How Airbags Protect You In A Motorcycle Crash

Gear -


How Airbags Protect You In A Motorcycle Crash

Great, but I’ve seen systems on-sale now for street riders!

Without exception, all of those systems — HitAir, RS Taichi, Spidi, et al — rely on a lanyard connecting the CO2 canister to the bike. Much like the safety lanyard on a JetSki, you fall off and it pulls the cord cutting the power. Trouble is, while an airbag is going to provide excellent impact protection in a crash, the lanyard firing method means it might not work in all accidents and can also lead to serious day-to-day inconvenience.

Many street accidents occur without the rider separating from the bike — in which cases the lanyard airbags will not fire. The most common car-on-bike crash is when a car turns left in front of the rider. Hit a car? A lanyard airbag won’t fire. Get sideswiped by someone running a red light? A lanyard airbag won’t fire. Lowside and trap your leg under the bike so you slide with it (like I did last year)? A lanyard airbag won’t fire. Forget to detach it before climbing off it at a gas station? A lanyard airbag might fire. See the trouble there?

Right, so I ride on the street and want some additional protection. How do I get it?

Well, airbag innovators Dainese and Alpinestars are working on just that. Both companies have street airbags in development (an early D-Air Street system is already on-sale in Europe) that will massively increase rider protection in those most-common motorcycle accident scenarios described above.

Dainese says D-Air Street will give wearers a 75% reduction in impact forces to the back over a CE2 back protector and an 89% reduction over a CE chest protector. Dainese splits the components of D-Air Street between rider (or pillion) and bike, mounting accelerometers on the furthest-forward part of the bike — the lower forks — that can detect an accident and trigger inflation in .025 seconds. That’s before you even know you’ve hit something. There’s zero potential for accidental inflation, D-Air Street’s connection between user-worn garments and the ECU is completely wireless.

A lean angle sensor mounted under the seat will detect falls or slides, again triggering inflation and providing all the above protection, in an incredibly short period of time.

If you live in Europe and can afford a very expensive piece of add-on protection, then you can enjoy that massive advantage over existing protectors that D-Air Street brings right now. The rest of us are going to have to wait a while for the competition and consumer awareness to drive availability and affordability.

Would you ever buy an airbag system? Is it something you’d want to wear every day?

  • Fresh Mint

    Ill purchase one when the technology becomes cheaper and more practical..

  • JimMac

    Are they developing any protection for the legs as well?

    • Wes Siler

      Not that I’m aware of. Feet, ankles, shins, knees and hips are already very well taken care of by existing armor.

  • Cody

    As long as an airbag system costs more than my bike, not going to happen.

  • Kr Tong

    I would gladly wear even fifty pounds of gear if i wouldnt have to break bones. Im up to about 26 lbs and it definitely costs more than my bikes.

  • Slacker

    I’ve been wearing the best gear I can afford and that my family and friends are willing to help pay for, so once they make something I can afford, I’ll definitely invest if it doesn’t weigh too much or disrupt my ability to ride day-to-day.

  • Alan Cunningham have been producing airbag vests and jackets for over 20 years now. Starting around $400. At we have been selling them for over 3 years and have NEVER had a Motorcycle rider set the vest off by accident. I have personally crashed wearing it 4 times at the race track and it has saved me from serious injury.

    Until the Accelerometer technology gets down to the $500 range then it wont be adopted by the majority of riders. The disadvantage of the D air street above is that you have to fit sensors to the bike to make it work. If you adjust the lanyard correctly to your style of riding then it will work in the majority of situations. Not all of them. If I could afford the DAir then I would get it but for a amateur racer it si way to expensive. Dainese wont even give the suits to their sponsored American Pro riders at the national level.

    There are choices out there dont let this article let you belive that waiting is better than using the affordable technology that is available today

    • Brian

      just a slight dovetail on the D-Air sensor installation thing. A lot of bikes now with the electrical systems are becoming a royal pain in the keister to “wire things in”, and I would expect it to be no different for a D-Air sensors. You aren’t talking about putting an SAE pigtail for a battery tender or hiding a LoJack sensor here, but having key accelarometer and gyroscopic sensors in specific locations for a VERY specifically engineered purpose.

    • appliance5000

      Interesting website and product – thanks.

      Some unasked for observations: To have to log in for prices is odd – and to be reminded 3 times per page is off-putting. It would be more inviting to be able to browse the site – look at multiple images of the product – close ups and on a person – and only log in if sufficiently interested.

      But worth knowing about.

      • Alan Cunningham

        All our prices are below the MSRP and the manufacturer will NOT allow us to “advertise” those prices. The only way to sell, at the prices I believe the American market will buy at, is to have “member pricing” if we dont do it this way the manufacturer will stop supplying us. You can always call the toll free number and ask for pricing

    • aquatone

      Perhaps you can make one available to RideApart to review.

      $400 seems affordable to me.

  • Aakash

    Hilarious lanyard-activated airbag commercial:

  • Joseph42s

    100% would wear one. It would be cool if it were in a vest.

    • Alan Cunningham
      • wjung88

        Ya, I have the vest and wear it over my jacket and under my backpack every time I ride. It’s not an inconvenience and allows you to wear whatever jacket suits the temperature outside. Highly recommend.

  • Chris McKendry

    I know it’s a little apples to oranges, but how come the street version of the Leat braces never really took off? Thought it was a lower profile design lending itself to everyday use a little better. I never got one but always thought it was somewhat decent neck protection (or at least better than nothing).

    • Justin McClintock

      Some folks don’t even want to wear a helmet since they consider it “inconvenient”. I think a LOT of people probably don’t want to wear a street version of the Leat for the same reason. That and, in all honesty, I don’t think they’ve done a good job of marketing it either. I didn’t even know there was a street specific version until very recently.

    • Alan Cunningham

      I have tried both dirt and street versions of the Leat brace. The problem with teh dirt one is when cross country riding if you go down into a dip/ravine it is impossible to look up for your exit due to the brace. With the road version, you CANNOT look over your left shoulder when merging with traffic. You have to turn your whole upper body and I found I had to actually take my left hand off the bar to see correctly.
      The Leat has proved it’self in the dirt many times and is a great product. I think they have saturated that market and the move into the “street” is not a good fit for their product

  • toni796

    when i can afford it i’ll buy it, good thing that i’m in europe so my freedom is intact by these airbags :))

  • Neil Rifenbark

    I use a Hit-Air jacket obtained from Safermoto. It is the Motorrad Mesh version. I have tethers attached to two bikes so I can clip up to either one easily. Tethers are set up to allow standing when riding in dirt. Having broken ribs in falls before, I like the potential protection provided by the Safermoto jacket. The jacket might not activate in every possible senario but it would in most. Safermoto’s Alan and Beth are very responsive and provide a great product line.

  • Rosenfeld8

    How are you supposed to ride with one of those on a hot summer´s day? It can´t possibly be ventilated

    • Wes Siler

      Well, you don’t ride around with one already inflated…

      • Rosenfeld8

        Of course not, but it won´t inflate at all if there are holes in it

  • expalt

    I have a Helite Airnest – neon yellow but works absolutely great. I had a crash with a cyclist back in June and it went off – very smooth and feels very secure. Not only that but it’s sturdy and didn’t suffer any wear/tear.