In many countries, wearing a bike helmet while cycling in public places is compulsory because it is proven to have saved lives. However, anyone who has ever applied one of these helmets to their heads knows that are definitely not a one-size-fits-all piece of equipment. An ill-fitting helmet means less protection, but they can require much trial and error to adjust correctly. The Regenerative Helmet overcomes this with its hard outer shell and flexible segments that allow the helmet to contort to provide a better fit. The liner uses dual density multi-impact foam to provide impact protection for both low and high speed accidents.

Shortlisted in the Australian Design Awards - James Dyson Award 2010, the design is by Blake Witherow of Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Australia, who spent five months researching new materials and design methods with the aim of providing greater safety and injury prevention for cyclists.

To avoid the problem of ill-fitting and therefore unsafe helmets, the Regenerative Helmet has two rear halves that are squeezed together and held by a ratchet strap. Road cyclists’ beanies and skull caps can still be worn without affecting its correct fit.

And while cold fingers and gloves can make tensioning and/or removing a helmet difficult, the Regenerative Helmet uses a single button with raised dimples to aid tactile feedback.

The helmet consists of an injection-molded HDPE hard outershell, Expanded Polypropylene outer liner and a Brock Foam inner liner.

Witheroe says his research showed current bicycle helmets exposed several deficiencies, including user fitting errors (some even worn backwards) and material deficiencies. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) liners inside many helmets can shatter at impact and provide less impact absorption after multiple impacts. He also says the aggressive styling of some helmets can be damaging to cyclists’ heads and necks on impact and also loose-fitting helmets can dislodge before impact, causing another set of injuries.

Witheroe’s helmet avoids large protrusions and creates a rounder profile. The hard outer shell serves two purposes - to distribute load over a large area thereby reducing the hardness of the liner, and to decrease friction with the road surface.

He believes more durable liners will increase the product life cycle considerably and a Regenerative Helmet should provide protection in the case of multiple impacts within the same accident.

The ‘Regenerative Helmet’ is also designed to make it clear which way the helmet needs to sit on your head.

The design is one of more than 300 entries in this year's Australian Design Awards - James Dyson Awards. Approximately 30 designs are shortlisted to the final round of global judging that takes place later in the year.