It is often said that the best designs are the result of the worst problems. When I heard that Italian heritage sports brand Carrera had expanded their product collection to include a ‘foldable’ helmet that could “shrink” up to a third, I was intrigued and eager to understand the driving force behind revisiting the humble bicycle helmet.
What is it?
Instead of a single moulded shell to pop on your head this is made up of rigid lateral segments that are mounted into a base of adjustable straps; the helmet is designed to expand and contract like an accordion.
How’s it feel?
A bit weird at first because you associate helmets with being solid unit’s not flexible affairs, but you soon learn to accept that it moves and you stop playing with it. As a point of interest the patented accordion design is actually inspired by original cycling helmets which were crafted from padded leather panels.
At first I thought the whole purpose of this purely was to save space, which seemed silly, but then I realised the design held a whole host of benefits. First off the unique frame design means you kind of ‘squeeze’ the helmet onto your head, resulting in a really neat fit. Unlike regular helmets which require bits of foam and Velcro to customise the fit this helmet instantly hugs the head. I found this particularly useful whilst riding on bumpy roads full of potholes, because my other helmet has a tendency to slide over my eyes.
An obvious benefit of the multiple piece design is ventilation. It stands to reason that the more of your head that you expose the cooler it will be. I, of course, like my head to be cool, but I do not like my hair to be wet and all those ‘holes’ let the rain in. To be fair I have trialled this helmet during a shocker of a week and if it had been really hot instead of chucking it down it would have helped keep my head cool.
Yes the helmet does reduce in size, if you are super short on backpack space this could be beneficial, especially if you use your bike to go between meetings and do not want to arrive “helmet in hand”.
The helmet conforms to all the regular safety requirements – the innovative design does not compromise safety.
Oh this is a hard one, will I ever put a helmet on my head and be truly pleased with the outcome?
The answer to the above is no. For me, picking a helmet is always tricky and ultimately I choose the one I dislike the least as oppose to the one I love the most. With this particular style, I found the back and side view completely inoffensive, however I did not like the front view. I have thought long and hard about why I don’t like the front view and I can only conclude the shape does not suit me – sorry I know that is not terribly insightful, but what suits one face doesn’t suit another.
Carrera Foldable Helmet Overview
I dismissed this product as a gimmicky when I first heard of it, but actually it’s innovative design details do have function and purpose. The fit is genuinely better than many of the other helmets on the market at this price point (£60.00) and it really does help keep your head cool. I wouldn’t rush out and buy one of these, but if I needed a new helmet I would certainly take it into consideration.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.