Air Bag Vest/Suit - BMW F800 Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
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    We have had a bit of discussion of air bag vests recently on the forum and I think I may be a convert. I came across the following link on a non motorcycling forum today and it's made me think. Conventionally I am not one to view videos of crashes let alone post one. Not because I want to bury my head in the sand as to how dangerous our past time can be but out of respect for those involved, I don't want their misfortune to be my entertainment. The link is to a news article about an incident involving a motorcycle and car. The police are fairly adamant the incident would have been a fatality if the rider had not been wearing an air bag suit. The footage the police have released does make a strong case for air bag clothing. It's also interesting to note that in an non fatal accident the motorist receives a custodial sentence.

    So what is the consensus from the forum, what is available, are there any CE standards (DOT) that apply, what are the pros and cons.


    https://news.sky.com/story/dashcam-f...ision-11905785
    In the Garage 2013 BMW F800 GT,1994 BMW R80 RT,1986 BMW R80 GS,1999 Yamaha SR125
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  3. #2
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    As with any armour check the CE rating of the suit you are going to buy. However, be aware as the airbag rating system is different to that of normal hard armour.

    For instance, the CE rating on the back protection of my Dainese vest is CE1. However this is 17 times the protection level of a standard back protector.


    Dainese Smart Jacket Protection level:
    OLOMITICERT PROCEDURAL GUIDELINE:
    AIRBAG LEVEL 2 CHEST EN 1621-4 DC
    AIRBAG LEVEL 1 BACK EN 1621-4 CB
    DPI (2016/425)

    Full safety info here
    BMW F800ST, 2010, Black, Fuzeblock, Sat Nav, BMW Tank Bag, Givi Touring Screen, Spotlights, 50K Miles

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  5. #3
    notacop is online The original Schwartz Wald Troll
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    I just checked my Helite jacket. It does have shoulder and elbow pads and a substantial back protector. In a normal get off it provides the same protection as the other riding apparel I have,such as Aerostich and BMW and Cycle Gear Bilt stuff. What it offers in addition to the normal armor is the inflated pads when activated that give the system some bounce factor to absorb impact.
    This stuff will become as normal to use as helmets and ear protection and protective fabric in the apparel as time goes on. Even guys on the electric bikes we will be riding eventually will benefit from air bag systems to protect their schmarmy butts.
    All the CE ratings will become sales points eventually. "Our Air Bag System is mo bettah than the other guys" sales pitches.
    Heck, there are new helmet designs that have a new isolation attachments of the foam that are supposedly better at protection of the head bone.
    We can only benefit from these improvements.

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  8. #4
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    I was introduced to the idea of an airbag vest about the time a forum member on NT-Owners had an accident. He was an experienced rider and leading a small group. He came up on a corner...and he went straight. He doesn't remember why.

    He almost died from the accident. He had no scrapes or head injuries. His riding gear protected him well from that. However, he had 17 broken bones in his chest, plus a crushed vertebrae and a fractured vertebrae. Our riding jackets protect us well in a slide, but will do nothing if we hit something like hit a tree.

    Jackets were just coming out at the time, so there wasn't much choice. I still think a vest is the way to go. Getting a jacket means you have the airbag only when wearing that jacket. If you alternate from a winter jacket to a summer jacket, you'll need two airbag jackets. But with a vest, you make one purchase and you're good to go.

    Vests come in two flavors it seems. The tethered and non-tethered. I think the initial cost is about the same. The cost over time will be much higher with the non-tethered type.

    The tethered style are simple but effective. You attach a lanyard to the bike and clip it to the vest when you get on the bike. It becomes second nature to clip it on, and off in a short time. If you're worried about it inflating if you walk away from the bike, don't. I've never heard of anyone setting theirs off. And for me personally, I've walked away and been jerked back hard...and haven't set it off.

    I have set mine off three times. With the first time, I ended up lying against a curb at a busy intersection and realizing I didn't hurt. I should've had a couple broken ribs, but didn't. It sold me.

