Safety is something we value in our daily lives and that is why we use seatbelts in our cars and abide by traffic rules while driving. Being safe while on the road is priceless, which is why investing in the right motorcycle gear is important. When we think of airbags, we usually envision them in cars rather than in motorbike apparel, but these quintessential safety devices are in fact available in both vests and jackets.
Nowadays there are many options to choose from depending on your style and personal preference. Shopping for the right motorbike apparel is not always easy and can turn into a tedious and time-consuming mission, which is why we have done our homework and compiled our very own list of the best motorcycle airbag vests and jackets on the market.
The Best Airbag Jacket and Vest
The Hit Air MLV-RC Motorcycle Light Weight Airbag Vest is the modern day protective shield for fans of the open road. This state of the art model is designed to provide comfort and safety at the same time. The high-speed airbag deployment system provides peace of mind and protection in the event of an accident by inflating the airbag in 0.25 seconds.
This impressive speed makes it even faster than the blink of an eye. Riding at night is also made safe thanks to the reflective threads that are woven into the fabric of the vest. This Lumidex feature allows your vest to shine bright during nocturnal outings. Furthermore, the waist adjustment belt allows you to secure it around your midriff and the extra padding in the sides, hips, and back makes this product comfortable to wear over your favorite motorcycle jacket.
- Super high-speed airbag deployment system (0.25 sec)
- Includes CO2 cartridge (60 cc)
- Optional back protector and chest padding
- Shiny Lumidex reflective material
- Brand Hit-Air
The EU6 Ultimate Airbag Jacket from Hit Air is another premium product that comes with its own unique features that serve their purpose no matter the season. The lining alone has water resistant qualities and is made of a mix of polyester and fleece, making it ideal for winter and rainy weather. It is also removable in case you need to shed those extra layers during summer. When it comes to safety, the EU6 is equipped with its very own shock buffering protection system. This system is triggered when a person loses his connection to his motorcycle due to an accident or collision. Once the distance between the rider and motorcycle surpasses the activation distance, carbon dioxide will automatically fill up the airbags and inflate them in less than 0.25 seconds.
Similar to the airbag vest, this jacket also reflects the light thanks to its Lumidex feature. Lightweight padding is also incorporated into the elbows, shoulders, and back. Finally, there is one more feature that was designed to keep our wallets, sunglasses, and lighters within reach. Pockets are essential in any jacket and this one has rear zippered vents in the torso, two large front pockets and a small chest pocket with a waterproof zipper.
- Shock buffering protection system
- Airbag deployment time is 0.25 seconds
- Removable waterproof fleece polyester lining
- Lumidex reflective material
- Classic European adventure style
- 5 Multi-sized pockets
- Brand Hit-Air
- Model EU6
- Weight 7 lbs
The Unisex Adult Adventure Motorcycle Airbag vest from Helite provides a 2-in-1 solution for fans of riding motorcycles, scooters and ATVs. Comfort and safety were equally considered when this Helite airbag vest was designed. This is evident in the innovative turtle technology used in this model. This new technology uses the highest level of SAS-TEC armor to shield the back from harm. The job of this armor is to absorb the impact during an accident without transmitting this violent force to the body. Impact absorption means that the vest is capable of saving its wearer from serious injuries.
The Helite vest airbag feature deploys in 80 milliseconds, providing a rigid neck brace for this particularly sensitive area and offering firm support to different parts of the body such as the chest, ribs, kidneys, spine, and back. Comfort-wise, the combination of breathable mesh fabric, low cut underarm and adjustment straps contribute to a more comfortable riding experience.
- Airbag deployment time is 80 ms
- Broadband retroreflective back stripes
- Textile 600D to resist abrasion
- CE certified removable back protection
- Super lightweight – 2.5 lbs
- Brand Helite Airbag Protection
- Model HE-VB-S
- Weight 2.5 lbs
The Hit Air Inflatable Vest MLV-C weighs 3.31 pounds and provides protection for motorcycle riders and equestrians alike. The airbags deploy in 0.25 seconds and their job is to shield the neck, chest, back, sides, and hips from violent impact. Riding at night needs adequate visibility and this is achieved through the reflective fabric found in the front and back of this lightweight vest. When it comes to comfort, the soft mesh circulates the air, allowing the fabric to breathe, and the adjustable straps allow you to either loosen or tighten the vest depending on your size.
- Super high speed airbag deployment system – 0.25 sec
- Reflective stripes in the front and back for night riding
- Enhanced, attachable air tube bag and chest padding
- Suitable for motorbike riders and equestrians
- Lightweight – 3.31 lbs
- Brand Hit-Air
- Model 4560216413712
- Weight 3.31 lbs
The Hit Air Motorrand-2 Mesh Airbag Jacket boasts speedy airbag deployment and CE certified armor in addition to a wealth of attractive and practical features. If an accident occurs and the rider is no longer connected to his motorcycle, the airbags automatically deploy within half a second to shield him from harm. This mechanism is triggered using a coiled wire that is connected to both the motorcycle and the person in charge of riding it.
