Airbag jackets are nothing new, with most major kit brands producing inflating safety vests designed to provide additional protection.
You can wear them under your leathers, casual jackets, or as part of an off-road adventure outfit, but now one Swedish firm is taking this inflating tech a step further, working with vest company Helite to launch a pair of $499 Airbag Jeans (around £399) – designed to inflate and protect your upper legs and lower back, should you take a spill.
“I think I got the idea in 2018,” creator Moses Shahrivar told MCN. “I started working on it and then I created the company and relaunched the brand Mo’cycle, who now produce the product.
“Regular Kevlar jeans are good for abrasion protection, but they don’t do much for impact protection and the only thing you have is the knee protectors and the hip protectors,” he continued. “And lots of people tend to take the hip protectors out because they’re bulky.”
That is where airbags come in, because you can have the protection without the bulk. The system on this particular garment inflates in around 100-150 milliseconds, injecting 17 litres of compressed carbon dioxide gas into a pouch surrounding your hips and backside.
This pocket of air will then remain expanded for around two minutes, with a hole in the trigger slowly allowing deflation from the moment it’s inflated.
Shahrivar added: “It starts ventilating from the second it gets inflated, but it stays really hard for a couple of seconds and that’s the most crucial time when you are in an accident.”
Despite the jeans costing almost £400, the Mo’cycle boss says there has been plenty of interest and demand so far, adding: “I would call it a success. We’ve sold around 500 units as of today. And this is really good compared to how many vests the distributors are selling. The potential in the airbag market is really huge.”
While currently expensive, it’s likely that as more companies adopt this idea, should it take off more widely, the prices will come down and the integration of the airbag system will become more subtle.
Unlike some more advanced (and costly) riding vests, the inflation process here is entirely manual, using no electronic components. That means it is no problem to swap gas canisters at home after a deployment and you won’t need to send the jeans back to the manufacturer for a factory refresh.
Much like some Helite riding vests, the wearer must secure a ripcord to an anchor point on the bike – such as an exposed subframe or grab handle.
Should you come off the motorcycle, this cord leads down to something similar to a dead man’s switch, with a metal ball holding back a spring-loaded piston under heavy tension. In the event of a fall, this chord will pull out the ball, allowing the pin to shoot forward and pierce the CO2 cartridge – thus activating the airbag.
A hole in the middle of the pin then allows the gas to escape back into the atmosphere. The strap itself can be clipped in and out of the trousers, meaning you can leave it attached to the bike and requires around 40kg of force to trigger the airbag – meaning you aren’t likely to set it off if you forget to unhitch at the petrol station.