Whether you’re cycling to work in a traffic-heavy city or cruising down a country lane or bike path, it is always wise to wear a helmet. The plastic encasing could be the deciding factor between life or death if an accident should occur. The things about bike helmets, however, is that, unless you’ve got access to what the pros wear, the structure and build of them hasn’t changed all that much in the past couple of decades.
One company, Montreal-based Kupol, is breathing new life into bike helmet design with the help of 3D printing, hoping to make the safety accessory not only more effective, but also more comfortable and—dare I say—stylish.
Montreal, the Canadian city best known for its French Canadian culture and poutine, has also gained notoriety as a city struggling to adapt to an increasing population of commuting cyclists. Though more bike lanes are being built, the safety of cyclists has remained an important issue as cyclists and motorists often compete for road space. In other words, it is no surprise that such a compelling proposal for an updated bike safety feature has come out of Montreal.
Kupol’s bike helmet, currently featured in a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, integrates the company’s patent pending KOLLIDE Safety System, which itself comprises three layers of “revolutionary safety.” The helmet’s outer structure is 3D printed using a lightweight, breathable material, providing aeration to the cyclist as they ride. Below the outer structure, several other elements are at work, including a 3D KORE layer which collapses, absorbing the brunt of the impact force; KINETIC BUMPERS, which absorb medium speed impact; and innovative OKTOPUS pods, which cushion the wearer’s head and offer rotational motion mitigation.
“We didn’t just come up with a different helmet,” says Gabriel Boutin, President of Kupol. “We’ve completely revolutionized how helmets are made. People are still wearing the same protection that was on the market a generation ago. Now cyclists have a real choice when it comes to safety and comfort.”
Aside from its three-layer protection system, the 3D printed helmet is offered in a variety of sizes (from XS to XXL) to fit just about anyone’s head. The helmet also comes in a range of different colours and has a distinctly sleek look to it. That’s not where the versatility ends, however, as the helmet can also be converted from a MTB helmet (with visor) to an aerodynamic road helmet (no front visor).
The helmet design has already been in the works for two years, and the Kupol team says the Kickstarter campaign (if successful) will enable it to further optimize the helmet’s design and put it into pre-production. With the pre-production units, the company adds, it will undergo certification testing with the North American (CPSC) and European (CE) product certification organizations.
Presently, the campaign has raised nearly CA$15,000 out of its CA$100,000 goal. Some “ultra early rider” discounts are still available, enabling backers to pledge CA$299 or more for a 3D printed helmet. The estimated delivery for these helmets is June 2019.