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Airbag vests and jackets for equestrian and bike riders are the latest in personal safety equipment. These aren't a passing fad, and each year their designs and speed of deployment are constantly being improved.
In this review, we look at the how the deployment system works, answer your most frequently asked questions, and show the different models and styles available by Hit-Air.
The Hit-Air MLV airbag vest is ideal for both motorcycle and equestrian riders. The vests are light weight and designed to be worn over a jacket. Full jacket models with or without sleeves are also available for bike riders.
Click the link below to see the answer to your most pressing question, or continue scrolling to read the entire article.
Hit-Air Jackets - A very brief history
Hit-Air first started developing personal airbags for motorbike riders in 1995. These have since been supplied to the Japanese, French and Spanish Motorcycle Police, and their use is continuing to spread to other motorcycle police around the world.
Today, Hit-Air make a large range of protective airbag vests and jackets for both motorbike riders and equestrian riders.
How do Airbag vests and jackets work?
The Hit-Air jacket or vest incorporates a high-speed airbag deployment system.
The system is controlled by a coiled wire lanyard. This is easily attached to the structure of the bike and linked to the vest by a quick release connection at the key box unit on the chest of the vest.
If the rider and motorcycle become separated during an accident, the airbag is activated. The inflated airbag provides impact protection for the back, neck and chest. It keeps the neck aligned to avoid the whiplash effect and significantly reduces the risks of major spinal injury.
A coiled wire pulls a 'key' out of a gas release system and inert gas inflates the air cushion. The airbag inflates in .18 milliseconds (0.18 sec).
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 will automatically open and starts to slowly release the gas. It generally takes between 3 to 5 minutes to deflate.
Can airbag vests go off accidentally?
The airbag won't accidentally deploy if you forget to untether yourself from the bike. Normally, as a rider is dismounting, they'll feel a strong tug to remind them to disconnect the coiled wire. It takes a force of around 66 pound (approximately 30 kg) to release the key and deploy the airbag.
The wired cord separates completely from the jacket - you will not be dragged by the bike or horse in the event of an accident.
The video below shows how the vest tether cord can be attached to any point of the bike. This is shown at 1.44 minute mark in the video.
Can a jacket be reused after the airbag inflates?
The vests are designed to be used more than once. These are a high quality product.
As long as there has been no damage to the air bags, the fabric or supports, and the safety mechanisms remain intact, you can reuse it as soon as you replace the CO2 cartridge.
The airbag itself is protected by a Kevlar sleeve and is unlikely to be damaged.
Once the cartridge has been deployed, the airbags will need to be folded properly and the new cartridge replaced. If there is any damage to the vest you can send it to Hit-Air to be examined.
Each new jacket comes with 1 x CO2 cartridge included.
Gas cartridges come in different sizes, so make sure you check which is the correct size for the jacket or vest before you buy a replacement.
What's the difference between Hit-Air and Helite airbag vests?
MotoAir and Helite are two other quality and popular manufacturer of airbag vests and jacket safety equipment.
Hit Air vests come with additional plates for the front, rear and sides of the jacket as optional extras. With the Helite vests the armor plates are built in to their jackets, and are not an extra accessory. This is one of the reasons Helite vests are more expensive than Hit Air vests. They are also heavier, and hotter which may not suit warmer climates.
The Hit Air lightweight vest covers less of your body area when it's not deployed but expands when deployed.
Which Hit-Air model should you choose?
Hit Air make vests and jackets designed for different activities and also for individual rider's preferences. There are motorbike models available for Sport, Touring and regular everyday commuting.
The first thing to ask yourself is whether you're looking for an airbag jacket to replace your regular jacket, or something to wear over the top of your current jacket. Hit Air have 18 different vests and jacket designs.
An airbag vest worn over a traditional jacket and will prevent the jacket from being stripped off or 'riding up' and exposing skin during an accident.
Some riders want Hi-Vis and reflective stripes, while others prefer something that looks just like a regular bikers jacket. Hit Air cover both of these options. There are waterproof or lightweight rain-proof models. Some styles have removable winter linings.
Optional extras include a separate additional waterproof lining, and chest and back protectors.
Hit Air Equestrian Airbag Vests
Hit Air Advantage, LV and MLV-SV2 are designed for Equestrian riders. As well as adult sizes, these come in children's sizes and in a greater range of colors.
The Equestrian airbag vest has sound insulation in the key box casing where the CO2 Cartridge is stored. This makes it very quiet when it inflates. Even if you forget that you're tethered to the horse as you dismount and it accidentally deploys, it's not loud enough to spook your horse.
Hit-Air SV2 Equestrian Vests
The SV2 Equestrian air vest model comes only in a size Small.
Measurements for Small are:
Height: 5'3" - 5'9" (160 cm - 175 cm)
Chest: 34" - 37" (86 cm - 96 cm)
Waist: 28" - 31" (72 cm - 80 cm)
Hit-Air LV Equestrian Vests
The Hit Air LV vests are a one size fits all. Their overall fit is adjusted through a waist strap.
- New high speed airbag deployment system
- Recommended for use over body protector.
- Uses 48cc cartridge (ONE INCLUDED)
- ONE SIZE. Adjustable From Small to XLarge (they have adjustable waist strap)
- Weight 870g (1.9 pounds)
The Hit Air Advantage vest is more versatile than the other Equestrian vests.
This one is designed with a wider range of equestrian events and disciplines in mind. It has the option to add extra padding in the chest, back and sides.
It comes with either buckles or zippers. The vest with buckles is recommended for English saddles. The zipper option is good for both English and Western style saddles.
Lightweight Motorcycle Airbag Vests
The vests below are lightweight vests for motorcycle riders. These are worn over a traditional motorcycle jacket. The MLV-C vest is also designed for Equestrian riders.
The MLV-RC - Reflective is made with Lumidex material. This black material is very bright and reflective at night. During the day, it blends with riding gear and doesn't stand out.
The MLV vest is black. It doesn't have any reflective properties.
The MLV-P is super bright yellow with silver reflective bands. The MLV-P model vest also comes in black Lumidex, with reflective stripes.
Motorcycle Airbag Jackets
The Hit-Air airbag models below are worn as motorcycle jackets.
Click on the image below to see a larger version.
Are these worth it? Absolutely, they are.
We hope these are never needed 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 full jacket or vest.
The Hit-Air jackets strike a good balance between safety, comfort, and looks. The vests are lightweight and offer the same great protection.
Airbag vests and jackets act as a body air splint to keep the spine immobile – significantly reducing the risks of major spinal injury.
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