The development of safety is constant and while it may seem that there is only so much work that can be done with motorcycle protective equipment, there is always something happening behind the scenes.
This is true of protection. Several years ago, Dainese began developing personal airbag products primarily to protect MotoGP riders. They proved so successful at helping to reduce injuries to riders during falls that the company began to develop them for road use too.
Fellow Italian brand Alpinestars followed suit and fairly quickly, there was a range of options available to riders to offer an alternative to ‘hard’ armour within jackets. Around the same time, Helite was developing inflatable vests for both motorcyclists and equestrian riders along slightly different lines but with the same goal – protecting riders.
When French firm In&motion joined the game, licensing its tech and hardware to clothing manufacturers, things really started to get interesting.
The best motorcycle airbag protection:
1. Ixon U03 Vest
The Ixon vest uses the In&motion airbag technology and was the first universal airbag vest to use
2. Helite Turtle 2 Airvest
One of, if not the, first airbag vests on the market, the Helite is designed to fit over the
3. Alpinestars Tech-Air Vest
Alpinestarsu2019 Tech-Air 5 system uses an airbag-enabled vest that can be worn under any jacket
4. Furygan Fury Airbag System
The Furygan Fury Air vest was designed originally to zip in to compatible jackets within the
5. Helite e-Turtle 2 Vest
Using essentially the same hardware (vest, airbag, Level-2 back protector) as the original Turtle
6. Dainese D-Air Smart Jacket
The Dainese vest has been designed to be worn by anyone under any jacket. It offers protection
7. Held Vest
The Held vest is another using the In&motion technology built into a vest that fits to Heldu2019s
8. The RST Range-RST Axiom
British brand RST has taken the decision to integrate airbag technology into a range of its
Check out our first look at a full airbag motorcycle suit and how it works:
What is a personal airbag?
An airbag garment comprises an inflatable bladder, a means of inflating it (typically a compressed gas cartridge), a way of monitoring what the rider is doing, and detecting when an accident is taking place. This can either be via a mechanical cable attached to the bike so that when the rider leaves the bike, the vest fires or an electronic system based on GPS positioning (and hence, speed), accelerometers, and gyroscopes to monitor the rider’s movement. That is compared with millions of miles-worth of data and the system knows when an accident is occurring and fires the airbag.
While airbag-equipped garments can be cumbersome, many riders who use them feel it is a small price to pay for the peace of mind and added protection they offer.
How do electronically-controlled personal airbags work?
For electronically-controlled airbags, there are two pay models for the data. The method used by Alpinestars and Dainese includes the ‘brain’ for the system and ongoing upgrades within the price of the garment. However, systems using In&motion technology effectively ‘lease’ the brain to the user though they can buy it outright if they like. There’s a monthly charge but you get regular updates and can switch it on and off if you don’t ride over winter, for example.
Can a personal airbag go under my jacket?
Most clothing manufacturers produce a zip-in or clip-in vest to add to their garments using airbag technology. However, some (like RST) build the airbag into the garment when it is produced while others (Ixon and Dainese) produce standalone universal vests that can be worn under any – appropriately sized – jackets. Some (Helite) are designed to go over the external jacket and hence, won’t compromise the fit of the preferred outer jacket while the company also produces garments with the airbag built in.