Riding a motorcycle can be risky, especially when sharing the road with motor vehicles. Without the protection a motor vehicle innately provides, a cyclist involved in motorcycle vs. car will be the more likely to experience a personal injury. Fortunately manufacturers of motorcycle safety gear continue to significantly contribute to the safety of cyclists, including modern lifesaving airbag vests and jackets. Both the vests and jackets afford the same protection, with the difference being the lighter weight of the vest.
Although airbag vests have been around since the mid 1990s, worn by motorcycle police and motorcycle racers, manufacturers have more recently turned their attention to the motorcycling community as a whole. Aware of how cumbersome some of the older airbag vests and jackets were, manufacturers now design them to be lighter, comfortable, fashionable and able to fit under or over regular jackets and clothing.
The benefits of motorcycle airbag vests and jackets
The cost of the motorcycle airbag vest or jacket is expensive, so do the benefits outweigh the cost? If you can afford one, our answer is definitely a “yes”. Here are some of the benefits:
Experts agree that investing in a motorcycle vest or motorcycle jacket is well worth it. As with any quality gear, these safety additions increase the odds of surviving an accident with less injury.
This type of protective gear will give you peace of mind knowing your family and friends are using it.
Motorcycle airbag vests and jackets act as a body splint to keep the spine and neck immobile during a fall, thus greatly reducing the risk of temporary or permanent spinal cord injuries. It also protects the chest.
You can wear the vest or jacket over (or under regular clothing, depending on the brand) and, as an added benefit, they will stop your jacket from “riding up”, thereby reducing the risk of exposing skin in an accident.
You can choose between Hi-Viz reflective stripes or the traditional biker jacket look.
Waterproof or lightweight rain-proof models are available. Some have removable winter linings. Other optional extras include a separate additional waterproof lining, and chest and back protectors.
Once deployed, the airbag vest or jacket can be reused by getting a new CO2 cartridge, as long as there is no damage to the gear.
How does a motorcycle airbag vest and airbag jacket work?
There are different features in airbag vests and jackets, depending on the brand, although all are fitted with a high-speed airbag deployment system.
Dainese and Alpinestar vests are electronically controlled, having an ECU analyzing several sensors per second and activating the charge that inflates the vest, once the system detects signs of a fall.
The other brands are simply triggered by a latch or a coiled lanyard that gets pulled, once the motorcyclist gets thrown off the motorcycle; that impact activates the CO2 charge that inflates the airbags.
The lanyard is attached to a point on the bike and linked to chest area of the vest by a quick release connection. Should the rider separate from the motorcycle in an accident, the airbag is immediately activated. The coiled lanyard pulls a “key” out of a gas release system, and then inert gas inflates the air cushion, all before the rider makes contact with the ground. The cord completely separates from the vest or jacked so that the biker will not be dragged.
The airbag can be activated from any angle. Once activated it begins to slowly deflated, due to a built-in release valve, taking approximately 3-5 minutes to complete deflate.
Local, state and federal government agencies have worked to raise awareness of drivers concerning sharing the road with motorcyclists. However, the 2018 World Health Organization’s Global status report on road safety reports that worldwide annual traffic fatalities reached 1.35 million, becoming the number one killer of people between ages 5 to 29 years old. Sadly, 28 percent of these fatalities constitute motorcyclists’ deaths.
Clearly more must be done to ensure the safety of all those sharing the road. Motorcycle airbag vests and jackets are an excellent addition to lifesaving technology.
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