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Old 6th June 2023, 19:58   #1
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The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread

Motorcycle airbags



This post is about airbag systems worn as part of the riding gear, and not about the airbags installed on motorcycles like the Gold wing. Airbag systems for track use are also beyond the scope of this post. All prices are current market prices when importing into India and not the MRP/RRP. All images are from the internet except that of Helite e-turtle 2, which is mine.

What are they?

As the name suggests, a motorcycle airbag is a type of gear worn by the rider or the pillion which gets deployed in case of a crash and absorbs most of the impact energy.

Airbag types

Based on the mechanism of deployment, airbag systems can be mechanical or electronic.

Mechanical system works through a tether which the rider has to attach to the bike. In case of a crash and separation of the rider from the bike, the tether gets pulled and a spring loaded nail pierces the compressed gas cartridge causing deployment of the airbag.

Pros
  • No electronics and thus no charging.
  • Higher perceived reliability.
  • Cheaper than the electronic systems.
  • Can be self-serviced and cartridges can be self-replaced after a crash.
Cons
  • Slower reaction time and inflation time. Even the fastest mechanical system is twice as slow compared to the slowest electronic system.
  • Deployment depends on the length of the tether. The more the length, the more freedom of movement but also slower deployment.
  • May not get deployed in certain types of crashes where there is not enough separation of the rider and the bike. For eg: low side crash.
  • Accidental deployments, though rare, can still occur. Require about 30Kg of pull on the tether to cause deployment.
  • Have to remember to attach the tether every time.
The most commonly available mechanical systems are:

1. Hit Air
  • Very popular and highly reliable system.
  • Standalone vests as well as integrated airbag jackets available.
  • Good coverage of the thorax, spine and the neck.
  • Price for the vest Rs. 60000 including shipping and duties.
Hit Air vest.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-6341658fac799e061b48f8e3menwomensreflective.jpg

2. Helite
  • Again very popular and highly reliable.
  • Vests, integrated jackets, integrated backpacks as well as airbag jeans available.
  • Fastest deployment of all the available mechanical systems.
  • The best coverage of all the mechanical systems.
  • Price for the vest Rs 60000 including shipping and duties.
Helite turtle 2
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-helite_turtle2_vest_750x750.jpg



3. Spidi
  • Good coverage
  • Much slower deployment, especially the neck and the spine areas.
  • Price Rs 60000 for the vest including shipping and duties.
Spidi vest
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-air_dps_t245_486.jpg

Slow deployment of the Spidi vest, especially the neck support.

4. Motoairbag
  • Unique thing about this vest is the presence of an inertia reel on the tether (much like a car’s seat belt). Thus providing good freedom of movement as well as faster deployment times.
  • Cheaper than the others with a price of Rs 45000 including shipping and duties.
Motoairbag vest. Note the inertia reel.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-mabvzerofluofastlockfronteretro_ml.jpg

There are various other less popular mechanical systems in the market, mostly Chinese, but deployment times are unusably slow. Some of the aliexpress ones can be had for under 10000 rupees.

Note the slow deployment of the aliexpress airbag.

Even our very own Axor has one prototype under development, but the deployment time is comically slow. (Video of Axor vest deployment). It looks more like a rebranded generic ali express vest.

Axor vest
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-11.13.51.jpg


Electronic system has a suite of sensors including GPS, accelerometer and gyro in the module/the brain of the system. In case of a crash, the system detects the change in variables and activates a small explosive charge which pierces the compressed gas cartridge and thus deployment.

