Noble McIntyre on September 22, 2015
You probably already know that riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, but that there are things you can do to protect yourself—like always wearing a motorcycle helmet. While wearing a motorcycle helmet will always be important for your riding safety, the bike manufacturers are always trying to have your back. They are continually finding new technology to make riding a motorcycle safer. Even if you (or someone you know) are a “tough-guy” or “tough-girl” biker, safety should always be top of mind. No one feels very tough when she or he is lying in a hospital bed – or worse. So, let’s take a look at some of the new motorcycle safety technology that is becoming available.
Motorcycle airbags: Crash data shows that 68% of motorcycle accidents that cause injury or fatality are caused by frontal collisions, and that in 71% of accidents, the rider’s injury or death is cause by impact with the road or non-vehicle obstacles. Based on this information, Honda created a Motorcycle Airbag System that is designed to reduce the impact on a rider on a frontal collision. Few motorcycles have these installed at this point; if you’re interested in a motorcycle with an airbag, Honda could be the first place to look.
Motorcycle airbag jackets: If your bike doesn’t have an airbag (and if you’re not planning to purchase a new motorcycle anytime soon), you could consider an airbag jacket or vest. One difference between the Honda motorcycle airbag system and an airbag jacket is that the jacket can stay with the rider or passenger even if the person has been ejected from the bike. Ducati and Dainese offer versions of the airbag jackets that wirelessly inflates in a crash. They are operated by a control box that mounts to the bike so that they inflate quickly—some say that the trigger time is 45 milliseconds—if the bike has a collision. That means that since the jacket goes with the rider, rather than being attached to the motorcycle, itself, it offers protection if the rider is separated from the motorcycle.
Intelligent lights: An adaptive headlight (or “intelligent” light) makes you safer on the road because a sensor tells the main lights to tilt based on the motorcycle’s lean angle. There are also lights being developed that will automatically brighten when the motorcycle slows down (even if the rider isn’t using the brakes) and can determine the flash rate based on how quickly the motorcycle is decelerating.
Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC): You’re probably familiar with anti-lock brake systems for cars, but there are few motorcycles that have them. An MSC system offers automatic threshold braking at an angle as steep as 45. This works specifically for motorcycles because a car’s anti-lock brake system helps to avoid straight-line, or head-on crashes. A motorcycle stability control system will reduce the likelihood of had front-wheel braking that would push a bike off-course. Because about a quarter of motorcycle crashes happen on curves, the MSC is a greater benefit to a motorcyclist than a standard ABS would be.
Technology changes every day, and lots of people and companies are working consistently to make your adventures safer. But, any motorcycle is only as safe as its driver. That’s why, even with advanced motorcycle technology, you still need to follow the basic rules for motorcycle operation and always wear a helmet. Ride safely!