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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Hit-Air Airbag Vest MLV-C
The MLV vest is black. It doesn't have any reflective properties.
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.
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.
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.