Airbag technology is all the rage in the motorcycle gear market, but it has found mass adoption on motorcycles themselves. Honda introduced the world’s first motorcycle airbag system with the 2006 Gold Wing, but we haven’t seen the technology applied to other models since. However, that doesn’t mean that Honda hasn’t further developed its airbag offerings in the past 15 years.
New patents indicate that the brand is working on a curtain-style airbag system. Instead of focusing on the grand touring segment, Honda is using its PCX platform as a guinea pig this time around. The shift could hint at a new emphasis on urban rider safety. Backed by internal data, Honda claims that frontal collisions comprise 68 percent of injury-causing two-wheeled vehicle crashes.
That means that riders typically collide with another vehicle or roadway barriers in the event of a . Whereas the Gold Wing’s balloon airbag aims at keeping the rider in the cockpit, the new curtain-style unit acts more as a soft barrier between the rider and hazards.
The new system may not be as robust as the Gold Wing’s car-worthy airbag, but the measures should suit the lower speeds of city traffic. Of course, Honda's three separate patents share the same function but each design takes a different approach to achieving those goals.
The first design features a U-shaped housing that encompasses the scooter’s instrument panel. Positioned just fore of the handlebars, the airbag deploys between the rider and the windshield, providing a cushiony initial impact zone during a crash. While the design seems like a comprehensive package, it doesn’t exactly integrate well into the dash. For a more incognito approach, we turn to Team Red’s second layout.
Honda’s second illustrates a unit positioned under the instrument panel, tucked away from view until deployment. Nestling away the enclosure may be more appealing, but it also reduces the space between the airbag and the windshield. To accommodate the inflated airbag, the design also features a pivotable windshield that shifts forward upon airbag deployment.
The third, and final, design may be the most visible option, with the airbag module mounted directly on the scooter’s handlebars. The patent also includes external inflation tubing that connects the airbag unit to the model’s collision sensor. While the design may position the airbag closest to the rider, it also presents steering obstacles not present in the other patents.
Whether Honda continues developing the hideaway design or the more visible alternatives, the company should be able to adapt the system to other models. Only time will tell if the curtain-style airbag unit makes it to market, but it’s encouraging to see that Team Red isn’t abandoning the technology.