If you ride a bike and you want to be safer you can buy and wear a helmet...and even if you don't wear one yourself you do buy one for your child - right?
Then you or, more likely, your child falls off their bike resulting in a head impact, or maybe; whilst still wearing your helmet you bump into the door frame; or accidentally drop it - The helmet isn't broken and the shell looks fine so you assume it's okay and keep on using it
Wrong… And this is something I've learned in the last few weeks here at Hedkayse. I have probably been wearing a helmet that wouldn’t do the job it was designed for, and I’ve also had my children wearing helmets that are possibly unsafe.
Hedkayse has undertaken a series of controlled tests with both a regular polystyrene (EPS) helmet and the Hedkayse One lined with our unique Enkayse core. The results both shocked and surprised me.
Hedkayse One (with Enkayse) passes 70+ European Standard drop tests
"An ordinary bicycle helmet works in three ways. Firstly, it spreads the force of an impact over a greater surface area so that it is not concentrated on one particular area of the skull. Secondly, it prevents direct contact between the skull and the impacting object by acting as a mechanical barrier between the head and the object. And, thirdly, it reduces the deceleration of the skull, therefore managing the impact and lessening the chance of brain movement and skull fracture."
So, basically, a helmet spreads the impact (would you like to land on your elbow or your whole upper arm? The larger the surface area in the “ouch” moment the less likelihood of injury). A helmet helps stop grazes and cuts and softens the impact (EPS is crushed and slows down the very, very sudden stop).
The material in the helmet that absorbs this impact energy, however, is far more fragile than we think, and a lot more fragile than I ever thought – giving me some real guilty feelings about the helmets we have at home and what I have allowed my children to wear and continue to wear. Imagine…. Scary thought!
"Bicycle helmets are constructed primarily using EPS and a hard plastic shell," explains Jon Cannings, designer at Lazer Helmets. "On cheaper helmets, this shell is glued on, but more commonly, this shell is formed during the moulding.
"EPS foam is used due to its shock absorbing properties," Cannings continues, "but, once impacted, EPS foam compacts - making it denser and thus reducing its shock absorbing properties. This is why it is very important that you should replace a helmet following an impact. In extreme cases, the EPS foam might be even cracked – something which can be hidden under the cosmetic plastic coating of the helmet.
"Many helmets feature an internal rib which follows the shape of the helmet - which may also hide damage to the EPS foam. This rib construction is designed to hold the helmet together in the event of an impact that may result in multiple blows to the head, but whilst it may maintain a degree of protection even after the EPS foam breaks, the helmet is still broken."
Here’s where I have been blown away since joining Hedkayse a month ago. The Hedkayse One helmet is lined with our own unique Enkayse material. Just like EPS once impacted Enkayse cushions, absorbs and spreads the impact BUT unlike EPS, Enkayse recovers to provide ongoing protection again, and again, and again to the European Standard (EN1078).
Here I was thinking a regular EPS helmet would be able to take a few bumps and bruises, a couple of decent impacts and 10 years later still keep me safe. Maybe it would still be safe.
The big question is do you want to 'think/guess' that you and your kids are protected or do you want to 'know' you and your child is protected...?
As a cyclist and a parent, my Hedkayse journey has been a series of "wow" moments. I'm guilty of owning a family of helmets that are over 10 years old; manufacturing recommendation is a replacement after 3-5 years, who knew that?!
My children have fallen off their bikes more than once, my husband has been in a road accident and I have dropped my helmet several times in favour of food or shopping! I hadn't replaced any of them until (I still think this was some sort of initiation ritual) I was asked (made!) to jump on an EPS helmet. The result of my jump was nothing. All, if any, the damage was completely invisible. It looked a perfectly good helmet. It still looked brand new. We had that helmet tested, it failed the EN1078 test scarily miserably. Long story short the helmet looked okay, looked as good as new, but it wouldn't have provided me, or my wonderful kids or husband, adequate protection in an accident.
This sounds a little extreme, but that was a life-changing moment.
If you or your loved ones are going to wear a helmet, it may as well be one that is going to keep you as safe as you can be. Why wouldn’t you?
Please don't assume that your helmet is safe because it looks okay...