Fact: the average bike helmet has not come far in terms of style of portability in the 30 years since the Rosebank Stackhat.
This might not seem a bad thing, but inevitably we must all eventually move on (Channel 9 Olympic sports-casting team excluded, obviously).
But what if a revolution was around the corner? If helmets were just a little bit more stylish and less obvious to wear, would we be less perturbed about doing so?
In Melbourne, Sweden and Berlin, designers have been tackling the question, with some interesting recent results…
Last week Wouter Walmink, a young Dutch designer inspired by the hair-raising experience otherwise known as riding in Melbourne, revealed the ‘LumaHelm’.
As he told The Age: “We wear helmets to protect ourselves. A lot of the time helmets are just sitting there doing nothing. Our question was, ‘What can our helmet do for us when not saving our fragile skulls?’”
The answer, for the record: “Turn cyclists into mobile blue-light discos.”
Based on a standard helmet, the shell is fitted with lights powered by AA batteries and a sensor that measures movement of the cyclist’s head. Meanwhile a microcontroller placed in the cyclist’s pocket translates those movements into light patterns.
The helmet thus not only dramatically increases visibility, but could be used to indicate turning, and would look amazing when doing head spins.
Ahhh Sweden, where fashion and sensibility coexist in perfect harmony. The Hovding design company made world headlines earlier in the year for its scarf-helmet-airbag, for want of a better term.
As this site explains, the hood-shaped, nylon airbag is encased within a neck collar and is automatically inflated in the event of a crash by a sensor system.
Which brings us to Berlin. In May, Chappelli paid a visit to the S’mirk Masks headquarters in the German capital where self-proclaimed CEOOOOOOHHH Mirco Erbe creates whacky and far-fetched helmet/mask designs that add a certain aesthetic to any environment (if ultimately no added protection whatsoever!).
The fixie enthusiast was inspired by vintage Canadian hockey masks to launch his own range of standard and customised fibreglass masks and helmets that have attracted a ‘diverse’ audience.
These include a rapper who “wanted a stylish mask that wouldn’t scare women,” and a Japanese cross-play fan who wanted something a bit “shadow warrior”.
The time and cost of each helmet (€1,000) means it is not feasible for the moment to pay the exorbitant amount for crash safety test just yet, but if you want something stylish to put on your face next time you ride to the milk bar, Mirco might just have the thing you’re looking for…