It was great to welcome Ben from Hövding to Bikmo in Chester a couple of weeks back. We gathered some local friends, neighbours and Bikmo partners for a lunchtime live crash demonstration of the amazing airbag helmet for urban cyclists. Front row seats all around!

With a warm coffee in hand from the Bikmo coffee wagon, and stood in the shadow of Chester Cathedral, it was a great setting for the demo. The rain made for pretty realistic UK cycling conditions too!

Here’s what happened

Ben rode out for 20 metres or so, and turned ready for the approach. At a slow running speed, he rode towards a very small crash mat – to prevent some road rash – and threw himself off the bike towards the ground. The airbag fully inflated with quite a loud pop well before he hit the ground.

The head protection coverage is very impressive, with seemingly far more protection than a standard helmet. I know which I’d rather my head be in if it was a real accident. The airbag then stayed fully inflated for a little bit. This gives protection in case there are multiple impacts – or in this case, time for people to move in and have a squeeze or the firm, highly inflated airbag.

The crash video

Q&A with Ben from Hövding

As well as watching Ben crash his bike, it was a great to ask questions about the Hövding. There was lots of chat in different places, so I caught up with Ben after to find out what he was asked about:

How does the Hövding know when you’re having an accident?
When developing the Hövding – we studied accidents to understand the movements of your head during an accident. From this research we created hundreds of ‘rules’ for inflation. Each Hövding is packed with sensors which are looking for a rule at a rate of around 200 times per second. If one is met, the helmet inflates within 0.1 seconds – before your head hits the ground.

What problem does the Hövding solve?
The Hövding airbag provides better protection than a standard helmet. The thicker and softer shield has been shown in extensive tests to provide 3x better shock absorption than a traditional helmet, 8x less chance of concussion and almost zero chance of skull fracture. Plus, it solves the problem of sweaty helmet hair.

And what happens if it inflates?
Like car airbags, once the Hövding is inflated it needs replaced. We currently replace your Hövding for £99 under our replacement scheme.

How much does it cost?
You can pick up a Hövding for £220 from select retailers or online at hövding.com.

My thoughts

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I’m a big fan of Hövding – the product, the team and the stories behind both. What’s very obvious watching Ben explain the product, and answering questions is that they’ve taken such a huge brave leap from the helmet we’re all so familiar with.

Many early adopters are completely sold on the benefits – 60,000 at the last count, and the rate of growth is increasing. The team still have a big educational journey to take the masses through, and for many it will take more time to reach the critical level of knowledge and trust before purchasing a Hövding.

I don’t doubt that safety airbags will eventually become the norm for cyclists and eventually we’ll reminisce about ‘those ridiculous hard hats we used to wear’. How quickly that happens, I can’t tell – but it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of wearing car seat belts was considered unconventional.

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