Sep 28, 2021
This week we sit down with Kav Helmet CEO and Founder, Whitman Kwok to discuss the companies' innovative 3D printing technology that can produce a custom fitted helmet for every rider.
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Automated Transcription (please excuse the typos)
[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to the gravel ride. Podcast. I'm your host, Craig Dalton.
[00:00:08] This week on the show, we've got Whitman Kwok the founder and CEO of Kav Helmets.
[00:00:14] Kav Helmets may yet to be a household name in the cycling industry. But you'll learn. The team has a rich history in the cycling helmet market. They're innovative approach to manufacturing. Using 3d printing technology is a novel approach. And creates a uniquely custom helmet for each rider. I'll let Whitman get into the ins and the outs of the technology but i'm a big fan of the approach as additive technology just opens up a lot of possibilities for where material is laid in the helmet.
[00:00:45] If you're planning on attending this year, sea Otter classic in Monterrey, California, the Kav team will be showing off their 3d printing technology. There they'll even be 3d printing, some key chains, which I think will showcase how the process actually works. If you're not in the area or not attending seawater, be sure to visit the Kav website as they're opening up orders for all.
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[00:02:59] Again, simply visit athleticgreens.com/thegravelride to take control of your health and give AG1 a try today.
[00:03:08] With that said let's dive right into my conversation with Whitman from Kav Helmets. It's.
[00:03:13] Whitman. Welcome to the show.
[00:03:16] Whitman Kwok: That is correct. Really looking forward to our discussion. Yeah, me too.
[00:03:20] Craig Dalton: The manufacturing and additive tech geek in me is really looking forward to this conversation.
[00:03:26] Definitely want to learn how calf helmets came about and what your journey is to creating this bike helmets. And more importantly, what the benefits are for riders in the gravel scene. So let's jump in and let's just in your own words, let us know about cab helmets, how it started and what the vision is.
[00:03:46] Whitman Kwok: Yeah, absolutely. There's a lot of impact, even in that simple question. I think fundamentally the vision was. Oh, providing a concierge service to athletes. I had always, as a competitor cycles in college, tweak my gear, adjusted everything from crank buy-ins to handlebar lengths and all, everything to get the most performance and also just make the bike an extension of myself.
[00:04:10] And I don't think anything has changed in the intervening years. And I think in all the sports that we talked to, whether it's a hockey players or something the gears are really important part of the athletic experience. And so for cab it was obvious to us that the helmet market is really large.
[00:04:26] It is a largely at this point a undifferentiated product where there isn't a dominant player per se. There isn't a apple or a Tesla or a Peloton where people just all grab it gravitate to. And as long as you. For the last 30 years, there's been a lot of tweaking and incremental improvements on injection molded foam helmets.
[00:04:46] And I think what we bring with Kav is this generational leap like Tesla's done with electric cars to a whole new mode of thinking around making a helmet or anything for that matter. That's completely custom to the individual. And the moment you do that there's a whole bunch of benefits that we're able to realize.
[00:05:06] There's the obvious ones around comfort that there's 8 billion sizes that we can provide one for every man, woman, child on the planet. And but there's a huge number of performance. Benefits and protection is always top of mind when you're talking about helmets. And the fact that we can tailor the protective characteristics to.
[00:05:23] And individual and how they ride, how fast they're riding the weight profiles, things like that gives a massive potential improvement in protection over just a standard kind of one or two or three size fits all. I'm fortunate. I have a number of co-founders and colleagues that we found in the company together.
[00:05:42] And I think we all had different experiences, but the same. Echo and voice in the back of our head, that there's just a lot better way to do this. And so I'll do a quick shout out to there. And obviously there's a lot of different areas that we can talk through. But Mike Lowe is our VP of products and he was the VP of events, concepts at Euro bell.
[00:06:03] He also worked closely with Ridell. He did early work with Lance Armstrong's time trial helmet, and worked on all the iconic bike helmets. Since. He's been just fantastic to learn from that whole industry or the homicide. There's a lot of honest, non-obvious quirks and things in the industry.
[00:06:20] And it's a very close knit industry. And so there's a lot of great people that we've been able to meet and work through Mike. And on the technology side, they started migrating. Amazing technologists from Google small company called Google and relatively early employee there, I'm working on search quality and YouTube, one of their, two of their smaller products.
