Toby King, the designer of the SmartHat, admits he is puzzled by the negative response to his prototype from cyclists

Remember the SmartHat? The helmet with a number plate and a plethora of safety features designed by Australian Toby King?

It’s fair to say the idea was met with a good deal of ridicule on the CW social media channels, but the designer can’t understand why his idea has not been well received.

King, who admits he rarely cycles himself because it is too dangerous, told SBS Cycling Central that the device is meant for cyclists’ safety and therefore is puzzled why riders are not too keen on the idea.

“It’s been pretty mixed,” he said. “I’ve had the knee-jerk from cyclists, ‘it’s horrible’, ‘we hate it’. But I’ve also had a lot of people saying this is a really interesting idea – you know – nobody has done a sophisticated safety helmet before, some have said, ‘where can I buy it’, others have phoned up saying they want to invest in it.”

He added: “It is a safety device. It makes other road users understand what cyclists are doing, it allows cyclists to understand what other road users are doing with proximity sensors and mirrors.

“It can only be a good thing. Which is why I’m a bit puzzled by the reaction from cyclists, when I’m going ‘it’s a safety device – it’s for your safety’.”

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King proposed his idea to Mosman Council after the idea of registering cyclists was raised in Sydney.

But other designers have claimed that King’s prototype could cost AUS$3,000 to buy and be ‘cumbersome to wear for long periods’.

King insists, however, that he is to start working on prototypes that are smaller than his original idea, but argues that riders shouldn’t put a price on preventing head injuries.

“I know people are willing to spend 10-15K on a bicycle,” he continued. “What’s the value of safety, or saving yourself from trauma to your head?”

“I don’t think it will weigh too much either. Our heads, and necks are designed to take quite a load anyway. We’ve got eight kilograms of weight in bone and brain already.”

  • Marlon

    This is terrible, it would make people less keen on actually cycling because of the helmet, I’m assuming it is compulsory with the number plate… didn’t the dutch already do a study saying that making helmet wearing mandatory is a bad idea because you lose more lives though heart attacks/obesity than from road accidents.

    This guy isn’t even a cyclist. get out of here mate.

  • ddddfdfdf

    If it were made of a ferrogmagnetic material, bicycle-mounted police could attach a magnetically mounted blue rotating beacon to it.

  • Jon

    As well as all the obvious shortcomings, it costs £1600 – it has to be a piss take!

  • davehunt

    just go ahead and market this helmet. I amsure there are people who are dumb enough to buy it.

  • dsdsdv

    I dread to think what effect the “shock absorbing impact bar option” will have if it catches on something as you slide along the ground after coming off. Plenty of scope for some horrific injuries there. Same goes for the massive rear overhang.

  • Tqwt

    Apart from the weight, there is the insulation properties. I already sweat too much, imagine having to cooling air to take it away.

    If you fall off at speed wearing one of these, you are far more likely to hit you head given the size and weight. Also give the size of this thing, it could easily snap you neck.

  • ryan

    Cyclists don’t like his concept because it’s ridiculous. It’s not innovative – it’s just taking all the elements of a motorised vehicle (less the engine) and strapping them to a cyclists head. I’m guessing it would be weighty (with a high centre of gravity, so awkward and floppy too) and it would dull the reaction and response time of head movements, actually reducing safety in it’s own way. As well as looking awful I ‘d think that things like the wipers would have noisy servo’s operating them, the indicator lights would flash into the rear view mirrors, distracting the cyclist who’s wearing it, all of it contributing to provide a pretty awful experience. A good design should be innovative and consider it’s target audience (as well as being aesthetically pleasing if possible). This does none of those things. Seems to me all the guy has done is wander around his car for inspiration…’lights…check, wipers…check, indicators…check, mirrors…check, number plate…check…’. He missed out the cup holder though – perhaps he could stick this on the top of the helmet?

  • John Westwell

    Also, the weight in your head is best transferred vertically through the spine (cf. the Alexander technique). Cycling throws the head forward, putting additional strain on the neck muscles even if no helmet is worn.

  • dodgerking

    Dude, lets see you ride a 100+ miles with that heavy thing on your head creating additional wind drag. Lets see how sore your neck will be after just ten of those miles.

  • Richard Durishin

    Of course he is confused. He’s not a cyclist.

  • Martin Eves

    We’ve got eight kilograms of weight in bone and brain already or in his case, he has eight kilograms of weight in bone.

  • TG

    Clearly not a cyclist. I wonder if all of the people who thought it is a good idea are non-cycling car drivers.

  • Kev

    “I don’t think it will weigh too much either.”

    It’s got to weigh a damn site more than a normal helmet.

    “Our heads, and necks are designed to take quite a load anyway. We’ve got eight kilograms of weight in bone and brain already.”

    Our necks are designed to take the weight of our head and not the extra weight of a normal helmet, let alone an extra couple of kilos that I would imagine this is going to weight.