Motorcycle Airbag Protection. Which are the best in 2020 – Tech or cable?

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Last Updated on November 22, 2020

Personal Airbag Vests and Jackets - Making an impact, in a good way

Airbag vests have been used by motorcycle police around the world since the mid 1990's. They have been in continual development for racers on the MotoGP circuits. Manufacturers have now switched their attention to us everyday street riders. 

In this article, we look at how the different personal airbag systems work, and answer the most common questions riders have.

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Articles - Traveling by motorbike

Click on the link below to take you to the answer of your most pressing question, or keep scroll to read the entire article.

Is it worth getting a motorcycle airbag vest?

Are these worth it? Absolutely, they are. My advice to any new and older experienced riders, is to invest heavily in quality gear and these vests and jackets make the odds better on surviving an accident with less injuries. 

What the statistics are saying

The World Health Organisations latest report on the Global Status on Road Safety, highlights that the number of annual road traffic deaths worldwide reached 1.35 million.

Road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of people aged between 5 to 29 years old. 28 percent of these deaths are of motorcyclists. 

If you are a safety conscious rider, or have kids or a partner who regularly rides, then airbag vests are a personal protection item that's worth the investment.

You only need to come off the one time, to be glad you are wearing either a full airbag jacket or vest.

How do Tethered Airbags work?

Motorbike Personal Airbag Vests and Jackets

The vests and jackets available today strike a nice balance between safety, comfort, and looking good.

Airbag vests are lighter than jackets, but still offer the same amount of protection. They easily fit over your normal jacket or clothes.

These are all fitted with a high-speed airbag deployment system. This is controlled by a coiled wire lanyard. The lanyard is attached to a point on the bike and linked to the chest area of the vest by a quick release connection.

The airbag is activated as soon as the rider and motorcycle become separated during an accident. The coiled wire pulls a 'key' out of a gas release system and inert gas inflates the air cushion.

Helite, Hit-Air and Moto Air use this system in their vests, jackets and riding suits.

What's protected with Tethered systems?

These airbag vests and jackets act as a body splint to keep the spine and neck immobile during a fall. This will significantly reduce the risk of spinal cord injury. 

The airbag inflates before the rider hits the ground and provides impact protection for the back, neck and chest. The neck is kept aligned to avoid whiplash and significantly reduces the risks of major spinal injury. 

The key box itself acts as a chest protector and can't injure the rider as the airbag is directly beneath it. Due to the design of the connector, the airbag can be activated from any angle or position. 

After a few seconds, a release valve starts to slowly release the gas. Vests and jackets generally take between 3 to 5 minutes to deflate. 

Helite Adventure Airbag Jacket in Black

How do vests relying on Technology work?

Other well known brands such as Dainese, Alphinestars, Klim and Ixon, use a deployment system where the rider is not tethered to the bike. 

Technology and sensors are used to monitor the position of a rider, and these will sense if a rider is to come off the bike. These can also detect when a rider is about to be impacted from behind while stationery. 

Klim and Ixon have a vest that is worn under a riders jacket or vest. Dainese and AlpineStars have jackets, vests and full riding suits. 

Tethered Vests & Jackets - What's the difference? 

In terms of protection, there's no difference between the vest and the jacket. The shape of the airbag is the same on the vest as the jacket. They provide equal coverage.

The first thing to ask yourself is whether you're looking for an airbag jacket to replace your regular gear, or something to wear over the top of your current jacket.

An airbag vest worn over the top of a traditional jacket will stop your jacket from 'riding up' or being stripped off, exposing skin during an accident.

Some riders want to be easily seen in traffic so go for the Hi-Viz and reflective stripes, while others prefer something that looks just like a regular bikers jacket. There are airbag vests that cover all the options. 

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. 

Helite Adventure Airbag Jacket

Answers to your most FAQ's about Tethered Airbag Systems

Will I be dragged along during a fall?

The wired cord separates completely from the jacket - you will not be dragged with a bike or horse in the event of an accident.

Will it go off accidentally if I forget to unclip myself ?

