Damn'd Insects, Riding, DEET and Helmets

by Iain O'Brien August 31, 2018 1 Comment

We’re told to keep so many everyday items away from our helmets, specifically anything that could damage the material that the helmet is made from.  Which makes a lot of sense; no one wants to wear a damaged or potentially damaged helmet.

I'm not a great rider. I'm enthusiastic. I fall off often. I scrape myself often. I bruise myself often and as you can probably tell, I ride my MTB more than my road bike.  I have come off my road bike hard enough, head first into a grassed bank, to crack and destroy my Bell helmet. I got a bit lucky as that I pretty much walked/rode away, basically, injury free.  It did mean the rest of the ride was with a cracked helmet - something that did play on my mind (but that story is for another time).


Beaten up Legs

So now, the road bike gets put on the rollers (indoor – in a hallway that both my elbows can bump on if I get a bit wobbly) if I feel like I need to lose a bit of weight.  You know, in the summer after too much BBQ and beer; In the Autumn when the weather starts to turn and it’s a touch too cold to get out on the MTB. Winter also, when It’s too boggy to get out; and Spring when you know you need that the bike needs a service before getting it back out on the trails… So a bit of time on the rollers between fair weather MTB rides (actually, not quite true, I don't mind a muddy dirty ride!).

One thing that has bugged me (intended pun) recently, while out with the guys I typically ride with, is that whenever we stop to let others catch up or to decide on routes is the damned bugs that flock, buzzing around,  attacking my face trying to steal my precious blood. I hate it. Breathing hard at the top of a climb, bugs get sucked in as an unwanted protein; hate it! There has to be a better way.


Scratched Arms

DEET is great.  I needed DEET in my bag, I needed to spray it all over my head!  It's great to keep bugs away. It's also very good at destroying stuff, especially bike helmets. DEET on things other than skin is typically not a great mix.  It has a propensity to eat plastics, chews polystyrene (EPS) into a sticky goo, and weaken, pockmark, and discolor a lot of other man-made fabrics.

It's not just DEET that can cause damage to your helmet*.   Sunscreens (which we all should wear in the summer), petrol and its fumes (bike and helmet kept in the garage/shed), hair products (especially regrowth and anti-lice serums, and even some shampoos and hair sprays),  and even bike chain grease (mechanical issue, dirty hands, helmet off and back on again) can all cause visible and invisible damage to your head protection.

On average each one of those is not enough to make a helmet unsafe (fail a safety test) but they can cause slight damage (5% and up to 25% per exposure)**.  But in combination, and totaled up over a few rides you are risking the overall ability of your helmet to withstand a reasonable impact. That concerns me. That should concern us all.

While designing and constructing the Hedkayse One we realised we had to use new materials.  The standard shell (Polycarbonate or ABS) and protection liner (EPS) just wasn't going to do for what we had in mind.  It was time to discover new, and now patented technologies. In this process, we've found out what they could and couldn't withstand.

The inner material of the helmet, that covers the Enkayse protective layer, is a medical grade antibacterial fabric that can withstand almost any liquid. The coloured outer flexible layer (TAF) can also withstand almost anything you can throw at it.  We have also discovered that we can infuse it with scents (imagine a coffee scented helmet for a work day commute). This has lead us to discover we can infuse the TAF with DEET without any negative effects on the materials.

It's early days, we're testing how long the DEET effect lasts for? How strong is the smell of DEET (we know it can be off-putting)? If required, can we cover the smell of DEET with another?

Either way, you can spray our helmet with DEET and wash it off if you need to be rid of the smell.  Wear sunscreen without the worry of damaging your helmet. You can basically treat/mistreat your Hedkayse One however you want to and it'll still be safe***.


Sounds good, doesn't it?


We'd love your thoughts. 

* https://helmets.org/substancetest.htm

** https://helmets.org/substancetest3.pdf

*** visible damage like tears/cuts/breakages - get in touch and we'll asses.

Iain O'Brien
Iain O'Brien


1 Response


September 25, 2018

You have a typo. “Asses” should be “assess” unless this is a British vs American thing.

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