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ginza-3Gravity is more of a nuisance than a law until the day you go flying off your motorcycle.  Then the landing hurts!

Three years ago I was on an extended trip in Tokyo, Japan.  I had a fair bit of time for shopping and remember running across motorcycle riding apparel which incorporated technological advancements for safety.  It was no ordinary riding apparel.  The jacket included an air bag shock buffering system which provided protection for the neck, back, hip and torso.  All of this in a department store that included routine groceries!

I did a quick yen-to-dollar conversion and remember thinking wow it’s pricey, but still tried on the jacket.  I immediately had more sales help than I could neither understand or wanted, but do recall the fit being comfortable before putting it back on the rack.  I grabbed a product flyer and made a mental note to contact the company when I returned home.  The airbag jacket was not approved for use in the U.S. as they were processing regulatory approval.  Since that trip a number of airbag jackets have made their way to the U.S. market.  One notable is the Hit-Air system. The idea of using a type of “air bag” for motorcycle apparel has been around for a long time and while early versions were bulky and hot that is no longer the case.

apc_helmetNow comes another technological advancement.  An airbag-equipped helmet from APC Systems.  The helmet features a collar-shaped airbag incorporated into a standard motorcycle helmet. Inflation of the airbag occurs without cables or other physical elements linking the rider to the motorcycle. A small control box fitted under the motorcycle’s seat is synchronized wirelessly with the helmet.  Depending on any outside stimulus the determination algorithms tell the helmet to inflate in less than 15 hundredths of a second.

The technological advancements in motorcycle design have in some cases exceeded the skills of riders.   I believe this is one of many reasons for an increase in motorcycle accidents.  With ordinary helmets or riding apparel very little separates you after gravity kicks in from the pavement other than leather or maybe some ballistics textile. An air bag shock buffering system and an air bag equipped helmet might just be the protection devices mandated by the government in the future.

Interested in more?  Give the web sites a look.  The APC site includes high speed camera footage of various scooter accidents which help visualize air bag deployment during point of impact.  If you can watch those and not get a little queasy then more power to you.

APC photo courtesy of web site.

 

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