[00:06:39] And and he brings this immense knowledge, not just in software, which ironically is where 78% of our IP is. But also a really great understanding of hardware and kind of physics and mechanical engineering. You really have to. That kind of polymath approach in order to build something like a superior helmet.
[00:06:58] So anyway, it's a long-winded way of talking. It's on the people we work with our early vision and some of the high level benefits and can let you pick and choose your own adventure from there.
[00:07:08] Craig Dalton: Yeah. So I alluded a little bit to it in the intro, but just so we don't lose this concept right off the jump, because it's easy for the listener to think about this as a traditional helmet, but let's talk about how it's manufactured because you didn't specifically mention that.
[00:07:24] And I think it's one of the most fascinating parts of the process.
[00:07:28] Whitman Kwok: Yeah, no I do that a lot because I think we always think of it from the N and consumer's perspective. What did they get? And how we get there is really intriguing from an engineering perspective. And I often gloss over it.
[00:07:42] Yeah, we we blended a bunch of material sciences additive manufacturing and software in order to develop the helmets. And I'll speak a little bit more of the additive manufacturing sites since you asked about it, but yes, each of these helmets is 3d printed here in Redwood city, California for the individual.
[00:08:00] And so everything is made to order that has huge implications to everything. Not just manufacturing, but the whole customer. That's alluding to and being kind of concert servers are giving people exactly what they want. And so when an order comes in, we're taking measurements and we dynamically generate actually all the engineering terms, all the CAD files, the dimensions and everything for the helmet.
[00:08:25] And it's not the case that we're just taking three or six or even 12, like shells and then like carving something. We are literally building the helmet from the inside out. So I think, whereas the current concept, the off the shelf is you get two or three sizes and you've got the shell that defines the helmet.
[00:08:46] And then you got to force fit your head into that use foam padding, or several lock things to just sense your head loosely in this kind of bucket idea. And for us you're actually taking the meds. We dynamic create that we define all the offsets that we need to generate and ensure the level of protection than we want for that rider.
[00:09:06] Then we send it through our own what we call printer management software. So we actually have a farm of these 3d printers. So you can imagine it being like analogous to like a data center except of having all these servers slotted in these racks. We've got 3d printers slotted in the. And it basically just creates like all the different parts that you need for your helmet.
[00:09:26] And we have a QA process throughout to measure and make sure what we're printing is exactly meets specs of what we want. And we have to build a lot of that in dynamically because each helmet is custom. And then we do a kind of final finishing process that's done by hand. So you get the best of both worlds of this precision 3d printed.
[00:09:47] But hand-finished and lovingly made here in our shop in Redwood city.
[00:09:51] Craig Dalton: Yeah. I imagine for some of the listeners, this might be a mind-bending discussion because a lot of people haven't seen 3d printing inaction, no one way to visualize it. And this may or may not be a great way, but since I have a seven-year-old in the house if you imagine sort of building from Legos and you're building from the ground, And you keep building successfully on top of each other.
[00:10:15] It's in my mind how 3d printing works, right? You've got the material that's in this printer and it's being laid out layer by layer. And this is based on the very customized measurements that you've received from the future owner of the helmet. So again, the, in the interest of helping to visualize it's being built from the ground up around your individual, Once you've placed the order.
[00:10:43] Whitman Kwok: That's right. And the analogy I like to use is making a soft cone right. Or going into the yogurt machine. And yeah we basically, it can imagine we're taking our proprietary polymers and it's coming out of this very high-tech yogurt machine. But rather than having, it dumped like eight ounces of yogurt into the cup.
[00:11:00] We're a precision layering, at a fraction of a millimeter at a time. These very intricate engineered what we call energy management system and your helmet. And and so it's a little bit like growing the part on this bed. And we're, as you say, we're creating a slice at a time.
[00:11:17] That's a fraction of a millimeter and kind of building up. And each layer is being laid down by this very sophisticated yogurt machine. And and at the end of the. Yeah, exactly. You have a helmet. That's not on a custom fit, but it's not solid. Like it's not like an injection molded part where you're just dumping a bunch of plastic into a mold or or foam where you're like exploding blowing up the foam into a mold we're actually creating like this really complicated, polygon and hex structure within the helmet which is designed to Trumbull really efficiently to provide good.
