Helite Range of Airbag Vests & Jackets
Airbag vests and jackets for bike riders, cyclists and equestrians are becoming a more commonly used piece of personal safety equipment.
It still surprises how many riders haven't heard of them, even though these have been in use for at least 2 decades. Fortunately, the word is spreading, and these are becoming an essential bit of gear for riders of all ages.
In this review, I'll explain the how the deployment system works, answer some of the most commonly asked questions, and look at the different Helite models and styles available.
Each year, manufacturers across the board are improving on their designs and speed of deployment.
A Quick Reality Check - Motorcycle Accidents Statistics
Sadly, the most recent Global Status Report on Road Safety, reports that road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of people aged between 5 to 29 years old. Of these, 28 percent of deaths are of motorcyclists.
Accidents with a rider impacting with the ground or crashing into an obstacle such as a guardrail, are the main reasons for serious injuries or deaths.
More than 90% of these accidents cause injuries are to the head, neck or chest. A helmet may give some protection the head but an impact to the helmet can also cause an injury to the neck.
The Advantage of Helite Vests & Jackets
Helite airbag jackets and vests offer protection to the neck, and both the front and the back of the body by a shock-buffering airbag system.
This gives protection right across the torso area during an accident.
Helite jackets and vests have a removable back protector plate giving added protection to this area, as well as to the air channels inside the vest.
These are not just for motorbike riders though. Helite also make vests and jackets designed for cyclists and equestrian riders.
How do Helite Airbag Jackets Work?
Helite use a high-speed airbag mechanical deployment system to inflate their airbags in around 0.1 milliseconds.
The system is controlled by a quick-release tether between the chest area of the vest and the frame-rail of the motorbike. If the rider becomes separated from the motorcycle during an accident, the trigger is pulled and the airbag is activated.
The inflated airbag creates a rigid neck brace as well as firm support to the spine, back, chest, ribs and kidneys. It keeps the neck aligned to avoid the whiplash effect and significantly reduces the risks of a major spinal injury.
After a few seconds, a release valve will open and the air channels will start to slowly release the gas. It takes between 5 to 7 minutes to complete release all of the gas.
Can airbag vests go off accidentally?
Helite airbags are mechanical to avoid unexpected activation. Accidental deployments are extremely rare.
Don't worry, the airbag won't accidentally activate if you forget to untether yourself from the bike. If you do forget to disconnect the tether as you're dismounting, you'll feel a strong tug to remind you to disconnect.
It takes a force of around 66 pound (approximately 30 kg) to release the key and activate the airbag.
Will you be dragged behind the bike?
This is a common question. The tether cord is designed to separate from the jacket in an accident.
You wont be dragged behind the motorbike in the event of an accident.
Which is better - a Vest or a Jacket?
Helite make vests and jackets that are designed for different riding styles, activities and personal preferences.
Helite Turtle Vests
The vest is worn over a traditional jacket and will prevent your jacket from being stripped off or 'riding up' and exposing your skin during an accident.
Vests come in either Hi-Viz or black, and in short and long versions.
The jackets sized SM - XL use a 60cc CO2 cartridge, and the vests sized LG-L and XL-L use a 100cc CO2 Cartridge. The tether and 1 x CO2 Cartridge are included when you buy the vest.
There is a SAS-TEC 1621-2 certified back protector inside the vest which is removable. The back protector will help prevent injury to the back, but also helps to protect the air channels that run underneath it from abrasion. The back protector is the reason these vests are given the name 'Turtle'.
The vests are good for 6 x inflation before they will need to be returned to Helite to be checked for abrasion damage.
What's the Difference between the original Turtle Vest and the Turtle 2 Vest?
In 2019 Helite introduced the Turtle 2 Airbag Vest. The original Turtle is still available but will eventually be replaced by the Turtle 2.
The Turtle 2 has new graphics and a tailored and more compact profile. The CO2 canister is hidden behind a flap whereas this is exposed on the original Turtle vest. The Turtle 2 has a small pocket tucked behind the opposing flat plus the neckline is line with neoprine making it more comfortable.
The Turtle 2 vest also comes in Hi-Viz orange, as well as black and Hi-Viz Yellow.
Helite jackets look just like a regular stylish riding jacket. These are designed for street riders, touring, adventure riding, and racers.
Helite Leather Airbag Jacket
This jacket is designed for street riders who want something that offers the same support and protection of an airbag vest, but looks exactly like a standard leather riding jacket.
The 1.2 mm cow-hide leather is supple and has a classic style cut. This comes with FreeAir mesh vents as well as a removable 100% polyester thermal liner. It has wrist fasterners and a comfortable, soft open collar.
This jacket comes with Knox elbow and shoulder armor, and a removable SAS-TEC CE Level 2 back protector.
Helite Free Air Jacket
The Helite Free Air jackets come in black with retro-reflective piping at front, back and arms, or as a hi-viz yellow option.
It made with abrasion-resistant 600D Cordura exterior and mesh panels that help with airflow. It has multiple pockets, and zippered cuffs with strap adjustments.
The jacket is equipped with CE approved elbow and shoulder protectors, and a static SAS-TEC CE 2 back protector.
It also has a removable waterproof rain liner. The rain liner is fleece-lined with no connecting points to the jacket.
Helite Adventure Airbag Jacket
Adventure Airbag Jackets are designed to give protection from the elements in dry and wet weather when riding in both hot and cold temperatures, as well as from injury.
This jacket is made with waterproof, windproof, and a breathable membrane. It has wide retro-reflective piping at front, back and arms.
It has Knox CE approved elbow and shoulder armor, and a SAS-TEC CE 2 back protector.
The jacket comes with a removable thermal poly inner liner, and a comfortable neoprene neck with adjustable slider. It has two lower waterproof pockets, and multiple interior and exerior pockets.
There are two large side vents on both the front and back, and two vents up the sleeve starting near the cuff. Strap adjustments will tighten the jacket around the waist, bicep and forearms. There are also snap adjustments on the arms.
As with all Helite airbag jackets, the tether and CO2 cartridge are included. For the Adventure Jacket, the SM to 4XL size jackets use the 60cc CO2 cartridge, and the larger 5XL-6XL jackets use a 100cc CO2 cartridge.
Breakdown and more information on Helite Airbag Jackets
Helite Sizing - Things to Know
Turtle Vests - vests are made to be long enough to sit on, but you don't want the rib protection so low that it is covering below the waist. The other fit to avoid is wearing the vest too small so it rides up high under the arms. The vest should have a loose fit and be long enough to cover the hip and pelvic areas in the event of an accident.
Helite Leather Jacket runs small. It's recommended by Revzilla that you order one size larger than the size chart suggests.
Helite Free-Air Jacket runs small. Revzilla recommend ordering 2 sizes larger than your normal jacket size.
Adventure/Touring Jacket runs small, and Revzilla recommend you order one size larger than the Helite size chart suggests.
I hope you never need to use this, but sometimes accidents are completely unavoidable. You only need to come off your bike once and you'll be glad you invested in either the Helite jacket or vest.
Helite jackets strike a good balance between safety, comfort, and looks. Their vests are lightweight and offer the same great protection.
Last Updated on August 12, 2020