German boffins develop olfactory alert for cracked lids

We’ve all heard the advice to buy a new helmet after the current one’s been impacted in a fall, but as you sit there dazed on the tarmac picking gravel out of your elbows and knees and checking your prized frame for scratches – not necessarily in that order, if you’re anything like us – it can be easy to forget whether or not your lid took any of the force of the tumble.

Now, some German boffins have come up with a rather novel – and quite frankly, unmistakable – way of making you aware that your helmet needs replacing.

The Germans may not be as renowned for cheesemaking as some of their neighbours – the Dutch, French, Swiss and even the Danes are renowned worldwide for some of their cheeses – but by employing the smell of some rather ripe cheese to alert the helmet’s owner to the fact that it is damaged, and the larger the crack, the stronger the aroma.

The helmet contains microcapsules of oil that are released when it is cracked, and as reported on the tech blog CrunchGear, Dr. Christof Koplin, a research scientist at the IWM, says: “Cyclists often replace their helmets unnecessarily after dropping them on the ground, because they cannot tell whether they are damaged or not.”

He adds: “The capsules eliminate this problem. If cracks form, smelly substances are released.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.