Hit-Air Motorcycle Airbag Vests & Jackets – Are they worth it?

Hit-Air Airbag Vests - The Ultimate in Personal Safety Equipment for Riders 

Airbag vests and jackets for equestrian and bike riders are the latest in personal safety equipment.

It's still surprising how many riders haven't heard of them. They are not just a passing fad and have been around for a couple of decades. Each year, manufacturers are improving on their designs and speed of deployment. 

In this review, we look at the how this deployment system works, answer some of the most commonly asked questions, and look at the different models and styles available by Hit-Air. 


COVID Update

Due to shutdowns and shipping delays, the availability of Hit-Air Motorcycle jackets is sporadic. 

If these aren't available and you're after a tethered airbag jacket, then I'd recommend you look at the Helite jackets as an alternative. 

You can click here to read more on Helite vests and jackets.

Click the link below to see the answer to your most pressing question, or continue scrolling to read the entire article.  

Injury from Motorcycle Accidents 

The most recent report on the Global Status Report on Road Safety, records that 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.

Accidents with a rider being thrown and impacting with the ground or crashing into an obstacle such as a guardrail, are the main reasons for deaths and serious injuries.

More than 90% of these injuries are to the head, neck or chest. A helmet may protect the head but an impact to the helmet may also cause an injury to the neck.

Hit Air Airbag Vests and Jackets

Hit Air MLV-RC Motorcycle Reflective Black Vest

Hit Air airbag jacket and vest are specifically designed for motorcyclists. These offer protection to the neck. Protection is also provided for the front and the back of the body by a shock-buffering airbag system. This gives riders additional protection during accidents. 

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.

Hit-Air Jackets - A 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. Hit-Air are continuing their quest to develop innovative products to enhance riding safety.

Hit Air Airbag Vests for Police

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 is a demo at TwoWheelSunday in Calgary by Sandra Morrison and the Too Cool Motorcycle School. There's a bit of background noise, but otherwise this is a great demo video. It shows how the vest inflates at the 1.29 minute mark.

Click to play

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.

Hit Air Motorcycle Airbag Vest

What's the difference between Hit-Air and Helite airbag vests?

MotoAir and Helite are two top quality and popular manufacturers 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. Helite has options where the back plates can be removed, but these are static on some of their jackets. This makes them heavier, and hotter which may not suit some warmer climates.

Hit Air non-deployed vs Deployed body coverage

Hit Air non-deployed versus deployed body coverage

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.

Some riders want Hi-Viz 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.

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. The airbag 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.

Hit Air have 18 different vests and jacket designs.

Hit Air Equestrian Airbag Vests

Hit Air Equestrian Airbag Vest

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 Equestrian Vest Demo Video

Have a look at the demo video below where Hit Air UK met with International Event Rider Michael Ryan on a trip to Ballindenisk in Cork, Ireland. 

Mike had never worn an inflatable air jacket in competition before and was not sure of the benefits. After a brief demonstration he has changed his mind and he will wear a Hit Air Vest from now on.

Click to play

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)

[amazon fields="B00E40JKOO" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_alt="Hit-Air inflatable airbag vest Equestrian Model SV2 Red" tracking_id="hit-air-vest-20"]
[amazon fields="B00E40JKOO" value="button" tracking_id="hit-air-vest-20"]
[amazon fields="B00E40JM88" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_alt="Hit-Air inflatable airbag vest Equestrian Model SV2 Navy" tracking_id="hit-air-vest-20"]
[amazon fields="B00E40JM88" value="button" tracking_id="hit-air-vest-20"]
[amazon fields="B01M1H12TB" value="thumb" image_size="large" image_alt="Hit-Air inflatable airbag vest Equestrian Model SV2 Black" tracking_id="hit-air-vest-20"]
[amazon fields="B01M1H12TB" value="button" tracking_id="hit-air-vest-20"]
Hit Air LV Equestrian Light Weight Airbag Vest

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.

[amazon box='B01M1H12TB' tracking_id="hit-air-vest-20"]

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.

Hit Air Advantage Airbag Vest buckles option
[amazon box='B01JPLURE8' title='Hit Air LV Equestrian Light Weight Airbag Vest' description='The Advantage vest ranges in size from Small to 3XL.' tracking_id="hit-air-vest-20"]

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.

Hit-Air Airbag Vest MLV-C

Hit-Air Airbag Vest MLV-C

The MLV vest is black. It doesn't have any reflective properties. 

[amazon fields="B00DSLNBTA" value="button" tracking_id="hit-air-vest-20"]
Hit Air MLV-RC Motorcycle Reflective Black Vest

MLV-RC Reflective Black Vest

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.

[amazon fields="B01BUAROBG" value="button" tracking_id="hit-air-vest-20"]
Hit Air Airbag Vest MLV-P

Hit-Air Airbag Vest MLV-P

The MLV-P is super bright yellow with silver reflective bands. The MLV-P model vest also comes in black Lumidex, with reflective stripes. 

[amazon fields="B00D5SI2FO" value="button" tracking_id="hit-air-vest-20"]
[amazon box='B00DSLNBTA' title='Reflective Hit-Air "MLV-RC" Model Airbag Vest' description='When activated, the vest opens to a high neck roll in order to protect your neck and spine. A lower flap inflates for greater coccyx (tail bone) protection. Bladders inflate on the sides and front to protect your rib area and down your back to protect your spine.' tracking_id="hit-air-vest-20"]

Motorcycle Airbag Jackets

The Hit-Air airbag models below are worn as motorcycle jackets.

Hit Air Airbag Motorcycle Vest MV6

Hit Air Airbag Vest MV6

[amazon fields="B01MUWWHBS" value="button"]
Hit Air Airbag Jacket MX7 Black

Hit Air Airbag Jacket MX7 Black

[amazon fields="B00CC6X084" value="button"]

Click on the image below to see a larger version. 

Hit-Air Airbag Vests and Jackets size chart

The Verdict

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. 

Hit Air Airbag Motorcycle Vest MV6

Airbag vests and jackets act as a body air splint to keep the spine immobile – significantly reducing the risks of major spinal injury.

4/5 - (17 votes)

About the Author, Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is an avid motorbike rider and has been riding since his early teens. He enjoys spending most of his spare time combining riding his motorcycle with hiking and exploring new places.

Author Web Link

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  • I love motorcycles but of course, the problem with two-wheels (or even three) is the accident doesn’t have to be your fault to hurt. Airbag vests protect key areas that a helmet alone doesn’t — spine and neck. You hope never to have to need one, but like insurance, if the need arises you’ll be glad you have it. We’re early retirees enjoying the adventure. Like a lot of retirees, we dream of travel and motorcycling touring can be part of that dream. Currently, love the Indian Scout, but for two of us, a CanAm Spyder may be more realistic. That and a toy hauler RV for the basecamp.

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