Hedkayse talks disrupting the cycle helmet market, chocolate teapots and five years of painstaking research
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is great stuff. It’s absolutely everywhere and does countless brilliant things. It protects products in delivery. It insulates houses and chiller boxes. It soundproofs rooms and music studios. It’s comfy in a bean bag. It’s made into children’s car seats. It also provides cyclists with protection. For over 40 years, we’ve worn EPS on our heads to keep our skulls and brains safe from harm. And, it does a damn good job of that. Exactly once.
When absorbing an impact, EPS is squashed and squeezed until it cracks. After that, it’s no good to a cyclist anymore. There’s no recovery. It’s done its job, and it’s then off to landfill.
Dropping your helmet, banging it against a door frame, any kind of knock at all can cause irreversible damage to an EPS helmet. Damage that will reduce a helmet’s ability to absorb an impact, so it’s passed onto the cyclist’s head and brain, should the worst happen.
To tackle this issue, supplementary technologies have been developed to render EPS a safer protective material. Rubber is mixed in to help the polymer flex more before it cracks in an impact. Plastics and rubber bands have been integrated into helmet design to better manage rotational forces. Straw-like forms are used for weight and impact management. Silicon-type inserts help to cope with low-force and rotational impacts.
EPS has always needed extra support where impact management is concerned. But even with all these innovations, the fact remains that a polystyrene helmet is single-use only. A chocolate teapot, if you will.
EPS is recyclable, but it’s not easy, and globally there is no sustainable way to do so. You’d think that after more than 40 years, there’d be a more effective, harder-wearing alternative available on the mainstream market. But, EPS continues to dominate the helmet sector. Why? Well, to understand that, you have to have some knowledge of the rigorous testing standards that helmets must undergo to be declared able to provide adequate protection.
Cycle helmet impact tests are completed not at only ambient room temperature, but also 50°C, and -20°C. They’re also run under wet conditions, and after being pelted with ultraviolet rays, which can contribute to the degradation of a helmet over time. And EPS is the only material that has been able to meet these standards. Until now.
Enter Enkayse, a new material that we believe is going to disrupt the cycle helmet sector. It’s been subject to five years of painstaking research and development. It’s taken more than 500 attempts to get the recipe and densities right.
Enkayse is the largest jump forward in head impact management materials since we put fragile packaging materials on our heads. We’re proud to be using it in our own helmets, and are looking forward to collaborating with other helmet-makers who take their customers’ safety as seriously as we do.
We’re ready to revolutionise the industry as we know it.