Funny where reviewing takes you. If it wasn't for the Ribcap Jackson, I'd never have heard of Reynolds' Dilatancy. Nothing to with the tubing company, nor the sort of thing that makes your doctor blush. It's the tendency of various materials to thicken when put under 'shear stress' - what you and I would call impact - and it was first observed by Osborne Reynolds. It's what makes the ingenious Ribcap Jackson effective.
Before we go any further, a couple of ground rules. First: no helmet debate. Second: no helmet debate (good luck with that - ed).
OK, phew. The Ribcap Jackson, then, is a beanie-like soft hat, with a little peak and ear protection, not too far away from a traditional winter cap. It's covered with a Merino mix outside and a fleecy inside, and each of the panels, thicker than a normal cloth hat, is filled with one of these clever materials. Under normal conditions, it's squashy and flexible, but put under sudden impact, it hardens: a crash helmet beanie we have.
The hat is pretty comfy, and warm, with a small reflective strip on the back, and it has an optional chinstrap to keep it secure. You can't really simulate the effects of a crash and I'm pleased to say that I didn't have any need to test the dilatancy out. But the hat's protective properties are CE-approved, and you can see on this Gadget Show clip (around two minutes in) it in action on some melons.
It's a lot more enlightening than the Ribcap site, which has weird picture of some wiggly lines to explain how dilatancy works. Maybe it's better in German (the company is Swiss).
It's important to note as we did in our initial look at Ribcap products that it isn't intended to provide the same protection as a hard lid, or meet stringent Snell certification. It's obviously not suited for your weekend club run, but for urban cycling - as well as leisure riding, snowboarding and other things - it will go some way to keeping your melon safe.
I suppose this is where the helmet debate comes in, dammit: would this be a viable replacement around town for a traditional helmet? Well, as I've already said, the protection's not quite the same, and there are any number of reasons why people decide not to wear a helmet when commuting - convenience and looks probably being two of the major ones. The Ribcap Jackson is certainly more convenient than a hard lid: it can be folded and stashed in a bag or even a large pocket, like a beanie, when you're not using it. And the aesthetics of it? Frankly when wearing this I felt a little silly. Though it's not that bulky, it still made me feel like a bit of a bulb-head. There are some lovely publicity pics of the Ribcap, but there's no way I looked that cool. So if dorkiness is your main reason for not wearing a helmet, then this may not convince you otherwise. But it's a well made, useful piece of kit, using some ingenious technology, that will undoubtedly make its users' heads safer.
A curiosity, but anything that adds to the range of safety options can only be a good thing.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Ribcap Jackson
Size tested: Grey, Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's aimed at cyclists and other sportspeople who want to keep their head warm, and protected but not 'take themselves away from nature'.
The site explains:
The Ribcap Concept 1: Ribcap keeps you warm
On the one hand, Ribcap is simply a carefully sewn wollen cap. That's how it keeps you warm.
The Ribcap Concept 2: Soft protection
On the other hand, Ribcap protects. Thanks to sewn-in protectors. Thats the core of the cap: soft, viscoelastic protectors instead of a hard shell, See material �'. While hard material either holds its form or breaks on impact, viscoelastic material reshapes itself and so absorbs the impact energy. That's soft protection.
Soft Protection: A World-View
Soft protection doesn't mean that one goes around completely shielded. That's not only high-tech, that's a philosophy of life. With Ribcap, one really looks differently at the world. One does what one does with a clear view, and can hear what is happening around you. Because Ribcap does not impede your senses, one is closer to nature. With Ribcap one feels well protected, but not invulnerable. As a result, Ribcap prevents a continually increasing accident cause: Over estimation of one's own capabilities.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
High-tech protectors made out of StructUreTM are sewn.in in every Ribcap. These are laminated with a thin layer of high quality shock-absorber SAF which harden at low temperatures.
The laminate StructUre TM-SAF has the following characteristics: - Energy absorbtion thanks to viscoelastic properties - Protection effect also in cold and wet conditons - light weight - porous and breathable - free of solvents
The website gives the following information on the material:
StructUreTM is a light plastic foam. It's chemistry is based on a modified, solvent free polyurethane reaction. (PUK) The molecular form of the StructUreTM plastic foam can be altered by a bombardment with high energy electrodes. Characteristics such as *toughness, shock-absorbing capability and respiratory *properties can therefore be made to an optimum and be brought up to specific requirements.
StructUreTM is a registered label of the FoamPartner Group and possesses the 'Eco-Tex standard 100' certificate.This certifys that the material is free from pollutants and solvents (Test Nr. ZHAO 053928)
I didn't have to test its properties, but the company seems very open and honest about what the Ribcap is designed to do - and what it isn't.
Did you enjoy using the product? Erm, it was a weird one.
Would you consider buying the product? Not for me, I don't think.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they had some quite specific headwear needs!
About the tester
I usually ride: Cinelli Strato road or fixed commuter hack. My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,