A London design student has devised a cycle helmet based on a cardboard frame that he claims is able to absorb four times the impact of a standard helmet while also being recyclable. Anirudha Rao believes that as well as providing greater protection for cyclists who own their own bikes, the helmet – called the Kranium – could also prove useful to operators of bike hire schemes.
Rao, a postgraduate student at the Royal College of Art, unveiled the helmet made its debut at the London Cycle Show last October, and has been developed with the help of a £20,000 grant from the James Dyson Foundation.
The designer says: “The ribs of the structure have been designed to accommodate movement in some places where as it remains perfectly rigid in some areas. Thus during a crash the force peak of the impact is absorbed by the ribs tending to flex and de-flex. The remaining amount of energy is then absorbed by the crumpling nature of the corrugated ribs.”
Carlton Reid of the trade focused website BikeBiz filmed Rao talking about his invention at the Cycle Show last autumn, and there's also a video from Bike Republic that shows the Kranium being subject to a drop test together with a standard, off-the-shelf helmet.
An acrylic compound renders the cardboard waterproof, and it can be adjusted to provide an exact, snug fit to the wearer’s head.
As for bike share schemes, which have struggled in Australia for example due to the compulsory helmet laws there, Rao hopes that a quick assembly version of the helmets might be sold via vending machines and recycled after use.
The Independent reports that the Kranium has already been licensed by several cycle helmet manufacturers, bringing it a step closer to be seeing on the streets some time soon.
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.