Thursday, 11 September 2014

Alternative cycle helmets

Featured in the Guardian
My next door neighbour doesn't like to wear a cycle helmet because she doesn't like the way they look. She wants 'one that makes me feel like a normal human being, not a wannabee sportswoman'. (I won't tell you how old she is, but she's a bit older than me.) I was reminded of this by an article in the Guardian on 'Cool helmets for bike rides'. However, my neighbour says leopard print is not her idea of chic either.

She says the Danes and the Dutch have nice hats so why can't we have them too? She pointed me at the Yakkay website and I can see what she means. Also she showed me some US websites with a huge range of chic, but presumably you'd have to pay import duties on those.

From Yakkay (Buy online or visit their London outlets).
All these helmets work on the same principle. You start with an unadorned safety helmet and add a cover. If you are handy with a needle you could make your own. You start by making a mould by covering your base with a plastic bag and packing tape to fit it snugly. Then you cut that apart to make a pattern for the material and sew it all together. This instructable tells you all the steps in detail.

So, if you don't like standard cycle helmets you now have lots more options. You also have new possibilities for presents for your kids or your partner with double points for sustainability: recycling materials and encouraging cycling.

However, covered helmets like this are not as safe as the standard ones. Your basic shiny plastic hat is slippy on the ground. If you land at speed and your hat doesn't skid nicely it can twist your neck with catastrophic consequences. But then again, if you wear one of these you won't want to cycle fast because you'd get far too hot.

If you do want want to cycle fast and are worried about crash resilience, then maybe the Kranium is for you. Instead of using polystyrene it uses cardboard ribs for maximum energy absorption on impact. It lasts longer than polystyrene as well as it can survive several crashes. Though having to replace your cycle helmet is not the worst aspect of a crash.

I hope you never crash. I haven't yet. Another aspect of safe cycling is being visible - I don't think anyone would regard my high visibility vest as chic but I like to wear it anyway. There are more tips about safe cycling from sustrans here.

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