Cycle helmets have long since been the go-to product for protection on a bicycle however they are not the most comfortable of things, the Hövding 3 Airbag is a brand new type of cycle protection that is only activated in the event of an accident and offers the worlds safest head protection, up to 8x more than the traditional bicycle helmet.
At £249 it is more expensive than most helmets and like a cars airbag when it is set off it cannot be reused, however many retailers offer a discounted price when exchanging your damaged Hövding which could bring down the price a little. The Hövding 3 comes in the form of a neck band that has been tested and approved for people over the age of 15 with a head circumference of 52-59 cm (20.5-23.2″) and a neck circumference of 32-45 cm (12.6-17.7″), unlike a helmet which you simply clip on and go, this airbag takes a little more time.
First, pop it around your neck and do up the zip, it can be a little fiddly as it’s not easy to see the zip under your chin, there is an adjustable BOA dial on the unit for fine-tuning the perfect fit. You activate the device by closing the tab with the magnetic fastening, a light (which you also cannot easily see) an audible indicator lets you know its live. It is recommended the Hövding is only ever activated when you are on the bike and is deactivated before getting off, this can prove challenging for some commuters when you have to get on and off regularly for various obstacles.
The Hövding registers your movements 200 times/sec and in the event of an accident the airbag inside the collar inflates in 0.1 sec, this will efficiently fixate the neck and protect the head from injury. The additional App connection can be used to notify selected ICE contacts in the event of an accident, get involved with the Hövding community, see the effects of personal and collective cycling and receive notifications when the battery needs recharging.
The battery lasts around 15hours of active cycling and takes just 2hours to recharge, the outer material is made from a durable 100% polyamide with a PU waterproof membrane. Tests prove the Hövding is highly effective at protecting the head during a crash, there have been a handful of accidental activations reported but it seems like the device wasn’t being worn correctly.
So, there are some things to consider, the airbag weighs 800g, it’s not the lightest of things but the weight is spread over the shoulders, so it doesn’t cause to much of an issue, it is however rather bulky. If seated upright, it shouldn’t interfere with your movements however when leaning forward it can get in the way of turning or raising your head, this is exaggerated further if using the drop handlebar position.
If you have a large neck, are wearing bulky clothing in the winter, a hat, turban, dangling earrings, scarfs etc, this could all interfere with the performance (a full list of how best to wear it is on the website). I felt a little anxiety wearing the Hövding, the idea that this thing around my neck might explode is a bit daunting at first but it does wear off and you stop watching your movements as closely, turning your head, sharp breaking and even ducking to avoid a tree branch will not set if off.
If the size of the Hövding was reduced I could easily be converted away from my old helmet, even with the added effort of activating, deactivating and charging, but I was always very aware that I was wearing it in a way that I haven’t felt with a regular helmet, its not necessarily uncomfortable just a bit annoying at times. However, the extra safety is not to be argued with, car seatbelts aren’t always comfortable but we all know how essential they are, maybe its just a case of resetting our priorities, after all some minor irritation on the ride outweighs the potential life changing results of an accident. RRP £249
- Up to 8x safer than a regular helmet
- Fast activation in 0.1 sec
- App offers additional features
- Registers your movements 200 times/sec
- Durable, waterproof materials
- Can restrict movements
- Takes longer to activate than a traditional helmet
- Can be daunting at first
- One use only (although retailers might offer an exchange program)