In Gear

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Nazi-inspired motorcycle helmets have been around since, well, the Nazis. But now they are becoming the headgear of choice for a growing corps of professionals who want that bad-boy biker image. Jim Peacock, president of Butthead Novelties, sells about 500 German-style helmets a month — up 20% from a year ago — at $50 each to customers in "the in-crowd kind of states, like California." John Daniele, owner of the online retailer Helmets R Us, says it's not a Hell's Angels thing. "I'm selling them mostly to professional, business-oriented people," he says.

Not everyone thinks the look is smart, as this and the other skullcap styles tend to be too lightly padded. "It's like having a fake fire extinguisher," says David Thom of the Head Protection Research Laboratory. "Sure, it will keep you from scraping your skull, but it won't protect your brain."