A guide to impact protection and the reasons why Lazer created KinetiCore
What do you do when you want to make your own innovative proprietary rotational-impact technology that’s built into the helmet rather than added on as an extra?
The answer if you’re Lazer is to head back to the drawing board and tear up helmet design as you know it.
The team started from scratch in its quest to create an all-new impact protection technology while improving overall helmet performance. It’s taken more than 10 years to arrive at their planned destination, and that innovation is KinetiCore, an all-new technology built into Lazer helmets to provide improved protection to cyclists.
Lazer’s aim was to construct helmets that not only provide built-in (rather than added-on) rotational protection but are also lightweight and well-ventilated. At the same time, the company wants to take steps to reduce its carbon footprint. No easy task.
The key to development of the helmet’s design was examining the different types of impact and how they can affect cyclists.
There are two main ways a helmet can collide with hard surfaces during a collision – direct impact and rotational impact.
Direct impact occurs when a cyclist falls straight onto a hard surface, for example if they forget to unclip at traffic lights and fall directly in a straight line onto the pavement.
Rotational impact occurs when a cyclist falls onto a road, pavement or other hard surface while moving. This type of impact results in higher rates of more severe head injuries such as concussion due to the brain rotating inside the skull on impact. It’s this type of collision that the design team was aiming to protect riders against with its new technology.
Rotational impact can happen to any rider, whether they’re racing down a mountain pass in the Alps, leaping table-top jumps on their mountain bike on remote woodland trails or leisurely cycling along a canal towpath on a Sunday afternoon.
Finding a solution to this problem was a major undertaking. Using an advanced CAD computer program, the team designed simulations that showed what would happen to the helmet when faced with specific real-world impacts. This saved time, materials and money as they could test thousands of designs within the program instead of having to produce expensive prototypes.
The ‘Eureka’ moment
One major breakthrough in development was inspired by cars’ crumple zones. The way certain parts of the vehicle’s outer shell are design to crumple in order to absorb energy was a lightbulb moment for the R&D team, and they began to work on designing ‘cone’-like structures on the inside of the helmet that would crumple under impact, thereby absorbing and dissipating energy away from the cyclist’s skull and brain.
As the team worked through prototypes, they executed countless simulations, and over 5,000 physical helmets were tested before arriving at a design that performed to the standard of impact protection and absorption they were aiming for.
But for Lazer it wasn’t simply about protection. After all, it’s no use having the most protective model on the market if it’s also the heaviest. So in the quest for the perfect design, they experimented with multiple ways of removing material (mostly plastics) and lowering weight, while simultaneously aiming to increase ventilation. In doing so, they created a new benchmark for lightweight, well-ventilated and protective helmets for every type of cyclist.
The result is KinetiCore, better by design.
The helmets contain next-level impact protection technology that provides riders with confidence whether they’re on the road, mountain or gravel trails or commuting to and from work. The technology can even be built into helmets aimed at the very youngest of riders – children taking to two wheels for the first time and those travelling in baby seats or bike trailers.
Road cyclists are on a constant quest for high levels of protection, but importantly with precious grams shaved off. For them, it’s all about low weight, so Lazer removed EPS foam when building the Controlled Crumple Zones and added vents to increase airflow. With KinetiCore integrated into the helmet, it reduces the need for weighty add-ons, as well using less plastic in its aim to reduce the impact on the environment. In addition, the riders’ confidence is boosted by the knowledge that if they hit a kerb or traffic island they are wearing KinetiCore improved protection.
MTB riders, meanwhile, are looking for protection from the drop-offs, slippery roots and loose rocks that face them on the trails. KinetiCore’s Controlled Crumple Zones put impact absorption first, giving mountain bikers confidence to tackle everything the day’s riding throws at them. This confidence comes alongside increased levels of comfort and lighter weight, and performance is boosted by handy features such as Goggle Brow Vent ventilation and action camera mounts.
Commuters want to feel confident and protected on the busy city streets in rush hour, especially when sharing the roads with unpredictable motorists in a hurry to get to work. They’ll seek out the best helmet they can find, which is where KinetiCore steps up to the plate. Offering improved rotational impact protection means that commuters can cycle alongside rush hour traffic in the knowledge that they are protected should the worst happen. Similarly, leisure riders will enjoy the improved fit and ventilation on their Sunday rides with friends and family.
KinetiCore is also available in children’s helmets, giving parents and guardians peace of mind that their children are protected, whether they’re taking to two wheels on their first pedal or balance bike, or travelling as a passenger in a baby seat or bike trailer. At that age and height, falls may appear to be small, but they can still damage their developing skulls, so advanced protection is a must. With added comfort and EZ Fit design, and handy child-friendly features such as side-buckles to help avoid painful pinches and a flat back panel at the rear of the helmet, children can focus on the most important thing when learning to ride: having fun on their bikes and fostering a love for cycling that will last a lifetime.