A Cardboard Helmet, To Go With Your Cardboard Bike | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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

Kids' Films And Stories Share A Dark Theme: Dead Mothers

Why do so many animated movies star motherless kids? Sarah Boxer, a graphic novelist, cartoon-lover and mother, talks to NPR's Kelly McEvers about the phenomenon and the message it sends to children.
NPR

What If The World Cup Were Awarded For Saving Trees And Drinking Soda?

We thought you'd get a kick out of seeing how the four teams in the final World Cup matches stack up in global health and development.
NPR

What Will Become Of Obama's Request For Immigration Relief Funds?

NPR's Arun Rath talks to political correspondent Mara Liasson about the chances of a political agreement over how to handle the migration of thousands of Central American children.
NPR

Looking For Free Sperm, Women May Turn To Online Forums

Bypassing commercial sperm banks, thousands are logging on to websites where women can connect with men at no cost. Anecdotes abound, but the scope of the unregulated activity is unclear.

Leave a Comment

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