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Airbag for motorcyclist?
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Uncle Skeleton
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Nov 12, 2011, 03:25 PM
 
The 21st century can begin now! I finally got myself a personal airbag. The concept goes like this, when a motorcyclist gets forcefully ejected from their bike, it pulls a tether releasing a compressed gas canister (CO2) that fills the airbag buffering the cyclist's most vulnerable points (neck primarily, and spine, shoulders and kidney region). The airbag is built in to either the jacket or a vest worn over the jacket. I chose the vest, for climate flexibility. I ordered mine from here:

MLV-R - Details

The airbag is reusable, so I ordered an extra gas canister with the intention of testing it myself. They claim that the previous generation mechanism could fully inflate in 500 milliseconds, and this year they released the second gen that inflates in just 250 ms. For reference, car airbags use explosives (not gas expansion) to inflate in tens of ms.

So without further ado, here is my test. Short answer, it passed. It clearly inflated in under 250 ms. This video shows me wearing the vest, from 2 angles. Half a megabyte, 1.0 seconds, with sound (might be loud):

http://noah2.home.comcast.net/pullsmall.mov

What do you think? Pretty clever gizmo, or waste of $400?

I've been using it on the road for about 2 weeks, and it doesn't seem cumbersome so far. It's lightweight, and connecting and releasing the tether is easier than using a seatbelt. It was also quite easy to repack the airbag after the test.
     
Uncle Skeleton  (op)
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Nov 12, 2011, 03:26 PM
 
edit: (I posted in PWL by mistake. it's moved now)
( Last edited by Uncle Skeleton; Nov 13, 2011 at 12:51 PM. )
     
Athens
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Nov 12, 2011, 04:53 PM
 
I just don't know how useful that would be. My assumption (cuz I haven't looked) is that the majority of motor cycle deaths are head injuries. That said it could cut down on injuries allowing for quicker rehab and less costs.

I think a Oh Shit button with a ejection seat / parachute would do wonders in preventing injuries lol
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Uncle Skeleton  (op)
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Nov 12, 2011, 05:48 PM
 
Your concern might begin and end with "death" but mine doesn't. There are far more injuries than deaths. Besides, I already have a helmet. Also there's still disagreement over whether helmets actually increase danger to the neck... but you could hardly make that claim in my case (anymore).

Given that a helmet is used properly, what is the remaining risk distribution, between head (only) and neck? I can't find any statistics that specific. But my head was already protected to some extent, and my neck wasn't protected at all.
     
reader50
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Nov 12, 2011, 05:57 PM
 
Somehow I was expecting big bags surrounding the cyclist, like how the Mars probes landed.



The vest looks way better than nothing. A flat $400 is cheap for life insurance.
     
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Nov 12, 2011, 06:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
Your concern might begin and end with "death" but mine doesn't. There are far more injuries than deaths.
Spending the rest of my life having someone wipe my butt for me is far more scary than death. Which is why I won't get on a bike again. Far too dangerous.

Edit: Just watched the test vid. Nice, but you're still going to need someone to wipe your butt for you.
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Nov 12, 2011, 06:25 PM
 
Some French A&E guy on a recent car program really rates the air-vests. BUT, he also said that they're seeing more facial injuries because people are buying 'trendy' half-face helmets instead of covering over the chin. He didn't go into details, but he did say that your chin could be ground off.
     
Uncle Skeleton  (op)
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Nov 12, 2011, 08:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Somehow I was expecting big bags surrounding the cyclist, like how the Mars probes landed.



The vest looks way better than nothing. A flat $400 is cheap for life insurance.
I can't wait to get that version. Fingers crossed.
     
Uncle Skeleton  (op)
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Nov 12, 2011, 08:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
Given that a helmet is used properly, what is the remaining risk distribution, between head (only) and neck?
Ok so I found this document: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810856.pdf

It says that of those helmeted fatalities in 2000-2002 in the US with only 1 injury recorded, the ratio of head:neck:thorax:spine is 19:3:6:3. That kind of answers the question above. Neck is not as prominent as I would have guessed. But the airbag does at least cover all those other areas. By this simplification of the remaining risk, I am addressing 12/31 or 39% of it. (looking at multiple injury sites is too complex, as you can't isolate which site actually caused the death) (I still have my eye out for non-fatal injury stats among helmeted riders, but I don't have high hopes of finding that specificity)

The other categories were "shoulder/arms" and "hip/legs," and while it's not surprising that 0% had their ONLY injury in these zones (since we're only looking at fatalities), that still constitutes 2 and 9 actual people. I wonder how those 11 people managed to be killed with only one injury if it was located on the arms or legs...? Maybe the crash didn't cause their death... maybe their death caused the crash.
( Last edited by Uncle Skeleton; Nov 13, 2011 at 10:23 PM. )
     