The airbag won't go off accidentally if you forget to unclip yourself as you're getting off. If you do forget to untether, you'll feel a reasonably strong tug to remind you to disconnect the coiled wire. It takes a reasonably strong force of around 66 pound (approximately 30 kg) to release the key and deploy the airbag.

Can the vest/jacket be reused after being deployed?

These are designed to be used more than once if required. As long as there's no damage to the air bags, the fabric or supports, and the safety mechanism remains intact, you can start to use it again as soon as you replace the CO2 cartridge.

How does the Reflective Black vest material work?

Some vests are made with reflective Lumidex material. This is black material that is very bright and reflective at night. During the day, it blends with normal riding gear and just looks black so it doesn't stand out.

Can my pillion rider also wear one?

These are safe for passengers to wear. Just make sure there is minimal slack between the tether point and the jacket.

Can I wear a raincoat or backpack?

You can wear a loose fitting rain protection. The same goes for a backpack - It will be ok as long as it's not tight and has room for the airbag to expand into. 

Video - Man says wearing an Airbag Vest saved his life

Which are the best airbag jackets currently available?

Best Tethered Motorcycle Airbags

The best tethered airbag vests and jackets currently available are the Helite and the Hit Air range. There are differences between these, so it depends on what you're looking for personally as to which is best for you. 

Both of these manufacturers make vests and jackets in different materials, including leather, and hi-viz. 

#1 - Helite - Built in Armor

Helite Leather Jacket in Black

Helite Airbag vests and jackets are high end, high quality products.

These come in a large range to cover different activities, and riders preferences.  

Many of these come with built in armor making them heavier and warmer. This has both up sides, and downsides, depending on where you live. 

Many have a removable back protector. This protects both the rider and also the air channels within the jacket in the event of an accident. 

Helite Leather Jacket - Black - Front
Click the button below to see the full range of Helite jackets and vests at Revzilla or click on the image below to read our post for more information.

Click here to read more info on Helite Jackets.

#2 - Hit-Air - A good all rounder

Hit Air make vests and jackets designed for different activities and also for each individual rider's preferences. There are motorbike models available for Sport, Touring and regular everyday city commuting. 

Some riders want Hi-Viz and reflective stripes, while others prefer something that looks just like a regular bikers jacket. Hit Air covers both of these options.

Hit Air Airbag Motorcycle Vest MV6
Hit Air Airbag Vest MLV-P

The things we liked:

  • Additional plates are available as optional extras
  • Covers less body area when not deployed in comparison to others
  • A large range of jackets and vests are available to suit different activities

#3 - Moto-Air - Airbag One

MotoAir L-300 Motorcycle Airbag Leather Jacket
MotoAir Air Bag Vest Hi-Viz
MotoAir R-600 Motorcycle Airbag Jacket

MotoAir have a range of jackets and vests, although these are hard to source at the moment. 

The Airbag One Motorcycle Vest is affordable protection for a range of riders. Weighing only 3 pounds (1.3 kilos) it's lightweight and offers good protection for the neck, chest, spine, and obliques, in any activity, any weather, all year round.

Read more about the range and check sizing charts for MotoAir vests and jackets here.

Best Smart Technology Airbag Vests

#1 - Klim Ai-1 Smart Airbag Protection

Klim Ai-1 Smart Technology for Motorcycle Rider Protection

Klim have partnered with In&Motion to develop their airbag vest that is worn under a regular riding jacket.

This vest requires an on-going subscription but being as little as $12 per month, I think this is worth it for the ongoing support, algorithm updates and lifetime warranty that this provides.

Click here to read more about the Klim Smart Protection System.

Last Updated on November 22, 2020

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  • What a load of rubbish
    U never mentioned all the other brands that do much better and more intelligent systems
    RST
    Ixon
    DAINESE
    Astars
    Held
    Furygan
    Etc

    • Hi Darren, I think you are being a little harsh on us. We do try to give our readers the best and latest info we possibly can.

      Our site is relatively new and to date, most of our visitors have been from the US. For this reason, we have been reviewing what is readily available to US residents. More recently we are seeing a shift in our visitors to include many from the UK and EU so we are trying to source information that covers brands that are available to all of our audience.

