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Pfaff Harley-Davidson helps develop ‘Tough Turban’ protection

Freedom to ride is at the heart of a new innovation championed by Pfaff Harley-Davidson. The Tough Turban was conceived and designed by Toronto’s Zulu Alpha Kilo, the dealership’s innovative creative partner, which developed the product using impact-resistant materials to better protect motorcycle enthusiasts. 

“Pfaff Harley-Davidson is proud to help champion an idea that celebrates the diversity of our ridership. We are honored to help advance the cause of diverse gear and to help build awareness for the potential of the innovation amongst our vast community of riders across Canada and around the world,” said Pfaff Harley-Davidson brand marketing specialist Brandon Durmann, in an announcement.

“The Tough Turban further empowers Sikh riders to protect who they are,” said Zak Mroueh, founder and chief creative officer of Zulu. “This initiative combines a lot of things we’re glad to focus on at Zulu Alpha Kilo – inclusion, innovation and our core principle that the world needs more creativity. I’m always thrilled when a team member crafts an idea inspired by their own heritage or personal experience. In this case, the idea came the team of Dan Cummings and Vic Bath, who is from a Sikh background. He was inspired by his father, who grew up in a small village in India and dreamed of owning a Harley-Davidson, which to him was the ultimate symbol of freedom.”  

According to the announcement, to bring the idea to life Zulu tapped Spark Innovations for the preliminary design of the Tough Turban. It features emerging technologies in protective gear like non-Newtonian foam that hardens on impact, 3D-printed chainmail and a composite fabric used in bulletproof clothing. The full design considerations for the prototype have been open-sourced and released online, enabling any manufacturer in the world access to the virtual blueprint to make their version of a reinforced turban for riders in their region.

Pfaff Harley-Davidson and Zulu Alpha Kilo recognized that the Tough Turban is still in the early stages of development, which is why they have partnered with the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario to test and improve upon design elements.

Helmet exemptions were first granted to turban-wearing riders in British Columbia and Manitoba in 1999. Close to 20 years later, in the fall of 2018, Ontario passed Bill 194, exempting Sikh motorcyclists from Ontario’s helmet laws. However, all other provinces in the country have failed to adopt similar legislation.

“Our members want the freedom to be able to ride from coast-to-coast-to-coast while wearing turbans,” says Jagdeep Singh, a spokesperson for the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario. “We welcome the freedom to ride message that the Tough Turban touts, however for now, it strictly remains a concept. The idea needs to be developed further and tested for practical daily wear.”

The Sikh Motorcycle Club considers motorcycling to be both a hobby and a means of having positive impact. In the onset of COVID-19 last year, the Ontario chapter alone conducted nine motorcycle rides to 35 distinct first responder sites to recognize the efforts of frontline workers. The club also distributed thousands of meals to vulnerable families impacted by the pandemic and held protests in support of farmer rights in India. In the past, the club has also held rides to fight cancer, as well as support people with diabetes and substance abuse challenges.

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