Two European start-ups promising to bring Inflatable technology to the urban commuter but which firm provides better value to consumers in 2024.
With the News in late 2023 that Airbag helmet Hovding has filed for bankruptcy many consumers may be looking for a Hovding alternative in 2024. Read on to see how Inflabi stacks up against the Hovding helmet
What is Inflabi?
German Engineering for your Head! From the finance hub of Germany comes the young start up Inflabi. Jonas & Max two friends, now co-founders noticed that most people (themselves included!) were more than happy to wear a helmet while mountain biking and similar activities but not when riding through their city. After conducting some initial research, they identified the two main reasons for this behaviour. The first being that most people perceived mountain biking to be a riskier activity than city cycling and secondly the inconvenience of carrying a helmet around the city made wearing one less attractive.
However, It only takes a short look at cities without good cycling infrastructure to realise that city cycling is still unsafe. The two friends then set out on their aim to provide an Inflatable helmet for city travel that can be inflated using a standard bicycle pump and can be deflated, folded up and stored in a bag when required. Thus providing a solution to all those helmets that were too bulky. It can be reduced in size by 85% when deflated.
The helmet, which is made from unique TPU material, offers incredible structural strength without relying on internal foam. Thanks to its integrated air chambers, impact forces are absorbed and protection is increased in the event of unforeseen accidents. This makes the helmet up to four times safer than conventional foam helmets. Combined with an outer abrasion-resistant layer, Inflabi also offers a reusable design that promises longevity for its users.
What is Hövding?
Hövding was launched in Sweden in November 2011. Similar to Inflabi two friends noticed a problem with traditional helmets that they could provide a soltion for. Their aim was to create a device for urban commuters that would protect the head without messing up your hair. From that idea grew three iterations of Hövding helmet that is sold across the globe. It works in a very similar way to an airbag and sits around your neck. It inflates once and works like a Airbag Hood rapidly if a person is in a crash.
Inflabi vs Hövding 2024: What is the difference between these two innovative firms?
First and foremost, using Inflabi's protected Air technology the helmet aims to protect the user in a similar way to a traditional helmet. Nevertheless the unique design made out of air cushions allows Inflabi to be up to four times safer then the EN1078 testing requirements. Making it not only a more compact city helmet but also a safer city helmet than most standard EPS foam helmets.
On the other hand Hövding is worn around the neck like a necklace. This design prevents the hair from getting messed up. Critically this means that the Hövding is not reusable and once the airbag inflates it must be then thrown away. This is regardless of if it occurs in an actual accident or as a malfunction, which has been prone to happen, often due to malfunctions know to the company. Inflabi offers a more sustainable approach to inflatable technology as it has been tested to be inflated thousands of times.
When it comes to European certification Inflabi will be fully EN1078 certified. Conversely, because Hövding inflates only when a collision is detected it is not possible to test the helmet for all elements of the EN1078 certification process, as such Hövding does not have EN1078 certification.
Should I buy a Hövding or an Inflabi in 2024?
Protecting your head is of vital importance, especially in cities where cycling infrastructure is not very developed, such as in London. And that is why consumers should have the information and knowledge about the best products on the market when it comes to protecting their noggin. Inflabi will be available in Q2 of 2024 to everyone who backed the project on Indiegogo and pre-ordered via our online shop. Hövding is no longer available via online retailers in 2024.
A note on Hövding.
In late 2023 Hovding filed for bankruptcy and is no longer trading as a company. Last year, it was reported that the current 3.0 model apparently had software problems, which caused the battery to discharge quickly and the helmet to switch itself off. However, Hövding continued to sell the helmets despite knowing this issue. At the beginning of November, the Swedish Consumer Protection Agency then imposed a sales ban on the manufacturer, followed by the same ban on dealers in mid-December. The accusation was that the Hövding was not safe enough if cyclists were hit directly by a bus. Hövding had always criticised the accusations and decisions of the consumer protection authority and took legal action against them. The company filed for insolvency.
This should be of concern to consumers who have bought or were thinking about purchasing a Hovding. As the company is no longer trading there is no possibility of customer support or safety guarantees. When it comes to something as valuable as your head you should always put your faith in a company and helmet you can trust.