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Airbag cycle helmet firm Hövding files for bankruptcy after consumer watchdog orders product recall and bans sales

Company wins appeal against Sweden’s Consumer Agency – but says damage done leaves it with no option other than closing down

Hövding, the Swedish company that has won multiple awards for its innovative airbag cycle helmet, has filed for bankruptcy after the country’s consumer watchdog ordered a halt to sales as well as a product recall of the latest version of the product.

> Hövding’s airbag for cyclists beats all other cycling helmets in independent safety test

In a statement published on its website, Hövding said that the reason behind its decision to file for bankruptcy yesterday in the Malmo district court was “that on November 1, 2023, the Swedish Consumer Agency imposed a temporary sales freeze on the company and then on December 15, 2023 announced a permanent sales freeze and recall for the product Hövding 3.”

The company said that it “does not share the Consumer Agency’s conclusion and has appealed the decision,” and yesterday it won an appeal at the Administrative Court that overturned the ban on sales and product recall, meaning that the product can still be sold.

“However, the damage caused by the actions of the Swedish Consumer Agency is so extensive that the board does not see that there is a basis for continuing the company,” Hövding added.

Its statement concluded with Hövding thanking “all customers, dealers, suppliers and, not least, employees for all the fantastic efforts during the 12 years we have saved the lives of cyclists.”

Hövding’s airbag helmets are housed in a collar worn around the neck, with the airbag rapidly deployed when motion sensors detected a fall, as shown in this video featuring road.cc co-founder and editor in chief Tony Farrelly (if you’re impatient, skip to just before the six-minute mark for the money shot).

The innovative product has garnered an impressive amount of press coverage over the years, but while the company’s website highlights testimonials from cyclists who say that wearing a Hövding helmet saved them from serious injury or worse in a collision, some of the biggest attention it has received on social media has come when the airbag has inflated accidentally, with one such example found here, although the company insisted the product in that case was being used incorrectly.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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23 comments

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IanGlasgow | 6 months ago
2 likes

I considered one of these a yar or so back for commuting.
The problem with commuter helmets is they're always getting knocked, dropped, dented, etc.
However, the initial cost, and the ongoing cost every time it went off (I seem to have a minor off every couple of years - ice, muddy bike lane, unseen patch of pil, etc.) put me off and I went with a Hedkayse instead which looks cheap in comparison.
Still sorry to see an innovative and apparently successful product disappear from the market.

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hawkinspeter replied to IanGlasgow | 6 months ago
0 likes

IanGlasgow wrote:

I considered one of these a yar or so back for commuting.
The problem with commuter helmets is they're always getting knocked, dropped, dented, etc.
However, the initial cost, and the ongoing cost every time it went off (I seem to have a minor off every couple of years - ice, muddy bike lane, unseen patch of pil, etc.) put me off and I went with a Hedkayse instead which looks cheap in comparison.
Still sorry to see an innovative and apparently successful product disappear from the market.

How are you getting on with the Hedkayse? I got one from their original KickStarter campaign (eventually), but found it quite heavy and a bit ugly, so haven't got around to using it.

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IanGlasgow replied to hawkinspeter | 6 months ago
1 like

I found it really uncomfortable when I first tried it and was tempted to return it. But I'm glad I persevered; it seems to have moulded itself to my head and fits perfectly now.
It is heavy but the weight doesn't seem to be a problem. I;ve only ever worn it for relatively short commuter rides (the only time I wore it for more than an hour or so at a time was doing my Bikeability instructor training) and mostly in cool weather. I can't imagine it'd be great when it's hot or for longer, more strenuous cycling.
It is a bit ugly, but tbh every other helmet I've ever owned looked like an oversized mushroom perched on top of my head so I can live with that.

My only regret is that I went with Stealth Black which instead of the usual orange clips on the straps has black carbon fibre fittings wich don't work so well - the straps slip over time and need to be constantly readjusted.

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Xenophon2 | 6 months ago
2 likes

I'm not ashamed to say that a conventional helmet on one occasion saved me from a serious concussion or worse.  This was with a koroid-type helmet, the structure deformed/collapsed as it absorbed the shock, as designed.  I still had a headache but the outcome sans helmet doesn't bear contemplation.  So I don't go out without wearing one, not even to the corner shop.

I took a look at the Hövding a couple of years back but my main objections were that it looked extremely sweaty to wear as a collar in the summer and I didn't see the upside vs a conventional helmet, considering the price.  Also, frankly, I was afraid of the thing unintentionally going off.

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Sriracha | 6 months ago
0 likes

I don't understand how these things were ever supposed to work. A car airbag works because it deflates to cushion your impact. Were it to remain fully inflated your head/body would simply rebound, exacerbating the problem. As far as I can see this cycle helmet inflates and remains inflated. EPS helmets compress and don't rebound.

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Xenophon2 replied to Sriracha | 6 months ago
3 likes

Sriracha wrote:

I don't understand how these things were ever supposed to work. A car airbag works because it deflates to cushion your impact. Were it to remain fully inflated your head/body would simply rebound, exacerbating the problem. As far as I can see this cycle helmet inflates and remains inflated. EPS helmets compress and don't rebound.

