• Newlane

The naked truth - we have to change the way we get around

Whatever America's 45th President says, climate change is having a profound impact on how we live our lives. Environmental considerations mean that among other things, we are on the brink of one of the most substantial disruptions in transportation history. However people must be made to feel safe as they transition away from vehicles that damage the world around us.

From four wheels to 2

Wearing a helmet on a bike or scooter significantly reduces your risk of serious head injury - as much as 88% according to some sources. However only 18% of riders around the world wear one. This is especially true for 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 taken a different approach and focused on safety aligned with simplicity (and sustainability). We believe our solution, the Newlane helmet, made with recycled plastic, is the first genuinely ‘packable’ alternative.

Devised by riders

The inspiration for our innovation came when Co-founder Josh Cohen used a Santander hire bike in Central London. He felt exposed and at risk without a helmet. He spoke to me, an experienced urban cyclist, and I agreed that portability of helmets is a real challenge. So, together with award-winning design engineer William Wood, we set about finding the answer.

Initially we created some ‘low-fi’ prototypes and then developed these with cyclists (keen, casual and lapsed riders) to ensure any innovation would be built around what people want. 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 must also be quick and easy to use.Come at an affordable price - Since our aim is to make a product for all riders, not just affluent or keen ones, the helmet must 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 explore how to make our product from recycled materials.

Inspired by nature

As well as bike riders, the Newlane also draws inspiration from 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, Will has used it as the basis for the Newlane.

Our digital crash simulations surpass global standards and wider research shows that a honeycomb membrane is 68% more effective at impact control than structures used in traditional helmets. We are about to confirm these findings with on our own in-house test-rig before external testing and certification.