Doofy
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Nov 12, 2011, 09:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
I wonder how those 11 people managed to be killed with only one injury if it was located on the arms or legs...?
Well, if something rips your arm or leg off and it's not sorted pronto, you're going to bleed to death very quickly.
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OldManMac
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Nov 13, 2011, 12:15 AM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
aw crap. Political? It might get there eventually... feel free to move me somewhere else

Edit: Ok I can just add some politics

How long before airbags are the new helmets (required in most states)? What advancements or changes might need to be made for this to happen?
I hope not for a long time. Actually, here in MI, the helmet law may finally be repealed this year. The legislature brings it up every few years, but our previous governor always threatened to veto it.

I don't ride without one (well actually I did this summer when I forgot my helmet lock key, and I'm lucky I didn't get caught), but it shouldn't be mandated.
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subego
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Nov 13, 2011, 02:36 AM
 
Yeah. I think you should wear them (like seat belts) but not be required to by law.
     
brassplayersrock²
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Nov 13, 2011, 02:52 AM
 
oh ffs, another non-political/religious thread topic getting moved to the p.w.l?
     
Athens
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Nov 13, 2011, 04:58 AM
 
No I think he made it in Political by mistake
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Uncle Skeleton  (op)
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Nov 13, 2011, 12:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Yeah. I think you should wear them (like seat belts) but not be required to by law.
What about the air vest? Any potential to reach the same status, in your opinion?
     
subego
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Nov 13, 2011, 03:51 PM
 
Well, it's sort of like that now, I guess. I'd wear one if you could get me on a motorcycle.

What I see as more likely though is that they get mandated after awhile. Like belts and helmets.
     
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Nov 13, 2011, 05:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by brassplayersrock² View Post
oh ffs, another non-political/religious thread topic getting moved to the p.w.l?
No, the OP accidentally posted it in the PL, and I moved it in the regular Lounge.
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subego
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Nov 13, 2011, 05:37 PM
 
We're working on it, though.
     
Atheist
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Nov 13, 2011, 06:35 PM
 
Does this thing work at all like a car airbag? I'm curious if the bags deflate upon impact. If they just fill up with air wouldn't they still transmit a good portion of the impact onto the body?
     
Uncle Skeleton  (op)
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Nov 13, 2011, 07:32 PM
 
The airbag slowly deflated after the initial trigger, I recall that after a minute or so it felt about half-full. I don't know what you're referring to, that deflation could take place during the actual collision rather than afterwards, and the wikipedia article on airbags didn't tell me... how do car airbags work deflation-wise?
     
Athens
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Nov 13, 2011, 08:47 PM
 
I was watching some crash videos of the system. Not this product but a similar one. It appears the biggest benefit are those that land on their backs. Examples of bikes crashing into a car's hood sending the guy flying. I can still imagine shoulder injuries and pelvic injuries along with the things it offers no protection on which is your limbs depending on how a person lands in a crash. It is clearly beneficial for some accidents.

What I want to see is crash tests done with impact badges to show how much protection it offers and where it fails. I couldn't find any of those online.
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shabbasuraj
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Nov 13, 2011, 08:55 PM
 
So what about the Honda Goldwing's airbag, does this vest help or hinder that safety feature?
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Uncle Skeleton  (op)
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Nov 13, 2011, 09:18 PM
 
The Goldwing's airbag, as I understand it, is like a car's, where it just fills the space directly in front of you. Since the front of the vest airbag is pretty small compared to the back, I imagine the two airbags would not interact. Of course Goldwing owners tend to be fat old guys, so there's less free space to work with

Actually, the CO2 canister is on your chest/ribs, so I can see the possibility of that actually bruising you if the front airbag pushes with too much force.

I actually like the concept of the vest airbag more than a front airbag, because of the protection during non-head-on collisions. Even though it does seem that a majority of crashes are caused by the bike ramming a car, not vice versa. However, for whatever reason in the pacific northwest they say that single-vehicle crashes are the majority (maybe wet leaves?), which makes me more worried about high-siding in a turn than I otherwise would be (not because low-siding isn't likely, just because it's less dangerous if it happens), in which case the vest would be more useful than the front airbag.
     
jmiddel
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Nov 13, 2011, 10:16 PM
 
Brilliant thread, I don't cycle, but people I care about do, so I'm emailing them this link
     
Uncle Skeleton  (op)
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Nov 13, 2011, 10:24 PM
 
Great! If they have any questions about it I would be happy to share
     
Athens
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Nov 13, 2011, 10:29 PM
 
Its absolutely not a substitute for any of the other PPE, proper helmet, clothing and armor pads are still a must even with the airbag system.

