Friday, 20 February 2009

Bicycle helmets: To each his own

The Norwegian Council For Safe Traffic (Trygg Trafikk) is launching a new helmet-campaign this May, to get more cyclists make use of their helmets. That probably won't happen, until someone comes up with helmets that doesn't make you look like a dork. Oh, wait, someone already did!

Bike riders sometimes fall off their bike, smack their heads into the ground and is then told that's why they should wear a helmet at all times. The occasional, non-dedicated bicyclist then take a long, hard look at the available helmets, then decides to hop on the bus or into their car, instead of riding around while looking dorky.

OK, the reality might be a little more complex, but nevertheless: Finding a helmet that the ordinary everyday cyclist actually would want to use - if they should ever consider this kind of safety measure - is not an easy task.

Here is a few helmets that tries hard to stay away from the Lance-Armstrong-look-a-like contest. First out: The Danish Yakkay concept, consisting of a helmet and various helmet covers - designed to fit and hide the helmet itself.

NEW THINKING: Most notable is the danish Yakkay range of helmet covers, that you can mount as stylish camoflague on top of their very basic brain bucket. The result: Your head protection looks like any other hat or cap (apart from the straps, which actually are really nicely done, by the way). There are more models than those shown here, view their entire line over at (and no, I have no clue about what that brand name means).

If you live in Germany, France or the Nordic countries - the Yakkay helmets can be ordered here, by the way:

SMOOTH LINES: Bern also has a very clean helmet design, the Muse, with no air intakes on the surface and a small, integrated visor - ensuring a smooth look (and also no wet hair if riding in the rain). This helmet is available both as a breathable hard hat with brock foam, as well as the tougher, industry standard EPS-version.

FROM JAPAN: Sawako Furuno is a Japanese-born designer who got tired of boring bike helmets, and decided to design her own. You can check out the line over at

STAND OUT: If you want your gray matter surrounded with flower power, head directly over to the (aptly named) Nutcase helmet line. Their street helmets comes in a wide array of colors and patterns, and will definitely make your head stand out in the traffic. Enjoy them all here:

WITH SPEAKERS: The O'Neil Sound helmet may look more like any ordinary skateboard helmet, but actually sports built-in speakers for those unable to ride without a musical soundtrack. As opposed to earplugs, this speakers allows you to hear more of the traffic, thus avoiding potentially dangerous situations. The music lovers may argue that the whole purpose of riding with earplugs is being able to actually enjoy the music undisturbed, but since I never ride with any portable sound anyway - I'm not the one to conclude here. If you like it, you'll be able to shop here (if you live in Germany, France or the Nordic countries, that is):

Know about other helmets that should be listed here?
Drop me a line and a link at :-)


Tuesday, 10 February 2009

GoCycle: A new electric bike era?

GoCycle - a british new design by former McLaren designer Richard Thorpe - sets out to change the way we look at electric bicycles. The magnesium framed, electric powered foldable bike with rear suspension is ready for the market April 2009.

NEW THINKING: To date, most electric bicycles seem more like ordinary bikes with the electric drive system put in as an afterthough. There are a very few honourable exceptions, but none like the GoCycle.

INTEGRATED PACKAGE: This bike is designed from the ground up around the electric power system, and stand out with a lot of integrated features - almost like a "fuselage" system, where all the parts are custom made to match each other. The rear hub, for instance, is a standard Shimano 3-speed, that have been modified to work with the single chainstay frame. The same goes for the disc brakes, who are integrated into fork and frame. The front disc rotor is actually attached to the fork, not the wheel!

3.5 HOUR FULL CHARGE: Being able to recharge fast is important, and the GoCycle need only 3,5 hours to refill to full power. The battery is hidden within the main frame tube, easily removed through the back of the bike.


Check it out:


Monday, 9 February 2009

Paper Bicycle: One seriously cool bike

This all new city bike was originally designed for use in the british Royal Mail. From May 2009 anyone can buy their own "Paper Bicycle", and I'm sure they will. Who can resist such a classy, clean and simple design?
I can not pinpoint the exact reason why, but my heart rate actually increased several beats the instant I discovered this beauty a few weeks ago.

Photos by Simple City under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons Licence

Has it to do with the sophisticated simplicity of the low slung lines, with gear and brake cables hidden within the steel frame tubes? The bold and striking chaincase, who actually covers the entire chain and drivetrain - and even features a large, printable cover? Or was it simply because I am a bike geek with a crush on cool city bicycles?
Hard to say.

The prototype in action. Photo by Ben Cooper under a Creative Commons 2.0-licence

Whatever: The designer Nick Lobnitz (mechanical engineer and silversmith!) and his scottish firm Simple City sure knows a thing or three about city cycling, though. He is already well known for his Carry Freedom trailers, an award-winning, urban, foldable bike trailer system launched in 2003. Six years later he is out with a city bike I love for a number of reasons:

- It has a unique, almost timeless visual identity: Thanks to a low-key design, along with a distinctive, customizable chain case
- It's super low on maintenance: Gears and brakes are internal, with no need for regular fettling to adjust or re-adjust.
- It's possible to ride even in dresscode mode: The fully enclosed chain and the front and rear mudguards keeps you clean.
- It's hard to break: The steel tubes are robust, reliable stuff, and the tires are puncture proof.
- It's simple: One size fits all, gears shift with a twist of the hand, stable and safe steering feel makes everybody able to ride

The other side of things. Photo by Ben Cooper under a Creative Commons 2.0-licence

The tubes that loop along each side of the frame not only provide the framework for the chain case, they are also double sided for a reason: An original rear rack will mount into the rear end of the tubes. The rack is still not pictured in the press material, but I guess it will appear soon. The two tubes will also hide any future electronic equipment needed to make the Paper Bike an electric bike, and finally: The large side panel is there for you to personalize with any kind of print or logo.

Nice work, and a truly nice bike.
Now, if it was only available in Norwegian bike stores...

Read more here: