We learned right away that people would have lots of questions and that was no real surprise. The tough part was answering them without boring folks to death. We think we've gotten better at being concise. Let us know if it works for you.
Why would I want a wood and cork helmet?
- Made to Order - Customizable
- Organic, renewable materials
- Sustainable earth friendly product and manufacturing process
- Made in Corvallis, Oregon, USA
- Wood shell absorbs impact energy
- Wood and Cork don't suffer from UV degradation the way that plastics and foams do.
What about sizing? If I buy one online how will I know how to have it fit properly?
There is a link on our Products page that will tell you how to determine the helmet size you need.
Why are these lids "customizable" as you say? How is that different from other helmets?
The combination of CAD/CAM fabrication and hand building that we use allows significant alterations to be made to each and every helmet both before and after the machining process. This means custom fitting/sizing AND custom styling of features like the brim or vent holes. Of course, this is above and beyond the ability each person has to choose the type of wood.
It seems like it would crack. How do you deal with all the different wood types and grains to make them reliable?
On one hand we want the helmet shell to give a bit in the event of an accident. The cracking that happens in a wood shell as in a foam helmet is energy being diverted into the destruction of the helmet rather than the skull. On the other hand, it is still important that the shell retain some integrity and not fragment. HMVK, the polyurea compound we coat the inside of each shell with, allows the shell to absorb energy without fragmenting in an accident. Materials that don't deform/fail, as a rule of thumb, tend to transfer energy to your head rather than absorb it by 'breaking'.
If it really works why hasn't it been done before?
Plastics and foams are good materials for making helmets from AND, for a great variety of products, they are extremely cheap materials to build with and easy for manufacturers to use in mass production systems. Natural materials have lost ground to synthetics as much because of this evolution in manufacturing technology as for any advantage synthetics offer in performance. Fortunately technology has continued to evolve and now gives us new ways of working with ancient materials. It is still harder and slower to do than it is with foam and plastic but it is getting easier and it allow us to create amazing pieces of functional art.
So, you say they work and that they have passed testing but they aren't certified. Yet? I don't get it.
Most people don't ask much about safety when they see a plastic helmet with a certification sticker. We get asked ALL THE TIME. We have tested individual samples of the various lines we produce. They have been tested in the same conditions, laboratories and using the same standards as any other certified helmet. The certification standards, when they were written, anticipated regulating mass produced, synthetic products that are, effectively, clones of each other. There currently exists NO standard for certifying a custom built helmet of any kind (synthetic or natural). We are in the process of building a batch of helmets that will be tested and certified. We are doing this to demonstrate the efficacy of our technology to everyone who looks at a wood helmet and thinks "Really?!". It is the same technology we use in our custom helmets.
They seem like they would be heavy.
This is a common perception. Our helmets will not compete with high end racing helmets for weight and, generally, are a few ounces heavier than most bike helmets. We did not design them focused on weight savings but we continue to trim weight off them and they generally weigh in at between 18 and 24 ounces (still pretty light). Many people are pleasantly surprised at the weight. Going forward we expect to be more and more competitive where weight is concerned.
Will I get warmer wearing a wood helmet?
Wood is a good insulator but both EPS foam and Cork are better so there is no getting away from helmets that are made out of stuff that will keep your noggin warm without sufficient ventilation. On the other hand, cold and wet weather riders will appreciate a helmet that keeps you a little warmer. The only real solution is the amount of ventilation. Tree Piece Helmets are built with various vent patterns and can be customized to have more or less ventilation. Additionally, the cork helmets have perforations in the liner which allow air to circulate within the actual insert.
So, how exactly do you deal with venting? I didn't see any models that I thought would work for me.
When a helmet is ordered you tell us just how much venting you want. We can leave the shell solid if you commute in Alberta, Canada in the winter or swiss cheese the shell if you ride in Moab in the Summer.
Will the cork fall apart or get nasty?
Cork is resilient and waterproof and has been used in lots of abusive applications such as shoes, sandals and flooring. Beyond that it has inherent anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that prevent all sorts of nasties. It is also renewable, recyclable and non allergenic.
How long does it take to make one?
Each one takes a bit of time. The cork ones require more hand assembly and processing of the cork. About 1/3rd of the time it takes is on the machine and the last 2/3rds of the time are manual.
How long do I have to wait once I place an order?
Sometimes we have to do a little extra work to finish drying out a piece of wood, especially if it is a custom choice. This can take 4-8 weeks or even more in some circumstances. However, much of our wood is ready to cut and dry enough. We can build to a finished helmet in 2 weeks or less in these cases. We will let you know what to expect when you order. Otherwise you can contact us about specific examples.
Will it crack if I drop it or it falls off the hood of the car?
Generally, the tough epoxy and LPU finish along with the Polyurea reinforcement should prevent most incidental damage from mild bumps. However, wood is an organic material and it wants to absorb rather than deflect the energy of an impact so it is wise to take good care of your helmet when it is not on your head taking care of you. We can repair most incidental damage for a reasonable fee making the helmet as good as new should a careless moment cause real damage.
What about the sustainability of the product? It seems like there could be a lot of waste in carving out helmets.
Most of our pieces come from salvaged wood which would have otherwise been turned into wood fuel, left to decay naturally or used in a similar artisan type woodworking craft. Our Douglas Fir comes from a small mill that makes lumber. All waste wood is returned to the natural process of decay, used in composting or used as fuel. The "waste" we create, when not put to further use, is returned to the same cycle that created it. Dolphins won't get caught in it or choke on it and children don't get sick from playing with toys made of it.