[00:11:51] But also takes up the fraction of the weight because most of your helmet actually turns out to be air in this case.
[00:11:56] Craig Dalton: Yeah. That's an interesting, you hear the phrase fits like a glove, but this is even the next level of that it's like fits like a glove that has been specifically designed for your personal hand.
[00:12:08] Whitman Kwok: That's why it would be like an iron man glove, right? Like it's one thing to have a fabric that you stretched over your head. It's quite an honor to have this in case structure that still has the same sensation of a security right. And being fit like glove, but it's hard right on the outside to protect you.
[00:12:25] And so it is a next level sensation.
[00:12:28] Craig Dalton: So when I think about, the helmet I have in the garage, I think about, it's got some internal kind of frame and a dial that helps it fit. I understand from your earlier discussion, I can throw that piece out because I don't need that piece anymore because the helmet is built to order to the shape of my personal head.
[00:12:46] I then, if I think about the exterior of the helmet, I often have a hard plastic layer and then not knowing a ton about the interior, but it sounds like we're injecting molding. We're injecting foam. Into a Kavity that kind of creates that if you, if that's accurate and feel free to fill in any details there, but why don't you juxtapose what the outside and the inside of the cab helmet effectively, how that differs and how it changes?
[00:13:15] Whitman Kwok: Yeah. I think the cycling analogy would be it's almost like a monocoque structure, right? If you have a psych, a carbon fiber cycling frame, where for all practical purposes, Like all the tubing and lugs and everything joined in a way where it just behaves as one monolithic well-balanced, machine in terms of and in the traditional process, like you said that in the higher end helmets, you have a, typically like a polycarbonate shell, that's a couple of mils thick and they injection mold, some EPS foam into that have some type of density or multiple densities and The nice thing.
[00:13:49] And so each of those things play a part and they're trying to compensate for different deficiencies in the foam. And so is not it sticks to cement, right? And so you don't want that because it's going to cause bad rotational energies on impact. It's also not very durable and gets eaten up.
[00:14:05] So you have to then create this one millimeter shell to protect it. With all the venting that you put in, it's pretty common now to put like a plastic interior chassis to keep the helmet together on impact. And so I just suppose that with additive manufacturing or 3d printing, because what we're doing is integrating everything into one coherent design, right?
[00:14:26] And so when we're laying down each layer of plastic, we are actually. Integrating the shell with the crumple zone with the chassis, so to speak. And by integrating it just like a well-made carbon fiber frame, we can reduce all the interfaces. And so the helmet's more compact. You don't have air gaps, so to speak.
[00:14:46] It's a lot lighter because we're only putting material where it's needed. It's like the old steel frames, or living on frames where they're double butted or triple butted. We can reinforce it in the right areas. And and it gives us a lot of ability to fine tune each aspect of the helmet.
[00:15:01] So that instead of saying, having a universally, a universal density of foam across the helmet for different impact zones and we learned a lot of this actually from our experience in hockey we can tailor the impact behaviors, of the based on location of the helmet as well, It just gives us just like carbon fiber and forensic gives us a lot.
[00:15:20] The analogy is like the layup, right? The carbon fiber. And what carbon fiber is you use and the residence. We have just a lot more control than just pumping a bunch of foam beets into a mold.
[00:15:31] Craig Dalton: Yeah. That's interesting. And maybe it goes back to some earlier podcasts I've had in discussion around carbon fiber frames and just talking about, how you.
[00:15:40] Layer something differently where it needs more protection, maybe under the bottom bracket, whereas you don't need to use those same layers elsewhere in the frame where you want to have a little bit more compliance. So I imagine given the team's experience in helmet design, it was really liberating to just freely.
[00:15:57] Think about how, and where do we want to put material, because really the sky's the limit, right? You can optimize around. What's going to be best. For impact protection, both on the, hard impacts like hard and fast as well as slower impacts. I imagine you can, you're free to really design something that performs well across a couple of different factors.
[00:16:21] Whitman Kwok: Yeah, no, that's exactly right. Like we have a lot more control in the general use case. And I think in the future as we've done a little bit of this on hockey and we'll bring it into the bike market. What the individual characteristics actually matter a lot, because at the end of the day for a cycling helmet, we have, twenty-five maybe 30 millimeters of offset we can work with.
