With 17,000 cycling injuries a year here in the UK, we tend to focus on attempts to mitigate the effects, rather than remove the root causes: it often seems that the injured cyclist gets the blame if they weren’t wearing a bike helmet. The driver of the vehicle who didn’t see the cyclist is excused his “accident”.
Yes, I wear a helmet when I cycle. I appreciate the protection I had, when I came off on my bike on black ice and my helmet-protected head bumped the road; all this without a motor vehicle anywhere in sight. My shoulder was badly bruised and was tender for months, but my head was fine. But I’d still love to see Dutch style cycling infrastructure so that the majority of people don’t have to wear a helmet when they choose to ride a bike.
But cycling helmets are popular, as evidenced by the crowd-funding website Indiegogo currently having 3 different helmets, all being supported beyond their funding target.
The Torch T2 cycling helmet successfully raised 233% of its target when the project closed on 18th June. Its main USP was that it is the “only bike helmet with 10 integrated LED lights” and rechargeable batteries “keeping cyclists safe”. Designed with 8 air vents and weighing 370g, it could be charged using USB in 1 ½ hours, and provide 6 hours battery life on steady, or 36 hours on flashing mode. The retail price is at US $ 130.
The Closca Fuga bike helmet reached 282% of its target funding on 24th July and focuses on a different requirement, in offering a folding helmet comprising 3 mobile rings hinged together with 2 stable positions, which provides “a balance between safety, functionality and style”. Aimed at urban cyclists who want to wear a helmet while cycling, but not keen to carry a helmet around at work, in the shops, at meetings, etc, this helmet reduces to less than 50% of its starting volume in a few seconds – though it can’t be “folded” while the helmet is being worn, and it is claimed that it exceeds the main safety standards worldwide. It is offered at US $99 plus shipping. It’s clever engineering and design and won the Red Dot Design Award 2015.
The most elaborate of the 3 helmets is the Livall, which with 38 days left to go has already reached 516% of its target funding, and is billed as the “first smart and safe cycling helmet” (don’t you just love marketing claims?!). It certainly is the helmet with the most technology on board, integrating lighting, communication, a 3-axis G-sensor, and music. Made in Shenzhen, China, the “complete package” retails at US $ 159 plus $35 shipping to Europe.
Thanks to Bluetooth and a built in microphone and speaker, you can take hands free phone calls while riding your bike, but also communicate with other Livall bike helmet wearers who are cycling within 10m of you, without any need to shout. You can also disturb the peace of the country lanes by playing music to listen to while you ride! If you use a smartphone, you can download the associated Livall Riding app and use the Bluetooth connectivity to use your phone as a walkie talkie to communicate with other riders.
The 3-axis G-sensor can detect an “unusual gravity acceleration”, such as in a fall from your bike, which leads to an SOS alert being sent to your predefined ICE (In case of emergency) contacts. As an aside, it is well worthwhile putting an entry into the address book on your mobile phone for ICE, so that emergency crews know who to contact; if you wish to list several, you can use ICE – 1, ICE –2, etc.
The lighting on the helmet runs in several strips fore and aft on the helmet, with a horizontal bar on the rear. These certainly seem to make the rider visible in the publicity photos. You can also buy an optional extra – called a “Bling Jet”! – to have on your handle bars, so that the LED lights on your helmet act as turn indicators.
The company also provide an innovative nano cadence sensor which fits on to the end of the crankset. The app uses this device to calculate your cadence and from that your speed, travelled distance and calories used. The app can also show the slope, altitude and heart rate with further accessories connected to your smartphone.
The helmet also use micro USB for charging, which takes about 3 ½ hours. But the standby time is said to be 360 days and the 2200 mAh (8.1 Wh) battery should provide a good 20 hours of cycling. With all the additional functionality, it is not surprising that this helmet is slightly heavier at 450g. You can choose to support Livall via Indiegogo, or wait for production to start, with shipments from October of this year.
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