As described on the Hövding website:
"The airbag is designed like a hood and made in an ultra-strong nylon fabric that won’t rip when scraped against the ground. Hövding protects nearly all of the head, while leaving the field of vision open.The inflated airbag covers a much large r area than a traditional cycle helmet and is designed according to current accident statistics. The protection is greatest where it is needed most and the airbag provides extremely soft and gentle shock absorption. The pressure remains constant for several seconds, making it able to withstand multiple head impacts during the same accident. After that the airbag slowly starts to deflate."
The company’s tag line is Hövding Airbag for Cyclists. First of all I love it! When I first read it, I began thinking about what that means within the current realm of helmets. Firstly, it looks more comfortable and stylish than a regular helmet which is always a plus. More importantly, it seems to be effective in shielding the riders head in a collision. Oh, and it's not just for women either.
What happens when you have one of those silly falls where there is nothing around you and you lose your balance or something? In that case there is no real threat of head trauma or even impact with the ground but the motion that triggers the sensor could still go off. Now you are left looking sillier than you did before and you have wasted your rather expensive inflatable helmet. How does the mechanism work that triggers the helmet to inflate? Apparently any impact that is not considered regular cycling behaviour will trigger the helmet to inflate. In my opinion, that could be annoying and rather pricey for us clumsy people out there! The helmets run at about $600 USD. On the how it works page you can read more about the research and algorithm that was developed to dictate the behaviour of the helmet in a crash situation.
The Hövding helmet, according to the indepth research performed by the company prior to production, is as safe and reliable as a regular bicycle helmet. Because of the nature of the mechanism in the inflatable helmet, I wonder if this helmet is as practical as your standard bicycle helmet when it comes to non-life threatening collisions. So many questions!
My last thought on this subject is how this helmet will be embraced by government when it comes time to make it available in Canada and possibly even a standard bicycle accessory.
So what is the big deal? I think there is none. It seems that if the product works as effectively as the current standard, it should be allowed as an appropriate product to be worn in lieu of the current bicycle helmet. In reality, I suspect that the moment it is available for purchase in Canada, if ever, there will be a ton of fuss. Instead of embracing an alternative to the bicycle helmet, chances are we will be waiting a while before we see these babies become mainstream, this due to the current discourse between the law makers and cyclists (those that wear helmets and those that would rather not).
It is great to see new innovations for cycling, especially when it comes to helmets. These new helmets are stylish, comfortable and hopefully will become a mainstream product for cyclists everywhere!