[00:16:42] If we make it much larger than that people balk at what they look like, there's certain brands that are known for safety. But they're also known for making your head look like a mushroom, right? We don't want that. We want people to love, frankly, we're in the homeless.
[00:16:53] We want to attract people who, frankly, don't wear helmets into the market. I'm gonna do that. We need a thinner profile. And so the way to actually make a safer helmet is have information about what they're riding, right? A commuter, ride with I commute every day and finish going like 1230 miles an hour.
[00:17:09] That's a very different profile than. A road sort of groundwater going downhill at 30, 40 miles an hour. There, that's a factor of three difference in velocity. And if you think about kinetic energy, the velocity is a square root, right? So that's like a, that's a nine, almost an order of magnitude difference in impactful file.
[00:17:27] So there is gain and exactly what we just talked about, but there's an even bigger gain because we know the athlete and we have that relationship like moving forward. Knowing that their commuter or their downhill racer and their weight, their mass makes a big difference to a kid who weighs a hundred pounds.
[00:17:44] It's just going to be way different than someone who's 220. And again, you have a two X factor there that isn't something, that's a comedy for an issue where it's one size fits. All right.
[00:17:55] Craig Dalton: Now the business has been selling helmets for over a year and a half. Primarily in hockey and most recently in bike, do you want to talk about why hockey was the entry point and maybe some of the things you've learned across the customers you've been serving in that space?
[00:18:11] Whitman Kwok: Yeah, no, absolutely. So there are a couple of factors that came into play. So one was frankly, what w what could get it to market the quickest. We just wanted to provide value to people as quickly as possible. The second, where was where's the biggest need? And between those two, and there was a little bit of a personal reason as well.
[00:18:29] But the first two were clearly the overriding. From a technical perspective, it turns out making a hockey helmet is just easier than making a bike helmet. One of the characteristic reasons just wait is not quite as big of a factor in the hockey. And so we wanted to basically use the hockey market as our Tesla Roadster, right?
[00:18:48] Knowing that it's a limited market, it's smaller, but people are willing to pay for the equipment. They're willing to pay the premium. And and we can launch quicker. The second piece of why they pay a premium is that as you can imagine, the concussion rate per activity hour in hockey is almost parallel or equal to.
[00:19:03] And meeting quite high, whereas in cycling, it's somewhat incidental, right? If you get in a crash and get an, a concussion in hockey, 3, 5, 10 times a game, you're taking impacts to the head and getting pinned against the board and falling on the ice. And so we thought that the market would benefit significantly from our protective technologies in that space.
[00:19:25] And. The third reason, which just made me very cognizant of it was my son plays hockey. And when we started the company, his team had six concussions on it. And they were only 12 years old at the time. And there was just an outcry, I think with the parents and all the clubs that I talked to did not feel like there was enough being done.
[00:19:42] And the. Equipment manufacturers and hockey are generally about two to three generations on behind any of the other helmet markets as well. So the need was greater. The products were even further inferior and and we thought we could help people sooner in that market than any other market.
[00:20:01] Craig Dalton: You talked about how as a company and the way you're producing the helmets, that you can evolve with the market and you're understanding. Yeah. Within the hockey market, since you've been there the longest, are you doing things differently for a child's size helmet versus the NHL players that you work with?
[00:20:20] Whitman Kwok: Yeah yes. Besides the fit we've actually made modifications to, I should, I would draw the analogy that it's a case that a surprisingly large number of the benefits for either of those extremes helps. And so they now Joel users in the late nineties, early two thousands car manufacturers are realizing like women had difficulty like getting their groceries in the trunk.
[00:20:40] And because the trunk actually came all the way up to the top of the back and they now if you open the trunk of a car, it, the trunk dips down past the lights right down to the bumper. There's this carve-out. And so you don't have to lift your groceries, like over a wall, so to speak, you can just slide it in.
[00:20:53] Watching. Buy groceries at the time was like a motivating factor for that. But we found that obviously that benefited everyone. Like I don't, I'm lazy. I don't want to list the groceries I don't have to. And so I'll give a kind of example that, which is kids wears glasses, a lot.
[00:21:06] And so we ended up putting in little cutouts for people wear glasses so that it actually just slides in. So a hockey helmet actually comes down further than a. And traditionally, there are pads that go up against your temple. And so you can imagine if you wear glasses, you're literally shoving these glasses into these temples and that the pads are forcing your, the sidearms or your glasses into your temples for an hour and a half while you play hockey really uncomfortable situation.