Pros
  • Self-contained system, so no need to remember to attach any tethers.
  • Fastest impact detection as well as deployment times.
  • Works in a variety of scenarios compared to the mechanical systems.
  • The module can be updated with new crash detection algorithms.
  • Lesser probability of accidental deployments.
  • Most systems use argon cartridges which are less bulky and have lesser flight travel restrictions compared to CO2 cartridges.
Cons
  • Have to keep it charged, even though for most of the users, charging once a week is all that is needed.
  • Most systems require annual or bi annual servicing at the authorized service centers.
  • Most systems use cartridges that are not self-replaceable. So have to send it to the authorized center after each deployment.
  • No authorized service centers in India, so for servicing and cartridge replacement, have to send it to Italy or France depending on the brand.
  • Much more expensive than the mechanical systems.
The most common electronic systems are:


1. Dainese
  • They have vests as well as integrated jackets.
  • Arguably the best crash detection algorithm of all the available systems, with proven motogp legacy.
  • Detects the crash in under 20 milliseconds with their earlier available fork sensor, the fastest of all the street systems. Current systems are slightly slower with around 40 millisecond detection time.
  • They chose form over function, with the least bulky vest but also the least inflation volume as well as least protection of all the electronic vests, with no neck support.
  • No detection/deployment in case of slow speed crashes and t bones.
  • Prices currently around Rs 70000 for the vest and Rs 75000 for the integrated leather jacket all including shipping and duties. Integrated textile jackets are over Rs 1 lakh in price.
  • Absolutely no airflow/ventilation. Thus not suitable when ambient temperature is above 20 degree Celsius.
  • Have to be serviced every 2 years which costs 200 euros and the cartridges are not user replaceable.
Dainese vest. Least amount of protection of all the electronic vests.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-smartjacket.jpg

2. Alpinestars
  • Multiple different types of vests available.
  • Great algorithm, proven in motogp and Dakar. Detection time of under 30 milliseconds.
  • Some very public deployment failures and deployments during normal scenarios. Seems sorted after the later software updates.
  • Have to be serviced every 2 years which costs 200 euros and the cartridges are not user replaceable.
Tech Air 3 is the cheapest electronic airbag in the market. It also has the best ventilation of all except Helite e-turtle. But provides the least amount of protection of all vests except the Dainese vest. Can be worn over or under the jacket. It also has the cleanest design imo. Price Rs 60000 including shipping and duties.

Tech Air 3

The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-alpinestarstechair3review1.jpg

Tech Air 3 is the cleanest looking of all the airbag vests.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-alpinestarstechair3review12.jpg

The air bladders are arranged in such a way that there is space for ventilation in between.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-alpinestarstechair3review9.jpg

Tech Air 5 and Tech Air street are the only street airbags that provide shoulder protection, even though neck support is less. These can only be worn under airbag compatible jackets with atleast 4 cms of space to expand. Provides protection equivalent to 9 CE level 2 back protectors or 18 CE level 1 back protectors. There is an additional CE level 1 back protector in this. Ventilation is much lesser, though not absent like the Dainese.No integrated airbag jackets available afaik. A dedicated track mode is available for those interested in racing. Price Rs 75000 including shipping and duties.

Tech Air 5
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-tutamototechair5front.jpg

Tech Air street
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-1000x1000_tech_air_street_front_1_800x800.jpg

The air bladder has no space in-between for ventilation.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-8d.5b.fa.d7alpinestarstechair521882232020.jpg

Tech Air 5 failing to deploy during a demo. Watch from 2:50.


Tech Air 5 deployment when there is no crash.

3. In & Motion
  • They provide the algorithm and module for various riding gear manufacturers like Klim, RST, Ixon, Furygan, Held etc.
  • Works through a subscription model where the cost of the gear is around Rs 45000, including shipping and duties, and there after 12 Euros per month or 120 Euros per year for the airbag to work. This can be a great option for those riders who ride seasonally. The airbag can also be bought completely by paying an additional 399 euros over the Rs 45000, instead of the monthly or yearly payments.
  • Track mode can be activated with additional payment.
  • Great algorithm proven in motogp and Dakar.
  • Good protection of the thorax, spine and neck.
  • User replaceable cartridges.
  • Ventilation present but not enough for a country like India.
  • Only electronic system that is not waterproof, it is only water resistant.
Klim AI Vest. An example of the In & Motion system.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-3046000_black_01_ml.jpg

