Title:
LINER FOR A PROTECTIVE HELMET
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A helmet includes an outer shell, an energy-absorbing layer disposed inside the outer shell, and a liner disposed inside of the energy-absorbing layer. The liner includes a central portion configured to extend along a longitudinal axis that runs between a front portion of the helmet and a rear portion of the helmet, a first side portion releasably coupled to the central portion, and a second side portion releasably coupled to the central portion.



Inventors:
Thompson, Matthew T. (New Berlin, WI, US)
Yi, Kennon Yong (Glendale, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/333796
Publication Date:
06/25/2009
Filing Date:
12/12/2008
Assignee:
HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTOR COMPANY GROUP, INC. (Milwaukee, WI, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/422, 2/417
International Classes:
A42B3/00; A42B1/22; A42B1/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HARMON, CHRISTOPHER R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH LLP (Mke) (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A helmet comprising: an outer shell; an energy-absorbing layer disposed inside the outer shell; and a liner disposed inside of the energy-absorbing layer, the liner including a central portion configured to extend along a longitudinal axis that runs between a front portion of the helmet and a rear portion of the helmet, a first side portion releasably coupled to the central portion, and a second side portion releasably coupled to the central portion.

2. The helmet of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of fasteners on the energy-absorbing layer, the liner having a plurality of fasteners corresponding to the plurality of fasteners on the energy-absorbing layer for releasably attaching the liner to the energy-absorbing layer.

3. The helmet of claim 2, wherein the plurality of fasteners of the liner includes a pair of front fasteners adjacent a front end of the central portion of the liner, the pair of front fasteners configured to attach to a pair of complementary fasteners on the energy-absorbing layer, wherein the first and second side portions are releasably coupled to the central portion at the pair of front fasteners.

4. The helmet of claim 2, wherein the liner includes an alternate central portion having a plurality of fasteners corresponding to the plurality of fasteners on the energy-absorbing layer for releasably attaching the alternate central portion to the energy-absorbing layer in place of the original central portion, the alternate central portion having at least one of a different size and a different shape compared to the original central portion to customize the liner and the fit of the helmet on the head of a wearer, the first and second side portions being configured to releasably attach to the alternate central portion.

5. The helmet of claim 1, wherein the first side portion and the second side portion are pivotally coupled to the central portion.

6. The helmet of claim 1, wherein each of the first side portion and the second side portion includes a pocket, the helmet further comprising a pair of inserts, each insert of the pair of inserts insertable into a respective pocket of the first and second side portions to increase the thickness of the side portions to customize the size of the liner and the fit of the helmet on the head of a wearer.

7. The helmet of claim 1, further comprising a third side portion and a fourth side portion, the third and fourth side portions being interchangeable with the first and second side portions and having at least one of a different size and shape to customize the liner and the fit of the helmet on the head of a wearer.

8. A helmet comprising: an outer shell; an energy-absorbing layer disposed inside the outer shell; and a liner disposed inside of the energy-absorbing layer, the liner configured to contact the head of a wearer when the helmet is worn by the wearer, the liner including a central portion configured to extend along a longitudinal axis that runs between a front portion of the helmet and a rear portion of the helmet, a first side portion coupled to the central portion and defining a first pocket, a second side portion coupled to the central portion and defining a second pocket, and a pair of inserts, each one of the pair of inserts being insertable into one of the first and second pockets to increase the thickness of the corresponding side portion to customize the size of the liner and the fit of the helmet on the head of the wearer.

9. The helmet of claim 8, further comprising a plurality of fasteners on the energy-absorbing layer, the liner having a plurality of fasteners corresponding to the plurality of fasteners on the energy-absorbing layer for releasably attaching the liner to the energy-absorbing layer.

10. The helmet of claim 9, wherein the plurality of fasteners of the liner includes a pair of front fasteners adjacent a front end of the central portion of the liner, the pair of front fasteners configured to attach to a pair of complementary fasteners on the energy-absorbing layer, wherein the first and second side portions are releasably coupled to the central portion at the pair of front fasteners.

