Mountain Bike trails and Wood Helmets November 17 2015
Over the past year we have developed a new Hard Hat line and two new helmet styles that fill out that line http://coyledesignandbuild.com/collections/artisan-wood-hardhats . These are a wood forestry helmet and a baseball cap style common in industrial manufacture and construction A large part of the motivation for prototyping and then finishing these product lines has been my volunteer work a local non-profit trail building group and their membership. I serve on the board of the group and have spent a lot of free time raising money for the group and building trails out in the forest. You will see some of the images from just a few events on this post including a the local business owner that has supported us, even as much larger box stores have dragged their feet.
While building we always wear the hard hats and they can sometimes feel like a nuisance. So, to make things more fun, I used them as inspiration to create a couple of new helmet lines. So far hard hats have been built up from Oak, Maple, Douglas fir and Black Walnut. To date these helmets have not been tested and it is likely that wood is not the best material for hard hats. Hard hats work differently than bicycle, skiing, motorcycle or equestrian helmets do and we sell these explicitly as artwork. Nonetheless they have been popular and fun to build and figure out. We connected with a business in Wisconsin that now builds custom leather and canvas harnesses for this product line to keep the integrity of the natural material theme intact.
Getting back to what inspired all of this, the trail building has been a huge passion for me. It gets me outside with my dogs and working hard with my body along with other folks creating community by serving the community. I've met lots of really generous people who have a lot of great energy to share.
Designing trails is, it turns out, a balanced combination of exact science and creativity. That exists in building helmet as well. On trails there are certain parameters that need to be followed to make a trail sustainable and make it work with the bike. Some of those things are really well defined han use established technology and methods. Some of the things are done through experience, by eye and intuition. Making a wood helmet is much the same. From understanding the software it takes to design the initial model to setting up the CNC machine correctly and then using creativity and gut feelings to finish and craft the rough stock so that it brings out the grain and the color of the wood. In the end it's just really great to be able to build helmets that are iconic symbols of both trail building and trail riding.
Building a trail is its own custom product. The community comes together to create a sort of functional art that is the product of many minds and serves the experience of many more. Trails are a sort of legacy object. They have existed for most all of human history and we still make them today. They exist in sayings and cliches and there is no one in the world who would not know what a trail is or what it is for. Across cultures they are ubiquitous and historic. I suppose I am drawn to those sorts of legacy objects and it is what has me fascinated with the helmets we build. The simplicity and history of them. I think that is a big and core part of what our helmets offer people. That sense of nature as art and as tool. Going back to our connection and deep dependency on nature to do our lives. I like seeing our helmets as a touchstone for reflection on nature and the magic of what can be brought out of it.