Bike Accessories Spotlight: The Invisible Bicycle Helmet

We get it. Bike helmets are not a great look. Not for you, not for us, not even for Swedish super models.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth wearing. Riders, especially in urban settings, risk serious injuries on their bikes. Let’s face it: a concussion isn’t a super cool look either.

So, how do you take advantage of the safety aspects of these bike accessories without the helmet hair?  Just ask Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt, founders of the Swedish company Hövding.

Instead of griping about helmet bulkiness and discomfort, the two women decided to create something that revolutionizes bike accessories forever.

The Invisible Bicycle Helmet | Fredrik Gertten from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

The Invisible Bicycle Helmet

Alstin and Haupt hatched the idea in 2005, when they were studying Industrial Design at the University of Lund in Sweden. In that same year, the Swedish government implemented legislation requiring children under the age of 15 to wear helmets while cycling. As the two women worked on their master theses, they wondered if it was possible to develop a helmet that people wouldn’t mind wearing—whether dictated by law or not.

Self-Inflating Bike Helmet from Hovding

Then they figured it out: they should design an invisible bicycle helmet.

“Our professor sat down with us and said, ‘You’re going to be millionaires,’” Haupt recalled.

Though this helmet isn’t completely invisible, it’s incredibly innovative. Essentially, it’s a nylon airbag folded into a collar when not in use. Right before collision, the airbag opens into a hood that protects, not only the skull, but also the neck.

Invisible Bicycle Helmet Collar from Hovding

Hövding’s Story

It took Alstin and Haupt years to perfect their invention. With the help of a head trauma specialist, they studied thousands of cycling accidents as well as hundreds of normal cycling hours to draw patterns and incorporate what they learned into their design. Their design was so popular that it proved easier than they expected to raise ten million dollars to fund it. That’s not to say it was all smooth sailing for them, though.

“People wondered how girls could invent anything this technical,” said Alstin. Haupt added, “Once, a man wanted to tell a story about female managers. ‘Get a rooster, and there will be order!’” But they were adamant. “If people say it’s impossible… Then we have to prove them wrong.”

And that’s exactly what they did. Not only did they make something that could save hundreds of bikers’ lives around the globe, but they also built their company, Hövding, out of their invention. After collaborating with airbag manufacturer Alva Sweden, Hövding now has several globally patented solutions under its belt.

Alstin is confident about the future of bikes, and by extension, bike accessories. “So much is going on in urban biking,” she said. “Cars are so yesterday. Bikes are the future.”

Hövding’s airbag helmets have yet to reach American shores, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect basic bike safety.

At Retrospec, we offer high-quality, affordable bikes and bike accessories that keep city riders safe on the streets, without sacrificing style. Check out our selection of vibrant bike accessories, including wheelsets and pedals+straps.

Megan Scott
Megan Scott