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Cycling Gear Reviews Helmets

HedKayse One Cycle Helmet Review

The Hedkayse One helmet is a new take on cycling safety – a helmet which you can compress, and crucially isn’t compromised by dropping it. But what is it like to use?

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HedKayse One Cycle Helmet Review

Let’s be frank; your cycle helmet is the most critical piece of cycling safety gear you’ll wear. Broadly the expanded polystyrene lid hasn’t changed greatly in the last few decades. Yes, there has been lots of work done toward the aerodynamics, but nothing to impact on safety. The MIPS liner has been added to many lines of bicycle helmets, but the actual structure is unchanged.

One of the significant issues with the current design of cycling helmets, while they, without doubt, protect your noggin in the case of a spill, they are not often considered as the “consumables” of cycling which they should be. After a crash or even a significant drop off the kitchen table onto a hard floor, a helmet really should be considered for replacement.

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The consumable nature of a helmet from an age perspective is slightly harder to judge. Some manufacturers, such as Bontrager take the view that while there is no structural or chemical reason for the EPS of a helmet to deteriorate over time, five years is a reasonable “lifespan” for a helmet, given that we are talking about a safety device – and literally safe is better than sorry. Ultimately, there is a degree of judgement required in considering how “worn” your helmet is, which brings us nicely to the HedKayse One.

HedKayse initially set out to build a foldable helmet, which I was pleased to see back in 2016 at the CycleShow

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I very much go along with the concept that any helmet is better than none at all, and the original HedKayse concept aimed to make it easier, and less bulky to carry a helmet succeeding in creating a helmet which when stored takes up 50% less volume than a regular helmet

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However, since that first concept, things have changed greatly in terms of ambitions for the fledgeling bike helmet manufacturer, who now consider the HeadKayse One helmet as the ‘first truly multi-impact cycle helmet of its kind’. Made possible by moving away from the classical EPS liner to their in-house Enkayse polymer.

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The current version of EnKayse has been through over 400 chemical recipes to create a material which is both protective of the cyclist’s head, but as it is less brittle than EPS material. Meaning the HedKayse One maintains it’s resilience to ensure it’s still structurally sound ‘drop after drop’ from the kitchen table (but hopefully not crash after a crash!)

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The concept of a helmet which is droppable seems a bit surprising. The idea of reusing a helmet you’ve crashed in is frankly shocking, so HedKayse has produced a very compelling test, and crucially demonstration to show the EnKayse material in action

They get a model of a human head, weighted to 6kg to represent the average 70kg man, but a (which is a little surprising, but actually makes quite a bit of sense when you think about the proportions of a 70kg man- anyway!) put a sensor in the head, strap on the HedKayse One, and drop it from 2m in height

The graphs produced are certainly compelling for the durability of the helmet, while at the London CycleShow a month ago, the helmet there was dropped over 200 times across the weekend, with no statistical deterioration. Crucially no decline either to a level which would be considered unsafe – but internal designed company tests are unavoidably biased. As such, the HedKayse One is fully European Safety Standard (EN1078) approved, so you know what you are getting in terms of protection

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I think that covers a lot of the overview of the HeadKayse One, so let’s dig into the actual review

HedKayse One Cycle Helmet Review – Design

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The HedKayse One is a fully UK designed helmet, and has been engineered to fit the standard range of head sizes from 49cm to 58.5cm, yet when compressed down in its travel back, the helmet is only measuring in at 13cm.

So given this small size, what have HedKayse included in the box?

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We’ve got the actual helmet, the carry case, and a strap (not pictured) which is I’ve found more useful than the carry case, as I can sling it in a rucksack pocket and forget about it.

