When one is riding on a motorcycle, they should put a lot of emphasis on their safety. Certainly, the feeling of the open air at that high speed is what makes riding a fan. However, one should consider what could happen just in case they get into an accident.
You know that unlike a motor vehicle where you’re shielded by the glass and therefore the general body of the car, during a bike you’re the body so even a little accident could also be fatal. However, with a motorbike airbag vest, the safety of the rider is greatly improved.
However, nothing can outdo proper motorcycle training combined with proper practice and knowledge to stop the occurrence of accidents. One certain thing is that crashes will often occur and the only way to reduce the consequences of a crash is by improving the quality of the security gear and going through proper training.
One major innovation in motorcycle safety has been the motorcycle airbag system. An airbag system will never give offer you 100% protection when a crash happens but it can be a difference between minor injuries and fatal crashes.
The History of Motorcycle Airbag
Since a motorcycle does not have crump zones, cages, and seatbelts, an airbag system is a major achievement in the motorcycle industry. The use of airbags become increasingly common in automobiles in the mid-1970s.
A Hungarian Inventor by the name of Tamas Straub pioneered the development of motorcycle airbags and successfully invented the first one in the year 1976. However, his invention was unable to gain fame in the market and quickly faded. It was either due to bad marketing, insufficient capital, or poor execution of the design.
How do these Moto Airbags Work?
The idea behind the invention of these moto Airbags is pretty simple. The rider puts on the vest which is inflated using a Co2 cartridge. A cord then tethers the vest to the motorcycle and when the rider is through from the bikes, the tether gets activated and inflates the vest.
This provides the rider with an air cushion around the neck area, chest, and shoulders. These protected areas are the most vulnerable when one crashes on a motorcycle.
Around the time when the Hit-Air hit the market, there were several high-end gear manufacturers who were working with motorcycle racers of Grand Prix who started researching a new type of airbag system.
Since GP racing involves riders riding on high-powered machines and pushing them on their limits which gets them to insane speeds, the need of having an airbag on even becomes more significant.
Since the rider is normally in constant movements when on the bike, the system ought to be of free restriction and tethers. This shows that having the rider tied to the chord may not be that safe especially when the rider collides or gets tangled at a high speed. For that reason, an airbag should be completely wireless.
This kind of motor airbag took a couple of years to be developed and cost an ultimate fortune. Engineers were able to devise a cutting-edge vest that was able to use GPS, accelerometers advanced algorithms, gyroscopes, and microprocessors to effectively sense an accident and immediately deploy the airbag.
This system operates at a lightning speed and can check for induction of a crash at a frequency of 1000 times every second. In case the system detects a crash, it deploys an inflatable safety net in just fifteen milliseconds. This is quite quick as it takes about 400-milliseconds on average for a human eye to blink and this goes to show how quick this system is.
In the early 2000s, these systems were availed t the elite riders in high-level MotoGP competition. In no time, all MotoGP riders began wearing these airbag vests as the new way of riding safely.
They were very well built and they sure worked as expected. While they were being tested, many riders wore them in hundreds of races and they never failed whether it was in the moment they were required to be deployed or anything else. To be clear on this is that they never failed.
What are the different types of airbags available in the market?
Tethered and wireless airbag systems come in the form of vests which can be put on either under or over the top of a variety of jackets as well as be integrated within a race suit or a jacket. The most expensive moto airbags are usually worn under a compatible jacket. This simply means you should buy an airbag vest along with a suit or jacket.
A good example is the BMW moto airbag system. You will find out that these manufacturers do also sell race suits and jackets which also have built-in airbag systems that cannot be removed. The good thing with these is that they are a much more affordable option compared to the modular one.
BMW Motorrad Street Air jacket
To begin with, the tethered system emerged into the market after years of red tape development, and then the wireless airbag systems came to the market. While they are a little expensive, people believe that they are the best motorcycle gear that one can go for.
After a few years from its release, the system became a little affordable, and competitors also designed complementary products. Currently, there are more than a half dozen companies that are manufacturing these motorcycle airbag systems in a variety of sizes and shapes and also at varying prices.