Similar to a domino effect, the coiled wire then pulls a key from a gas release system that allows carbon dioxide to escape from its canister in order to inflate the protective airbags. Comfort is also accounted for in this model and this is evident in the use of mesh and ventilation zippers. Both features offer the rider a way to cool down while driving.
- S-System airbag with packed type hip cushion
- Reflex stripes for night riding
- Includes CE certified shoulder and elbow padding
- Strong and breathable mesh material
- Ventilation zippers
- Brand Hit-Air
- Model Motorrad2-Mesh
The High Visibility MLV-P vest from Hit-Air comes in an eye-catching fluorescent yellow color that can be seen from a distance, especially during cloudy or bad weather. This lightweight model is armed with a high-speed airbag deployment system that deploys the airbag in 0.18 seconds. Furthermore, the shock buffering protection system can make a world of difference in the event of an accident.
- New high speed airbag deployment system – 0.18 sec
- Includes 60 cc CO2 cartridge
- Optional back protector
- Optional chest and back padding
- Super lightweight – 3.09 lbs
- Brand Hit-Air
- Model 4560216414603
- Weight 3.09 lbs
The Hit-Air RS-1 Model was designed to be worn over a tracksuit in order to provide protection during racing events. This protection comes in the shape of an airbag system that has shock absorbent qualities and is able to cushion the blow and protect the head and neck from injuries. This Hit-Air vest design is specially made for racing so the key box responsible for activating this system is located on the back of the vest rather than the front. Changing the location of the wire was done to prevent it from disturbing the rider during the race.
- Designed to be worn over a tracksuit
- Shock absorbent airbag system
- Offers head and neck protection
- Weighs 4.58 lbs
- Brand Hit-Air
- Model 4560216414351
- Weight 4.58 lbs
What to Look for in an Airbag Jacket/Vest
More coverage is better when it comes to safety, which is why you should look for an airbag vest or jacket that offers extensive protection for your most sensitive and irreplaceable body parts. Airbags are similar to mattresses in that they provide a thick, cushiony layer in the event of an accident. This thick cushion prepares the upper body for impact, offering much-needed support during a violent incident. More support leads to a reduced risk of hyperextension, whiplash, and broken bones. The head and brain will also receive their fair share of protection due to the already supported torso and neck. Moreover, if the rider falls head first onto the asphalt, the impact of the helmet will be distributed onto the airbag surrounding the shoulders and neck.
- Location of Activation System
Airbags are activated using a mechanism that requires you to attach a coiled wireline to the front of your bike. For safety reasons, the triggering system and its CO2 cartridge are located on the right side of the lower abdomen because this particular area is more secure and away from any vital organs. Having the triggering mechanism in the front also doubles as a reminder for you to attach the wire clip to the motorbike before hitting the road.
- Airbag Cartridge Volume
The size of the CO2 cartridge largely depends on the size of the motorcycle airbag suit itself. The size factors also influence the volume of the airbag, so if you order an x-large jacket, your airbag will match this size and so will the carbon dioxide canister that was designed to activate it.
- Inflation Time
Airbag deployment speed matters a great deal when it comes to safety. The faster the better, which is why you need to check the inflation time since it varies depending on the brand and model. Some airbags deploy in 0.25 seconds while others can inflate in less than 0.1 seconds.
- Airbag System Reliability
Using quality material elevates and enhances the function of an airbag and also makes it more durable and resistant to wear and tear. The best motorcycle airbags on the market are the ones that are made of top-notch components. This applies to everything starting from the mesh fabric and extending all the way down to the coiled wire that triggers the airbag system.
- Airbag Certification
A European certified center needs to give the airbags its stamp of approval. This CE certification means that the airbags have met the health, safety and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area, also known as the EEA. Premium airbag vest and jacket manufacturers, including the Hit-Air brand sell CE certified padding and safety gear.
Why You Should Use a Motorcycle Airbag Jacket/Vest
- Lightweight Protection
According to the latest research, motorcycle crashes are most likely to break the bank in terms of medical costs and can cause injuries that are a lot more severe than the ones sustained during a car crash. Moreover, motorbike crashes cost double the amount of money when it comes to treatment and these expenses can last for a period of two years or until these necessary treatments are over. Spending such a hefty sum can be easily prevented by investing in the right protective gear. Inflatable motorcycle jackets are one such example of lifesaving outerwear that can be worn over any leather outfit. Nowadays, high-end manufacturers sell both airbag vests and jackets in a wide array of colors and sizes to meet the needs of both men and woman. Just because there is an airbag involved does not mean that the jacket itself is heavy or difficult to put on. Lightweight options exist for those who value both comfort and safety, and these models also come with adjustable straps and buckles so you can easily put them on or take them off when needed.
