Taking Motorcycle Safety to a Whole New Level

There have been some exciting new innovations in motorcycle safety in recent years. Most notable are airbags, high-tech helmets, intelligent lights and antilock brakes.

1. Airbags
Honda introduced the first motorcycle airbag system in 2006. They haven’t really caught on though since they only really protect against head-on collisions. The greatest innovations in this area are coming from the makers of motorcycle suits and helmets rather than the motorcycle companies themselves. The first airbag suit and jacket hit the market in 2008 made by RS Taichi, a Japanese manufacturer. Both the suit and the jacket are made to attach to the bike with a wire. When the wire becomes detached due to a collision, the neck inflates to help stabilize the bones in the neck.

2. High-Tech Helmets
Another recent innovation in motorcycle safety is high-tech helmets. Helmet manufacturers are also implementing airbags. APC Systems in Barcelona introduced the first airbag helmet in 2008. The airbags inflate after speed sensors deem a crash imminent, protecting the rider’s neck and upper spine.

Helmet manufacturers are also experimenting with the idea of a “brain-cooling” helmet. Introduced in 2010, ThermaHelm® contains a chemical packet that activates after a crash to cool the rider’s head and reduce brain swelling.

3. Intelligent Lights
Intelligent lights may be even more important on a motorcycle than in a conventional vehicle. These adaptive lights can show you what’s coming around the next bend. In 2011, BMW introduced adaptive lighting for their motorcycles that tilt according to the bike’s lean.

Brake lights are especially important for motorcyclists. Riders don’t typically have to apply the brakes to slow down which is a disadvantage in warning travelers behind them. A company out of San Diego is currently raising funds to development brake lights that will light up when the rider slows down, whether or not they apply the brakes.

4. Anti-Lock Brakes
Previous anti-lock brake systems were based off of passenger car technology. In 2010, Bosch announced the first ABS designed for motorcycles. This new system will be adaptive to various sizes of motorcycles since they are smaller and lighter.