[00:21:35] And we did that and that ended up bending, benefiting a bunch of adults rests and things that. It turns out like the ice rinks are really dry. So like wearing contacts, it's not always actually comfortable. So say, and vice versa, like there's been a bunch of benefits because obviously the professional levels that impact are taking it's just an extreme example and it really drives some of the protective technologies.
[00:21:58] And even if they No, the squirts and mites don't necessarily have the same level of impact there. There's still a deeper understanding. I think of the types of checking that goes on that informed our products for the kids.
[00:22:11] Craig Dalton: Gotcha. Obviously, given your pedigree as a cyclist and your co founders coming to the bike market was something that you were eager to do.
[00:22:19] Can you talk about the introduction of the first bike helmet and what the goals were there and how for the list of. They should think about whether a cab helmet is right for them.
[00:22:32] Whitman Kwok: Yeah. It's interesting because the engineering side of me and product matter one, be very specific about the goals.
[00:22:38] Oh, we want to hit this weight target and this usability. But what we ended up doing is taking a step back and asking the conceptually what do we want to, what's our mission, right? A reminder, what's our mission of the company on this build the best protective gear on. And as a very important corollary that the best gear is no use of no one wants to wear it.
[00:22:54] So it's got adjust look and feel fantastic. And when we're doing these new technologies, I think it was important for us to blue sky it and not bound herself by certain things. So our goal is just make the best helmet possible. And this. An all road category, right? So with a focus really on gravel and road cyclist, but with the knowledge of knowing that, a lot of cross-country mountain bikers use road helmets, and a lot of commuters would ultimately use it.
[00:23:24] But if we looking at personas and interviewing people, we focus on the road and gravel side of things. And then from there we really just built around it. And I think honestly I'm glad we've done it that way, because we found a lot of surprising things that I think if we constrain ourselves early on, we would not have done.
[00:23:39] One of them being, for example our interior fit pad system is just radically different from a traditional fabric fit pack. And it would not have come if we said yeah, we just want sweat management, whatever way moisture at this level or thermal capabilities.
[00:23:56] But anyway, I happy to go into the details of that, but what we ended up coming out with, I think is we've focused on fit and the protective qualities, what we ended up with was the ability to make something that as least as dynamic as other helmets out there is significantly cooler. Riding.
[00:24:15] And has all the protective qualities. And again, it has some of these comfort features built in on the inside. That, again, we didn't necessarily envision, but the advantage of having a new prototype every week, that we're all riding is you tend to iterate quite quickly through, and I think we're on version 32 right now.
[00:24:30] And 33 is like on the printing press. It's going quick.
[00:24:33] Craig Dalton: Yeah, I think that's one of those really cool things about doing both additive manufacturing and domestic manufacturing is that you can continue tweaking the product to optimize it based on consumer feedback which is really powerful.
[00:24:50] Know that's right. We we have the benefit now that we're far enough along and we're starting to include like a larger and larger swath of people into the kind of the test. And so we had our Kickstarter about a month ago and we had a 20 plus like early adopters sign up through that.
[00:25:05] And we were shipping out shipping helmets out to them and looking forward to get the next wave of feedback and and just improving. And in real time, before we ship out our production ones at the end of the year,
[00:25:16] Craig Dalton: yes. At the process of ordering is a little bit different than, traditionally you might use.
[00:25:21] No your size, small, medium, or large, and put an order in, or go to your local bicycle retailer for the cab helmets. You're sending out a kind of measurement fit kit and actually working at a concierge level with the purchaser, right?
[00:25:38] Whitman Kwok: Yeah, that's right. We the fit process has been really interesting for us.
[00:25:42] I think we're on our third version of the process. Fundamentally, I'm you sign up, we send you this fit kit and it's a caliper and a tape measure. And that allows us we take six points off of your head. And with those six points, we actually map it to a database of 3000 head scans that we've accumulated and basically a little bit of like machine learning type of thing.
[00:26:07] Where we're then extrapolating footnote 16. Other aspects of your head in terms of, the curvature and more details and maybe those six points would initially seem to provide. And we then send out basically we call it like a fit cap and just fun looking, little cap that we 3d print.