    Here's a difference between the tethered style and the non-tethered type. With the tethered style, you pick yourself up along with your injured pride and screw on a new CO2 bottle, and tuck the air bag back in. In five minutes, you're on your way. The non-tethered style use sensors to determine if you've parted ways with the motorcycle. It isn't just a matter of putting a new CO2 cartridge on. Now you have to return it to an authorized dealer, who then sends it into the company to have them check out the sensors and make sure it works as it should. You're out of using the vest for a couple weeks, and I believe the whole process of checking out the sensors, happens on your nickel. I think the cost is in the hundreds of $$$.

    Whichever way you go, is far better than not using one. I consider it just as essential as a helmet or gloves.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder

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    But with a vest, you make one purchase and you're good to go.
    Agreed. I have a Mugen Denko 'Hit Air' MLV-C harness with the optional spine protector. It's even less intrusive than a vest & I can wear it all year around over whatever jacket I'm using in the conditions.

    It's a tethered-type so I just fit a tether to each of my bikes. Thankfully I've never had to use it
    Regards,
    Phil.

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    What sort of cost are they over here Phil?

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    About $800 for the MLV harness if memory serves. Check with Yvoir at Hit Air Australia
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  14. #8
    notacop is online The original Schwartz Wald Troll
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    Daboo, the Helite I got came with a liner for cold weather but regular layering and the Gerbing heated jacket work for winter. The vents are passable with a wet vest in the 100+ degree temps I've ridden in. Some folks are less tolerable to temperature extremes and might not be satisfied. I know some folks can't stand any level of discomfort and make wardrobe changes frequently during the day. I've ridden with some and finally begged off the ride because of the stops. See Yah!

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    Have seen several crashes with airbag inflation at the track. From my experience watching looks like the do make a significant difference. One photo sequence of a pretty nasty high side shows the airbag inflating well before she hit the ground. No injury and she was aggravated because the bike wouldn't restart - wanted to rejoin the race! I have seen low sides where the rider stayed close enough to the bike that the weather may not have been pulled but those crashes were not high speed and the rider was OK.

    I have watched the street airbag vests and jackets closely and will probably get a Helite vest this year. They also stabilize the head which helps prevent neck injuries.

  17. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoAl View Post
    ...They also stabilize the head which helps prevent neck injuries.
    The Hit-Air does too.

    Take a look at pictures of each blown up before making your purchase. I rode with a Canadian last summer who had a Helite. It didn't look like his would offer as much protection as my Hit-Air does. But I may be wrong. Both offer the ability to have back protection, I think. I have a CE rated back protector in my riding jacket, so didn't worry about having it in the air bag vest also.

    At the time I made my purchase, the Helite was almost $100 more than the Hit-Air. I think the prices have come down to be about equal now.

    Chris
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    FWIW the guy who bought my Helite said that his previous airbag vest saved his life, so he was buying another for his son. Talked to the Alpine Star guys at the DC auto show and they said they are releasing a stand alone vest "soon".

    I'll buy whatever is lightest and gives most protection. But for now I'm enjoying the feeling of riding just a little bit more free.

  19. #12
    Roadpizza's Avatar
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    I bought an Air-Hit some years ago and the quality of build was good; However the zipper I thought seemed too small for the requirements. The zipper became unusable about a year later. Still have the vest and have not found a shop to make repairs on the zipper.
    BMW F800S.

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  20. #13
    notacop is online The original Schwartz Wald Troll
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    "I'll buy whatever is lightest and gives most protection."

    The Helite jacket weighs in at about 8-9 pounds. Seems heavy carrying it around but I don't notice the weight when on the bike and moving.
    I'd rather a bit of inconvenience to have the protection than complain about the weight of my savior.
    The vests are going to weigh much less and be less obtrusive than the jacket.

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  22. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roadpizza View Post
    I bought an Air-Hit some years ago and the quality of build was good; However the zipper I thought seemed too small for the requirements. The zipper became unusable about a year later. Still have the vest and have not found a shop to make repairs on the zipper.
    Try asking your local motorcycle store for who their tailor is. They'll have the sewing machines that can handle that heavy of material.

    How the heck did you ruin the zipper? Just puzzled.

    I'm like notacop. I don't notice the weight except when picking the jacket up off the back of a chair, especially since I take off everything (airbag vest, jacket, liner) together. As soon as it is on, the weight is gone.

