Best Motorcycle Airbag Vests: Reliable Gear for Impact Protection
These top motorcycle airbag vests will protect you during an impact
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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON October 8, 2019
If you want extra protection while you're riding your motorcycle, you may want to consider purchasing a motorcycle airbag vest. This type of gear features airbags to protect your body during an impact. While these vests are considerably more expensive than traditional vests, they are worth it because of their safety benefits. Check out the top motorcycle airbag vests on the market.
This super lightweight vest deploys the airbag in 0.25 seconds, which is faster than your eye blinks. It can be used on motorcycles as well as for English horse riding.
- Belt is adjustable
- Instructions are pretty clear
- It's very well-made, comfortable, and easy to layer over a leather or other type of riding jacket
- If you ride a sportbike, the canister may hit the gas tank
- Only comes with one cartridge
This budget-friendly motorcycle airbag vest features wraparound neck protection and an outer shell made of tough reflective fabric.
- Inflatable vest has a highly adjustable closure that can be adjusted up to 10 cm
- Its shell is made of abrasion-resistant fabric
- Manufacturer doesn’t include a CO2 cartridge, so you’ll have to buy one separately
- Zipper for the CO2 cartridge can get damaged easily
This protective vest absorbs the shock of impact from a fall on the head and neck. It's made of polyester and nylon and includes a 60cc cartridge.
- Key box is located on the back to prevent the coiled wire from disturbing a rider's movements
- Comes with a back protector inside the vest
- You have to remember to connect the tether to the bike every time you ride. Since the tether is in the back, you may forget to do it
- May tear on impact, so it can't be reused
Benefits of a Motorcycle Airbag Vest
- Protect your body. Motorcycle crashes can wreak havoc on your body and your bank account. Additionally, the injuries are usually more severe than the ones sustained in a car crash. You can avoid injuries and expensive medical treatments by simply getting a motorcycle airbag vest. It acts as a body splint and keeps your neck and spine immobile during a fall. It inflates before you hit the ground and provides protection to your back, neck, and chest.
- Protection from rain. A waterproof motorcycle airbag vest is important when you're riding in cold weather. You can pair it with a waterproof motorcycle jacket to stay safe in the event of a spill. They will also reduce the fatigue caused by a constant chill.
- Extra padding. Some airbag vest companies manufacture vests with extra padding in the back, chest, and sides. Such vests offer extra protection in the event of a crash.
Types of Motorcycle Airbag Vests
Tethered Motorcycle Airbag Vest
This is a basic airbag vest that a rider can wear over their riding jacket. It is normally used by entry-level riders and is usually attached to the bike by a lanyard or cable. In case of a crash, the cable punctures the metal cap of the vest’s CO2 cylinder, making the jacket inflate in less than a second.
Some airbag vests can be worn on top of traditional motorcycle jackets and prevent the jackets from being stripped off or riding up, exposing skin during an accident. If you want to be easily seen in traffic, go for a Hi-Viz inflatable vest or one with reflective stripes. You can also get one that’s lightweight, waterproof, or has a winter lining.
Smart Motorcycle Airbag Vest
Popular motorcycle apparel brands such as Klim, Dainese, Alpinestars, and Ixon make smart motorcycle airbag vests that use a deployment system. The rider is not tethered to the bike. These inflatable vests use technology and sensors to monitor a rider’s position, and they can detect when a rider is about to come off their bike and inflate instantly.
They can also sense when a rider is about to be hit from behind while stationary. Ixon and Klim have vests that can be worn under a rider’s jacket. Dainese and AlpineStars have smart vests, jackets, and full riding suits.
MUGEN DENKO CO. LTD.
MUGEN DENKO CO. LTD is known for its Hit-Air motorcycle vests and jackets, which are popular with motorcycle riders and enthusiasts. The vests and jackets are supplied to police departments in many countries worldwide because of their safety and reliability. MUGEN DENKO CO. LTD is based in Tempaku-ku, Nagoya, Japan. To understand why riders love this brand, get the Hit-Air Inflatable Air Vest.
Klim was launched in 1994 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Back then, it was known as Teton Outfitters and produced customized snowsuits for ski patrols. Years later, the company relocated to Rigby, Idaho, and changed its name to Klim. It now manufactures snowmobile and motorcycle clothing for men, women, and children. Klim clothing is dense, protective, and breathable. The brand also produces a wide range of helmets, boots, gloves, and waterproof clothing. Klim produces clothing that’s perfect for motorsports, like the KLIM Ai-1 Airbag Vest.