11. The helmet of claim 9, wherein the liner includes an alternate central portion having a plurality of fasteners corresponding to the plurality of fasteners on the energy-absorbing layer for releasably attaching the alternate central portion to the energy-absorbing layer in place of the original central portion, the alternate central portion having at least one of a different size and a different shape compared to the original central portion to customize the liner and the fit of the helmet on the head of a wearer, the first and second side portions being configured to releasably attach to the alternate central portion.

12. The helmet of claim 1, wherein the first side portion and the second side portion are pivotally coupled to the central portion.

13. The helmet of claim 8, further comprising a second pair of inserts, wherein each insert of the second pair of inserts has a thickness greater than each insert of the first pair of inserts, the second pair of inserts being insertable into the first and second pockets to replace the first inserts and provide the corresponding side portions with a thicknesses greater than that provided by the first pair of inserts.

14. The helmet of claim 8, further comprising a third side portion and a fourth side portion, the third and fourth side portions being interchangeable with the first and second side portions and having at least one of a different size and shape to customize the liner and the fit of the helmet on the head of the wearer, each one of the pair of inserts further being insertable into respective pockets of the third and fourth side portions to increase the thickness of the third and fourth side portions to further customize the size of the liner and the fit of the helmet on the head of the wearer.

15. A method of customizing the fit of a helmet for a particular wearer comprising: providing an outer shell; providing an energy-absorbing layer disposed inside the outer shell; providing a liner releasably coupled to the energy-absorbing layer, the liner configured to contact the head of a wearer when the helmet is worn by the wearer, the liner including a central portion configured to extend along a longitudinal axis that runs between a front portion of the helmet and a rear portion of the helmet, the liner further including first and second side portions releasably coupled to the central portion; and adjusting the thickness of at least a portion of the liner to adjust the fit of the helmet for the head of the wearer.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein adjusting the thickness of at least a portion of the liner includes detaching the first and second side portions from the central portion, and releasably coupling a third side portion and a fourth side portion to the central portion, the third and fourth side portions having thicknesses different from the first and second side portions.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein adjusting the thickness of at least a portion of the liner includes placing inserts into respective pockets of each of the first and second side portions to increase the thicknesses of the first and second side portions.

18. The method of claim 15, wherein the helmet is provided with removable inserts in pockets of the first and second side portions, the step of adjusting the thickness of at least a portion of the liner including removing the inserts from the pockets to reduce the thickness of the first and second side portions.

19. The method of claim 15, wherein adjusting the thickness of at least a portion of the liner includes detaching the central portion from the energy-absorbing layer, and releasably coupling an alternate central portion to the energy-absorbing layer, the alternate central portion having a thicknesses different from the original central portion.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein adjusting the thickness of at least a portion of the liner further includes adjusting the thickness of the first and second side portions.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/008,976, filed Dec. 21, 2007, the entire contents of which are incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to protective helmets, such as motorcycle helmets. More particularly, the invention relates to a protective helmet with a customizable fit. Although most protective helmets are currently available in a range of standardized sizes to roughly match the size of a wearer's head, the precise fit of a conventional helmet is generally not adjustable for matching the particular shape of a wearer's head. Furthermore, conventional helmets are not able to be precisely sized for persons with head sizes in between two standardized sizes.

SUMMARY

In one embodiment, the invention provides a helmet including an outer shell, an energy-absorbing layer disposed inside the outer shell, and a liner disposed inside of the energy-absorbing layer. The liner includes a central portion configured to extend along a longitudinal axis that runs between a front portion of the helmet and a rear portion of the helmet, a first side portion releasably coupled to the central portion, and a second side portion releasably coupled to the central portion.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a helmet including an outer shell, an energy-absorbing layer disposed inside the outer shell, and a liner disposed inside of the energy-absorbing layer and configured to contact the head of a wearer when the helmet is worn by the wearer. The liner includes a central portion configured to extend along a longitudinal axis that runs between a front portion of the helmet and a rear portion of the helmet, a first side portion coupled to the central portion and defining a first pocket, a second side portion coupled to the central portion and defining a second pocket, and a pair of inserts. Each one of the inserts are insertable into one of the first and second pockets to increase the thickness of the corresponding side portion to customize the size of the liner and the fit of the helmet on the head of the wearer.

