Motoring

Helmet alternative for Sikh riders now a reality

Riders donning the Tough Turban  

Ever wondered what Batman’s cape is made of? The team at Zulu Alpha Kilo, an advertising agency in Canada, may have just cracked that code, not to fight crime but to promote road safety.

“My father always dreamed of owning a Harley — it was his ultimate idea of freedom,” says Vic Bath, who is from a Sikh background. “Years later, when he finally got one I was able to see how much it meant to him. That got me thinking it surely meant as much to other members of the community in Canada and abroad.”

Vic Bath

Vic Bath  

“However, a Sikh motorcycle culture was not visible in the public eye anywhere and I wondered if there was a way they could ride with their turban — celebrating their beliefs and their passion; something with the latest in protective material,” he adds.

While certain provinces of Canada have made helmet exceptions for members of the Sikh community, the bike-riding dreams of many are put on hold in other places as they can’t fit helmets over their turbans.

“Though Zulu is an advertising agency, creative ideas that can have a positive impact are part of our core belief,” says Vic. He and Dan Cummings, his colleague at Zulu, in collaboration with Pfaff Harley-Davidson, a dealership in Toronto that champions the cause of diversity within motorcycle culture, began looking at helmet alternatives for riders. Inspired by Sikh warriors of old who set out for battle wearing chain-mail under their turbans, the team sought to replicate similar head gear.

Dan Cummings

Dan Cummings  

Roping in Spark Innovations, a product design firm, they began to research various impact-resistant material. After testing iterations of the prototype for close to six months, the team finalised on a composite of bullet-proof fabric, non-Newtonian foam and 3D-printed chain-mail. Non-Newtonian substances do not follow Newton’s Law of Viscosity; the foam used for the turban hardens on impact. The result was a material which was tough and tensile, possessing the dexterity of fabric: the Tough Turban.

 

“The biggest design challenge for us was ensuring the product worked exactly like an ordinary turban, as people tie their turban in different ways,” he adds. The Tough Turban can be wound in any way to suit the personal style of the wearer. “The Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario supported this initiative and partnered with Pfaff Harley-Davidson and Zulu to test and improve design elements,” says Vic.

A rider winding the Tough Turban

A rider winding the Tough Turban  

Keeping in mind the interest of the riding community, the team from Zulu felt it best to open source the prototype of the Tough Turban and release it online. This way, manufacturers anywhere can access the virtual blueprint which could benefit scores of riders the world over. “We have received a lot of interest in the product from India and Thailand,” he says.

Currently, Tough Turban is a proof of concept/prototype that is pending approval for use on the road and the team at Zulu are working with manufacturing partners towards this next step.

Design and download details are available at ToughTurban.com.

A rider donning the Tough Turban

A rider donning the Tough Turban  


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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 7:30:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/motoring/helmet-alternative-for-sikh-riders-now-a-reality/article35185481.ece

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