Helmet designer Marc Von Dunten discusses engineering helmets for various stages of youth

Abus talks kids’ lids

Injury prone toddlers and kids often require the most protection while learning to cycle, particularly of their noggin and its contents. Abus helmet designer Marc Von Dunten talks to Mark Sutton about the process of designing helmets for various stages of youth…

Can you give us a brief history of ABUS children’s helmets?
ABUS started manufacturing helmets in 1992 relying on existing well-known German manufacturers. Since 2007 we focused more of our resources to create our own models with distinct styling based around best sellers such as the ‘Super Chilly’.

What expertise in helmet design does ABUS as a company have?
Our R&D facilities are based in Germany, which means we are in a great position to control the development of our helmets and ensure that they meet all of the necessary safety features required. It also allows us to bring ideas quickly to reality.
With 20 years experience working closely with our partners and end-consumers we are able to respond to market needs. Because of this we have received a lot of positive feedback, great magazine reviews and recognition such as the Eurobike Award and the Red Dot Design award, while also been able to incorporate good safety features within the design.

What process does ABUS go through when designing a helmet?
The most important point is the fit. For this, we start by creating a mould out of clay.
This first draft is inspired by our current range to keep sizing consistent. We then look at current trends and the target group, looking for inspiration from bike designs, family-design and in addition, also from fashion and sometimes automotive design.
We discuss this first idea in a group of experts and look for potential improvements.
After a detailed briefing and final modifications, we scan the clay model to get digital data.
This data is the base for computer models and a first stereolitograph prototype. We verify the fitting and look of our kid’s helmets with the help of our most important professionals – our own children. The next step is building a first prototype tool and the certification at the German TÜV institute – all our helmets are certified according to the CE standard 1078 and TÜV/GS. After passing the test, we start the first trial production and then later, the mass production process.

What innovation and key features does ABUS bring to children’s helmets?
ABUS key features include deep fitting, good temple and neck protection, high-level comfort, including straps and padding, flat rear design for a good fit when used with child seats and trailers and each helmet is fitted with a precise adjustable headring. We also include high visibility reflectors and rear lights in several models to increase safety, as well as optional winter kits for those colder winter days.

How is the children’s helmet market developing and what trends do you see?
Kids helmets are becoming more of a fashion item and children tend to enjoy wearing helmets especially if it is a fun design, we are also finding children want helmets just like their parents, so we have a range of helmets based on adult designs. At the same time, safety and function must be the priority and fulfil the technical requirements at a reasonable price. We see a growing amount of awareness from parents realising the importance of a good quality helmet as our latest figures show a constant increase in sales of children’s helmets.

What sets ABUS apart from competitors in children’s helmets?
The reason ABUS originally started the helmet business was the idea of giving kids more safety in traffic. We put safety first, which is highlighted by our features like reflectivity, LED lights and high impact resistance.

How many products are there in the range of children’s helmets?
We provide seven different models, from very small toddler helmets to trendy teen helmets.

Does ABUS offer any licensed designs, perhaps of cartoon characters?
Not currently. We are solely focused on good shape and innovative graphic design.

Do any of the helmets host attachments for lights or reflectors, or feature any reflective detailing in the design work?
For us, visibility is a main safety issue, mainly for kids in traffic. Every ABUS helmet has high visibility reflectors incorporated in the design and we also have a good selection of helmets which are equipped with a multifunction LED rear light.

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