In yet another embodiment, the invention provides a method of customizing the fit of a helmet for a wearer. An outer shell is provided with an energy-absorbing layer disposed inside the outer shell. A liner is provided releasably coupled to the energy-absorbing layer. The liner is configured to contact the head of the wearer when the helmet is worn by the wearer. The liner includes a central portion configured to extend along a longitudinal axis that runs between a front portion of the helmet and a rear portion of the helmet. The liner further includes first and second side portions releasably coupled to the central portion. The thickness of at least a portion of the liner is adjusted to adjust the fit of the helmet for the head of the wearer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a bottom view of a protective helmet having a liner embodying the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the protective helmet of FIG. 1 with the liner removed.

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the liner removed from the protective helmet of FIG. 1, showing two side flaps in a first orientation with respect to a central portion of the liner.

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of the liner of FIG. 3, showing one of the side flaps rotated to a second orientation with respect to the central portion of the liner.

FIG. 5 is a top view of the liner of FIG. 3, showing one of the side flaps detached from the central portion of the liner.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the detached side flap of FIG. 5, illustrating a pocket formed therein.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a fit-customizing pad insertable into one of the pockets of the side flaps of the liner.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view illustrating the fit-customizing pad of FIG. 7 partially inserted into the pocket of a side flap of the liner.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view illustrating the fit-customizing pad of FIG. 7 fully inserted into the pocket of the side flap of the liner.

FIG. 10 is a bottom view of a liner according to another construction for use with the protective helmet of FIG. 1.

FIG. 11 is a top view of the liner of FIG. 7, illustrating fit-customizing pads insertable into side flaps of the liner.

Before any embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the following drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including,” “comprising,” or “having” and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items. Unless specified or limited otherwise, the terms “mounted,” “connected,” “supported,” and “coupled” and variations thereof are used broadly and encompass both direct and indirect mountings, connections, supports, and couplings. Further, “connected” and “coupled” are not restricted to physical or mechanical connections or couplings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a protective helmet 20. In the illustrated construction, the helmet 20 is a motorcycle helmet, particularly a half-shell or “beanie” type motorcycle helmet. However, features of the helmet 20 and portions thereof as described below may be applied to various styles of helmets used for various activities. The helmet 20 includes an outer shell 24, which is generally a rigid, synthetic material. An energy-absorbing layer 28 (FIG. 2) is positioned inside the outer shell 24. The energy-absorbing layer 28 may be constructed of polystyrene foam, for example, and may be partially covered by a skin 30 for enhanced appearance and/or comfort. A comfort liner 32 (FIGS. 1 and 3-5) is positioned inside the energy-absorbing layer 28. The liner 32 is adjacent a head of a wearer of the helmet 20 and provides comfort and appropriate fit for the wearer. A retention system 36 provides means for securing the helmet 20 to the wearer's head. The helmet 20 further includes a visor 38 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.

As described in further detail below, the liner 32 is removable, reconfigurable, and exchangeable, providing a custom fit for a variety of different wearers having different head sizes and/or shapes. Referring to FIG. 3, the liner 32 includes a central portion 40 extending along a longitudinal direction of the helmet 20 (from front to rear). The central portion 40 generally extends to cover the top of the wearer's head from the forehead to the rear of the skull, but generally does not cover the sides of the wearer's head. Rather, a pair of flaps or side portions 44 are coupled to the central portion 40 and positioned to lie against the sides of the wearer's head. The side portions 44 are releasably coupled to the central portion 40 adjacent a front end 40A of the central portion 40, which is also the front end of the liner 32 (FIGS. 3-5).

