First announced last year, the 3D-printed HEXR cycling helmet, built around a protective honeycomb core – rather than a foam shell – is now shipping to customers.
With custom-fit intrinsic to its manufacturing process, and independent safety test scores claimed to be superior even to those using MIPS technology, the company claims that HEXR represents a major step-change in helmet design.
Developed by British engineers from University College London and the University of Oxford, during research and development the HEXR team argues that it has gained a comprehensive understanding of how poor fit undermines the effectiveness of cycling helmets.
Not only does HEXR’s new helmet surpass all current safety standard tests₁, but additional testing has shown improvements on rival designs, including those equipped with MIPS. Current safety standards are designed to mimic actual head impacts by dropping a head-form with a helmet with a certain velocity onto an anvil.
The maximum deceleration is measured and must be below the standard’s limit, which is typically between 250-300 g (1 g is equal to the force of Earth’s gravity). The HEXR comes in at 144 g, significantly below the threshold.
Jamie Cook, co-founder of HEXR said “Innovation in helmet design has progressed little beyond advances in aerodynamics. Astonishingly, the fundamental materials used to build helmets have remained mostly unchanged from when foam helmets were first developed in the late 1960s. Using innovative 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies, we are reinventing the helmet design and shopping experience, bringing a level of customisation and personalisation never seen before to deliver breakthrough safety, fit and performance.”
Cook and his team have sought independent validation of HEXR’s technology, believing that current basic safety standards do not reflect real-world cycling. Further testing from the University of Strasbourg and Professor Rémy Willinger (a global authority on helmet impact testing, who developed the test used by MIPS) showed that HEXR accomplished the best aggregate score from a total of 32 helmets tested (26% improvement on other helmets in the safety test).
HEXR’s 3D scanning software delivers a fit for each customer. Having identified a typical fit tolerance of around 2cm in several traditional foam-lined helmets, Cook teamed up with co-founder Henry Neilson to develop the 3D scanning platform from which each HEXR helmet is built.
Since its foundation in 2018, HEXR has studied over 3,200 cyclists to ensure that its process offers a tailored helmet fit for all riders.
In addition to HEXR’s extraordinary focus on fit, comfort and safety, the helmet also boasts performance credentials. Its outer shell is sculpted with insight from TotalSim, British Cycling’s aerodynamics partner for the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. At an output of 200 watts, a 40km time trial will be ‘completed seven seconds faster in a HEXR helmet than in a Giro Aether or Kask Protone.’
HEXR’s commitment to the delivery of a tailored and premium offer does end with the helmet and is woven throughout the fitting and buying experience. The company will send out an iPad loaded with the company’s bespoke, 3D scanning software to a customer anywhere in Europe. Once the data is received, the helmet is 3D printed from the digital mould; each one unique.
Featuring removable, washable padding and an optional ratchet system, the HEXR helmet also offers high levels of ventilation, ‘ensuring a constant flow of cool air’.
For riders wishing to ‘make their helmet truly one of a kind’, HEXR offers optional custom engraving, an inbuilt sunglasses holder, and a removable lid that can be swapped out for alternative designs, in partnership with custom cycling company WyndyMilla, and their studio, WM Paintworks.
HEXR is available now, with a recommended retail price of £349, including a complimentary 3D head scan.