How Charles Owen uses technology to make safer riding helmets
The implementation of technology begins with the materials that make up each helmet. Most of Charles Owen’s helmet shells are made out of fibreglass with a few of the more basic models created from injection moulded plastic.
The shell spreads the force upon impact, making it the key component in protecting the head against skull fracture. The shell also provides protection from the concentrated impact of a stud, a protection that some safety standards do not require but that Charles Owen feels is important.
Beneath the shell is a layer of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) that absorbs the energy of the fall so that the brain does not bruise itself inside the skull. The EPS layer is made of thousands of tiny beads that are full of air bubbles and are formed like popcorn. They are aged for two weeks before they are welded edge to edge.
Beneath the polystyrene is the inner liner, which includes the comfort padding and sizing foam. This liner is made of fabric and foam that moulds to your head over time and creates a comfortable and well-fitting helmet. This is the area with the most precision engineering, as the difference in helmet size is only 1/16th of an inch in thickness and the helmet must interface efficiently with the skull to be the most safe.
Understanding the biomechanics, anthropology and ergonomics of heads is vital to the process of developing new technologies. Helmets are traditionally checked by measuring the peak acceleration of a helmeted steel headform falling into a steel surface.
For Charles Owen, this is only the start of analysing how a helmet will perform in the real world.
At Charles Owen’s design headquarters, we use advanced computer simulation to understand how to maximise the dissipation of energy from an impact. Every helmet starts with a sketch and then a 3D model is made for computer analysis. Throughout the process, the computer adds necessary adjustments to the precise measurements of the model.
The finished product is computer carved to become the master component mould, which is then compared to a diverse collection of digital head shape references to see how the mould looks and fits.
Charles Owen harnesses MIPS technology
MIPS is a Brain Protection System that aims to combat rotational motion that can cause brain injuries.
A low friction layer allows a sliding movement of 10–15mm, in all directions, reducing rotational motion to the brain during impact.
“As part of the European-funded Horizon 2020 research project, we have been studying jockey falls onto grass and sand surfaces. It was evident that standard helmet technology is not reducing brain injury in falls at speed. MIPS is part of a new generation of protection and we can now see how it will benefit many riders who are looking to reduce the less catastrophic brain injuries. We are excited to be able to bring this technology in an affordable helmet for every rider.” – Roy Burek
Offset ventilation holes for superior airflow while preventing horse studs penetrating through the helmet.
Click the points on the hat for more features.
Lightweight but highly protective
Charles Owen helmets are constructed to remain in place while riding and in the event of a fall. Each helmet grips the occipital bone, which is located at the base of the skull, so that it cannot shift and alter the area of protection offered.
Outer shell provides the initial protection in a fall by spreading the impact over a greater area, thereby dispersing energy.
Expanded Polystyrene liner creates a ‘microscopic bubble wrap’ that absorbs energy during impact.
Charles Owen helmets are constructed to remain in place while riding and in the event of a fall.
Each helmet grips the occipital bone, which is located at the base of the skull, so that it cannot shift and alter the area of protection offered. There are many harness designs in the Charles Owen range that ensure occipital stabilisation.
The patented GRpx® technology harness offers superior fit and security with self-adjusting cups that grip the base of the skull.
The innovative Free Fit system increases airflow with cross-ventilation to dramatically improve cooling.
A channel at the front of the helmet pulls air into the helmet and allows it to escape through the ventilation slots at the top and back.
The Coolmax® mesh over the air channel cradles the forehead, wicking the beads of sweat as they form to create a personal air-conditioning system for the rider.