If the key to getting urban cyclists to wear a helmet is to ultimately design a bike helmet that doesn't look like one, these two European companies might be on the right track. Rockwell Headgear and Hövding have each taken a different approach to make wearing a helmet while riding around the city look pretty darn cool.
Finally available for order, the Hövding inflatable helmet is a collar with a built-in airbag system. A helium gas inflator rests at the back of your neck and the airbag system is activated by completely closing the neck zip and securing the zip tag to the on/off switch on the front of the collar.
Designed like a hood, the Hövding airbag helmet protects nearly all of your head, while not obstructing your vision. Automatically inflating upon impact much like a car airbag, the inflatable helmet provides extremely soft and gentle shock absorption. The pressure remains constant for several seconds, making it able to withstand multiple head impacts during the same accident. After that, the airbag slowly starts to deflate.
The Hövding airbag helmet retails for €399 and can be purchased from the company website. You can choose from a variety of waterproof fabric shells that not only protect the inner collar but can be changed daily to match your outfit or mood. Keep in mind that if you are involved in an accident and the airbag deploys, you will have to purchase a whole new helmet.
Rockwell Headgear completely forgoes the use of traditional EPS foam in favor of VACO12 impact absorption cushions as a liner for their modular bike helmets. Upon impact, these cylindrical cushions divert the energy in every direction, lessening the force applied to your head. The liner adapts to your head shape, ensuring a perfect fit with no pressure points.
Separate softshell and flexible outer shell layers on top of the liner can be switched out according to color preference. The entire Rockwell bike helmet can be further covered by a variety of designer caps to disguise the helmet form beneath.
The Rockwell bike helmet retails for €139 and should be available for purchase soon from the company website.