If you hit the ground, the chamber that makes contact simply compresses, volume reduces and internal pressure mounts, counteracting the external impact force.  Until equilibrium is established, that is. Or until the chamber ruptures, which would be bad news for the wearer.  This compression process takes (a short) time and that longer deceleration time makes all the difference in the world for your brain as peak force will be dramatically lower.  It's actually faster to explain with a formula  1

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Sriracha replied to Xenophon2 | 6 months ago
0 likes

...and then your head rebounds, instead of coming to rest. So the acceleration continues for twice the time. Whereas with an EPS helmet, there is no rebound.

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Barraob1 replied to Sriracha | 6 months ago
1 like

I've been concussed after crashing with a traditional helmet, which cracked.

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IanGlasgow replied to Barraob1 | 6 months ago
1 like

Barraob1 wrote:

I've been concussed after crashing with a traditional helmet, which cracked.

Helmets don't prevent concussion.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32932191/

 

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Steve K | 6 months ago
1 like

There was a video doing the rounds on twitter very recently of a cyclist hitting a pothole (or something similar), not even close to coming off or crashing, but the jolt caused the airbag helmet to go off.  £300 wasted in one second. 

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Rendel Harris replied to Steve K | 6 months ago
5 likes

Don't know if this is the one you were thinking of, the guy didn't even hit a pothole, just slipped slightly on a grating as he dismounted and that was enough to trip the bag!

https://twitter.com/CycleNott/status/1736706863478038854

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Capt Sisko | 6 months ago
0 likes

Much like the folding helmet idea that pops up every few years, the inflatable helmet is a solution for a problem that people didn't ask for and at £300 was a very expensive solution. It then not only looked awful and was never going to appeal to a keen cyclist, whilst the leisure cyclists were just never going to spend that amount. As for a second hand value, unless obviously unues and still in it's box, would you buy one?

Maybe if we had compulsary & proffesional cycling training schools the H&S brigade may have thought it necessary on youngsters, but otherwise I think it was always going to be an uphill struggle to sell commercially.

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chrisonabike | 6 months ago
0 likes

I seem to be the grinch here but ... clever, but if you want head protection why would you buy a battery, a computer, a gas canister and a single-use airbag? (Yes,I know that if damaged - e.g. if they did anything - normal helmets should be replaced).

These may be a *bit* better than plastic hats but - for me - both are in the level of "fairly limited protection".

I may be biased though since mine will have mostly protected me from scrapes (sliding) and tree branches.

A plastic hat isn't *great* on environmental grounds but has to be less impact than one of these (again apparently single use - is this right?) Cheaper and you don't need to charge it...

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hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 6 months ago
1 like

chrisonabike wrote:

I seem to be the grinch here but ... clever, but if you want head protection why would you buy a battery, a computer, a gas canister and a single-use airbag? (Yes,I know that if damaged - e.g. if they did anything - normal helmets should be replaced). These may be a *bit* better than plastic hats but - for me - both are in the level of "fairly limited protection". I may be biased though since mine will have mostly protected me from scrapes (sliding) and tree branches. A plastic hat isn't *great* on environmental grounds but has to be less impact than one of these (again apparently single use - is this right?) Cheaper and you don't need to charge it...

Unfortunately, these wouldn't be of any use against low hanging tree branches

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Hirsute replied to chrisonabike | 6 months ago
3 likes

You don't think I'm going to spend 30 minutes on my hair and then ruin it with a helmet ?!

As an aside, on of my friends tripped when exiting his small boat and fell so that his inflating life jacket triggered. Cost him £25 for a refill !

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chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 6 months ago
0 likes

No offence to sailors! (That's an expensive hobby however you do it anyway).

Just not me, I guess... but then I don't have carbon fibre bikes. (But can't be smug, owning more bikes than I can ride at once and indeed several aluminium ones).

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hawkinspeter replied to Hirsute | 6 months ago
4 likes

Hirsute wrote:

You don't think I'm going to spend 30 minutes on my hair and then ruin it with a helmet ?!

As an aside, on of my friends tripped when exiting his small boat and fell so that his inflating life jacket triggered. Cost him £25 for a refill !

That's expensive - must be inflation.

Self inflating life jackets make a lot of sense though - if someone hits their head and falls into water, then it could easily be the difference between drowning or not.

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galibiervelo | 6 months ago
2 likes

Sad to see. A business built on keeping us safe is a good thing

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marmotte27 replied to galibiervelo | 6 months ago
1 like

Quite a few assumptions in there...

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ktache | 6 months ago
3 likes

Shame. Seemed like a very innovative product.

And, I believe, reasonably effective.

Managed to watch the last race of the MotoGP, and they were praising the body suit air bags of the riders.

Of course this now stops their crash replacement thing.

Any idea what the SCAs problem was?

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Losd replied to ktache | 6 months ago
1 like

Opened when it shouldn't, didn't always open fast enough for high-speed crashes AFAIK.

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blamek replied to ktache | 6 months ago
1 like

If it's so great some investor will buy company or their patents.

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Rendel Harris replied to ktache | 6 months ago
2 likes

Concerned that sometimes it was failing to open or opening too slowly to protect riders, especially at speeds over 20 kph.

ETA Apologies replied on a cached version of the page which didn't show the question had already been answered.

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