Late last year, BikeRadar reported on the Kranium carboard helmet concept, an innovative design in head protection that uses a corrugated cartilage in place of a traditional (EPS) expanded polystyrene layer.
The Kranium AKS 1 is the brain child of industrial design graduate Anirudha Surabhi and has been proven to offer more effective protection than a traditional EPS helmet during multiple, stringent tests.
The Kranium was soon licensed by German manufacturer Abus, who have now released a clear plastic shell version of the lid. We got our hands on a test sample, and here are our first impressions.
Removing the Kranium from its box, we were suprised with the aesthetics of the production model. The helmet now looks distant from its early prototypes, mostly due to the fact that Abus have decided to go for a black cardboard structure instead of raw brown. The clear plastic shell has two central vents front and rear, while the material itself has a brittle feel to it, similar to that of protective eyewear.
Through the transparent shell, the corrugated cardboard skeleton is clearly visible, and so is the layer of glue used to hold it to the outer shell. It doesn't look great in places, but considering this is a first generation product it could be a lot worse. We liked the subtle white detailing and were glad that Abus have played it safe with the neutral colour scheme.
It's important to point out that the Kranium uses an EPS inner liner and, as a result, could easily be mistaken for a normal helmet. The function of the EPS is mainly to prevent the waffle-like pattern of the cardboard impacting your head in a crash. The helmet also features fixed velcro padding and uses Abus' excellent turn-wheel retention system.
Abus have fixed the straps of the Kranium using a nifty magnetic slider, rather than the usual buckle, and the chin area is nicely padded. The helmet does have a slight solvent smell about it at the moment – presumably from the manufacturing process.
The magnetic slide strap is a nice touch
Balancing our scales at 535g, the Kranium isn't the lightweight lid you might have been picturing when we first mentioned cardboard, but perhaps the technology will be used in lighter applications in future.
The helmet is claimed to be able stand up to the elements, as it's been treated to be sweat- and rain-proof. But there's only one way to prove that, so keep your eyes peeled for a full BikeRadar review in the near future.
Overall, the Kranium is a lid that holds a lot of potential. We like the idea but at the same time are very much aware this is a first generation product. With more development, this might just be the way forward in terms of safer and more eco-friendly protection.
The Abus Kranium AKS 1 is priced at £79.99 and is currently available at www.velorution.com.