[00:26:24] And you can just literally stick it on and wear around the house and slept getting a fine suit, where you get your initial measurement, you put on that. And then you use just some minor tweaks oh, you know what the arm hole just a little bit bigger. Or for me personally, like I like it a little more snug, around the waist.
[00:26:39] And so that, that fit cap gives us some of the subjective feedback, that, that individuals tend to have in terms of how they liked their helmets and fit. And then from there, yeah we generate the the helmet for them and send it to them and ride straight their doorstep conveniently.
[00:26:52] And and then they can enjoy it. And. We've actually found quite a few hockey players. I'm surprisingly, I've gotten multiple helmets because they liked it so much. And it's not a common thing actually in hockey to do that. But they've gotten like different colors and versions of the helmet.
[00:27:06] Craig Dalton: Interesting. Interesting. And then this sort of manufacturing geek in me asked to ask, so the, each helmet presumably comes out of one machine is built in one single process.
[00:27:19] Whitman Kwok: So we actually do you want to in parallel, so we break up the helmet into sub segments and that allows us to print individual pieces.
[00:27:27] It also turns out it gives us some additional engineering design flexibility that you don't get when you print them all as a monolithic structure. And then we basically bond them together. Again, carbon fiber resident type of analogy, holds true here that there's a little bit of. Attachment mechanism and then we adhere everything together.
[00:27:44] And the effectively the joints end up being, stronger than the sub-components and and then, yeah, and then we attach on the straps and do some final QA checks and literally sign off on the box and and then send it on its way.
[00:27:57] Craig Dalton: Nice. One of the sort of visual elements that you'll see for the listener when they go over to the website, which I can include in the show notes is there's a.
[00:28:06] Honeycomb look across the sort of front and middle of the helmet. Is there a sort of design rationale behind the honeycomb?
[00:28:16] Whitman Kwok: Yeah, it is. It's it's an engineer circles. It's w it's known as one of the most efficient energy absorbing structures. It crumbles really well. Which is what you want, obviously in something like that.
[00:28:28] And even better than foam because in foam, what you tend to have is what's called a densification phase where after the foam, if you've got, let's just say 20 millimeters of foam or 20 millimeters from once you start getting past about a third if you've ever been in an accident, looked at your home and you'll see this it'll crack.
[00:28:46] And the foam doesn't compress any further. And so you can think of it like suspension on your mountain bike or your gravel bike. If you have suspension on it it's all about the travel, right? At the end of the day, to absorb the impact you want the most travel without bottoming out. So when you hit a bump, you want to utilize whatever the 30, 45 millimeters of travel that you got. And do you use the full 45 millimeters? You will have had the best ride that you could possibly have had, for that circumstance if you bought them out, obviously not good. Particularly we're talking about your head and if you only do 10 minutes, 10 millimeters of that trial, Then you're not fully utilizing your equipment.
[00:29:19] And so foam has that issue where once it densifies at some point it doesn't compress any further. And so you tend to only get a fraction of that travel. The nice thing about the hacks is that you get nearly the full travel. So the full offset of the helmet can be used to compress it and protect you.
[00:29:39] It also turns out to be quite. And has this other really important ancillary benefit, which is you may not necessarily always be able to see it when someone's riding, but the honeycomb structure extends into, on the interior as well, which means you have an open face structure on your head. And so he can dissipate really easily away from your head as opposed to foam, which is obviously known for beer coolers and other things that has insulating properties, that trap heat.
[00:30:05] So we actually had early versus the helmet that didn't even have venting on it. And the helmet was actually quite cool. I wouldn't say it's the coolest, but it was comparable to the other eight helmets. I have sitting in my shed that I used for testing purposes. And then in the moment we opened it up and added the actual venting, like it's a game changer total game.
[00:30:25] And particularly these last like week or two where we've had some hundred, a hundred degree days, you really feel.
[00:30:31] Craig Dalton: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. The the sort of follower of me on Instagram, might've seen me Dawn, one of these helmets a few months back when we were able to meet face to face. It is really, you can definitely feel the weight difference.
[00:30:46] It's marginal, but it's absolutely there and our conversation around crumple zones and that idea of. Protection travel in a helmet is super fascinating via the honeycomb design for those listeners and may fall in this camp. What's the guidance by the industry in terms of how frequently you should replace a helmet?
