In 2006, bikers finally received a life-saving feature that was already standard in many cars. That year the Honda Motor Company released the first motorcyle to come equipped with an airbag.
While the model, named the GL1800 Goldwing, was eventually discontinued in the U.S., the safety concept has since taken off, albeit in an somewhat different manner. Other motorsport companies soon hit on the idea that a more suitable approach for most riders would be to put the airbag on the driver in the form of a jacket or vest instead of the vehicle itself. Now a growing number of companies have put on the market rugged clothing that quickly inflates in the event of a collision.
Safermoto.com, a manufacturer of airbag outerwear, recently demonstrated how this kind of technology works at the recent Long Beach International Motorcycle Show. A tether cord connects the vest or jacket to the motorcycle, and inflation from a compact replaceable CO2 cartridge is triggered instantly when the rider falls. Similar to an airbag, SaferMoto.com vests and jackets deploy in less than a quarter of a second.
Another clothing manufacturer, Dainese, has taken the concept one step further by creating a jacket system that does a better job of properly deploying because of built-in motion sensors designed to detect when a rider was actually being thrown from the vehicle.
Both companies have products on the market. A Safermoto airbag jacket retails for around $550 while one price listing shows a Dainese D-air Prof.air Beg Suit selling for $3,430.
But a truly innovative variation of the wearable airbag comes from a Canadian inventor named Rejean Neron. Upon impact, his orange-colored "Safety Sphere" rider suit inflates dramatically, to the point where the rider turns into a round ball that resembles, well, a giant orange.
Neron explains to Motorcycle News how the device works:
"The outer layer is made up of a highly resistant parachute type material. The inner layer is made up of a thin, moderately elastic synthetic material. In a collision situation, the passengers are thrown from the motorcycle, the cord connecting them to the motorcycle seat disconnects, the electrical voltage plummets, and the electronic circuit processor inside the belt buckle housing of each occupant connects the 9 volt battery to an electric igniter in the back housing of their respective suits." This triggers the firing of an explosive canister of propellant called nitrocellulose.
No word yet on when the Safety Sphere will hit the market.
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(via Motorcycle News)
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