    Chris
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  23. #15
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    I didn't ruin the zipper. The zipper was not a very large one and it became worn very quickly and would not stay clasped if a little pressure was applied. It needed to be about twice the size and far stronger considering the work it was supposed to do. A strong YKK outdoor gear zipper is what should have been installed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daboo View Post
    Try asking your local motorcycle store for who their tailor is. They'll have the sewing machines that can handle that heavy of material.

    How the heck did you ruin the zipper? Just puzzled.

    I'm like notacop. I don't notice the weight except when picking the jacket up off the back of a chair, especially since I take off everything (airbag vest, jacket, liner) together. As soon as it is on, the weight is gone.

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  24. #16
    Daboo's Avatar
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    I just realized I have no zipper on mine. They used two large plastic clips that snap into one another. That's why I haven't had an issue.

    You could do the same thing.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
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    There is a outdoor clothing company that manufactures in Hoodriver. I'll check them out and see if they can do something or point me to one who can. I never minded the vest and felt it was something that could be important when needed.
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  26. #18
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    I had a local shoe shop do that sewed clips on my tank bag straps. In addition to shoe repairs they sew and repair bags and heavy fabric items.

  27. #19
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    They used two large plastic clips that snap into one another.
    Mine too.

    Seems heavy carrying it around but I don't notice the weight when on the bike and moving.
    Agreed. I don't notice mine when I'm wearing it either.
    Regards,
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  28. #20
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    I've been riding with a Helite airbag vest for about a year. I wear it over my armored Klim jacket and it's unobtrusive. On an Alps trip this past August, a fellow rider fell onto me as we were stopped on the shoulder of a highway, knocking me off my bike and onto the tarmac. The vest inflated. I was not injured (nor would I have been had I not been wearing the vest) but it was a comfort knowing the vest worked. Like others here, I consider it part of my ATGATT package. Replacement CO2 cartridges cost about $25 and can be installed in two minutes.
    2013 BMW F800GT | 2015 BMW R1200RT | 2014 Honda CB1100 DLX

  29. #21
    notacop is online The original Schwartz Wald Troll
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    emlevy, When I bought the jacket at the 49er BMW rally the dealer gave me an extra cartridge and the BMW parts vendor on site had a couple more on sale that I got. So I carry a spare on each bike. Might be handy to have around. A blow up vest/jacket ain't gonna work without it.

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  31. #22
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    Helite is coming out w/ an electronic deployment version of their Turtle 2 vest. It employs two sensors, one in the vest, and an innovative 2nd one on the front fork of the bike which could come into play when the bike is struck first as in a rear end collision. I've been on the fence on using an air vest but am getting closer to committing, and will try the new one from Helite and Alpinestar's Tech-Air 5 as well which is coming out later this month, and decide which one from there. I've researched the Tech-Air 5 quite deeply so am familiar w/ its potential pros n cons. At the moment I favor the Turtle 2 protection scheme and exterior wear a bit better than the Tech-Air 5's, and if Helite's deployment technology is as good as they are touting I will probably go the Helite route. It appears Alpinestars is far ahead in terms of years of proof of concept as their deployment tech employing 4 sensors, no GPS, has been around awhile in their race jackets and vests.

    Attachment 357471

    https://www.helite.com/Technology-Airbag-electronic-eng

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  33. #23
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    You might note that on the Tech-Air-5, if it is activated, it must be sent back to AlpineStars to be reset. That is a deal killer for me.

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  34. #24
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    I like simple. The new airbags IMHO are introducing things like sensors to take the place of the simple tether I have on the bike. And I know it works, because the first time mine deployed, I was lying there wondering why I wasn't hurt. I knew I should've had a couple broken ribs, but I had no pain. Just injured pride.

    The cost to send in one of the AlpineStars airbags is almost half what one costs, if I remember right. In the meantime, you're riding without your airbag. For a couple weeks, minimum.

    I feel naked without my Hit-Air.