A rear end 40B of the central portion 40, which is also the rear end of the liner 32, defines a longitudinal channel 46 for receiving a gathering of the wearer's hair in a pony tail, braid, etc. The channel 46 is configured to extend along the back of the wearer's neck to receive the gathering of hair, if present, in order to prevent a pressure point or general discomfort to the wearer due to the pinching of the hair within the helmet 20.

FIG. 3 illustrates both of the side portions 44 in a first orientation with respect to the central portion 40. In the first orientation, the side portions 44 extend generally along the central portion 40. It should be noted that FIG. 3 illustrates the liner 32 in a flattened state, and when positioned within the helmet 20, the liner 32 assumes an arched shape such that the side portions 44 complement the sides of the central portion 40. As shown in FIGS. 4-6, each of the side portions 44 has a curved edge 48 configured to lie adjacent the respective sides of the central portion 40 when the liner 32 is positioned within the helmet 20.

As shown in FIG. 2, the helmet 20 includes a pair of front fasteners 52, a pair of rear fasteners 54, and a pair of intermediate fasteners 56 for coupling the liner 32 to the energy-absorbing layer 28 and/or the skin 30. With further reference to FIG. 5, the liner 32 includes front, rear, and intermediate fasteners 62, 64, 66 corresponding to the respective front, rear, and intermediate fasteners 52, 54, 56 on the energy-absorbing layer 28. The intermediate fasteners 66 of the liner 32 are formed on the side portions 44, while the front and rear fasteners 62, 64 of the liner 32 are formed on the central portion 40. As illustrated, the rear fasteners 64 of the liner 32 are formed adjacent the rear end 40B of the central portion 40.

The front fasteners 62 on the liner 32 are configured to releasably attach the side portions 44 to the central portion 40 in addition to releasably attaching the front portion of the liner 32 to the energy-absorbing layer 28. As shown in FIGS. 5 and 8, each side portion 44 includes a flange 70 including an aperture 72. The apertures 72 receive the front fasteners 62 on the central portion 40 of the liner 32 (e.g., by a press fit, snap fit, etc.) such that the side portions 44 are releasably coupled to the central portion 40. The flanges 70 of the side portions 44 allow the side portions 44 to rotate relative to the central portion 40 when the liner 32 is removed from the helmet 20 (FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate one of the side portions 44 rotated to a second orientation relative to the central portion 40). When attached to the central portion 40, the flanges 70 do not interfere with the coupling of the front fasteners 62 of the liner 32 to the front fasteners 52 of the energy-absorbing layer 28. In alternate constructions, the side portions 44 are coupled to the central portion 40 at a separate location on the liner 32 from the front fasteners 62, which releasably couple the front portion of the liner 32 to the energy-absorbing layer 28.

In the illustrated construction, the front, rear, and intermediate fasteners 62, 64, 66 of the liner 32 are snaps. The front, rear, and intermediate fasteners 52, 54, 56 on the energy-absorbing layer 28 are also snaps in the illustrated construction such that the liner 32 is releasably attachable to the energy-absorbing layer 28 by snapping. In lieu of snaps, alternate means (e.g., screws, buttons, detent arrangements, adhesive strips, hook-and-loop strips, etc.) for releasably mounting the liner 32 in the helmet 20 may be provided.

FIGS. 5, 6, 8, and 9 illustrate pockets 76, which are formed in the side portions 44. The pockets 76 receive one or more fit-customizing inserts or pads 80 (FIGS. 7-9). Each pad 80 has a given thickness, but alternate pads may be provided with different thicknesses or additional pads 80 may be provided in various quantities in order to change the effective interior size and/or shape of the helmet 20 by altering the thickness of the liner 32 in the area of the side portions 44. The pockets 76 make it quickly and easily possible to modify the helmet 20 to provide a customized fit.

