Bicycles

Thin, squishy bike helmet hardens on impact

Thin, squishy bike helmet hard...
The Newton-Rider helmet is presently on Indiegogo
The Newton-Rider helmet is presently on Indiegogo
View 3 Images
The Newton-Rider is just 16 mm thick – by contrast, traditional polystyrene foam helmets have a thickness of about 30 to 35 mm
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The Newton-Rider is just 16 mm thick – by contrast, traditional polystyrene foam helmets have a thickness of about 30 to 35 mm
The Newton-Rider helmet is presently on Indiegogo
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The Newton-Rider helmet is presently on Indiegogo
The Newton-Rider is available in three colors
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The Newton-Rider is available in three colors
View gallery - 3 images

Some people refuse to wear bike helmets because they find the things to be big, heavy and gawky-looking. That's where the Danish-made Newton-Rider helmet comes in, as it's sleek, thin, and made of semi-soft materials.

The Newton-Rider consists of a flexible, stretchable liner on the inside, joined to a series of pads on the outside. Those pads are composed of a proprietary blend of viscoelastic and non-Newtonian materials. "Viscoelastic" refers to substances that exhibit both viscous and elastic characteristics, while "non-Newtonian" refers to fluids that temporarily become more viscous (and thus harder) when subjected to stress.

As a result, the helmet is somewhat squishy and pliable during regular riding. And because there are spaces between the pads, the Newton-Rider as a whole is able to stretch and bend, to conform to the contours of the rider's head. It can also be folded up and stuffed in a bag.

What's more, the helmet is just 16 mm thick – by contrast, traditional polystyrene foam helmets have a thickness of about 30 to 35 mm. The final commercial version should weigh somewhere between 450 and 460 g (15.8 and 16.2 oz).

The Newton-Rider is available in three colors
The Newton-Rider is available in three colors

In the event of a crash, the Newton-Rider's pads are claimed to harden at the point of impact, absorbing much of the energy that would otherwise be delivered to the head. Because they subsequently soften back to their original state, though, the helmet can still be used again. By contrast, because the foam in traditional helmets irreparably breaks under stress, such helmets have to be discarded after each big impact.

And yes, the Newton-Rider reportedly does meet EN 1078 (Europe) and CPSC (US) safety standards. It also contains an NFC (near field communication) chip. The thinking behind the latter is that bike- or scooter-sharing apps could detect that the user is wearing a helmet, then provide them with discounts or other rewards for doing so.

Should you be interested, the Newton-Rider helmet is currently the subject of an Indiegogo campaign. A pledge of €69 (about US$81) will get you one, when and if they reach production. The planned retail price is €99 ($116). You can see the helmet in use, in the video below.

Prospective backers might want to also check out the £150 ($194) Hedkayse One. Although less sleek than the Newton-Rider, it's likewise soft, foldable and capable of withstanding repeated impacts.

Sources: Indiegogo, Newton-Rider

Newton-Rider helmet demo

View gallery - 3 images
10 comments
guzmanchinky
Well, the concept is cool, but it looks doofy. Why not make something that looks like a normal baseball hat which protects like a helmet? That would be cool.
WB
It is a choice to make something looking so lame - seriously what are they thinking! You put one of those on and everyone thinks you just escaped from a mental institution.. and the model pics and pr this company uses further creates that image... good luck with that product and that branding and design.
Username
Interesting how the video avoids all discussion of impact protection.
RobC
Bright, bold colors would be nice. Love that it folds up.
MemoriaTechnica
Modern motorcycle helmets have become seriously BIG. So much so, they make you look like you have a mushroom head. It's due of the amount of padding, typically Styrofoam, needed to meet modern safety standards. It'd be nice if the inner liner could be made of similar material to this, that's thinner, yet still as safe.
David V
Come on people - why so negative. It doesn't look that bad. Maybe they shouldn't have chosen a white one for the demo but I guess that's to show how it folds. The black one looks cool and the concept is neat. Folds up so easy to carry around. Of course there are other folding helmets out there. I don't see the point of a chip in it though. Just keep it simple. Agree that the demo could have included the bit of info on crash protection that is included in the article. I actually ride with an old ice hockey helmet.
BeefyGee
Sorry but the technology is very "old hat" as they say - pardon the pun! I remember dabbling with this concept 15 years ago with Dow Corning for use in motorcycle impact protection garments. Can't seem to recall what happened with it.....
Kpar
guzmanchinky, I would have used the word "geeky", but otherwise am in total agreement. Still, I approve the concept, and think it could be developed into motorcycle clothing as we learn more. This has been described in "The Flying Sorcerers" by David Gerrold and Larry Niven, a scifi romp from 1971.
ClaudioB
@guzmanchinky: "Why not make something that looks like a normal baseball hat"... that's because we're not all Americans... ;-)
Techrex
TRON!!!