4. Helite e-turtle 2
  • Good algorithm, proven in Dakar, but no motogp legacy.
  • Standalone detection time of around 60milliseconds, which is slower than the other systems, and a detection time of around 30 milliseconds when paired with the optional fork sensor, which is on par with the other systems.
  • Can detect the widest variety of crash scenarios when paired with the fork sensor, including getting rear ended at a stop, t bones and crashes at speeds as low as 18kmph.
  • The largest inflation volume of all the electronic systems available in the market, ranging from 18 litres to 27 litres based on the vest size. The protection is equivalent to 25 CE level 2 back protectors or 50 CE level 1 back protectors.
  • The widest coverage of all the available vests with the best neck immobilisation, though no shoulder protection like the tech air 5.
  • The open design and the mesh panels provide the most ventilation of all the electronic systems.
  • No OTA updates. In case an update is needed, have to send the module to France.
  • No company service needed, self-service every year is enough.
  • Self-replaceable CO2 cartridges.
  • Price Rs 75000 for the vest and Rs 10000 for the fork sensor, for a total of Rs 85000 including shipping and duties.
  • Cannot be used on track or offroad. Helite has dedicated track and offroad vests.
Why I chose the Helite e-turtle 2?
  • Ventilation, which I believe is the most important factor when buying an airbag vest in India. If the vest is uncomfortable, the chance of wearing it becomes lower and thus no protection.
  • The best protection of all the available systems, especially the best neck protection. Shoulder protection of the Tech Air 5 is nice to have, but I much prefer the additional neck protection of the Helite.
  • No need to send it to Italy or France every couple of years to get it serviced. Also, in the unfortunate event of a deployment, the cartridge is self-replaceable.
  • No tether. I don’t think I will remember to attach the cord everytime I get on the bike. Without the tether attached, it is as good as not wearing an airbag.
How to procure one?

Helite used to have a dealer in India till 2019, but as of now no official dealers here. I got mine from Motostorm.it. Fcmoto and Revzilla also had them in stock, but Motostorm had the best price. They took around 5 days to ship (via Fedex) after ordering. But once shipped, i got the product in just 3 days.

Securely packed
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-18.01.02.jpg

Sizing

Sizing is a big issue with Helite. They have multiple size charts with contrasting information. Also, it is sized to fit someone with a big belly. I am 5'9" tall with a 42" chest and 28" waist. According to Helite size chart, I could go either with size M or L. After browsing through various fora and talking to multiple people who have used this, I realised that size S is the best fit for me. Size M even though is appropriate in length and chest size, the waist size is too big for someone of my size but could be appropriate for someone with a waist size above 32".

The vest is not supposed to be too tight as it needs space for expanding. At the same time, it should not be too loose that it starts flapping around while riding. The ideal fit is said to be when one can comfortably pass their fist under the vest after wearing it.

Straps are at the shortest possible length. It is just about the right size for me.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-18.36.03.jpg

The back is the right length. Any longer and the back protector will start hitting the seat and the upper part of the vest touching the helmet.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-17.51.18hgfhgfhg.jpg

Fork sensor

Fork sensor helps in detecting slow speed and standing crashes. It also decreases the detection time by half. It is recommended that the fork sensor be installed at the lowest possible location on the fork, but it is not possible to go much lower on an upside down fork. Upto 5 different fork sensors can be connected to a single vest. Unlimited number of vests can be connected to a single fork sensor.

Fork sensor is sealed for life and has to be checked once every year with a special magnetic tool. It is predicted to last for more than 5 years. There is no option to recharge its battery, so once it dies, have to get a new one.

The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-18.01.03.jpg

Please ignore the dirt, the picture was taken after a trip to Goa.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-18.08.24.jpg

Real world review

After receiving the item, I did a 1600 km trip to Goa. The trip included all sorts of road conditions including smooth four lane roads, under construction pothole ridden roads as well as village roads of Goa. The temperature was also near 40 degree Celsius during the day, and few hours of riding under the rain as well.

The ventilation is good enough, even when temperatures are above 40, as long as the bike is moving. But the moment bike gets stuck in traffic, sweating starts. I wouldnt say it was unbearable, but airbag vests are definitely not for the city traffic.

