Review: Hedkayse One multi-impact, foldable bike helmet
The Hedkayse One is a unique British contraption that can take a pounding better than pretty much any other helmet on the market, and come back for more, again and again. It's also flexible enough to squash into a more compact shape for transport, making it a real oddity worth a closer look.
Bicycle helmets are fragile. It's not something most of us think too much about, but the EPS foam most helmets are made out of is sacrificial – as it absorbs impact, it cracks and shatters, losing its ability to protect your noggin again in a future crash. What's more, your head doesn't even need to be in it for a helmet to sustain damage. Drops, knocks or being thrown around in a backpack can be enough to wreck them, and it can be difficult to tell when you've cracked them.
So what we've got here is an absolute bruiser of a thing, a helmet that doesn't need to be coddled and can take all sorts of abuse without compromising on safety. The Hedkayse One is a chunky brain bucket that leans toward the skateboard/BMX-type style, and it's not made of EPS foam at all.
Instead, its impact protection comes in the form of a flexible, proprietary material called Enkayse, which acts a bit like memory foam and is effective across a wide range of temperatures. A good push with your thumb will make a big, fat dent in it, but it'll slowly expand and recover its original shape.
Five flexible bands of this material make up the lid, and they're covered in a rip-proof ballistic nylon that comes in six colors, or can be printed with a custom design. The logos are reflective, and the helmet can easily be sized to the majority of bonces, with adjustable (and very comfy) chin straps and a big ol' Velcro strap across the back that can quickly change the circumference of the whole thing. It fastens with a neat ratchet strap, and opens with the pull of a tag.
Let's address the negatives first, because there are a few. There's no peak on the front to block out the sun, although this is pretty standard for this skater style of lid. It's also heavy next to most pushbike helmets, with rated weights ranging from 450 to 500 g (15.9 to 17.6 oz). Realistically, that's about double the weight of a lot of lids, and while we don't notice it much on our heads, it does add up when you throw it in a bag.
Fans of repeated head impacts – I'm looking at you, downhill MTB guys – may also be disappointed to find it doesn't rock a MIPS rotational impact protection system, particularly given the price, which we'll get to. And while it's homologated to European CE standards, and the company's own data shows how much more effective it is in repeat impact tests, it's not yet road legal in Australia or the United States. Stay tuned on that one.
These issues aside, we found the Hedkayse One quick and easy to fit, and while the Enkayse material can feel firm to begin with, once it warms up a little, it softens to the shape of your head. It also works fine with sunglasses, even if there's no peak. It's a comfy helmet to ride in, and it's nice to have a helmet you can throw, kick, drop, squish and generally abuse with no guilt or misgivings.
The folding part, which was the original inspiration for the Hedkayse, we find less compelling. To fold it, you unfasten the Velcro from the back, whip out the "whale tail" of the middle Enkayse strip, and squish the sides together. It does get a bit smaller, but not by a whole lot. If space is at an extreme premium, you might find it useful to fold this thing away into its little bag to stash it, but honestly we'd be more likely to hang it off the backpack and let it bounce around – it's not like it'll get damaged.
The price? Hedkayse One retails for UK£150 (around US$190). That's expensive, although there are plenty of high-end lids that'll cost you more. And when you consider that you can bang it against things a bunch of times, with or without your head in it, and never worry that you might've just rendered it useless and ornamental, that 150 quid might make a lot more sense.