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    The last thing I'd want going through my mind as I crashed would be "I hope the sensors work !". It might be a bit old-school, but a mechanical ripcord is a bit more confidence inspiring to me.
    Regards,
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    Like the simplicity of the tethered deployment system, however they do not work as well as the intelligent systems on a low side or rear end collisions as you must leave your bike to deploy the airbag

    Motoairbag (Italian company) will be introducing an mechanical inertia device (Fast lock V3) to lock the cord sooner leading to an earlier deployment. https://www.motoairbag.com/

    This looks intriguing as it is a totally mechanical system that works like a seatbelt lock but still requires you to wear in over your jacket and connect the tether.

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    Hmmmm.... interesting. I reckon the Fast Lock could be adapted to the Hit Air 'coz, after all... it's just an inertia locking reel. The other interesting thing about MotoAirBag is the attachment point on the bike is down beside you not in front like Hit Air. If you are a sporty rider who likes to hang off the bike I wonder if it might get in the way. Hit Air's solution for the track is a special vest that tethers from the rear but that would be a PIA for day-to-day riding.
    Regards,
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Mariner View Post
    The last thing I'd want going through my mind as I crashed would be "I hope the sensors work !". It might be a bit old-school, but a mechanical ripcord is a bit more confidence inspiring to me.
    Don't worry it will happen so fast you won't have time to think about the sensors

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daboo View Post
    The new airbags IMHO are introducing things like sensors to take the place of the simple tether I have on the bike....The cost to send in one of the AlpineStars airbags is almost half what one costs, if I remember right.

    Chris
    With the new Tech-Air 5 the first 3 deployment services are free of charge w/ a 1 week turn around, after that it's $179. Quite frankly, are people crashing and deploying so often this is actually a serious consideration? I've yet to crash in 80K miles since resuming riding 6y ago and I hope to keep it that way.

    The tethered systems while more fool-proof, aren't entirely fool-proof. You will most likely forget to connect the tether on occasion several times during ownership. They've deployed unintentionally before as well or so the youtube video showed. Plus, the time from moment of impact/crash to full deployment is considerably longer w/ Helite's tether than w/ Tech-Air's approach. Here's a hypothetical: at say 50mph, you hit a deer which absorbs some energy and essentially slows you as a projectile, to say 38mph. At 38mph you are traveling 0.669 inches/millisecond. I didn't double check it but I think it's correct. Irrespective of the initiation time (the wireless models appear to initiate deployment far quicker) of tether v wireless, the 100ms deployment time alone in the tethered to CO2 deployment translates to 67 inches of horizontal travel, versus 17 inches with the 25ms deployment of the argon system in Tech-Air 5.

    Imagine being rear-ended w/ a tethered model. The bike jettison's forward and you're nailed from behind before the vest ever deploys--it's plausible for sure which is how Helite justifies their fork-mounted sensor.

    Here's the tethered Helite--he's fully thru the windscreen and bars before the vest ever inflates. In the video this doesn't appear to matter, but if the vehicle crashed into was a tall van it might have mattered. This screen capture was immediately before inflation:

    Click image for larger version.

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    In this crash w/ the Tech-Air 5 the dummy's vest is already inflated before it ever leaves the seat:

    Click image for larger version.

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    The vest here doesn't look particularly protective but that is in part because you can't see it as well in part. The upper arms/shoulders get a bit better coverage than w/ Helite Turtle 2 but better neck coverage w/ Turtle 2.

    Click image for larger version.

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    And these complex tech heavy approaches are being used on MotoGP and other where the crash rate is 10x what it is in street environments--i.e., they're quite proven it would appear.

    I'll be trying both the new Helite wireless and Tech Air's when they debut I'll let you know what my impression is as to how they feel when worn. I like the idea of the external vest I think more than wearing Tech-Air under my jacket it, and my jackets do have the requisite 4cm of expansion capacity required. It seems like it might be a bit restrictive and warm having that under my jacket, though where I live now that's not all bad. In touring scenarios typically I'm off the bike every 90min or so to get fuel, whiz, eat, etc so not having to connect/reconnect has appeal. Right now the Helite Turtle w/ wireless deployment is most attractive to me between the two models. If I owned a tethered Helite I'd keep it for sure they're proven enough, but I don't so can afford to see what's coming down the pike.

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