“Cars are so yesterday. Bikes are the future.”
That was one of the premises that helped develop the “invisible bike helmet”. You may have seen this floating around the internet over the last few years as it’s been part of a masters thesis in the works. In the last week or so though a video of the students and their invention has gone viral, as has the discussion of the style, effectiveness and the availability of this new style of bike helmet in the marketplace.
A little background: the students were searching for a fashionable way to keep a cyclist’s head protected in the event of a crash. They felt that the traditional helmet was uncomfortable and bulky. They wanted to come up with a completely new design and unique idea for a bicycle helmet.
Without a doubt, what they’ve created is a completely fresh and unique approach to the standard helmet, but should everyone rush out to buy and wear one of these? Beyond the safety concerns (which of course are of MAJOR importance in a helmet), let us look at whether or not it actually solves any problems with the current, standard helmet design. Most notably, one doesn’t have to wear anything on one’s head while cycling. From a fashion point of view, this is probably it’s biggest selling point. Gone are the complaints that traditional helmets are uncomfortable, ugly and mess up one’s hair. But is wearing a bulky collar that much better? It seems just as cumbersome to handle and to put on and while it doesn’t mess with one’s hair, it seems that it would be fairly uncomfortable to have something like this around your neck, except in cool to cold weather. Additional cons with this helmet include the whopping price tag of around US$600 and that it needs regular charging (it is battery operated).
We’re strict believers in wearing your helmet at all times while riding your bicycle. We not only wear one while on our bike tours, but while commuting or just out for an easy spin in town. That’s why we think it’s great that these two students are trying to get more people to wear helmets, especially when they are riding to work or casually around town. With its current design, we can’t imagine wearing one for anything but casual riding. Even so, it might well fill a niche in the bike helmet market. We understand that the same helmet that you might wear to race or ride on the weekend doesn’t quite go with your work clothes, but at the same time you want to protect your head. We’re big fans of companies like Yakkay, which manufacture stylish alternatives to the “racer” or “sport” helmets. Who said that protecting your head had to look like you were lining up to race?
So regardless of the “invisible helmet’s” downsides, we applaud the innovation and it’s new approach. If it gets more people to protect their heads while cycling… fantastic! And perhaps with each new version of the helmet, it will lower in price and become even smaller and more “invisible”. We wish them the best and hope they succeed!