Somewhere on the route to Goa.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-18.40.19.jpg

Miscellaneous
  • It uses a 60cc CO2 cartridge that is user replaceable.
  • The charging time is around 6 hours and the charge lasts for around 25 hours.
  • The charging port looks proprietary, unlike the type C and microUSB of Dainese and Alpinestars.
  • There were a few cases of non accidental deployments, mostly in offroad scenarios. Looks like the fork sensor misidentifies offroad jumps as crashes.
  • It is also possible that the fork sensor may detect a wheelie as a crash and thus deploy the airbag. Never came across such a scenario yet though.
  • A backpack can be worn over the vest as long as the straps are loose enough.
  • The outer hard Sas-tec level 2 back armour covers the inner air bladder, as in a turtle, thus the name.
  • The back protector of the jacket is not needed anymore and is removed while wearing the vest.
  • The vest goes to sleep after 45 seconds of detecting no movement. It wakes up at the slightest movement.
e-turtle 2 offroad deployment during a jump

The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-17.51.16v.jpg


The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-17.51.18ujyfyufuyfyutf.jpg


Rear refelctive stripes
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-17.51.17vhjgvjhgvffc.jpg

Note the 3 zips. One on the center top and 2 on the bottom left and right. The air bladder and the back protector can be accessed through these zips.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-17.51.16.jpg

The waterproof zip, inside which is the electronic module as well as the CO2 cartridge.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-19.15.11fdgd.jpg

60CC CO2 cartridge and the electronic module behind it.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-19.15.10dgdfg.jpg

The charging port
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-19.15.10gdgfd.jpg

Waterproof pocket on the left side.

The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-19.15.11gd.jpg

The LED indicator and the power button. Green indicates fully charged and ready. Orange is the charging indicator. Red indicates errors as well as powering off. Blue indicates pairing with the fork sensor. There are also different beeps to indicate each of the above.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-19.15.09.jpg

Straps are highly adjustable.
The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-whatsapp-image-20230606-19.15.10dg.jpg

I will post if something interesting happens. Thanks for reading.

Last edited by deerhunter : 6th June 2023 at 20:03.
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Old 7th June 2023, 11:38   #2
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Re: The Riding Gear thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by deerhunter View Post
Motorcycle airbags

This post is about airbag systems worn as part of the riding gear, and not about the airbags installed on motorcycles like the Gold wing. Airbag systems for track use are also beyond the scope of this post. All prices are current market prices when importing into India and not the MRP/RRP. All images are from the internet except that of Helite e-turtle 2, which is mine.
Wow! Thanks for that spectacularly detailed post. Airbags for bikers will be the next big thing and as tech evolves and availability in India improves, its only a matter of time before bikers start making this part of their riding gear armoury. This is a great place to as a starting point for readers as to all things and the market as of now.

Hopefully we can use this post as a base to also track developments and newer products and availability in India of these airbags.

Quote:
I will post if something interesting happens. Thanks for reading.
For once, I do look forward to NO updates on your purchase. Other than regarding a replacement in due course due to expiry of its usable life span.

Happy riding!
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Old 7th June 2023, 12:53   #3
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Re: The Riding Gear thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by deerhunter View Post

Motorcycle airbags



I will post if something interesting happens. Thanks for reading.
As others said, may you ride safe and never be in a situation to test the airbag.

Sorry to be the wet blanket, but how effective is this on Indian roads with unscientific constructions all along ?

The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-36133640365636093648361836293632.jpg

The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-04metkona2.jpg

The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-oip.jpg

regards adrian
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Old 7th June 2023, 15:19   #4
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Re: The Riding Gear thread

The airbag jacket makes sense in my opinion especially based on the added protection it offers according to CE levels. Hope it gets cheaper based on economies of scale. Ideally we need something for riding pants too. There was something similar for bicycle helmets as well on the market but I think normal helmets do fine.
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Old 7th June 2023, 16:12   #5
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Re: The Riding Gear thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Senotrius View Post
The airbag jacket makes sense in my opinion especially based on the added protection it offers according to CE levels. Hope it gets cheaper based on economies of scale. Ideally we need something for riding pants too. There was something similar for bicycle helmets as well on the market but I think normal helmets do fine.
You already have jeans with Airbags

They are tethered type though.

