint a car with, to achieve the same durability against the elements and lovely depth of colour,” Chong adds.
Once painted and coated in either a matte or glossy varnish, the helmets are trimmed with natural calfskin sourced from Spain and south-east Asia. “We have a passion for raw beauty, and so we love to use calfskin that looks as natural as possible,” says Chong. These leather-trimmed shells are then riveted with brass snaps on the front. “All our hardware is made out of raw brass and copper, which have the ability to oxidise into beautiful degrees of natural patina.”
The next step in the process brings into the helmet’s structure a factor that is crucial to the pertinence of that company name — comfort. Hedon’s plush ‘Hed Armor’ lining was inspired by the skullcaps worn by rugby players who are smart enough to wish to remain so, and therefore put their brain cells before their machismo. “Comfort has always been one of the main driving points for Hedon,” says Chong, “as we believe that when form and function work seamlessly together, style becomes effortless.” The final touches to the helmet are the copper or brass Hedon logo signature on the forehead and a final polish before boxing and shipping.
Choosing between Hedon’s array of helmets calls to mind that feeling of bright-eyed but choice-dazzled wonder one experiences in a bespoke shirt emporium. They’re happy to customise, and Chong and Flint’s decision to introduce new colours (including mint, teal, ‘metallic moss’, ‘Cubist carbon’, and various unusual pastels) that had never before been used in the industry shows they are happy to stray even further from the path of convention (the company’s Dopa range, which have built-in visors, are emblazoned with graphic prints such as parrot or peacock feathers).
For the Rake team taking part in The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in September — a team that included Dean Gomilsek-Cole, of Turnbull & Asser; tattooist Mo Coppoletta; Corthay’s François Pourcher; Philippe Brenninkmeijer; and the event’s founder, Mark Hawwa — The Rake’s founder, Wei Koh, opted for various finishes (metallic leafing among them) with blue stripes inspired by the AMF Harley-Davidson’s fuel tank. The results, we’re confident you’ll agree, make the beholder want to rev an imaginary throttle.
What’s laudable about Hedon’s approach, as with certain globally renowned brands (the aforementioned Aston Martin and the finest haute horology companies, for example), as well as some lesser-known players (Zai skis spring to mind), is that they see production plants — and especially economies of scale — not just as soullessly parsimonious in their pursuit of profit but also toxic to the values they hold dear: craft, quality, comfort and style. In other words, the cerebral aspects of that ancient human endeavour, manufacturing.
Which makes the raison d’être of their wares — to protect Eleonor Picciotto, human grey matter — neatly, poetically symbolic.
Hedon for The Rake helmets are available to order at shop.TheRake.com.
Originally published in Issue 49 of The Rake, which you can buy and subscribe to here.