Thursday, March 21, 2013

Will Head-Shape Study Get Helmet Makers' Attention?

Click over to webBikeWorld to read its report of a recent German study that has concluded what helmet-wearing motorcyclists already know: human noggins aren't all the same shape!  wBW has been all over this issue for many years, and has compiled what must be the world's most comprehensive data on helmet models and corresponding head shapes.  Arai, which has for years made and marketed helmets for a range of head shapes, seems to be the only helmet manufacturer who publicly admits to understanding the head-shape issue . Sure, a very few helmet models by makers other than Arai have deviated towards the more extremes of head shapes on the pencil-thin to basketball spectrum, but those seemed to be almost by accident, as evidenced by the fact that none have been marketed for specific head shapes.

Of course, helmet manufacturers have known just as well as their customers that not all brain-cases fit the same into a given internal helmet shape, and that disparities between head and helmet shapes can cause undesirable results, such as painful "hot spots," excessive air gaps, buffeting, etc.  Its also painfully (pun intended) obvious that money concerns factor heavily in the helmet makers' decisions to not develop and sell a range of shapes. Though I haven't seen a study regarding the issue of reduced crash safety in a helmet ill-shaped to the rider, it certainly doesn't seem to be worth the risk.  Perhaps studies such as this one, and market pressure by riders, will someday sway some makers, perhaps the larger ones (looking at you, Shoei!), to get on board.

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