While Dainese and Alpinestars have only shown track-use airbag-equipped racing suits, the other big gear maker in Italy has been busy selling airbags for both road and track, fitted to both leathers and jackets. Now, Spidi is releasing an airbag vest that promises to be work with anything you’re wearing. The Spidi Neck DPS Vest is the first universal motorcycle airbag.
The big difference between Spidi’s bags and those from rivals is the presence, on the Spidi, of a lanyard connecting the firing mechanism to the bike. Hit something, fly off, the lanyard is pulled and the airbag fires in 200 milliseconds. The more sophisticated systems being developed by Dainese and Alpinestars use an array of gyroscopic sensors, accelerometers, GPS sensors and complicated programs to active their bags. As such, those systems are also very expensive, Alpinestars TechAir will double the price of the $2,500 Racing Replica suit. This Spidi vest costs around $460.
Of course, Spidi’s airbag differs from others in more than activation. Where both D-Air and the Alpinestars system will inflate a contoured bag inside the wearer’s leathers, encompassing the outside of the shoulders in addition to the collar bone, Spidi’s looks more like a neck roll, inflating on the outside and standing proud like a traditional neck roll. While it doesn’t look like the Spidi system will provide much protection for a wearer’s shoulders, it should be better than D-Air or TechAir at preventing neck injuries through extreme movements of the helmet. Spidi says the airbag is reusable and rechargeable.
All that seems a little pedantic in comparison to this vest’s main advantage: it’s a one-time purchase, universal solution to wearing an airbag. You can wear it with leathers, a jacket or anything else, it even adjusts to work with aerodynamic back humps. The vest also incorporates a CE chest protector as standard and can be retrofitted with a CE back protector. Put it on with anything and you’ll be safer. Rival systems are all-in-one, meaning you’re paying a premium for an airbag that’s incorporated into and only works with that single set of leathers.
There is a significant disadvantage to Spidi’s lanyard activation. In accidents where the rider is impacted before departing the bike, such as being sideswiped by a car, it will not activate. The lanyard must pull the firing key free from the vest, requiring the rider to separate from the bike in order to do so.
Having said that, the semi-affordable price, ability to wear it with anything and the extra protection — even if it won’t be there in every conceivable accident — makes the Spidi Neck DPS Vest look like an awfully appealing product.