Modern airbag systems provide the utmost protection for motorcyclists. Whether it’s worn in an airbag vest, jacket, or race suit, the latest technology can absorb and disperse impacts much more efficiently than CE-rated armor. So, why don’t more riders wear them? Some cite the relative expense of modern airbag products. Others believe current armor will suffice while many avoid them out of simple vanity.
To give airbag vests the attention they deserve, the ever-popular FortNine YouTube channel takes an in-depth look at the options on the market and determines which one is best. Starting with the comically named Helite Turtle airbag vest, our trusty host lays out the pros and cons of the entry-level option. Featuring tether activation, a hi-viz color scheme, and dated aesthetics, the Turtle is the antithesis of “cool”. On top of that, airbag material doesn’t ventilate well and the leash system can be cumbersome.
On the other end of the spectrum, Klim, Dainese, and Alpinestars continue to develop the most advanced airbags on the market. While the top-shelf apparel brands leverage racing data and bleeding edge technology, each platform has its own drawback. Klim’s Ai-1 airbag vest requires a subscription. What happens if you miss a payment? Alpinestars airbag system needs recharging. What do you do when it dies mid-ride? Dainese’s Smart Jacket D-Air skimps on shoulder and neck protection in the name of street wearability. What happens when you crash at all?
By developing proprietary platforms and pandering to street riders, the biggest brands sacrifice the ultimate goal of an airbag vest: safety. Yes, the Helite Turtle is quite dated and certifiably uncool, but it provides comprehensive protection (including neck and shoulders) without an electric charge or subscription.
FortNine’s Ryan frequently suggests that airbags may become mandatory riding equipment in the coming years. As data continues to support the safety of airbag systems, we can only see increased adoption in the future. Maybe someday soon we won’t need to wonder why more riders don’t wear airbag systems.