Hovding, a Swedish startup company, has been marketing its “Invisible Bicycle Helmet” as a fashion statement as much as a safety device. But recent tests show the clandestine helmet—which is worn around the neck and looks like a scarf—does a lot more than just prevent helmet hair.
The helmet passed Europe’s CE safety standard, but Swedish insurance company Folksam wanted to see for themselves. Folksam’s test pitted the Hovding against a dozen other brands, including popular models from Bell, Giro and POC. The results showed the invisible helmet—which inflates automatically with helium gas when its sophisticated motion sensors (accelerometers and gyros) detect an accident—performed three times better than the competition. (If you speak Swedish, check out the study, here.)
This sort of technology has been used for years to protect motorcycle riders from high-speed racetrack crashes (video), and in a slightly different form, such as The North Face ABS pack, to help keep skiers and snowboarders from getting swallowed under by avalanches. But this is the first application we've seen with bicycle helmets.
Folksam’s test (video below) ran helmets through simulated crashes of 25 kph, up from the CE standard’s 15-20 kph protocol.
The fashion merits of the scarf/helmet contraption is a matter of personal taste. The price, however, is not up for debate. A Hovding invisible helmet will set you back about $500.