Last edited by Axe77 : 7th June 2023 at 18:54. Reason: Caps
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Old 7th June 2023, 17:27   #6
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Re: The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread

The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread - Posts moved to a new thread.
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Old 7th June 2023, 17:59   #7
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Re: The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread

Wow, definitely something interesting! Great review.
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Old 7th June 2023, 21:20   #8
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Re: The Riding Gear thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axe77 View Post
its only a matter of time before bikers start making this part of their riding gear armoury.
Quoting Ryan F9:
Quote:
Early life saving statistics are similar to how they where for car airbags. Its only a matter of time before governments start mandating this for all riders.
Maybe in another decade or two, some of the countries in the West may start making this mandatory. And a decade or so after that in India probably. 30 years ago, nobody thought that helmets were going to be made compulsory. Hope more manufacturers enter the market in the coming years and drive the price down.


Quote:
Originally Posted by adrian View Post
but how effective is this on Indian roads with unscientific constructions all along ?
Given how unpredictable Indian roads are and how low the margins of error are, imo an airbag is even more important than in the West. A boulder can suddenly appear on the road, a child/cow can suddenly jump in front of you, a car/truck can cut you off etc etc. In all of these scenarios, an airbag is an added level of protection which can mean the difference between life and death.

Last edited by deerhunter : 7th June 2023 at 21:27.
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Old 8th June 2023, 12:18   #9
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Re: The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread

Excellent, informative & well written article @deerhunter. I would like to add a few more words always ride defensively in our country. You do not know from when and where a mishap is lurking on our roads. Always follow ATGATT ( ALL THE GEAR ALL THE TIME ). Invest in the best of the gear you can buy. Always invest in improving your riding skills and do not take unnecessary risks. And finally Always pray to your God / Fate / Luck before you ride.
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Old 8th June 2023, 14:23   #10
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Re: The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread

Good thread. Very detailed and informative. I used to ride a few years ago. I am talking about 2017. The first thing I ordered was an airbag jacket for safety. I had ordered the then top of the line Hit Air EU6. It had the fastest inflation time back then I think. When it comes to safety, you just can't take the minutest of chances. You mustn't. I think more people should go ahead and buy these. I used it for a few years till i stopped riding altogether. It used to get heavy with the winter thermal on but that is a small compromise for safety. It would protect you or namely your organs from getting damaged if you fell for some odd reason which in our country is probable. Not sure about head on collision though. Still worth the price. Had gotten it from USA back then with a couple of extra 60cc cylinders. Airlines made a fuss but I reasoned through it. Attaching a pic of my jacket model from the internet.


The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread-images-1.jpeg

Last edited by sirjokhi : 8th June 2023 at 14:25.
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Old 9th June 2023, 10:27   #11
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Re: The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread

Thanks for such an enlightening thread.

I had known such a product exists but I did not know how it functions. With a lot of people upgrading to higher displacement motorcycles and the ever-increasing number of long rides, I guess it is an much-needed accessory.
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Old 11th June 2023, 22:22   #12
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Re: The Motorcycle Airbag Jackets and Vests thread

I remember going down this rabbit hole after Ryan F9's video came out. This tech just made logical sense. In a country like ours, it might take very long to adapt and it will improve with primary adoption from the more affluent class flowing down to mass adoption (as is the case with most tech) with economies of scale kicking in.

If you think about it, wearing a full riding gear kit (boots to helmet) was and honestly still is seen as the 'outlier' thing to do. But only someone who is riding would appreciate the exponential increase in level of protection one is improving with each additional gear put on.

Similarly I expect tech like airbags to complement our current set up. I personally would look towards saving each to import / get it hand carried through a friend at some point. While price point of ~1 lakh sounds expensive, it is a heck of a lot cheaper than me not reaching home with all organs intact to my loved ones.

Thank you for the detailed post deer hunter, it is a great primer for anyone in the market and even a great idea seed for people who were not aware this product exists. Do update a long term review in terms of usability (hopefully never on deployment).
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