Considering motorcycle airbag protection? Read our comprehensive guide to wearable airbag technology from the biggest brands including Dainese, Alpinestars, RST, Helite, and more.

A couple of years ago, it seemed like a far-flung piece of technology that would be found exclusively wrapped round professional motorcycle riders, propelled down race-tracks on a wave of hundreds and thousands of pounds worth of motorcycle tech and clothing, but on-rider airbag technology has developed by leaps and bounds to be readily available for all, and every, rider.

Now, most of the big-name brands have their own wearable airbag technology designed for the most specialised form of protection available on the market, that means there is plenty of choices when deciding what one is best for you. So, this handy guide will help you compare and find the one perfect for you.

First, a little bit about motorcycle wearable airbags. Of course, just a little experience on the roads riding a bike and driving a car will show you the difference on how airbags can work for the two different vehicles – a car, with its large frame, can afford the space for a specific airbag, while with a motorcycle space is a premium, but this does not mean on-motorcycle airbags have not been designed. In 2006, the Honda Gold Wing was fitted with the first production motorcycle airbag, but of course, a Gold Wing is a much bigger beast than most motorcycles on the market.

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As expected for any piece of motorcycle technology advancements were made when they began to be used in the MotoGP – with pro-riders devoting days to riding week in week out, they need the best protection possible. And with this testing and development came a huge amount of data to make improve the airbags to a level of performance and protection even higher.

The original designs used a cable attaching the vest to the bike, deploying the airbag when the cable became detached. But many of the newer style airbags no longer use a cable-style attachment, the Alpinestars Tech-Air and Dainese Smart jacket to name two, instead use an electronic system relying on an algorithm or what Dainese calls a ‘Brain’. These are electronic systems that use gyroscopes, accelerometers, and sensors to detect the moment in which your position abruptly changes or speed suddenly increases – the exact circumstances that occur when in a crash situation.

But does that mean you are at risk of setting off your airbag with the smallest of bumps? No. The electronic systems of the cable-less vests use a huge amount of data to support the algorithm stored in the unit to judge whether to deploy or not. For the cable versions, like the Helite, it would take 25-30kg of force to trigger the needle perforating and launching the airbag – the kind of force that you will not be exerting by accident – unless it actually is an accident.

Now, let us take a look at some of the airbag vests available on the market. You can use the key below to skip to the corresponding section:

  1. Dainese - Smart Jacket & D-Air
  2. Alpinestars - Tech-Air 5 & Tech-Air Ready
  3. Furygan - Fury Airbag Vest
  4. RST - Airbag Range
  5. Spidi - DPS Air
  6. Helite - Airbag Vests

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Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 and Tech-Air Ready

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Similar to Dainese, Alpinestars airbag has been designed through years of development including input from professional MotoGP riders, this has resulted in the brand-new for 2020 Tech-Air 5. Originally, Alpinestars had a range of Tech-Air ready leather suits, leather and textile jackets that were made to easily integrate with the original Tech-Air unit, but it was only this range of Tech-Air clothing that could be worn with the unit. The Tech-Air 5, changes this, now a low-profile, slim-lined vest it can be worn under any garment you choose – as long as you have the needed 4cm of chest space for the airbag to expand into.

The Tech-Air 5 has a control unit utilising 6 integrated sensors, 3 gyroscopes and 3 accelerometers along with a crash algorithm, this monitors your ride, constantly on the lookout to detect a scenario when it is needed to deploy. The on-system LED display provides you with all the information you need including the operational status of the unit and you get 30 hours of battery life from a full charge.

Details at a glance:

  • Electronic control unit
  • CE-Level 2 Airbag vest
  • 1600 grams in weight
  • 12-litre volume
  • Fully deployed in 20-40 milliseconds (depending on size)
  • 30 hours of continuous use on a full charge
  • Must be returned to a certified Alpinestars dealer after deployment - £299 charge to re-gas

Take a closer look at the Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 vest in our in-depth article.

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RST Airbag Range

RST has partnered with In&Motion to produce their range of airbag tech, and have decided the best approach for their airbag range is to produce garments pre-fitted with the airbag unit. The electronic system is provided by In&Motion, a subscription service that covers all updates for the software and warranty, and it comes with a handy companion app that allows you to check the battery life, connection status and run all updates, for a monthly or annual fee. Similar to the Furygan, you can easily change the gas canister at home are a deployment, new gas canisters can be purchased separately.

The RST Airbag comes fitted in a range of different garments, there is a race option fitted to set of one-piece leathers, packed full of the armour and protection you need to keep you safe while you ride. There is also the GT Leather jacket, that has a casual-cool style alongside high-level AAA CE rating at Level 2, the GT leather and its similar textile variation are fantastic convenient and protective clothing that comes fitted with the airbag, ready to set up with your In&Motion subscription. Finally, the Adventure-X is a touring-focused textile jacket fitted with the RST airbag and everything needed to keep you comfortable while you ride, no matter how long for.

Details at a glance:

  • Electronic control system provided by In&Motion
  • CE-Certified AAA rating
  • Detect a potential crash in 30 milliseconds and fully deployed in a further 25 milliseconds
  • Replacement gas canisters sold separately
  • 25 hours of continuous use from a full charge
  • In&Motion Inflator cartridge can be purchased separately and changed at home

Click & Collect Online or Drop in-store today

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Spidi DPS Air

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Helite Airbag Vests 

Helite has always been in the business of airbags since 2002 when they first patented a wearable individual airbag originally for light aeronautics, they have since moved into motorcycle wear. Helite’s range of airbag vests include both cable-locking vest and new-style electronic system and include some pre-built into jackets and the standalone vests to be worn under another piece of clothing.

When a Helite unit is deployed, the cartridge can be easily replaced with a new one, which can be purchased separately. The Helite item will only ever have to be returned back to Helite when the actual unit itself has been damaged and no longer holds air. Otherwise, you are safe to use the vest repeatedly, and you can use it within 2 minutes of the system being deployed by resetting the unit, then all you need is a replacement Helite cartridge to fit.

Details at a glance:

Electronics:

  • SAS-TEC Level 2 protection
  • Deployed in 31 milliseconds with fork sensor, deployed in 60 milliseconds without fork sensor
  • Replaceable e-cartridge
  • 25 hours of continuous use on full charge
  • 17 to 28 litre volume

Mechanical:

  • SAS-TEC Level 2 protection
  • Deployed in less than 100 milliseconds
  • Replaceable cartridge
  • Vest to motorcycle cable system
  • 17 to 28-litre volume

Click & Collect Online or Drop in-store today

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AND THAT'S IT!

While we cannot ship the airbag product to you due to courier restrictions, you can Click & Collect your order to pick up in-store or visit any of our 15 UK stores to take a look yourself. We also offer Klarna finance and other 0% Interest-Free options to split the cost into manageable payments.

Our huge range of helmetsbootsgloves and clothing has something for everyone - no matter what price, size or style you’re looking for. We only stock accessories from leading brands, and we pride ourselves on customer service that will keep you coming back for years. Shop online or instore today; if you have any particular questions about any of the products featured on this list or any other item on our website, give us a call on 0800 130 3377 or email us directly at info@infinitymotorcycles.com and we'll do our best to answer them.

This article was written by Aaron Thomson.

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