RIDING DIFFERENT BIKES. RACING SOME
Motorcycle clothing with airbags should be the new standard, if you ask me. Riding a motorcycle is a beautiful thing to do, but it also comes with quite a few risks. You shouldn’t worry about that too much or too often. Just get on the bike and enjoy the ride.
But if you can protect yourself from those risks, then why not do so? My advice; invest in motorcycle clothing with airbags in it. How does that work? And which type of airbags are there to wear on the bike? Let us tell you all about it.
Motorcycle clothing with airbags in it comes in all shapes and sizes. You’ve got airbag vests that work as a standalone piece. You wear these kind of airbag vests underneath your motorcycle suit or jacket, when it’s ‘airbag ready’. This means; when the seams are flexible enough to expand whenever the airbag goes off. Or you wear it over your suit, in case the suit isn’t airbag ready. An airbag that works on itself goes off when the sensors in the vest notice an ‘abnormal’ movement with a certain speed.
But there are also airbag vests that are triggered by a cord or so called anchor. You attach the anchor to your bike. Whenever you crash – whether you have a lowsider or a highsider – you are removed from the bike. The cord or anchor will be released from your bike. This triggers the airbag.
A third option is an airbag system that’s integrated in your motorcycle clothing or racing suit. You just put on the motorcycle jacket with airbag or the leather suit that has an integrated airbag and voila. The system works similar to the standalone airbag vest, so without an anchor.
Motorcycle clothing with airbags in it isn’t limited to the racing world anymore. First, you only saw airbags in race suits for professional racers. Nowadays it’s available for everyone who wants to feel a bit safer. Whether you are an adventure rider, a sporty rider on the roads or are a stylish retro rider. There’s suitable motorcycle clothing with an airbag for everyone. The brand RST for example offers a complete adventure clothing series with an integrated airbag in retro look.
Airbag vests or motorcycle clothing with airbags contain a little battery. It differs per system how long this battery lasts, but mostly it lasts between 20 to 25 hours. You easily charge an airbag vest or motorcycle suit with airbag. It’s quite similar to charging your phone. Led lights on the upper- or lower arm or on the chest indicate the status of the battery.
Besides a battery it also contains a cartridge which is responsible for inflating the airbag. Most airbag systems contain one cartridge. This means you have to get the cartridge replaced after the airbag has inflated once.
You can replace the cartridge yourself in some cases, but in most suits or clothing you have to get it replaced by a specialist. Annoying? Mwah, not really. You just bring or send the suit to a service point (often the shop where you’ve bought it), you wait a few days and voilá. Then you also know it’s been done properly.
The top-notch air bag motorcycle suits from the brand Dainese – the Mugello R D-air suit – has two cartridges. This allows the airbag to be inflated twice before having to replace the airbag and cartridges. Alpinestars offers an airbag vest with a similar system that is able to inflate twice. This kind of luxury does demand a fairly high price tag though..
The airbag detects it when you crash or get in an accident thanks to the many little sensors. It notices the impact within 30 to 60 miliseconds and inflates in just a few miliseconds as well. It stays inflated for a few seconds.
What the motorcycle clothing with airbags will protect, depends on the airbag or airbag vest. There are systems that protect the whole upper body. Other systems just protect your shoulders, collar bones and neck.
The impact or moment the airbag inflates can be adjusted in some airbags. For example, a computer program or app allows you to adjust the speed from 50 km/h to 80 km/h. Allowing the airbag to go off when crashing with 50 km/h works well on the roads. A crash into a car with 50 km/h can hit hard. The 80 km/h mode is more ideal when riding on track, in case you don’t want the airbag to inflate when having a little lowsider.
What an integrated airbag in your motorcycle suit really looks like, after it’s been replaced.
Of course we hope you will live your life without ‘airbag *poof*’s’. We don’t wish for anyone to crash. Sadly, it’s not always up to you. And we all make mistakes every now and then. How does it feel when the airbag in your motorcycle clothing goes off?
Actually, it’s not that scary or exciting. You hardly notice it. Last March, I crashed in Spain while riding on Circuito d’Alcarras. I made a little mistake, just slightly hitting the rear brake while entering a corner, on a wet track coming off the start finish straight. While sliding and rolling I entered the gravel.
I noticed I felt a bit weird when I got back on my feet. Like I wore clothes that were a bit too tight. I then noticed the airbag of my Dainese Misano 2 D-air suit went off. It’s no unpleasant feeling and doesn’t feel too tight. So no worries. It won’t instantly squeeze you in your suit.
The result? Just a shoulder that was a bit sore and a nice bruise on my hip. It wasn’t a heavy crash. But those intermediate crashes, the ones that don’t even have that much impact, can be the nasty ones that snap your collar bone. Leaving you with a useless arm for quite some time. I’d choose an inflated airbag over a snapped collar bone any day.
Like I said, you have to replace the cartridge and airbag after your airbag has inflated. Do you have a one piece suit with an integrated airbag system? And did the crash leave your suit fairly unharmed besides the inflated airbag? Then you can still wear your suit before bringing it to a service point. It just won’t offer the airbag protection anymore. The same goes for a motorcycle jacket with an integrated airbag system. Do you wear a separate airbag vest? Then you are also able to ride on with your motorcycle clothing, in case it’s still somewhat in one piece. The upside of wearing a separate airbag vest; you just have to bring the vest to the service point instead of your whole suit.
Motorcycle clothing with airbags; is it worth your money? In my opinion; yes. Investing in your own safety hardly ever is a bad idea. Of course we understand not everyone can just pay around €2.000 for a one piece suit with an integrated airbag system. But more and more manufacturers create motorcycle clothing with airbags in a more friendly price range too. And this often doesn’t take away from the quality. Are you in need of a new outfit? Then definitely consider investing in an airbag system to wear on the bike.