The first two companies to release fully wireless systems were the Dainese and Alpinestars. Both of these companies have a variety of equipment that is compatible with the airbag vest. We must acknowledge that these are the reputably developed equipment that reflected their MSRP.
Currently, you will be able to find more affordable airbag systems from other large gear outfits such as the Merlin, Ixon, and the Spidi. All of them offer some incredible products at a very fair price.
Let’s have a look at the different types of wireless motor airbags.
The Alpinestars Tech-Air Race Vest
This is the foundation of the Alpinestars airbag system and the funny thing is that it’s usually sold separately from Astar’s suits and jackets. The price range is a reflection of the market demands and the unique thing about it is that it can be put on even without the airbag vest.
This vest is made from the latest technology and is similar to the systems worn by riders in the World SuperBike and MotoGP.
For those looking to buy a Tech-Air System, they should consider purchasing the race version as it allows you to alternate the firmware from track to street and vice versa. It’s worth noting that the street vest can only be used when on-street mode.
This airbag system comes with two charged canisters. When the system is on track mode and a crash is detected, a single charge is fired off which immediately deploys the airbag. It can then be expertly put back into the vest and the rider can proceed using this system with the other charge left on reserve.
When the system is in the on-street mode and a crash is detected, both the canisters are deployed immediately and simultaneously for even quicker inflation. When the rider gets into accidents like colliding with a vehicle, the vest plays a major factor in the rider’s safety. This airbag system is available at 1,149 US dollars.
Alpinestars Missile Race Suit for Tech-Air Race
This race suit is will cost you one grand. However, it comes in five different color schemes. It boasts premium race-grade 1.3 mm genuine original cow leather. It has a top-of-the-line construction, some external sliders, the Alpinestars GP-R protectors, and a race hump.
This suit is purely made for the road. It fits on you perfectly thus giving you the protection non of another can.
Alpinestars Yaguara Jacket For Tech Air Street
This suit is made by an Italian company which is internationally recognized for making sportswear. This jacket is compatible with the tech air system. It is designed in a way that protects the chest, spine, forearm, elbow, and shoulders. Additionally, it is equipped with a full weather-proof contraction and is made up of premium materials.
It has all kinds of fasteners and elements that enable you to adjust to give it a perfect fit. The only drawback associated with this jacket is that its battery runs out quickly and this will greatly impact those hardcore adventure riders.
Alpinestars usually sell this jacket in a variety of colors. They also offer you a matching pair of equally top-notch Yagura riding pants.
This airbag ensures that the rider is safe in case of a crush since it has an airbag system that is tether-triggered. The traditionally designed Helite Leather Airbag Jacket is known to have a SAS-TEC shoulder and elbow armor as well as a CE level 2 back protector.
It comes with a 1.2mm cowhide leather which offers good abrasion resistance and slide time. It also has a polyurethane liner and also a couple of ventilation ports which ensures a solid airflow. It is going by just over a grand which is quite fair going by what it offers in terms of safety.
Helite Turtle Airbag Vest
Helite Turtle 2 Airbag Vest
The vest system that the riders wear over the jacket gets inflated in just over 0.1 seconds. The second version of this turtle vest comes with a SAS-TEC protector which is easily removable and is CE-approved. This vest is designed in breathable and abrasion-resistant materials and it’s easily adjusted.
It comes in stealth black or high-visibility fluorescent yellow colors. It is available at just six hundred dollars which makes it affordable bearing in mind it offers you both neck and head protection.
Merlin Universal Airbag
This tether-style vest can be worn over any other jacket or suit. This is the of the most affordable airbag system available in the market. This Airbag goes for around three hundred dollars. The levels of protection this airbag offers are incredible.
The only drawback about this product is that refills of these canisters are quite cheap and are sold at around fifty dollars. The good thing though is that if everything goes well, you will not be required to refill it for an extended period of time.
Dainese Misano 2 D-Air Perforated Race Suit
For those who want to go for the very best, this product should be your number one choice. This product is produced by an Italian company known for its quality assurance. It features the Dainese’s D-Air system. It comprises the full-grain of cowhide leather and S1 bi-elastic fabric.
This suit comes with shoulder plates and aluminum elbow which go a long way into ensuring your safety is not compromised. It also comes with a Knee Grip insert Technology as well as an aerodynamic spoiler. It is available in a variety of colors and all of them represent the pinnacle of modern safety gear.
