The best-fitting helmet on the market bar none
Extensive head coverage
Beautiful, unique aesthetic
Constructed from eco-friendly, plant-based Polyamide-11 bioplastic
An expensive proposition
Incompatibility with some sunglasses
Fidgety, removable retention system
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Described as the world's first custom-fit helmet, London-based start-up, Hexr has rider safety at its core eschewing the traditional EPS-based foam moulding blueprint in favour of an avant-garde 3D-printed honeycomb structure. This structure is claimed to provide similar levels of brain protection as the slip-liner-based MIPS equivalent.
The 3D-printing concept has become increasingly de rigueur of late with firms such as Specialized and Fizik both using this manufacturing technique to produce their respective Power with Mirror and Antares Adaptive saddles. Not only does this technology speed up the manufacturing process, the tailorable properties means each product can be tweaked to meet individual requirements.
Unlike its EPS-based adversaries, the Hexr is a far greener proposition with an ethos that hinges around long-term sustainability. As a result, every Hexr helmet is made from a plant-based material called Polyamide-11, a bioplastic produced entirely from castor bean oil.
Design and aesthetics
At first glance, the Hexr looks like any other helmet and follows very much a traditional design approach when it comes to aesthetics. Take a closer look and you'll notice a few clues that reference what's happening underneath the aeroshell - it's a case of form follows function. It's all very attractive though, all very sleek.
Believe it or not but the helmet starts life as an off-white structure that is then dyed black to prevent it from UV damage from the sun. Dubbed an aero helmet, the 100% biodegradable honeycomb structure is topped by an aeroshell which is both interchangeable and customisable. Removing it is a rather simple exercise but caution should be taken when removing and reattaching it correctly - the shell is very light and composed from plastic that can bend if maltreated.
The unique selling point here is the made-to-measure nature of the Hexr helmet, which is tailored to the nuances of your head's shape. A 30,000-point 3D-mesh image is taken of your head using a scanning app on an iPad, after which the helmet is 3D-printed from the digital mould.
Each helmet is manufactured at 3T-AM in Newbury - a company that manufactures components for Formula 1 and Aerospace using a process known as Laser Sintering. The helmet is produced layer upon layer using high-powered and ultra-fine lasers to melt sections of powder. It takes roughly 36 hours to produce a batch of six helmets. Each helmet is then engraved with your size, printing date and name - a nice touch indeed.
Performance and fit
In terms of fit, there's nothing quite like the Hexr - in short, it fits like a glove. In fact, despite its relatively portly 344g weight, it's super comfortable and well balanced when it comes to fitment - a direct result of the personalised 3D head scan. Six inner pads (one at the front and rear, two on each side) supply a degree of cushioning without compromising airflow.
There's also a three-point removable retention system included in the package but it's not really necessary given the custom-fit properties of the helmet. While I did experiment using the retention system, I found it to impede on the natural fit of the helmet while also causing some unnecessary restriction at the nape of the neck. It's also a bit fidgety and, depending on how much retention you apply, the system does have a propensity to unclip from the press-points at times. While some users have expressed concerns over the strap length erring a little on the short side, the straps on my medium helmet were easy to arrange and position.
I've been using the Hexr for the past six months now and have come away feeling largely impressed by what it offers - everything from the scanning procedure and theatre of the packaging to the fit and feel is up there with the major players. I've only experienced one bugbear to date - it's incompatibility with certain sunglasses caused by the lower flanks of the helmet extending only millimetres above the ears.
In real-world conditions, the helmet offers impressive ventilation - even when used in warmer climates. I spent a month in Cape Town, South Africa over December (one of the country's hottest periods) to get a better feel for how the Hexr would perform in temperatures of 30-degrees and above. It exceeded my expectations - the restriction and swelling issues often associated with hot-weather riding were non-existent.
While the Hexr is bereft of contemporary slip-plane liners such as MIPS or WaveCel, the company claims the Honeycomb's impact control is 68 per cent more effective than the average EPS-constructed helmet.
In fact, according to independent testing carried out at the University of Strasbourg by Professor Remy Willinger, a world expert in helmet design and head injury, the Hexr outperformed a sample pool of 40 helmets including 15 that employ MIPS and one with Wavecel. On average the Hexr presented a 30 per cent improvement in rotational velocity, acceleration and linear acceleration testing procedures based on real-world scenarios involving oblique impacts.
The secret comes in the form of a 3D-printed honeycomb structure. The design structure comprising hexagonal cells is proven to effectively channel energy over a larger area thereby reducing the risk of brain injury.
The two important aspects of a bicycle helmet are undoubtedly safety and fit - the one we have no control over but the other can make or break the way it performs. And, in this regard, there is nothing currently on the market that can match the Hexr in terms of personalised comfort. Sure, there are a few teething issues - particularly pertaining to the removable retention system and incompatibility with some sunglasses brands - but as a start-up, Hexr has done an admirable job here with its first offering.
As far as safety goes, Hexr has carried out numerous independent testing procedures to benchmark its performance against MIPS- and WaveCel-equipped rivals - the outcomes have shown that it's up there with the best. The Hexr also scored impressively on the EN-1078 linear G-force test - registering an average figure of 144G which is well below the 250G threshold.
At a penny shy of £300, it's not the cheapest helmet option around - it's also fairly heavy at 344g but what the Hexr brings to the party is unparalleled comfort thanks to its custom fit. Furthermore, if you were to crash and damage your helmet, Hexr would be able to print another one - free of charge - granted it falls within the first year of ownership.
- Temperature range: Winter/spring/summer: 0-32 degrees
- Test duration: Six months (UK and South Africa)
- Terrain: Road
Specifications: Hexr 3D-printed helmet
- Price: £299
- Rotational safety: No
- Weight: 344g (medium, actual)
- Aero: Yes
- Sizes: Custom
- Colours: Black and white (standard), custom colours and designs available
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