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Helmets are as important as your brain, which is to say, they’re critical. While it’s obvious that safety is the primary objective of any helmet, none of us want to go back to the days when helmets were heavy, unsightly and hot. So modern helmet developers and manufacturers must balance the competing demands of safety, ventilation, weight and style.
Specialized takes helmet design seriously (no surprise, given the way they design everything else they make) and leaves no technological stone unturned in the pursuit of helmet perfection.
Ensuring Your Complete Safety
For example, Specialized has a drop-test lab that's capable of testing to every safety standard in the world. This device (shown in the photo above) is essentially a crash simulator that slams the helmet full speed onto an anvil so that engineers can refine designs until they offer as much protection as possible.
While the lab, equipment and endless testing and analysis represents a significant investment, by doing their own drop tests, Specialized is able to develop super-light helmets that are also super-safe.
Keeping You Cool
They test not only their own helmets, but also all the competition’s to make sure they’re providing the maximum advantage.
Through the use of the wind tunnel, they've developed what's called 4th Dimension cooling. Basically, there are four critical features that optimize ventilation:
Mouth Port: Specialized's patented Mouth Port allows air to enter the helmet at the forehead (diagram: blue arrow), a particularly efficient spot for cooling.
In-Line vents: Specialized's vents are one behind the other enabling the air to continue moving across the head. And that’s the name of the game in cooling.
Rear vertical vents: The rear vents allow air to exit the helmet, again enabling the wind to move across the head and draw away the heat in an exhaust blast (diagram: red arrow).
Deep channeling: Deep channels tie together the Mouth Port, In-Line vents and Rear vertical vents. This way, all the vents work as one.
Making Helmets You're Proud To Wear
Specialized's beautiful helmet shapes and designs result from some of the best creative minds anywhere. These folks work in Specialized's integrated design facility, sketching on paper and modeling in clay until they get just the look they want.
From there, they work with the product manager and test engineer to ensure that design modifications (required to make the helmet manufacturable and so it passes testing) don’t affect the look and feel of the helmet — and vice-versa.
Leading The Way In Helmet Construction
Basically, blowing polystyrene beads into a mold and applying heat produces the "foam" part of a helmet. The beads expand and stick together as they’re heated up. A simple-looking, minimally ventilated helmet is easy to produce, requiring only a two-part clamshell mold. A more complicated helmet can require a mold with as many as 16 separate pieces. Each of these mold pieces must be hand-assembled for a single helmet to be produced.
Aside from the mold, more sophisticated helmets have cutting-edge technology, such as in-molded straps and Specialized's Smart Track visor. So, next time someone asks you why a sweet-looking, lightweight helmet is so much more costly, tell him or her with a straight face, "It’s hand made!"
Check out this sampling of Specialized helmets and then come on in to try one on!