Creating the perfect commuter helmet
Wearing a helmet on a bike (or scooter) massively reduces your risk of serious head injury - as much as 88% according to some sources. However only 18% of riders wear one. This is especially true for cycle hire scheme users, who are keen to avoid carrying around a cumbersome extra ‘thing’ as they go about their day.
Designers have explored ways of making this essential safety product more flexible. But the results so far have led to complex and often costly ‘foldable’ offerings. At Newlane we've used this learning to take a different approach and focus on safety aligned with simplicity (and sustainability). The solution, the Newlane helmet, made with recycled ocean plastic, is the first genuinely ‘packable’ alternative.
Devised by riders
The light bulb moment came when our Co-founder Josh used a hire bike in Central London. He felt exposed and at risk without a helmet. He spoke to friend and experienced cyclist Dom (now fellow Co-founder), who agreed that portability of helmets is a real challenge. So, together with award-winning designer Will, they set about finding the answer.
Initially we created several low-fi prototypes and then developed these with cyclists (keen, casual and lapsed riders) to ensure any innovation would be ‘user-centred’. Alongside the non-negotiable safety certifications, they identified key features for a packable helmet. It must:
- Pack to a convenient shape - Volume reduction alone isn’t enough, if the folded shape of the helmet doesn't easily fit into a regular work or travel bag. The ‘system’ for packing the helmet down must also be simple and quick for the user.
- Come at an affordable price - Since the aim is to make a product for all riders, not just affluent, keen ones, it must also come at a price to suit everyone. According to leading bike retailers this is at the £40-£60 mark - reasonable, but not so cheap as to undermine perceptions around safety.
- Be sustainably produced - Finally, for a product to ‘land', especially among younger consumers, it has to be produced with the environment in mind. This insight led us to connect with ocean plastics campaigners and suppliers who have since agreed to work with us to ensure the helmet contains recycled ocean waste.
Inspired by Nature
As well as bike riders, the Newlane also draws inspiration from the bees (yes, you read that right!). They make great use of that familiar, hexagonal structure which forms the very strong foundations of their hives. This honeycomb design has been integrated into planes and rockets since the 1950s due to its protective, yet light-weight, qualities. So, our designer Will has used it as the basis for the Newlane Helmet. Crash simulations are very encouraging and wider research confirms that a honeycomb membrane is 68% more effective at impact control than structures used in traditional helmets.
Ready to pre-order
It’s been a busy and productive year since our team started development of what we believe is a truly disruptive innovation. Now with manufacturing set to start in early 2020, it will soon be helping riders to enjoy safety AND convenience at an affordable price. You can pre-order the Newlane at a 30% discount via Indiegogo of just £42.