Alpinestars was established in 1963 and is now a worldwide manufacturer of professional racing products. It makes high-performance apparel, motorcycle airbag vests and jackets, and technical footwear. The company makes gear for NASCAR, Formula 1, World Motocross, AMA, and MotoGP. It produces advanced technical equipment for the top athletes in the racing world. If you want an airbag vest you can wear over a traditional motorcycle jacket, get the Alpinestars Unisex Airbag Vest.
Motorcycle Airbag Vest Pricing
- $100-$500: These motorcycle airbag vests are lightweight, breathable, and adjustable. Some are unisex.
- $500 and up: These airbag vests are made by well-known companies like Dainese, Alpinestars, and Klim. Some have sensors that monitor your position as you ride and quickly inflate when you're about to crash.
Inflator and Inflation Time
The effectiveness of a motorcycle airbag vest is determined by the speed at which it can inflate. So, it’s important to check the deployment time of the inflator. This usually varies, depending on the brand and model. The best airbag vests can deploy in 0.1 to 0.3 seconds (100-300 milliseconds). The best motorcycle airbag vests on the market use 40-60cc CO2 cartridges. These are usually activated by a rip-cord style pull and inflate almost instantly when you crash or lose your bike.
Location of the Activation System
All tethered motorcycle airbag vests have a high-speed airbag deployment system controlled by a coiled wire cord. The vest is normally attached to the bike using a quick-release connection located in the chest area. For safety reasons, the airbag deployment system and its CO2 cartridge must be positioned on the right side of the lower abdomen. This particular area isn’t near any vital organs.
Motorcycle airbag vests, unlike car airbags, are generally meant to be reusable. So, they must be made with abrasion-resistant material to resist erosion, scratches, and extreme weather. Their outer shell and inflatable airbag must remain intact after a crash. However, some scuffing is acceptable. Get a vest with a tough, abrasion-resistant shell material that complements the impact cushioning the airbag provides.
When it comes to safety, the more the coverage, the better the vest. Look for an airbag vest that offers maximum protection to your most sensitive body parts. Motorcycle airbag vests do not provide the same amount of coverage; however, most inflate to cover the torso, the rib cage, and the spine. It’s also important to get a vest with a wraparound neck airbag as it will protect your neck when you crash. You can also consider getting a pop-down airbag that protects the tailbone.
- Reflective Fabric. Some motorcycle airbag vests, especially those designed for on-road riding and commuting, have high-visibility or reflective material to enhance your safety. If you often ride your motorcycle at night or in unfamiliar territory, get an airbag vest with reflective material.
- CE Certification. Most international motorcycle brands that sell protective gear in different global markets put a CE rating on their products. CE is short for Conformité Européene, which means European Conformity. The CE marking has been in use since 1993 and shows that products conform to health, safety, and environmental protection standards for motorcycles in the European Economic Area.
Best Motorcycle Airbag Vest Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Airbag vests are designed to be worn over a jacket or other layers of clothing. They typically feature adjustable straps and buckles, so they're easy to put on and take off.
- Airbag vests are generally cheaper than airbag jackets. They are more lightweight, easier to layer, and are good in warmer climates. However, airbag jackets provide more protection overall.
- Airbag vests come with replaceable cartridges that are usually 50cc or 60cc. When traveling on a long road trip, purchase a few extra cartridges so you have them on hand.
Q: Can I wear a motorcycle airbag jacket after it’s been deployed?
If the airbags and corresponding mechanisms are still in working order you can wear it again. Just be sure to check that the material and other components of the vest are intact. And most importantly, before you wear it again replace the CO2 cartridge.
Q: Can I wear a raincoat and backpack with an airbag vest?
Yes, but make sure the raincoat and backpack are somewhat loose so that there is room for the airbag to deploy. Otherwise, you will counter the effects of the vest.
Q: What happens if I don’t unclip the vest when I get off my motorcycle?
The coiled wire will pull you back towards your bike. Fortunately, the airbag will not deploy. It may take some practice for you to get used to the coiled wire, but the added safety benefit is worth it.
Our pick for the best motorcycle airbag vest is the Hit Air MLV-YC Light Weight Airbag Vest. It is made by an award-winning Japanese company, and the vest itself is comfortable as well as protective.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Flyastar Motorcycle zipper Air-bag Vest for Moto Racing.