NPR : News

Filed Under:

A Cardboard Helmet, To Go With Your Cardboard Bike

Would you ride a bike while wearing a helmet made of cardboard? What if its design was inspired by nature — specifically, a woodpecker? You'll have a chance to do just that next year — meaning you could outfit yourself in a full-cardboard biking kit, if you also go for the $20 cardboard bicycle Mark wrote about in October.

First, we should note that we're talking about the helmet's liner here, the impact-absorbing material that, in most of today's helmets, is expanded polystyrene.

The paper-based helmet, which will reportedly be manufactured by German company Abus, shares its corrugated design with woodpeckers. Designer Anirudha Surabhi says the bird often "experiences severe impact to its head," similar to the impact a cyclist can suffer in a crash.

The design site Core77 quotes Surabhi as saying, "In fact, it strikes the tree 10 times a second and closes its eyes every time so that they don't pop out, which means a monumental amount of energy that goes through its head."

To dissipate that energy, woodpeckers rely on corrugated cartilage as a buffer between their beak and skull. Surabhi says that his helmet mimics that structure, by incorporating a network of honeycomb-shaped corrugated cells.

"This structure results in 90 pecent of the liner being air," he says.

The result is a helmet that meets or exceeds Europe's safety standards, which also govern common polystyrene helmets, says Surabhi. And that meets the goals he set after suffering a crash that left him with a concussion, despite wearing a helmet at the time. He claims that his cardboard helmet can absorb three times the energy of many polystyrene-based helmets.

As the Urban Velo website reports, the Abus helmet "is slated to be released in the States sometime in 2013."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Nina McLemore's Clothes Are A 'Weapon' Of Powerful Women

Nina McLemore designs clothes for powerful women: Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Janet Yellen, Elena Kagan and others. She talks about how fashion can help women stand out in political office.
NPR

After Italy Quakes, Food World Delivers Support To Home Of Famous Pasta Dish

Amatrice was set to host the 50th celebration of pasta all'Amatriciana famously made there, but this week's earthquake devastated the town. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with food blogger Jeremy Cherfas.
NPR

Trump Promises Crackdown On Immigrants At Iowa 'Roast And Ride' Event

At Iowa freshman Sen. Joni Ernst's motorcycle ride and barbecue fundraiser, Trump didn't attend the ride, but addressed participants in a much-needed bid to draw support from influential GOP leaders.
WAMU 88.5

Want To Play Video Games Made In D.C.? Here's Your Chance.

An event called District Arcade brings together 23 locally made video games.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.