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Motorcycle Suit with Built-in Airbag

Published Tuesday, April 01, 2014. Category: Motorcycles

For years people have been trying to find ways to protect motorcyclists from crash injuries. Head injuries can usually be avoided by wearing a helmet, but neck, back and abdomen injuries are much more difficult to avoid. Enter Ducati and Dainese with their integrated wireless airbag bike-suit system.

Airbag systems for motorcycles are not a completely new concept, but they haven't been very practical up to this point.

In the mid-2000s Honda did extensive research on the types of motorcycle accidents and how they occur. After concluding that most accidents occur as frontal collisions, they added a carefully designed airbag to the Gold Wing. Of course, if you depart the Gold Wing in any direction other than forward, you may not realize the benefits of the airbag.

Putting airbags on smaller bikes (or even scooters) may not be practical just because there isn't enough real estate on the bike to hide the airbag system. It's also questionable whether a lightweight bike would act the same as a Gold Wing in a collision and be a practical platform for an airbag system.

Seeing the need for something more universal, companies created airbags built into vests and jackets, but most require a tether to the motorcycle. If the tether is yanked (i.e. the rider goes flying off the bike), the airbag goes off.

While this system seems to work, there is always the possibility of accidentally deploying the airbag, either due to forgetting to detach the cord from the bike or catching it on something.

Alpinestars introduced the Tech Air racing suit that is a self-contained unit. The suit has sensors built into it that determine if a crash is taking place and inflates shoulder airbags (usually in mid-air). Since this suit is specifically for racers, it mostly focuses on preventing broken collar bones (which occur in almost half of all racing accidents). Dainese also has a similar suit called the D-air. This is great for racers, but not completely helpful for bikers on the streets.

Dainese finally introduced the D-air Street. It's a complex system that requires sensors and an ECU to be mounted on the forks and frame of the bike and the suit contains an electronic communications system that "talks" to the sensors and the computer on the bike.

The D-air Street has a more robust airbag system for street riders. In addition to protecting the shoulders, it also has bags that protect the rib cage and organs, spinal column and limits extreme neck movements.

So what's the next step in the evolution of the airbag suit? Ducati decided to integrate the Dainese electronics into their Multistrada.

The sensors built into the bike automatically monitor acceleration, braking and the angle of the bike. If an accident is detected, a wireless signal is sent to the suit and the airbag system is deployed.

To start with, the Ducati Multistrada D-air will only be available in Europe. We're hoping the idea catches on and we can start to see bikes in the States with this system.

Photo Credit: Ducati