Risk on Two Wheels

Motorcycle owners need to understand the risk they take when they decide to take a ride. It is risky to travel on two wheels and share the roads as vehicles with 4 or more wheels at highway speeds. Safety is always a priority when it comes to motorcycle riding. However, in 2015, more than 5,000 people died in motorcycle accidents in the U.S., a 10% increase from 2014. When safety helmets aren’t enough to protect rider, innovation takes charge. The concept of using air-bags in motorcycles has been tried in the past, but recently there has been a growing interest of airbag vests that riders can wear. But how do airbag vest work? How long do they work for and are they expensive are all questions we will explore.

Photo provided by Littlegate Publishing
Photo provided by Littlegate Publishing

Motorcycle Airbag Vests

According to Car and Bike, the first patent for a motorbike airbag jacket was in Hungry in 1976. The first example of an inflating motorcycle airbag was invented in 1995 in Japan. It wasn’t showcased until 1998 as the Hit Air vest.

In the world of motorcycle racing, Moto GP, they are trying to promote the use of these vests by offering them to star racers like Alexander Rossi and Guy Martin. They, along with other riders are now wearing air suits when they race. That is why it hasn’t taken long for the air suits to prove their worth. Motorcycle racer Marc Marquez crashed during a practice run while traveling at 209.9 mph! He was cleared by medics soon after and Honda, the team Marquez rides for, believed that he survived uninjured thanks to the air-suit.

How Does an Airbag Vest Work?

The basic airbag vest is meant to be a vest that a rider can slip-over their riding jacket. For an entry level vests, it operates by a lanyard or cable that is attached to the bike. The other end is clipped to the rider’s vest before setting off. In the event that the rider falls off the lanyard, or cable, pulls the mechanism that releases the pin. That punctures the metal cap of a CO2 cylinder causing the jacket to inflate in a quarter of a second.

Inside the vest’s fabric is a tube-like structure that fills with the CO2 and helps cushion the rider’s neck, back, chest, and base of the spine. When inflated the gas makes the vest feel almost rock hard while still allowing space for conventional body-armor. The CO2 cylinder requires 60 lb. of force to go off so there is no risk of deployment if the rider hopes off the bike without unhooking the cable.

Do Airbag Vests & Suits Work?

According to experts, yes. Crash test studies done by Honda showed that the airbag system reduced forward momentum by 62%, which mean that head trauma fell by 83%! These airbag systems will not completely protect a rider from injury, but it can be the difference between a minor injuries and a fatal motorcycle crash.

Car and Bike tested a Hit-Air vest in real world conditions over a 2 year period. Using it whenever they went riding, no matter the weather or time of day. The vest slide right over the rider’s normal gear and did not add weight. In their experience, there was never a moment of accidental deployment in the case that the rider got off the bike with the cable/lanyard still attached to the bike.

There was an unintentionally crash test when one of the riders locked the front brake on his motorcycle on a wet road. The vest deployed before he even realized it and the results were no injuries, not even a bruise. A replacement C02 cylinder and they were able to reuse the jacket vest.

Where to Buy One

Is there anything you can’t find on amazon? They offer a large section of air-bag vests that range in price from $390 to over a $1,000 depending on which model you get. From entire model vests to full second generation suits. Experts say that the cost of airbag vests and gear should go down in price over time when it becomes more mainstream.

Safety First

With motorcycle accident statistics going up it is important for riders to be aware that there is technology available to keep them safe. According to Consumer Reports, only 19 states require all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet by law. Texas is not one of them. In Texas, you are required to wear a helmet if you are between the ages of 18-21, or have not taken an advanced safety course in motorcycle riding. Males ages 20-29 account for the majority of motorcycle deaths in Texas.

Motorists are reminded to look twice for motorcyclists while driving. Knowing a San Antonio personal injury attorney you know will be there for you is good peace of mind in preparation for the “what if’s” in life. That’s why Davis Law Firm is there 24/7 for anyone who’s been injured in an accident. If you need legal help contact us today.