Motorcycling has been a growing, changing thing for over a century now. Safety has changed markedly in that time, from the old-style leather ‘helmets’ riders used to wear, to the airbag-fitted jackets and suits you can buy today.
Looking back at old news program footage, like this clip from the 1970s ThamesTV motoring program Drive-In, is always going to yield some things that seem rather quaint in hindsight. The first part of the segment focuses on early-generation ABS, which we know evolved and has improved considerably since it was first introduced.
Then it gets into something a bit weird, and definitely one of those things that makes you think, “how did anyone ever think this was a good idea?”
The TV program(me) pays a visit to an inventor who is working on what looks like a padded chair back that faces your chest. On the demonstration bike and safety dummy, the device protrudes on a big metal arm from somewhere around the tank of your bike. The idea is that this wide, padded thing pushes the rider back if you crash, slowing your impact so you don’t fly off the bike and hurt yourself.
In modern time, we have many comfortable armor options for jackets and pants. The aforementioned airbag-enhanced gear, as well as ample chest and back protector options are plentiful. I fully recognize that I’m never going to look at a video like this from a contemporaneous mindset, because I simply can’t.
Still, I have to ask, why would someone think this was a good idea? Even if the armor that we all know now, and that many of us wear today didn’t exist, how on earth does this system make any kind of sense in terms of harm reduction?
Thankfully, it’s just a quaint curiosity now and not a major safety device that actually took hold. You still have to wonder what kind of hilarious and exasperated conversations went on behind the scenes with this inventor, though.