Design Journal Living

Design for living – Hövding, smart-tech safety for cyclists


ad – in collaboration with Hövding. All thoughts are my own. All imagery is by myself unless stated under photograph

Cycling safety gear wasn’t the first thing I thought of when moving to Copenhagen. It’s not what you imagine the pretty Danes to be wearing. I remember being so dismissive about wearing a helmet with silly excuses like I’d look silly, the roads weren’t that busy, I’ll cycle slow etc etc. Even more ridiculous of me not to consider wearing a helmet when I’ve had 10 brain surgeries and rely on an implant to keep me alive.

A little health history.

Many of my readers may know a little about my medical history. As mentioned, I have an implant in my brain, a shunt, this helps control a condition I have called (acquired) Hydrocephalus. My first operation was at the age of thirteen. Since then I’ve had a further nine more surgeries on my head and even more admissions to hospital and years of recovery and/or living with pain. As much as I don’t like dwelling on these things, understanding the condition and being aware of my symptoms is essential.

Scars from Shunt surgery. Young Hannah and old Hannah.
A few pictures post surgery from the age of thirteen and later at twenty five.

This may seem a little gruesome but I also don’t want to hide my scars. The reason I’m showing you this to highlight the importance of protecting the brain and also to help explain why I carefully select products especially if they help protect my health and way of life. I will always have the possibility of needing more surgery but if I can help prevent my implant from being damaged then I’ll try it out. If I fall and hit my head where my shunt is, there’s a possibility that the shunt could break. The only option then is to have brain surgery. And having brain surgery isn’t nice, I’d like to keep my surgeries to a minimum. Hence looking for the right piece of bike safety gear.

My predicament was that wearing a traditional helmet actually hurts my head around the shunt. It’s actually very painful. The only option to make it bearable was to wear a larger helmet. Which in turn would defeat the object of wearing one as it wouldn’t protect me in a crash.

During my first few weeks of cycling around Copenhagen I saw a few people wearing something around their necks while they were on their bikes. I then I saw adverts for the Hövding on Facebook and I was gripped. Could there be a design out there that can protect my fragile little head?
After reading about it, having moments of skepticism (like I do with anything) I continued my research and found some fun crash test videos on youtube. They test when the Hövding is likely to ‘pop’ inflate. I suggest to everyone to watches these videos, both the Hövding youtube channel but also independent tests. It’s fascinating.

It wasn’t long after my research that I bought the Hövding 2. And after two years of wearing it I didn’t crash but it was there to protect me anyway. Safety first!

What is a Hövding helmet and how does it work?

Hövding is a Swedish invention. A bicycle helmet that is essentially an airbag. It is a device that you wear around your neck, switch on by a simple clip and then it’s activated. Once the device is triggered, from a fall or crash, the airbag is deployed in 0.1 seconds. According to tests Hövding protects from concussions up to eight times better than traditional helmets. A wise investment if you ask me.
There are some great companies continually testing various crash scenarios and feeding back information to Hövding on their findings. Like with any road safety equipment it’s important to keep testing it and that’s how they can continue to develop the product. The latest model Hövding 3 is pretty swish!

The Hövding 3

How can it recognise a fall?

Hövding registers the cyclist’s movements 200 times/sec. 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.” – Hövding

  • Reads your movements. In the event of an accident the airbag inflates in 0.1 sec
  • Superior protection. An airbag that protects up to 8x better compared to traditional bicycle helmets.
  • Bluetooth® Connection. The new Hövding app notifies selected contacts in the event of an accident (ICE), keeps you aware of battery life, cycling statistics and connect with cycling communities.
  • BOA, adjustable size. An adjustable wheel helps fit the Hövding perfectly to your neck size.
  • Longer battery life (rechargeable by USB), 2 hours of charging makes the battery last for 15 hours of active cycling.

They kindly reached out to me and asked if I wanted to test out the new model the 3. I took them up on their gifted offer and took it out for a spin…. and crashed. Unintentionally and quite embarrassing.

Yep I crashed

It feels quite embarrassing to admit but I crashed. Even more embarrassing, it was shortly after Hövding gifted me their latest model, the Hövding 3 before I’d even taken a picture!
It was me against Amager field. My beloved BikeID bicycle was getting a service so I rented a cheap city bike. On my ride home through Amager field ,on the gravelled path there was a corner with an extra large heap of gravel. It took me out. I lost control and the bike went from underneath me.

Thankfully the Hövding kicked in. Within a split second I heard the device around my neck ‘wake up’ and a ripping sound. All of a sudden I was on the floor with the inflated Hövding supporting my skull and my neck, a bloody knee and a bruised ego.

Design for living - Hövding, smart-tech safety for cyclists

Most importantly I landed on my shunt side. So I’m even more thankful that the inflatable helmet actually worked.

I’ve now got a replacement helmet and I’m back riding safe again in my favourite city, rain or shine.

Design for living - Hövding, smart-tech safety for cyclists
Design for living - Hövding, smart-tech safety for cyclists
Design for living - Hövding, smart-tech safety for cyclists
Design for living - Hövding, smart-tech safety for cyclists

A special piece of tech safety that honestly do wear all year round. Thank you so much Hövding for the upgrade and for protecting my fragile head.

H x

1 Comment

  • Reply Mandy Davies December 12, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    This looks amazing Hannah!!! Glad you’re keeping well xx

  • Leave a Reply