If the phrase “University thesis project by two Swedish design students” doesn’t make you nervous, then click below for more. Unless this is today’s post, in which case, just keep reading.
It’s fact that every couple of weeks or so, a health-and-safety-think-tank somewhere sends an army of badly compensated people with clipboards to the streets to extract from members of the cycling public an explanation for their aversion to helmet use.
Experts reckon that only about half of all cyclists use a helmet with anything approaching regularity. Why is this?
Common replies to pollsters who ask riders the question “Why aren’t you wearing a helmet?” are-
“I don’t own one.”
“It was locked through my saddle rails with a bike chain in an inner tube, but I’d forgotten to superglue ball bearings into my seat post allen nut head.”
“They give me headaches.”
“None of your business.”
“They look terrible on my head.”
“And they give me helmet hair.”
Bizarrely enough in Sweden, of all places, where most hairstyles already resemble helmet hair (look what happens when you google “Swedish Hairstyles”) and can thus arguably only improve with covering, the last pair of answers gets offered up so frequently that two design students there have seen fit to devise a piece of protective neck-wear, which they hope will render them (the answers) completely redundant.
Say “God dag!” to the “Hövding”. Beautiful models, beautiful yellow accessories, beautiful un-helmet-y hair.
It’s a collar. Larger than anything you’d put on a dog, but still fairly inconspicuous if you’re wearing the right clothes. The reason it’s relatively large is that it has stuff inside it. A battery, a helium canister, a bag for the helium to go into upon deployment, and a gyroscopic sensor unit. You see where this is going?
The makers have carried out crash tests, placing a notional Hövding user in various critical situations. This video on youtube shows us three…
In the first, our stationary dummy gets rammed from behind by a car doing about twelve miles per hour. For sure, the Hövding “deploys”. But any male viewers who watch the replay closely will be more concerned about the saddle’s trajectory upon impact than anything happening between rider’s head and car’s windscreen. Ouch.
Coming in 2011- the Brooks “Nosebag”. A patented airbag-style device discreetly housed under the saddle top to create a cushion between man and machine should the unthinkable take place.
The second test shows what happens to a cyclist caught up in an “Accident While Giving Way”, which sounds a little like what must have happened to this gentleman in the Race Around Ireland, which we had a look at on Tuesday. Judging by the replays, in fairness, this might have been better described as “Accident While Riding Over Wet Leaves”.
One of the the assumptions at work here, of course, is that lightning won’t strike a second time, although having just been tossed by a car you might not be too keen on cycling anywhere. So assuming you are, before setting off again you’ll need to attend to the small matter of re-packing your Hövding collar and replacing that now-empty helium canister.
If you prefer to legislate for multiple accidents over the course of a single trip, then a regular helmet is probably the more convenient way to go. But then, of course, you run the risk of helmet hair. Your decision.
The third situation is described as “Object in Front Wheel”. This “set-up” has its roots in the grand tradition of physical comedy, and is more widely known as “Hey Let’s Hide Around the Corner with a Broom Handle and See What Happens”. Listen for the poorly stifled mirth at 3.33 and you’ll see that not even scientists on the clock are impervious to its charms.
And even though the essential movements are similar to “Object in Front Wheel”, Hövding’s makers are adamant that the collar will NOT deploy if you bend down too quickly to pick up your keys, say, or a ten pound note fluttering along the pavement. Still, those given to spontaneously cartwheeling for joy might be advised to search elsewhere for questionable head protection. Or to consider toning it down a little.
Should Brooks start making helmets again?