Hövding cyclist airbag demonstration on film

Everything about the Hövding airbag for cyclists is extraordinary: It cost £10m to develop; its sensors record the wearer’s movements 200 times a second and, with a price tag of £260, it costs more than many bicycles.

Hovding cyclist airbag

The ground-breaking approach to head protection for cyclists has resulted in Hövding already selling 2,000 of its airbags, a significant proportion of which to cyclists in London. Most go unnoticed because the design is indistinguishable from the collar on a winter coat. In the event of an impending collision, the airbag inflates in a tenth of a second.

What this means in practice was demonstrated at last week’s Spin LDN cycling exhibition, when a volunteer deliberately rode his bike into a concrete column at speed.

When the Hövding was tested against 13 of the leading cycle helmets available to buy in Sweden in 2012, it proved to have more than three times better shock absorbency of all the other helmets. To be CE marked, a cycle helmet must reduce the force of acceleration at head impact to 250 g. The best performing conventional helmet managed 196 g – the Hövding achieved 65 g.

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Whether or not you ride with a helmet, cycle insurance from the ETA offers protection for you and your bike. Every policy includes as standard, new-for-old (no matter the age of the bike) and accidental damage (including race events and triathlon), £5m third party, £20,000 personal accident, Cycle Breakdown and much more.

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  1. Richard Burton


    While the statistics behind this helmet are superficially impressive, and it would appear to protect better than current helmets, the fact remains that cycling is a low risk activity for which protective equipment is not required. The risks of cycling are about the same as walking, less than using stairs, less than gardening, and in fact are negative; it’s more dangerous not to ride a bike than to ride one. Regular cyclists, those most exposed to the risk, live longer, and are fitter, healthier and slimmer than general. This is a solution in search of a problem, and at that price, it’s going to take some marketing.

    Whilst the advertising gurus behind this latest launch of an unnecessary product have decided to point out that existing helmets aren’t effective, a fact known to everyone who’s bothered to do ten minutes research on the subject, telling everyone this isn’t going to shift the warehouses full of Hovdings.

    The only possible benefit from this campaign is that the media might finally realise that the nonsense they’ve been happy to endlessly regurgitate from the helmet zealots isn’t true, and that cycle helmets are not effective. You listening BBC?

  2. Barry Baker


    @Richard Burton This is true, but in London, at least, the majority of cyclists wear helmets. When I started cycling in London in the 70’s, no-one wore a helmet, now I am definitely in a dwindling minority. There is a certain pressure of numbers at work here – helmet wearing seems to have reached a critical mass where new cyclists feel they must be be endangering their own lives by not joining in with the trend.

    I even feel reluctant to tell my own daughter that she does not really need one to ride around town, since if she listened to me and had a head-injuring accident I would then feel responsible for having persuaded her not to wear it!

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