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September 29, 2006

Airbags for motorcyclists

drawing of motorcycle airbag

Technology has made driving much safer in the last couple of decades. Unless you drive a motorcycle that is. After the invention of modern motorcycle helmets, there really hasn't been much improvement. But now there is development in an area you wouldn't have thought possible...motorcycle airbags.

photo of Honda's motorcycle airbag

Earlier this month Honda announced they had figured out how to build a practical motorcycle airbag. The bag is triggered by sensors mounted on the bike's front fork, and it fires the airbag in the event of a head-on collision.

That's all well and good for a head-on, but what about spilling your bike when you hit a gravel patch while rounding a curve? A company called hit-air has you covered. They've created a motorcycle airbag jacket lined with inflatable pockets. Get tossed from your bike and airbags inflate around your neck, chest and back. The airbag jacket doesn't use lots of complicated electronics like automobile airbags and Honda's motorcycle bag. Instead, the rider clips a cable attached to the bike to his jacket once he's on the bike. If the rider falls off the bike, the cable yanks a trigger that fires compressed air cartridges to inflate the jacket. The company says there's little danger of the jacket firing off if a rider forgets to disconnect the jacket when dismounting...you have to pull the cable way harder than that. You can also re-user the jacket after a spill, just screw in some new compressed gas cartridges. Assuming of course you're not now terrified of getting back on your bike.

P.S. BTW, check out Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash for the future of protective clothing, as worn by Y.T., the skateboard-riding uber courier.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at September 29, 2006 08:35 PM


I think that an airbag mounted as shown in the picture is ridiculous as it would likely throw the rider off the bike when inflated and would certainly remove any degree of control the rider may have during and after a collision or accident. Also, I think the with helmets as shown, the airbag would be unnecessary and helmets without face protection would simply leave the rider open for severe facial injury. The jacket that is described in the article sounds like a good idea, and though I'm sure it has certain fail-safes and is not likely to inflate at an unexpected and totally random time, it does make for a very interesting visual.

Posted by: Ryan Cramer at July 23, 2007 03:43 PM