By Chere Di Boscio
Hate hemet hair and looking dorky when you ride your bike?
So do two engineers in Sweden, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, who invented a way to look chic and stay safe whilst cycling: an invisible bike helmet.
The two avid cyclers created Hövding, which is basically an airbag for cyclists. The result of an intensive research and development process that started in 2005, the airbag was developed by Alstin and Haupt after they watched footage of thousands of cycling accidents, then virtually re-enacted them and compared them to hundreds of hours of normal cycling with Hövding. Based on this collected data, the pair developed an algorithm that can distinguish normal cycling from accidents.
The resulting invention–an airbag–was developed in collaboration with airbag manufacturer Alva Sweden and extensive testing has been carried out to ensure the airbag provides the protection required. The development work around Hövding has resulted in a number of globally patented solutions.
Whilst the airbag is proven safe for typical bike accidents that involve falls and crashes, in the highly unusual category of cycling accident where no measurable movement appears within the cyclist, such as if an object falls straight down on a cyclist’s head, Hövding will not react.
It’s easy to use Hövding: just place it around your neck and pull the zip up under your chin. The zip needs to be completely closed for the collar to work correctly. There is an on/off switch on the zip tag that activates Hövding when it’s attached to the right-hand side of the collar. Similarly, Hövding is turned off when you unclip the on/off button. At the front of the collar there are LEDs showing the battery level and whether Hövding is on or off. On/off is also indicated by a sound signal.
The collar is actually quite stylish itself, and comes in a variety of colours and patterns, but all are made of waterproof functional fabric that provides the best possible protection for the built-in airbag system. The collar isn’t washable but is protected from wear, sweat and dirt by the surrounding fabric shell. Any marks on the collar can be rubbed off carefully with a damp cloth.
The collar is ergonomically designed with even weight distribution across the shoulders. It is slightly heavier at the back than at the front so that when cycling the weight is resting on your back.
The main purpose of the enclosing shell is to make it possible for you to change the appearance of your Hövding. The shell is easy to remove and wash, or change for a different one to match your outfit. Different shells are available to buy in the company’s online shop, which we think all keen–and stylish–cyclists should be visiting, right now.