One aspect of the HedKayse stands out, and that is the covering. You can choose a lid in five different colours. But there is also the option to have the material coloured in any manner you can imagine – including black and red camouflage print! The Hedkayse decals on the back also provide a change for some hi-viz reflectors to increase night visibility

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There is another reason to have a material covering to the HedKayse One. The company expects you to use their helmet. Shove it in your bag. Drop it off your handlebars. Knock it off the desk. Have it tumble down the stairs. All of the things which could put paid to a standard helmet, and would certainly mar a plastic cover. The company states that they expect the material to age with your adventures. I’m not necessarily sure I like the sound of that, but shoving it into and out of my bags commuting the material is much less likely to tarnish any other helmet. A very interesting feature of the helmet is the way you adjust the size to fit for your head. At the back is a large area of Velcro between two metal loops so-called called then X-Strap

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The Velcro strap has two functions; it allows you to find a comfortable tightness across your head, to fitting sizes from 49-58.9cm but also allows the “tail” on the helmet to be pushed into to the compress the helmet

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Now it has to be said, that the Velcro option feels a little bit of an unavoidable compromise. There is no doubt that easily allows you to rapidly compress the helmets, but the consequence is that you can’t as easily get a constant snug fitting as is the case with a wired ratchet system, such as you find on the Giro or the Lumos helmets.

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With a ratchet tensioner, the helmet remains in the same fitting whenever you take it off, however with the HedKayse that is lost after every stowage.   Speaking of storage. To allow the helmet to compress, and also return to the correct, and crucially safe position, the joints in the Hedkayse have material strips preventing excess movement

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Now before I go any further, this is a pre-production HedKayse One, and while visually I’m a little concerned about the longevity of these connections, HedKayse has said they will be changed, as will the tape around the edges of the helmet, before mainstream release. So I’ll come back with information about how well the connections stand up in daily use when using a production version

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In terms of cooling, the HedKayse does get a little snug with four inline vents, but I’ve not found any issue with commuting, in fact, found that I was relatively well protected from the rain actually.

As for holding the HedKayse One on your head, I have found the straps on a touch fiddly to get sitting comfortably, with orange clip needing to be opened up before you can move the strapping to the right size.

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I have found in playing around with the straps getting the helmet snug takes a little trial and error, but isn’t difficult when you understand. A slightly annoying quality is that there appears to be a lot of spare straps when I was happy with the fit. Although that is better than the other way round.

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As for the release toggle. HedKayse is very proud of the toggle actually called Quick-release Adjustable Ratchet Chin-strap (QARC) system and feel that it is superior to the standard buckle type releases. Initially, I wasn’t actually a fan, particularly when it comes to getting the right tightness, I’ve found it a little too easy to fractionally overtighten it. HOWEVER, credit when credit is due, once you’ve gotten used to how the toggle works it is sublimely natural to get the toggle open and the HedKayse One off.

HedKayse One Review – EnKayse Material

The major difference between Enkayse material and a standard EPS liner on the surface is relatively simple. On EPS liner is a series of expanded cells, which are designed to protect your knoggin by being broken and squashed – thus absorbing an impact. After being deformed, your are off to the local bike shop to pick up a new lid

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By comparison the Enkayse material is uniform polymer, like memory foam, which is designed to deform, absorbing the impact, but then return to shape, and crucially usability after a bump.

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Visually you can see the resilience of the Enkayse liner, just by pressing on the smooth surface. You see an impression, which then returns to normal after a moment or two

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I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a BIG fan of the MIPS liner system in helmets. To the degree that I won’t buy a helmet without MIPS. There is the potential to debate on the effect of MIPS, but as it is certainly not going to increase your risk of injury.

I don’t see any reason to opt for a helmet without MIPS… but that about the HedKayse??

With nature of its construction, a MIPS liner simply can’t be integrated here. However the HedKayse team feel that buyers will not be missing out  

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The Hedkayse designers under Iain O’Brien have worked in the cycling helmet industry for several years. In the process of producing the HedKayse One time has been spent to the outer covering so that not only looks stylish but also has a lower friction coefficient with the ground, in case of a crash.

Thus the team feel the EnKayse polymer will actually provide a higher level of protection and rotational flexibility compared to MIPS helmet, Which is certainly an interesting statement, considering that Bontrager has recently been promoting that their WaveCell also as superior to MIPS.