It comprises a hydration bladder-ready and comes with an LED interface for its more developed airbag system. This airbag has it all and will protect you in very many aspects.
Dainese Smart Jacket
This product is similar to the Merlin Universal Vest. It can be worn on any existing jacket. The Dianese system can be worn under or over your current jacket.
It comes in a variety of styles and is available in both women’s and men’s versions. It’s a fully wireless system that comprises of whatnot, accelerometers, and gyroscopes and it deploys in fifteen milliseconds.
This is a product that offers MotoGP-level of protection in one package. In addition to all this, the jacket also comes with built-in chest pads and also a spine protector. This is what makes this product a top protective gear that every rider should consider buying.
Spidi Air DPS Airbag Vest
This is another tether-controlled system that is designed to be worn over an existing suit or jacket. You will be comfortable wearing this airbag vest. This Airbag vest, however, does not come with a Co2 charge. This vest does have several compartments that will accommodate supplementary chest protection which can be bought separately.
The other type of motorcycle airbag system available today for riders is the built-in system. Statistics show that over seventy percent of serious motorcycle crashes that lead to fatalities are a result of frontal collisions.
That is why having an airbag built into the area around the dashboard area is important. This kind of system is effective on large tourers and baggers like the Harley-Davidson’s Road Glide and the Yamaha’s Star Venture.
When these airbags get deployed during an accident, the recalled airbag inflators can rupture as a result of excessive internal pressure. In case this happens, it may result in the shooting of metal fragments straight through the airbag cushion materials and result in a serious injury to the rider.
Can airbag vests go off accidentally?
One certain thing is that an airbag will not just go off abruptly whether one fails to untether yourself from the bike. When the rider is dismounting, they will experience a massive tug to signal them to disconnect the coiled wire. It takes a force of around thirty kilograms to release the key and initiate the airbag’s deployment.
Can a Jacket be reused after the airbag inflates?
These vests are designed in a way that they can be used more than one time. These products are of high quality. As long as the airbag has not been damaged as well as the supports and the fabric the vest can still be used since the safety mechanism is still intact. You can simply re-use it as soon as you refill the Co2 cartridge.
Most of these airbags are usually protected by a Kevlar sleeve thus cannot be damaged with ease. The moment the cartridge gets deployed, the airbag will require to be properly folded and a new cartridge is replaced. If the vest has been damaged, then it needs to be examined by a Hit-Air system.
What is the difference between a Helite airbag vest and a Hit-Air system?
Helite and MotoAir are two top-quality manufacturers of airbag jackets and vest safety equipment. There is an extra option of a Hit air vest that has additional plates on the front side as well as the sides of the jacket.
When it comes to the Helite vests, the armor plate is built in their jackets and is put as extra accessories. This attribute makes the Heite vests to be a little more expensive as compared to Hit-Air Vests.
The Helite vests do have an additional option where the backplates can be easily removed though they are static in some of their jackets. This makes them hotter and a little bit heavier and may not be ideal for people living in areas that experience hot weather conditions.
So what are the advantages of wearing a Motorcycle Airbag Vest?
Motorcycle accidents occur quite often and can result in serious bodily injuries. The injuries from a motorcycle crash are usually more severe than those resulting from car crashes. An airbag vest can help you avoid these serious injuries and expensive hospital bills.
A motorcycle vest acts as a body splint which ensures that your spine and neck are kept safe during a crash. His vest inflates right before the rider hits the ground thus ensuring that the neck, back, and chest are protected.
– Waterproof vest protects you from the rain:
A waterproof motorcycle airbag vest is great especially when one is riding in cold and rainy weather conditions. You can simply pair it up with a waterproof motorcycle jacket and be able to stay safe even in an event of a spill. It also greatly reduces fatigue which is caused by a constant chill.
– Extra Padding:
There are airbag vest companies that develop vests that come have some extra padding in the sides, chest, and back. These vests offer protection to the rider when a crash happens.
About the author: Michael Parrotte was the Vice President of AGV Helmets America, and a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, Sparx Helmets. In addition, he is the founder and owner of AGV Sports Group.