Hövding, the maker of the airbag "helmet" that pops out of a collar, has launched a negative publicity campaign warning about what it says are "major flaws in the traditional cycle helmet." The campaign includes a six minute video, sub-titled "What the industry doesn't want you to know." The Swedish company's website has a graphic featuring the names of a number of helmet models, with the claim that these helmets - and others - aren't as protective as the £300 Hövding head airbag.
"Tests show that, in an accident, serious – even fatal – head injuries can still occur with approved cycle helmets that have passed the legal requirements," claims Hövding, which goes on to say its own product achieved "astonishing results" in the same tests.
The Hövding press release includes quotes from Maria Krafft, associate professor at the Traffic Safety & Environment at Folksam, a Swedish insurance company. She said: "Hövding is the biggest thing since the emergence of the cycle helmet and, as a milestone, is equivalent to when the airbag was developed for cars."
The press release says g-force tests on cycle helmets show that only the Hövding airbag is truly protective:
"There are considerable differences in performance from one cycle helmet to another. Folksam's tests on cycle helmets in 2012 showed that the airbag had over three times as much shock-absorbing capacity as the best traditional cycle helmet. We conducted a crash test in which all the traditional helmets were around 250 g, whereas the Hövding airbag cycle helmet only recorded 65g."
Ahead of a UK launch for the Hövding airbag the company says Folksam's impact tests have now been "analysed." The press release then provides some rather confusing percentages: "[The test] show that, with a traditional cycle helmet in this type of accident, the likelihood of serious head injury is approximately 90% and the risk of a fatal injury is as high as 30%. The use of an airbag cycle helmet in the same accident dramatically reduces the risk of injury. The risk of serious head injury is then only 2% and the risk of a fatal injury almost non-existent."
The Swedish company added: "The permitted maximum value for cycle helmets is alarmingly high, which means that a rider can still suffer serious head injuries in an accident wearing a helmet that meets the current legal requirement of 250g [acceleration force]."
In order to obtain a CE mark, a cycle helmet is required to reduce the acceleration force to 250g in a blow to the head. G is a measurement of acceleration and the lower the g value, the more the impact and acceleration are reduced.
Krafft was quoted as saying: "there is now no reason to maintain the 250g limit for an approved helmet."
The Hövding airbag collar was introduced in 2011 and went viral on the internet. A short documentary about the product has had more than 12 million views. Hövding's airbag helmet was invented by design students Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, who run the company.