One thing is for sure that we do need an independent test system to be able to evaluate these three competing technology approaches to helmet safety.

HedKayse One Cycle Helmet Review – Specifications

  • Size: Adjustable to fits head sizes 49cm – 58.5cm
  • Unfolded: 21 x 30 x 14cm (width, length height)
  • Folded: 14 x 36 x 14cm
  • Weight: 420g
  • Price: £150

HedKayse One Cycle Helmet Review – Using The Product

One of the things which you notice as soon as you put the HedKayse One on your bounce is that it isn’t a light, coming in at 420g

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To put that into context, the Lumos Helmet MIPS tips the scales at 380g, and that is sporting indicators, front and rear LEDs AND the batteries and Bluetooth kit as well!

Helmets are built for a large range of uses and functions, from MBT trails to super slippery TT lids. One this is certain, helmets are NOT a one size fits all when it comes to use.

The weight and overall lack of aerodynamics do slightly hold the HedKayse One back from some fields. But that feels a little bit disingenuous, a little like saying a Ford Focus isn’t a supercar

Many helmets can be pushed into additional roles, but the few times which I’ve commuted in with a race helmet on, I’ve been very previous with that lid during the day at work. Similarly, I’ve not going to wear my aero helmet on the MBT trail – not least as it’s almost a known fact I WILL fall off.

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The Hedkayse One is a very interesting helmet from a use standpoint. Certainly, for someone commuting to work, who will be needing to stow the helmet, or risks giving it a good bash on trains and the like, you are not going to be able to beat it. That I’m also going to be more than happy to take the HedKayse One out on a trail with me, and not be worried about it’s performance, or crucially longevity, is a huge boon. Remembering each time I’ve come off before I really should have been thinking about dropping the scuffed helmet in a bin after

Showing the HedKayse One to a few friends, there is an argument to be made that with a regular helmet you can fill it with a cycling jacket etc. when you put it in your backpack. The issue with that viewpoint is it effectively sidelines the EnKayse material and fails to acknowledge that you can be much less precious with the HedKayse in your bag than you would a normal helmet – that alone makes it the perfect commuter helmet for me.

I think this final statement needs qualification. Commuter bikes are a very specific items and are designed for a particular purpose, but that does make them less suited to others. The HedKayse One should be seen in that same vein.

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HedKayse One Cycle Helmet – Conclusion

Many people may benefit from a HedKayse One. Frankly, that’s any commuter who has to tote around their helmet after their ride, but the true genisu here lies a little deeper.

London and many other big cities are going through a transport revolution. In the same way some people don’t own a standard bike any more, but instead, opt for the “occasional bikes” dotted in cities, so our cycling apparel purchased need to adapt.

The person for whom the HedKayse One is an absolutely indispensable product is a city commuter using public bikes, such as the Santander London Bikes, or any of the myriad of casual rental bikes now dotted around London such as the Mobike.

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So the HedKayse could be considered a helmet designed for the commuter revolution.

Personally, the weight is the biggest factor for this generation of HedKayse. It’s not egregious, but up to a 1/3 heavier than many cycle helmets, it is something to think about if the HedKayse is going to be part of your work arsenal. If the helmet were lighter, you’d have a terrific helmet for use with more significant trave, such as touring in Europe. Simply throw the HedKayse in with your bike in a bike box/bag before jumping on a plane, which no concerns that the helmet would come to damage in the hold. Or given the soft nature of the HedKayse material, less chance of the helmet marking your bikes paint with scuffs/scratches!

Based on that I’m going to give the current, generation one, HedKayse a 3/5, AND a TG recommendation. If you need it, there is nothing comparable on the market, but that doesn’t mean that this version cant be improved.

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James Gill

Author of TitaniumGeek, which started after smashing off my RIGHT elbow. <br /> <br /> After learning a lot about olecranon fractures, I was introduced to the world Zwift, and slowly transitioned into writing about sports gadgets and the like<br /> <br /> Trying to keep up cycling, swimming and running whilst being a busy General Practice Doctor