Urban Velo

Bern Watts Polo Mod

bern_polomod Bern sent in a few helmets a while back, one of which is the pictured hardhat-style Watts (sans face shield, I’ll get to that) featuring multi-impact Brock Foam, similar to the liner found in hockey and baseball helmets. Not certified for bicycle use (though the identical shell is available with CPSC approved crushable EPS foam), I nonetheless have found the helmet rather ideal for hardcourt bike polo. The multiple impact foam seems a wiser choice to me in terms of protection from occasional blows from a mallet or ball, along with the low-speed tumbles that inevitably occur. So far so good, the Watts has treated me well over the past two months or so of play. The 16.5oz lightly vented helmet is certainly warmer than the usual roadie style, there is no way around it, and my choice of black shell adds to the heat during midday games. For cold-weather use, the Watts features a felt plug for the top vents and snap buttons just inside the shell to attach optional ear covers. Those snaps and the sturdy plastic brim got me thinking… Face shield?

My dad’s a dentist, and I had braces twice as a kid. I have a healthy fear of losing my teeth to a high stick during polo, let alone my eyesight if my glasses were to suffer a direct hit. Recent tournament play where a teammate caught a high stick just under his eye made me finally decide to see if I could graft a hockey face shield to the Watts shell, which proved easier than I could have imagined. I looked at some measurements online and found a $10 CCM replacement cage that seemed like it would fit – to my delight when I opened the package I found that the stock snaps of the cage even mated to the buttons of the Bern, no swapping required. All I needed to do was to drill two small holes in the helmet shell and bolt it all together, using the hardware that shipped with the cage. It could use some subtle refinements and shaping for look’s sake, but I’ve decided to play a few games before spending much time on the hardware end of things. It fits great, comes off with a few turns of a screw and brings me back to my dek-hockey days as a kid. It may look out of place with the majority of players not donning headgear of any sort, but so did the first ice hockey goaltender masks and we can all see where that debate ended. I figure that if some of the best goaltenders of the past decade haven’t been held back by cage-style head protection, I’ll be able to see the ball just fine. Look for updates as I get some more court time with the shield attached.


  1. tink in dcJune 16, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    hell yAH. that makes total sense. congrats on the build.

    my teammate played with a regulation hockey mask at a polo tournament down in richmond last year, and the only complaint he had was the weight.

    save your teef!

  2. the noobJune 16, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Yeah – when i played polo i used a CCM helmet with a full face. Every so often I would take a hit to the face & remembered why I used the thing. Granted, the mask sticks out a bit more so those “close calls” for someone with no protection are “hits” for someone with a mask but all in all the masks are a good thing.

  3. svenJune 16, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Face protection is a must. Trying to figure out the best way to implement it myself. This could be a good idea.

    Check this video of broken teeth caused by a high stick. http://vimeo.com/5168164

  4. unixd0rkJune 16, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    hmm… i see you opted to go the non-chicken-wire route. ;]

  5. The Great OneJune 16, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Just use an ice hockey helmet ffs! Protection for the eyes is more important than the teeth.

  6. danJune 17, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    yes that would have come in handy before the $4 thousand dollars in oral surgery and dentistry.

    woooo titanium bolt implants and 2 fake front teeth.

    face-planted on a bike path dodging a 14 year old who wasn’t paying attention….now I yell out on the paths. “Rider up!”

  7. BrianJune 18, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Forget looking out of place. I’m all about safety gear for polo because having to sit out due to an injury sucks ass.

  8. It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye | Brussels Bike PoloJune 1, 2010 at 11:06 am

    [...] • Kerry’ thigh injury; • The Nikesportswear Club / © Jean-Baptiste Soulliat; • Bern 1; Bern 2; Bern 3; • Ads: Ogilvy & Mather Vietnam [...]

  9. Ruth TracyJuly 26, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Saving an injury to the face is worth it. Tell me what you can do if your missing an eye or took a nasty blow and needed surgery. Not much…

  10. kellyJanuary 31, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I had a front tooth knocked out playing polo. Now I play with a hockey helmet that has a full cage. I wanted to attach a cage to my bern but it wouldn’t work with the model I have.

    The bern with a mask would protect you from getting hit in the face but it wouldn’t do much if you fell off your bike landing on your chin. There is no support for the mask on the helmet, so teeth would slam together.

  11. Fixcraft Bern Watts Polo Helmet « Urban VeloJune 3, 2011 at 9:37 am

    [...] injuries at tournaments from high sticks or balls that get airborne. I’ve been using my modified Bern Watts helmet from a few years back, and have had a number of mallets and balls ding off of the cage since [...]

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