The bike helmet industry has come under strong attack from an unusual source: a fellow manufacturer. Swedish company Hövding has made aggressive claims that traditional lids don't provide riders with enough safety.
Hövding, which makes a sophisticated airbag-style helmet that inflates on impact, has released a video this morning claiming that the safety standard used to test helmets is flawed because it contains too much tolerance in its minimum safety levels. Furthermore, Hövding claims its system can reduce fatalities from head injuries in 25km/h impacts with cars to almost zero.
Video: Hövding have attacked the minimum standards tradtional helmets are subjected to in Europe
The video is provocatively titled: Cycle Helmet Safety – what the industry doesn't want you to know."
Hövding co-founder, Anna Hautt, told BikeRadar: "We have to tell consumers the truth. For us it’s a big step being a little bit of David towards Goliath and we've been on the market for more than two years and we haven't focused on comparing Hövding with traditional helmets because we thought maybe there's room for everyone.
"But we've also realised we aren't telling people about the big advantages of our product, and people are wondering why we're not doing it when we tell them the differences."
The current EU standard adult bike helmets must pass is CEN 1078, published in 1997, where a helmet is dropped at 5.4m/s – about 20km/h. If the helmet dissipates the impact energy to less than 250 G of force, the helmet passes that particular criterion. Hövding says its system was three times more effective than the next best competitor, scoring just 65 G of accelerative force.
Hövding says an acceleration force of 250 G is too high and in real world conditions, riders are aren't being kept safe enough.
Hautt added: "It's a very old value and of course when new products arrive on the market that are much better it needs to be taken into account when designing new standards and certification for the consumer."
The final segment of the video looks at something called the Abbreviated Injury Scale which assesses the degree of severity of injuries in a road accident, ranging from AIS-0 to AIS-Fatal. In a startling claim, Hövding said the likelihood of suffering a severe injury (AIS-4) at 25km/h in a regular helmet was around 90 percent, whereas with its system it dropped to two percent. And for fatalities, this dropped to almost nought at the same speed for the Hövding airbag.
BikeRadar tried to contact the Bicycle Helmet Intiative for comment and will request comment from major helmet manufacturers today.
Hovding’s €300 helmet started selling at four London bike shops on Monday: Cloud 9, Look Mum No Hands Kennedy City Cycles and Tokyo Bike