One of the first things you notice about Amsterdam is the bikes. They are everywhere: pepper on the roads, overflowing bike carriers and, regularly, obstructing the channels. For someone who grew up in the UK, it's not just the 881,000 bikes in the city that are shocking. It is the fact that no one wears a helmet. The underlying reasons are many, but a company is trying to change that.
The Hövding is an airbag-style bicycle helmet designed in Sweden that aims to be discreet while offering superior protection over traditional equipment. The question is: do the Dutch public care? We took the Hövding in the streets of Amsterdam to find out.
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Oh, and we put it in a trampoline park, of course. Look at everything below.
Using the Hövding was a child's game. It was easy to put on and was surprisingly comfortable for something that looks a bit like a fancy dog collar.
Technology inside is also pretty cool. The airbag is deployed when the accelerometer in the Hövding detects the type of motion felt during a bike accident, which the company has spent time in monitoring and testing . Each Hövding also has a black box, which the company analyzes after each accident to enhance the experience.
You can see an example of this in the video. We tried to fix it by jumping to the side, but that 's only when my body was more suspended in the air than it' s actually inflated. When that happened, there was a strong, bitter and gassy smell from the device and, in a split second, my head was rigidly locked up. It was impressive and safe. And, to be honest, a little weird.
The Hövding and the public faced glaring problems: price and reuse. € 299, that is a lot of money for a single use item, although many insurers will cover its costs if you have an accident. Maybe if you 're acquiring a Hövding, it' s not the worst idea in the world to buy a little insurance.
The fact that it needs to be loaded to work – which is not surprising when you consider the technology inside – is … strange. There is something to be had to charge a helmet that seems counterintuitive, especially when you do not really see it using power.
We must also consider the cultural attitude towards helmets. Judging by the reaction of the Dutch public to the device, it seems unlikely that the Hövding is gaining ground in countries that do not have helmet or strict laws on cycling.
So, who is it for?
Basically, someone who really hates, really regular helmets, but who still wants to be safe. The Hövding is discreet, comfortable and, above all, will not spoil your handsome biker while cycling. And, you know, that will protect you too well.
Myself? It was fun to use, but I probably will not shell out for too early. It's cool anyway.
If you are looking for a new way to take care of your noggin, you can buy the Hövding here.
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