- Weather Proof Features
Impact protection is one advantage of wearing motorcycle airbag vests, but this is not the only benefit that comes from wearing an extra layer of protection over your riding getup. This type of apparel is made of tough fabrics that were designed to combat bad weather. For example, most airbag jackets are made of strong and abrasion-resistant nylon or polyester while others are made of thick, full grain leather. This toughness contributes to the longevity and durability of the jacket or vest and will prevent them from being torn or shredded to pieces during an accident. Many jackets also have water resistant features that help keep you dry during rain or snowfall, and some even come with a fleece liner that will keep you warm during the cold winter months. This weatherproof layer will not only keep you comfortably warm but it will also prevent your clothes from getting soaked because there is nothing worse than arriving at your destination with a ruined leather jacket.
- Extra Padding
Lightweight airbag vests and jackets can be accessorized with a variety of protective padding. This padding is available for those interested in doubling the protection for their most injury-prone body parts. Many jackets and vests can accommodate extra inserts and pads that are often added to the back of the jacket to strengthen the cushioning factor, hence shielding sensitive body parts like the spine and kidneys from harm. Honeycomb hexagonal padding is one example of this and it offers increased protection for the neck, chest, shoulders, and back. Plastic TPU padding is also available for the elbows and shoulders and makes a fine addition to the premium protective capabilities of the airbag jacket.
Vests vs. Jackets: Which Type to Choose
Choosing between an airbag vest or jacket depends on your personal preference, so the first question you need to ask yourself is whether you are on the hunt for something to wear instead of your ordinary leather jacket. If the answer is yes, then your best choice is to invest in a durable airbag jacket. These jackets have reflective stripes that keep you safe at night and are made to look just like any other motorcycle jacket. Others are made of fluorescent fabric that makes your outfit highly visible even during the day. This bright fabric is also available in inflatable motorcycle vests, so if you happen to be searching for protective gear to wear over your favorite jacket, vests are your go-to item. Wearing an innovative adjustable vest will prevent your jacket from riding up in the event of an accident and will provide you with the similar airbag cushioning system found in inflatable motorcycle jackets.
Best Airbag Jackets and Vests FAQ:
Q: How Do Airbag Vests work?
A: All vests are equipped with a high-speed airbag deployment system that is controlled by a coiled wire cord. A quick release connection is responsible for joining the bike to the vest and this connection is usually located in the chest area. When an accident occurs and the person wearing the vest loses his connection to the bike due to hitting a ditch or colliding with another vehicle for instance. Whatever the case may be, severing this connection will automatically cause the coiled wire to pull a key out of a gas release system, allowing carbon dioxide to inflate the air cushion. This high-speed deployment occurs before the person even hits the ground, thus providing impact protection for the neck, chest, and back. This lowers the risk of a serious spinal injury and keeps the neck properly aligned. Moreover, the key box serves as a shield for the chest and will not cause harm to the person wearing the vest since the airbag is located directly underneath it. The smart connector design enables the airbag to be activated from any angle or position. Deflation occurs shortly after the airbags complete their task and they slowly begin to release carbon dioxide into the air with the help of the release valve until they finally return to their normal shape. It takes around three to five minutes for the vests and jackets to deflate.
Q: Can the vest/jacket be reused after being deployed?
A: Yes. Both the vest and jacket can be reused just as long as the airbags and their safety mechanism remain intact. This also applies to the fabric and the material of the gear itself and any other component that contributes to the safe and successful deployment of these airbags. All you need to do is replace the empty carbon dioxide (CO2) cartridge and you are good to go.
Q: Can I wear a raincoat or backpack?
A: Yes. You may wear a raincoat but it needs to be loose fitting to give the airbag enough room to deploy in the case of an accident. The last thing you need is for your outerwear to keep you dry while preventing the airbag from keeping you safe. Safety trumps dryness any day of the week. The same goes for the backpack. The straps need to be loose enough to give the airbag the space it needs in order to deploy.
Q: Will it go off accidentally if I forget to unclip myself when getting off?
A: No. If you do forget to unclip yourself when getting off, the coiled wire will pull you back towards the motorcycle but the airbag will not deploy. Deployment requires a force that is somewhere between 45 and 60 pounds, depending on the size of the vest or jacket. Similar to driving with your seatbelt on, attaching and detaching this coiled wire will take getting used to.
Our Top Pick
The Hit Air MLV-RC Motorcycle Light Weight Airbag Vest is the epitome of safety and comfort. This product made it to the top of our list thanks to its protective features that were designed to keep you safe day and night. This modern-day armor is the perfect highway companion thanks to its priceless high-speed deployment system that inflates the airbag in just 0.25 seconds, offering instant protection for the chest, neck, back, and hips. This vest is also very lightweight and can be adjusted using the chest buckles and straps that can be attached and detached with ease. Lumidex fabric was also generously used during the manufacturing of this product, allowing the vest to shine brightly at night. All in all, this is the vest of choice for avid motorcycle riders who equally value comfort and safety.
- Inflatable Airbag Vests and Jackets, Roadrunner