      To respond to all of your questions:

      RST appears to be a UK company only and not available in the US and other countries?

      Ixon UK uses the same technology from In&Motion in their vests as Klim. Ixon is available in the UK, and Klim is the US alternative. We have a review of the In&Motion technology and will be including the Ixon brand very soon.

      We’re in the process of looking for a US and EU alternative to Furygan as they appear to be only available in the UK?

      Dainese is offering 60% off the current price. Of course, the COVID-19 problem and any Italian product will not be reflected correctly at this point in time I am sure. Readers may wish to check them out at their web site. I have mentioned them many times in the past including in the comments below.

      We hope to include a review of Alpinestars and their technology in the near future.

      Held is a German brand that trust Helite for the development and manufacturing of their motorcycle rider airbags. In other words, these are based on Helite products. The last born of this collaboration between Helite and Held is the Touring Jacket Carese. Helite’s know-how is used for developing airbag compatible jackets and manufacturing the airbag part of the Touring airbag jacket. You can read all about Helite on our site here: https://hikesandmotorbikes.com/helite-airbag-vests/

      The current economic climate is making it difficult for everyone including us, as we only have limited resources but we are continually updating all of our posts on all products to reflect availability wherever possible.

      Nate.

  • Isn’t it safe to say that you are not going to hit road furniture on a race track so, their data is irrelevant, making the cost of their equipment laughable?
    Dainese wants you to send off your vest, once activated, for it to have the airbag system fully replaced, at a cost, wait for it…………£250.
    Whilst you either find another form of transport, buy another as a spare, or don’t ride again until it has been returned.
    I have a spinal cord injury C4-6 incomplete and riding in a Helite, is going to give me a bit more reassurance, should another hit-and-run driver takes me out.
    The only Dainese garment that takes into account my spinal cord injury is their gloves.
    I ride in Rukka gear, Schuberth helmet, and Daytona boots(one size larger than the other).
    If you are aware of Syringomyelia and its effects, you will understand why conventional gear doesn’t fit and why motorcycle clothing manufacturers have been reluctant to design me gear that fits.
    With the Helite, I have a garment that fits my criteria perfectly. It takes six weeks to get my wheelchair repaired (He’s only disabled and going nowhere so, he can wait!)

    • Thanks for the feedback.

      We are expanding these reviews and we hope to include Alpinestars in the near future.
      The current economic climate because of the Pandemic, makes it difficult for us at the moment.

      They certainly have some very interesting gear.

      Here is our Alpinestars link to amazon: https://amzn.to/3ecqhpz

      Nate.

  • I am quite surprised by the lack of information in this article: since 2018, electronical airbag are much more accessible, efficient and sold than the “old fashionned” systems you are mentionning. By instance: Inemotion or Dainese.

    • Hi Stingray,

      Please have a look at this comment I made recently on June 30, 2019. Yes, we have been checking for the best available products and value for our readers.

      https://hikesandmotorbikes.com/best-motorcycle-airbag-vest-jacket-reviews/#comments/64

      It looks like things have changed dramatically since I answered that comment, as it appears that the price has come down dramatically from the $4600USD it was back then, however, Dainese is offering 60% off the current price. The COVID-19 problem and any Italian product will not be reflected correctly at this point in time I am sure. Readers may wish to check them out.

      We’re continually adding to our reviews, and will be including the technology used by Alphinestars and Dainese soon, as well as Klim and Ixon who use In&Emotion technology. Bare with us.

      Cheers,
      Nate

    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks for the heads up. Yes, checked them out. An Italian company with what appears to be a very nice jacket. However, the price goes all the way up to 4600USD for the top of the range from what I could see. They state “All the safety of the Dainese airbag system used in MotoGP™ and developed in more than 25 years of research on the road and track is now encapsulated in a convenient vest that fits any road situation”. OK sounds good but at a price of course. Uses Gyros, and sensors to trigger the device. They don’t have them on Amazon yet, and after an extensive search, I find there are currently no other affiliates. We will keep an eye on them for the future.

      Nate

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