Eurobike 2013: Hovding Airbag Bike Helmet

Eurobike Gear

When we first saw the promotional photos of the Hovding airbag helmet system, we instantly dismissed it as some kind of viral joke or a mad scientist dream. Their promotional photo showed a fashion model wearing a big scarf in one photo, then an inflatable helmet on the next.

But here at Eurobike, we got a chance to talk to some of their employees and we learned of a very serious effort to improve the safety of cyclists. The target market is areas where helmets are not required or worn in many instances. The users wear what amounts to a 1.5 lb. scarf that will protect their head in a crash.

Why not wear a helmet?

This may be painfully obvious to most Americans, where helmets are required for kids and almost mandatory for adults. But the answer is actually more profound and advanced than it appears. The reason is when you don’t force people to ride with helmets, more people will ride their bikes. And we’re not talking about going for a long road ride here. We’re talking about using a bike on short trips and every occasion you use a car. Many folks prefer not to wear a helmet on short trips cause it will mess up your appearance. This may seem silly but in countries like the Netherlands, millions more people ride bikes because helmets are not required and the infrastructure is in place to make biking safe.

Video: Eight to eighty, people of all ages cycling in the Netherlands by NL Cycling.
Video: From the Netherlands to America by BikesBelong.

A Serious Effort

Hovding was started by two women who got $13 million in venture funding and the backing of many top scientists and mathematicians to develop this system. The company is based in Sweden as well, which gives it credibility as their culture regards safety as one of their highest priorities.

The airbag system is gas charged and it deploys the airbag in .1 second based on motion sensors. The promise is it not only replaces the helmet, but it is safer than a helmet as it:

  • Dissipates shock better with an airbag
  • Protects the lower back of the head
  • Does not twist the neck as the head is not locked to the helmet
  • Supports the neck with a collar when inflated

It’s a serious product from Sweden and their claim is it offers more protection than a standard helmet, while not having the dreaded helmet head for bike commuters. Price for the system is 450 euros and it weighs about 750 grams. See more photos in the gallery below.

It is used now in the many countries in Scandinavia and is about to enter Europe and Japan. Sadly, the US will not get it soon, as it is one of the most difficult markets to enter with helmet laws and liability lawsuits.

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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  • mort broker says:

    Great concept…but that guy on the bike that didn’t get out of the way of that car?! What a real dummy.

  • r1Gel says:

    Good to see this finally going to production.

  • Laser says:

    Great technology. Did you notice where the test dummy for the rear end collision caught the top tube of the bike, at 20 km/hr? Can they make one for your “junk”? A “Hovdingaling” Or better yet, a full body deployment. But on a serious note, I commute to and from work in crazy traffic and deployment of head protection is not something I want to worry about 1 second before impact.

  • bryan says:

    That scarf looks a lot dorkier and hotter in warm weather than any helmet. I’ll pick the helmet any day. It is an interesting concept though. How about airbag downhill body armor? As long as it could be reused over and over during an afternoon of spills and thrills it would be a huge hit.

  • John says:

    Well maybe not quite yet for DH but electronic triggered personal airbags are here already for motorbikes, here being Europe at this point with the Dainese Air street which as the name says is a street version of the model developed for racing.

  • SniperDave says:

    13 Million dollars wasted solving a problem that doesn’t exist. This is perhaps the worst idea I have seen in a long long time. Its so bad it makes the Segway look like a good idea. I am sure the two girls who started it had a great time spending the venture capital though, woo hooooo!
    I can’t imagine anyone would actually buy one unless they had no clue about anything.

  • Brightside says:

    @SniperDave You should spend less time trying to be negative. The “two girls” are doing just fine. In 2018, the Hovding had over $20 million in sales in Denmark alone (that’s not counting its home market of Sweden or the rest of Europe). You wish you could have such a “worst idea.”

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