SOS — save our scones

Hel­mets get safer with a rad­i­cal de­sign

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Two Wheels - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

AN Aus­tralian physi­cist is over­see­ing a huge shift in hel­met de­sign. The Kali Naza hel­met looks like a con­ven­tional lid with a car­bon, Kevlar or fi­bre­glass outer— but it is what’s on the in­side that in­ven­tor Don Mor­gan be­lieves will help save lives.

The ex­panded poly­styrene foam in­ner is made of con­i­cal shapes of vary­ing den­sity that dis­perse en­ergy on im­pact.

No one wants to put their hel­met to the ul­ti­mate test but Mor­gan says sim­u­la­tions and lab tests show his de­sign re­duces ‘‘ en­ergy trans­fer’’ to the rider’s head— the cause of brain dam­age or fa­tal in­juries.

‘‘ Even the best cur­rent hel­met de­sign trans­fers forces (in a lin­ear fash­ion) in a crash,’’ Mor­gan says. In other words, the force of the im­pact goes di­rectly on to the rider’s skull.

‘‘ With the cones, that im­pact force dis­si­pates much faster and is spread over a greater area.’’

Mor­gan’s de­sign has earned him a string of awards, in­clud­ing the ABC’s The New

In­ven­tors ti­tle in 2007 but it’s been a long road to get the hel­met into pro­duc­tion.

Mo­tor­bike ver­sions, for road and off-road use, are now be­ing sold un­der the Kali brand.

A trial of the Kali Naza shows it is one of the light­est lids on the mar­ket, mak­ing it ideal for ex­tended use. It comes with vary­ing shaped cheek pads to en­sure a snug fit and the aero pro­file means it doesn’t catch the wind at any an­gle.

Noth­ing’s per­fect and the mi­nor chink in Kali’s ar­mour is wind noise at higher-than-le­gal speeds. It’s far from the nois­i­est hel­met on the mar­ket and can be elim­i­nated by wear­ing ear­buds— but I don’t, at least not on the road when hear­ing ap­proach­ing cars can be po­ten­tially as lifesaving as the hel­met it­self. It’s a mi­nor trade­off for its pro­tec­tive value and mod­est $369 price.

It’s a lid I’mhappy to wear. I’ll take a faint whis­tle over brain in­jury any day.

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