[00:31:09] Whitman Kwok: You know what I do think that varies. The most common I hear is somewhere in the range of three to five years. I think the challenge though, is it's like how often you need to change your bike. It varies so much by your circumstances, meaning if you're like me and somewhat klutzy and you're pulling your bike out and you're dropping your helmet and the process, or my helmet, I don't know how many times my helmet has fallen off my handlebars.
[00:31:31] Every time it's fallen, like you could have, imagine that impact just compresses the foam just a little bit, right in that one area. And honestly, one or two times it isn't going to be the be all end, all. For me, it's a little unsettling to not know, it's not like my toothbrush that has a wear indicator.
[00:31:47] It says, okay. Time to change those bristles. And so the nice thing with the 3d printing, the polymers that we're using, the design that helmet is that there's a step function aspect of it. Like we've designed it so that if you're dropping it casually, it doesn't activate any of that travel.
[00:32:02] Like it, it stays rigid. And it's going to Maintain that performance indefinitely. And so you don't really have to worry about it. We offer a five-year warranty on our helmets and and because we're confident around that which I think is an industry leading whatever warranty.
[00:32:20] So I think, again, I think that the. Wisdom is three to five years, but I think it varies really significantly and it, and I think it's tough to provide
[00:32:29] Craig Dalton: that, that makes sense. Yeah, that makes sense. I think, there's a lot of us maybe who have been fortunate to, to not have crashed and you don't see the.
[00:32:38] Obvious bits of damage to your helmet, but I'm definitely one of those who, whenever I have a conversation about how much and how much the technology, I think to myself, gosh, almost everything in my garage is a PR is probably a pretty long in the tooth in terms of when I should be considering making a replacement.
[00:32:58] Whitman Kwok: Yeah, that's right. It's it's one of those pieces of equipment that's easy to ignore, right? Cause it's not like your bike bond brackets squeaking. Your rim brakes rubbing. It's not going to do that and tell you right. That it needs maintenance or help. Yet obviously it protects the most important part of your body.
[00:33:13] And so it is pretty critical to have at least inspect it and have some regular interval that you swap it out.
[00:33:20] Craig Dalton: Yeah, absolutely. It's a good reminder to everybody and women. I really appreciate you joining us on the podcast and talking us through this technology. I think the. The tech geek in all of us can really appreciate from listening to you how different the 3d printing technology enables you to think as a helmet manufacturer.
[00:33:41] And it's very comforting to know that you've got smart people around you, including yourself and veterans of the industry who have just been thinking about this helmet from the ground. And how to make the best possible experience for consumers. So I know you I'll send people over to the website where they can find more information about the helmet.
[00:34:02] Are these available for new orders at this point?
[00:34:05] Whitman Kwok: We will be taking new orders in about two or three weeks. I'm not sure when this is airing. We wanted to make sure that all the early backers on our Kickstarter were well taken care of. And so we've, we're in a good shape there. And then we'll begin opening up borders.
[00:34:20] We'll be at the Seattle classic. So for anyone who's there it'd be great drop by our booth. Look out for us. You can see that the helmets firsthand and we'll be definitely taking orders at that point.
[00:34:31] Craig Dalton: Amazing. Yeah. I've seen that. I've seen a couple of people in my Instagram feed who were clearly some of your earliest supporters.
[00:34:37] Who've gotten their helmets in already. So that's exciting to see. So once again, Whitman, thanks a ton for this overview. I really appreciated it. And I hope everybody listening got a lot out of this conversation.
[00:34:51] Whitman Kwok: Yeah. Thanks. Thanks Dan and Craig, I'm always happy to talk helmets or anything related to the cycling.
[00:34:56] So thanks for having me.
[00:34:58] Craig Dalton: So that's going to do it for this week's edition of the gravel ride podcast. Thank you very much to Whitman and the cab helmets team for joining us and talking all about 3d printing helmets. I think it was a fascinating discussion. Definitely check out their website. They're over at calves, sports.com to see a little bit of behind the scenes about the process.
[00:35:18] The guarantees. Auntie's around the helmet and just what a custom fitted helmet could do for. You're cycling enjoyment. As always, if you're interested in giving us feedback and encourage you to join us over at the ridership. Our ship, just visit www.theridership.com.
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