Helmets used to be unwieldy chunks of foam that did little more than protect your noggin. But as manufacturers pour money into R&D, they’re getting lighter, more aerodynamic, and safer. Some even include smart electronic functionality. Now if only someone would design one that didn't make you look like a bobblehead.
Helmet maker Kali Protectives bonds a layer of low-density, pyramid-shaped foam to an outer layer of harder foam. On impact, the cones compress and transfer the energy of the crash away from your skull. Inside the shell, memory-style foam improves fit and feel.
When an ICEdot sensor detects a critical impact, it notifies your emergency contacts and relays your GPS coordinates via your phone. It also acts as an electronic dog tag, giving first responders access to your medical history. The ICEdot can be attached to any helmet. POC’s Octal comes with an integrated mounting clip.
Built using technology developed for astronauts, a new breed of helmets will embed a heart-rate monitor into the retention system and collect data from your forehead. The forthcoming Lazer Lifebeam Smart will include Bluetooth and Ant+ protocols to beam the info to your cycling computer.
By separating the outer and inner liner with a layer of plastic, MIPS (multidirectional impact protection system) is the first helmet technology specifically designed to address rotational forces. It allows the shell to move independently, absorbing up to 50 percent of rotational acceleration. Lazer, POC, and Scott all have MIPS models.
More and more models, like Bell’s Super and Smith’s Forefront, have built-in GoPro mounts. Giro’s Air Attack has integrated sunglasses that affix to the helmet with magnets, an option that’s also available on any Lazer helmet. And the Torch T1 has rechargeable lights embedded in the shell.