Furthermore, the fit of the helmet 20 may be customized for a particular individual by replacing the liner 32 or portions thereof with a similar alternative that has an alternate size, shape, and/or thickness. For example, the side portions 44 can be replaced by thicker or thinner side portions (not shown) that attach to the central portion 40 at the front fasteners 62 of the central portion 40. An alternate central portion (not shown) having a thickness different from the original central portion 40 may also be provided to replace the original central portion 40, providing the helmet 20 with an alternate fit.

FIGS. 10 and 11 illustrate another liner 132 configured for use as part of the helmet 20 of FIGS. 1 and 2. The liner 132 of FIGS. 10 and 11 is similar in most respects to the liner 32 described above.

The liner 132 includes a central portion 140 and a pair of side portions 144 that are releasably coupled to the central portion 140 adjacent a front end 140A thereof. Each side portion 144 includes a flange 170 having an aperture 172 therein for attaching to the front fasteners 162 of the liner 132. The front fasteners 162 are additionally releasably coupled to the front fasteners 52 on the energy-absorbing layer 28. The side portions 144 are provided with intermediate fasteners 166 that are releasably coupled to the intermediate fasteners 56 on the energy-absorbing layer 28. Rear fasteners 164, provided adjacent a rear end 140B of the central portion 140, are releasably coupled to the rear fasteners 54 on the energy-absorbing layer 28.

In the illustrated construction, and similar to the liner 32 of FIGS. 3-9, the side portions 144 of the liner 132 may be releasably attached to the front fasteners 162 (or another location) on the central portion 140 adjacent the front end 140A. The flanges 170 of the side portions 144 do not interfere with the releasable coupling of the liner 132 to the energy-absorbing layer 28 and furthermore, allow the side portions 144 to rotate relative to the central portion 140 about the front fastener 162 (as shown by the double-arrows 182 in FIG. 11) when the liner 132 is removed from the helmet 20.

As shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, the side portions 144 are generally rectangular or trapezoidal in shape and do not include arched side edges configured to complement the sides of the central portion 140. The size and/or shape of the side portions 144 may provide the helmet 20 with an alternate fit, as compared to the side portions 44 shown in FIGS. 3-6 and 8-9. Thus, the side portions 44, 144 may be interchanged with each other on a single liner central portion 40, 140 to reconfigure the liner 32, 132 and customize the fit for different wearers having different head sizes and/or shapes.

The side portions 144 are provided with respective pockets 176, which allow the helmet 20 having the liner 132 to be further customized for fit. Each pocket 176 is configured to receive one or more fit-customizing inserts or pads 180 of different thicknesses or provided in different quantities in order to change the effective interior size and/or shape of the helmet 20 by altering the thickness of the liner 132 in the area of the side portions 144. The pockets 176 and interchangeable pads 180 make it quickly and easily possible to modify the helmet 20 to provide a customized fit.

The liners 32, 132 described above enable one or more methods of customizing the helmet 20 for fitting the heads of one or more wearers. For example, the liner 32, 132 may be removed from the helmet 20 and customized by detaching the side portions 44, 144 from the central portion 40, 140 and releasably attaching side portions 44, 144 having an alternate size and/or shape. For example, there may be provided “small”, “medium”, and “large” side portions 44, 144, which can be exchanged to re-configure the liner 32, 132 and adjust the size of the helmet 20. Additionally, a given liner 32, 132 may be interchangeable between helmets 20 having various sized outer shells 24 and energy-absorbing layers 28.

Furthermore, the liner 32, 132 (provided with side portions 44, 144 and no pads 80, 180) may be detached from the energy-absorbing layer 28 so that the side portions 44, 144 may be altered by inserting one or more of the pads 80, 180 into the pockets 76, 176 therein to customize the size of the liner 32, 132 and the fit of the helmet 20 on the head of a wearer. For a given wearer, additional pads 80, 180 may be added (or pads of increasing thickness may be exchanged) until the liner 32, 132 is of an appropriate size so that the helmet 20 is customized to fit the head of the wearer (i.e., providing a snug fit without pressure points).

Thus, the invention provides, among other things, a customizable helmet having a removable, reconfigurable, and exchangeable liner and removable/interchangeable components thereof.