A budding North East inventor has had his latest creation road tested in the most literal sense by the company he commissioned to make it.
David Crampton, director at County Durham-based Hanaido, invited a team of cycling enthusiasts from leading plastic injection moulding and tooling specialist, Omega Plastics, to trial his ‘Helmet Angel’ ear defenders when they took on the renowned Coast to Coast cycling challenge last weekend.
Designed to enable cyclists to hear what’s going on in their surroundings more clearly by blocking out wind noise, the Helmet Angel is a wind-deflecting shell that attaches to the strap of the cyclist’s helmet. The product’s unique design will also help to combat the earache that many cyclists suffer during longer rides.
A keen cyclist himself, the idea for the Helmet Angel came to David, a flooring company owner, when he was forced from his bike during a ride back in 1992 when a truck came alongside him at close range.
“I didn’t even hear it coming!” David explained.
“I was cycling downhill on a stretch of country road when a truck which was trying to overtake me suddenly appeared at my shoulder. Because I hadn’t heard it coming, it spooked me and caused me to move over onto the gravel at the side of the road, at which point, I lost control of my front wheel and fell onto the bank side.
“The truck itself never actually touched me, but the fact that I did not hear it approaching until I caught sight of it right alongside me caused me to fall.
“At the time the incident happened, I was working at a carpet factory where you had to wear earplugs while on site due to the noise levels. I began adapting these earplugs to try to create something that would deflect wind noise while riding my bike. It wasn’t until I became a father to Hannah and Aidan, who live in Holland where helmets are not a priority, then later, my daughter Elia, that I decided to press on with the idea and create the Helmet Angel.
“My hope for the product when it comes to market later this year is that it will bring more awareness to listening. Cyclists should always be aware of what is happening around them, but most especially behind them, so that they can react quickly and efficiently to road traffic, commands and warnings.”
The Coast to Coast challenge, saw a team of seven employees from Omega Plastics cycle the 137 miles from Whitehaven to Tynemouth. The three-day event was the perfect endurance test of the Helmet Angel’s usability and effectiveness.
John Berry, logistics officer at Omega Plastics, said:
“When David from Hanaido heard about our plans to take part in the Coast to Coast, he kindly offered us the chance to try out his Helmet Angel product.
“This is the second time that a team from Omega Plastics has taken part in the Coast to Coast challenge, the first time in 2015 and then again, this year. Going forward, we hope to try and make it an annual event.
David first heard about Omega Plastics after his flooring business supplied some carpets to the company’s chairman, Chris Thompson.
“I’ve had ideas for products before but this is the first one that I have actually actioned,” David said.
“Omega Plastics has helped me every step of the way, from the very early moulding stages right through to the assembly and dispatch process.
“The team has provided very good, very patient support and has been invaluable to me when detailing the process and possibilities for the product.
“Looking to the future, I am keen to develop the Hanaido brand and the Helmet Angel product further to try to address safety issues within other activities that require participants to wear a helmet, such as skateboarding, scootering or equestrian sports.”
Rob Gray, operations manager at Omega Plastics, added:
“It’s not very often that we have the opportunity to test products that we have moulded in their intended environment, so it was incredibly kind of David to allow us to test the Helmet Angel for ourselves during the Coast to Coast.
“The Helmet Angel was absolutely great. We experienced a lot of high winds and driving rain during the ride, especially when cycling over higher ground, and the Helmet Angel really helped to protect our ears and aid our hearing. This was beneficial not only for hearing traffic, but also for communicating with the other riders.
“We were delighted to support David at Hanaido with the development of his fantastic product and we look forward to helping him with other projects in the future.”
In addition to trialling the Helmet Angel, the Omega Plastics cycling team helped to raise over £1,000 for a number of charities during the ride, with beneficiaries including mental health charity, Mind and Cancer Research UK.
To find out more about Omega Plastics, visit www.omega-plastics.co.uk.