How Airbags Protect You In A Motorcycle Crash

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Category: Gear

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?

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