Hövding the “Invisible” Helmet

A bicycle helmet is made for safety and protection and should always be worn. In some locales, it is mandatory to don one when out during any spin. However, realistically many of us do not wear our helmets 100% of the time. The excuses range from being uncomfortable, or that we are only heading in a no-auto area such as a park. Many women find them unfashionable and ruin their coif when removed so they think ‘what’s the point’?

However, every time we go for a ride there is always a risk that a mishap could occur and may even be deadly. Two designers, Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt may have come up with the ideal problem solver.

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Sweden, where they hail from, is considered as one of the most cycle-friendly countries. Families here ride their children to school, shop at the market and commute to work on a bicycle.

But even in this cycling paradise, there has been a constant argument as to whether to don a helmet or not. Every time helmet compulsory law proposal comes up, it initiates a furious debate within the nation between the voters and their government officials.

The designers, Alstin and Haupt, claim they “wouldn’t be seen dead in a polystyrene helmet.” Instead they have come up with what is pleasing bicyclists, not only in Sweden but world-wide. Their innovative concept garnered so much interest and they won Venture Cup startup competition in 2006. The difficult part of creating a product that met all safety concerns for protecting the neck and head came next.
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Named the Hövding, it is a bicycle helmet that is “invisible”. Actually it is based on the same technology and principle found in automobile’s airbags.

Hövding’s hi-tech nylon and waterproof collar placed around the neck like a scarf.  It inflates on impact by detecting characteristic movements that happened in a crash with its battery operated sensors. It reacts by inflating the bag with helium and surrounds the neck and head area all within 1/10 of a second of impact.
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Testing took place for the next seven years to match data from thousands of accidents and non-accident scenarios. Everything from an icy road crashes to getting hit by a car was taken in account and re-enacted using test dummies.

Hövding may be the safest and most comfortable bicycle non-helmet that you could wear. In Europe it has been given the ok and is said to provide more than 3Xs better shock absorption of any other helmet they have tested. The drawbacks in parts of the United States and Canada at this time is many states have a compulsory helmet-only law.

One item that is certainly another plus for the bike and mountain rider is PatchNRide. It is a less than a minute fix for a flat tire. Just use it and you are on your way again.

Photos courtesy of Hövding

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