I do have one question about the system, in the video it looks like it inflates a section behind the neck. Does this lock your head from bouncing backwards?
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Uncle Skeleton  (op)
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Nov 13, 2011, 11:05 PM
 
Yes. My head was pretty much immobile. Here is another video of me trying to move my head right after the inflation:

http://noah2.home.comcast.net/head.mov

I can move it a little, mostly forward, but not far at all. Obviously, this immobility depends on the presence of a helmet
     
Athens
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Nov 14, 2011, 02:35 AM
 
That alone would make me get it. There is another product that also includes a flap that protects the shoulders.

Dainese airbag suit for 2010 - YouTube

This is the type of accident the one you are showing off would work really well against.

airbag jacket - YouTube

I have more faith in the one you have though.
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Nov 14, 2011, 02:36 AM
 
What would you assess the likelihood is of forgetting to remove the tether when you get off the bike?
     
Athens
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Nov 14, 2011, 03:41 AM
 
Hum, like to add whats the likelihood of banging the tether out while riding. Looking at how it deploys though I can't see it knocking some one off the bike from that. Would be one hell of a scare though.
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Nov 14, 2011, 05:08 AM
 
These suits have been used in MotoGP racing this year. I don't know how or if they are different than the ones that can be bought for the road, but when they were mentioned in race commentary they said they can inflate twice, and if you fall off 3 times in a race you deserve to hurt yourself .

It'll be much easier if you just comply.
     
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Nov 14, 2011, 06:04 AM
 
Has this been tested by any independent ratings agency? I work in automotive, and I know the sort of tests we have to do. If you have a linky to a report, I know enough to be able to read it. There are many crash scenarios.

What most people don't know is that airbags can be quite dangerous if they deploy when the occupant is out of position. The passenger side airbag is very close to zero in terms of average benefit, because if the passenger happens to be leaning forward when it deploys, it's a definite negative. The same if the occupant is significantly shorter than the average adult. In cars for the US market, we try to compensate by measuring weight and deploying (or not) accordingly, but weight does not directly translate into height. I would personally never put a child in the passenger seat. Rear seat on booster cushion, and the center position if there is no booster cushion.

I suspect that this risk will be less for a worn airbag, but it would still be interesting what happened if it deployed when the rider was tilting their head to the side. It's a worthwhile goal (motorcycle accident victims are a leading source of organ donors...) but this sort of thing is not easy.

The airbag is reusable, so I ordered an extra gas canister with the intention of testing it myself. They claim that the previous generation mechanism could fully inflate in 500 milliseconds, and this year they released the second gen that inflates in just 250 ms. For reference, car airbags use explosives (not gas expansion) to inflate in tens of ms.
Explosion is a form of gas expansion - in the regular case, of nitrogen atoms in a solid substrate reforming into N2 (nitrogen gas), increasing pressure and releasing heat. I guess you mean that there is no chemical reaction? That could explain the reaction time, because 250 ms is SLOW by airbag standards. What sort of inflated volume are we talking about here?
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Nov 14, 2011, 06:13 AM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
Does this thing work at all like a car airbag? I'm curious if the bags deflate upon impact. If they just fill up with air wouldn't they still transmit a good portion of the impact onto the body?
In car airbags, there are small holes to let them deflate in a controlled manner.
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Athens
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Nov 14, 2011, 06:42 AM
 
From what I have seen from the video posted it looks like it has very few disadvantages. I "still" think when it comes to being a life saving device it will have little effect. But I can see it being a very useful device to prevent a majority of other injuries including neck and spinal injury. Does absolutely nothing for limbs. I went looking for crash test reports and couldn't find any. Personally I would use it myself, at least the one that Uncle got because of how it protects the neck.
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Nov 14, 2011, 08:24 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
In car airbags, there are small holes to let them deflate in a controlled manner.
Exactly. If they didn't they'd cause more harm than good. That's what prompted my question. If these things just fill up with air without any way for the air to escape, they will just transfer the force of the impact to the body.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Nov 14, 2011, 08:39 AM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
Exactly. If they didn't they'd cause more harm than good. That's what prompted my question. If these things just fill up with air without any way for the air to escape, they will just transfer the force of the impact to the body.
The point here is more to stabilize and reinforce than to pad and soften the impact.

