Existing jackets provide abrasion resistance and limited padding or armour. So the choice is now between "Skin Protection" and Skin Protection AND Impact Protection !
An airbag system for jackets provides an unparalleled level of IMPACT protection against injury and death from motorcycle accidents as impacts are absorbed by the airbag and redistributed throughout the airbag around the riders' body. The rider may not even experience a bruise at the point(s) of impact.
There are also additional ancillary benefits with the airbag and its protective sleeve also as there are additional layers of material for the riders protection, and the material stretching effects as the airbag inflates causes the jacket to be held tightly to the body preventing it being stripped off, riding up, or snagging and presenting the material tightly for maximum abrasion resistance. The rider is held within an airbag splint the immobilise and protect their spine from injury. The stitching construction of the jackets is superior to other jackets in order to accommodate the airbag inflation. There is little added weight from the airbag system - with the jackets weighing between 2 and 3 kg.
NOTE: This guide is based on the Airbag jackets by HIT AIR from Japan (Mugen Denko Co Ltd) which have been on the market since 1985 and have a proven safety record. HIT AIR is the market leader with several thousand units sold throughout Asia, Europe, Australia and now also the US.
HIT AIR have provided their airbag system to many other jacket manufacturers, esp. in Europe, but now produce their own range of jackets and vests. There are some copies from Taiwan and Spain and a few other airbag designs on the market.
This Guide is NOT meant to be read as a commercial but as these products are design leaders there are few competitors, so other gear has to be examined and compared with the additional features offered by these models.
Airbag jackets provide instant airbag safety from accident impacts and are REUSABLE, if not damaged, by replacing the CO2 gas cartridge (it costs only $20AUD). (There are some 20 styles currently available in the HIT AIR range and our prices range from $600AUD to $960AUD).
Activation is by a lanyard (coil wire) secured to the bike which pulls a spring loaded trigger out of the riders' jacket when the rider (and/or pillion) is thrown from the bike. Accidental activation is not likely as a 25kg force is required - so if the rider forgets to unclip from the coil wire the airbag will not be inflated, only feel a strong tug to remind him/her. The rider and bike weights easily exceed the activation force required for separation. Riders soon adapt to the new system involving the coil wire connector clip in and clip off.
The airbag is fully inflated within 1/2 a second, and will absorb the impact forces of a fall or collision with any objects. Protection is provided by the airbag to the riders' neck, chest, hips, back, and bottom. The riders' neck and spine are especially protected as the jacket acts as an air splint which prevents spinal movement. The inflation of the jacket also prevents the jacket from being stripped off, snagging, or riding up and presents the jacket material tightly for best abrasion resistance.
The airbag is fitted with an air release valve which deflates the airbag over a 3-5 minute period. The trigger mechanism and CO2 cartridge can be reset/replaced by the rider easily within a 5 minute period.
All jackets have back pad, shoulder and elbow CE approved armour and have many other design features such as air vents, waterproof pockets, reflective panels, removable winter liners, full or partial mesh construction as well as a range of colours. Optional chest and spine hard protectors are also available if required or prefferred by the rider.
Airbag jackets are worn by Police in several countries and may also be worn by horse riders.
The system can be used by horse riders, ATV or Quad riders, etc. It may be very useful from operators and clients of learner rider schools, tour groups and extreme sport riders. Refer also to our Horse Riders airbag jacket eBay Guide.
Buyers need to consider their own safety as well as their pillions (especially any children as pillions) so the airbag jackets/vest provide a great additional measure. The existing choices include model, size, and colour.
Other brands of airbag jacket are available so compare the quality, features, effectiveness of the triggering mechanism, technical reliability and testing, and dealer service.
An airbag jacket may keep you from the pain, trauma and loss of activity of an injury; out of the hospital system; or at best out of a coffin!
Models from HIT AIR include:
- summer, winter and between season styles;
- commuter, sports and touring uses;
- waterproof or rain resistant;
- high visibility or general design;
- jacket or vest (some jackets have removable arms/sleeves);
- a variety of abrasion resistant materials, including full or partial mesh for coolness and ventilation;
- a range of colours.
Depending on the model sizes range from XXS to 4XL with colours including Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, Grey, Silver, Beige.
Now, the answers to the general critical discussions (on motorcycle forums, etc) on airbag jackets:
- Require a lanyard/coil wire to activate: Yes, but more simple and reliable than experimental electrical or explosive triggers using accelerometers, etc.
- Don't inflate until separated: Yes, but jacket has protectors and padding, and abrasive resistant materials as any other quality motorcycle jacket. In addition you have the additional layers of airbag and airbag protector sleeve between you and the road. (PS: no airbags have yet been reported as having been damaged). Even if you slide, you will separate from the bike and inflation will occur.
- Not fully inflated for 500 milliseconds (1/2 second): True, but inflation is of course progessive and inflation occurs instantaneously building to full inflation. Substantial airbag protection is already available in first 100-200 ms. It's the final full pressure build up that takes the extra time as one knows when ever inflating any product such and a ball, airbed, or tire.
- Accidental inflation: Highly unlikely, as force required is 25+Kg. Getting off bike is not enough, you feel the tug and have to release. The product would be a dud if it was always going off accidentally, wouldn't it!
- I wouldn't wear one!: Well OK that's up to you, but why should other peoples' taxes have to pay for your treatment and recovery!
- Testing by authorities: There's been plenty of testing, laboratory, dummies, stunt riders, real accidents, etc. - but no real way to test for motorcycle accidents though we've been trying with a couple of independent authorities, here in Australia. Their effectiveness has been reported by many clients who have had activations.
- Why don't racing riders use them? Some do! There are some racing versions, however racers have very good road conditions, grass and pebble run offs, protected cushioned barriers, etc. so impact accidents are minor compared to street riding.
- They are too expensive! Well what's your life worth, or the cost of ambulance, hospital, medical, loss of work, trauma, recovery, pain and suffering worth? How much are your responsibilities worth to cover/replace? Why not get the latest generation of safety gear available?
- I prefer leathers! Leather and materials have pros and cons. But leather can't help you in an impact, and body protector are not as efficient as when combined with an airbag.
- What about legs and arms? Life and major injury threats are to the body and organs, neck and spine! The jackets have elbow protectors and one should wear good riding pants and boots.
REMEMBER it's not the falling off that's the problem, but it's hitting things. The airbag will absorb the impact! Note too, that an accident my not be your fault, it could be the road conditions or another driver, etc. so your skills may not be enough.
HIT AIR also offer a range of unique and effective PALM PROTECTION gloves which provide a new approach to impact force distribution and reduced friction to minimise the potential for hand, finger and wrist injury. We have produced a Palm Protection Glove guide on eBay as well.