That's why the release time is secondary. It's not intended to soften the impact of a crash; it's intended to reduce injury upon landing/skidding across asphalt. Motorcycle crashes work very differently from car crashes.
( Last edited by Spheric Harlot; Nov 14, 2011 at 08:57 AM. )
     
Uncle Skeleton  (op)
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Nov 14, 2011, 02:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
What would you assess the likelihood is of forgetting to remove the tether when you get off the bike?
High. I still forget about half the time. But the force required to deploy the airbag is around 30 kg, so there is almost no danger of accidental deployment (this was also confirmed in my test; my lovely assistant was unable to pull the cord without using thick rubber gloves for traction, and me lunging backward at the same time). Yet so long as you and the bike both weigh more than 30 kg, by definition if you are forcefully separated from the bike then it will trigger the mechanism. You're supposed to adjust the tether length so that it is nearly tight while standing on the pegs. This happens to also be long enough so that you can dismount and just feel a tug from the tether if you forget to disconnect it.
     
Uncle Skeleton  (op)
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Nov 14, 2011, 02:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Athens View Post
Hum, like to add whats the likelihood of banging the tether out while riding. Looking at how it deploys though I can't see it knocking some one off the bike from that. Would be one hell of a scare though.
I think the chances are low, given proper tether length, but yeah it would sound just like a tire blowout, which would be quite unsettling.
     
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Nov 14, 2011, 03:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Has this been tested by any independent ratings agency? I work in automotive, and I know the sort of tests we have to do. If you have a linky to a report, I know enough to be able to read it. There are many crash scenarios.
Not that I'm aware of. I have seen numerous anecdotes of actual crash victims wearing them, but obviously this is a classic case of survivorship bias (and small sample number). If I see any controlled tests, I'll try to get your analysis, thanks.

Explosion is a form of gas expansion - in the regular case, of nitrogen atoms in a solid substrate reforming into N2 (nitrogen gas), increasing pressure and releasing heat. I guess you mean that there is no chemical reaction?
Yeah that's what I should have said

What sort of inflated volume are we talking about here?
I don't know, you can probably tell from the video as well as I can from in person. The compressed CO2 is called "60 cc" which must be the compressed volume. Maybe you can deduce the decompressed volume from that.
     
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Nov 14, 2011, 03:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
The point here is more to stabilize and reinforce than to pad and soften the impact.

That's why the release time is secondary. It's not intended to soften the impact of a crash; it's intended to reduce injury upon landing/skidding across asphalt. Motorcycle crashes work very differently from car crashes.
Yeah this is totally just an opinion, but my feeling is that the airbag is to address the part just after the crash when the victim is like a pinball bouncing off all kinds of other stuff. It's been pointed out to me that in a car you have to worry about hitting parts of your actual car (like the steering wheel) which are a lot closer than most of the things you have to worry about hitting when you're launched off a bike (like the ground or a tree), so a slower inflation time might still work just as well.

Again, a solid crash test study would really help answer these questions...
     
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Nov 14, 2011, 03:18 PM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
Exactly. If they didn't they'd cause more harm than good. That's what prompted my question. If these things just fill up with air without any way for the air to escape, they will just transfer the force of the impact to the body.
Oh I get it now. Yes, the bag deflates on its own afterwards, so one would imagine that under pressure it would also deflate like a car airbag.
     
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Nov 14, 2011, 04:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Has this been tested by any independent ratings agency?
Ok so I found this test by the Japanese rating agency JARI, but it seems to just test the deployment time:

http://www.safermoto.com/testing/JAR...ment_tests.pdf

Then on the Hit-Air main page they show this, which is suggestive of measuring the protection, but I can't tell what claim they're making, or any link to more explanation. Can you shed any light?
     
subego
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Nov 14, 2011, 04:36 PM
 
It looks like none of those vests succeeded at stopping the test dummies from having their legs torn off.
     
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Nov 14, 2011, 05:56 PM
 
Yeah or their skin either
     
Athens
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Nov 14, 2011, 06:00 PM
 
Retracted, was a stupid question after re-reading it.
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subego
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Nov 14, 2011, 06:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
Yeah or their skin either
That's just silly. They didn't have skin.
     
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Nov 14, 2011, 08:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
That's just silly. They didn't have skin.
Well, they're certainly in no condition to ride, then.
     
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Nov 14, 2011, 08:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by Uncle Skeleton View Post
Then on the Hit-Air main page they show this, which is suggestive of measuring the protection, but I can't tell what claim they're making, or any link to more explanation. Can you shed any light?
The claim is in the last line below the images - it reduces the effects of the test crashes such that they would no longer result in serious neck injury.

It looks like these vests are actually a very good idea.
     
subego
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Nov 14, 2011, 08:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Well, they're certainly in no condition to ride, then.
Lightweight.
     
   
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