Best Technology of 2020

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

Best Motorcycle Technology of 2020: Airbags

Typically our MOBO awards have a winner and a runner-up. But we’re going to break from tradition this one time and award our 2020 Best Technology prize to airbags. The runner-up? Also airbags. If you’re a regular follower of, then you’ll know exactly why.

If this is your first time to the site, we’re giving the award to airbags in general for the simple fact the Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 allowed me to walk away from a head-on crash with a car with nothing more than some soreness. Safety can’t be overstated or stressed enough on a motorcycle, and when we have the (unfortunate) chance to actually put a piece of safety gear – especially one as advanced as smart airbags – to the ultimate test, it’s deserving of the highest praise we can give it when it performs this well.

We’ve covered how smart airbags work in greater detail elsewhere on this site, but simply put; a smart airbag is essentially a vest. Contained within it is a series of accelerometers and gyroscopes that collect data constantly and send it to the ECU. Once a crash scenario is detected, the ECU triggers canisters filled with inert gasses to fire, inflating the airbag far quicker than the blink of an eye so that the wearer has full airbag protection before they ever make contact with a hard, immobile surface. In my particular case, the airbag registered over 18g of impact when I hit the ground – 18g that would have otherwise been absorbed by my shoulder and collarbone.

Just as any helmet is better than none, any airbag is better than not wearing one at all. Hence why we’re making an exception this time and granting a single award to airbag tech in general instead of one particular product. Alpinestars, Dainese, and Klim (in conjunction with its technical partner In&Motion) have smart airbags that don’t require any tether to the motorcycle, and more companies are coming out with similar technology. Even the airbags that do require a tether provide significant protection over nothing at all.

Needless to say, we’re believers in airbags. You should be, too. Best of 2020 Categories

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Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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2 of 21 comments
  • Dan bogosian Dan bogosian on Dec 08, 2020

    used my helite turtle hi viz for 4 years now. It's been deployed once during that period. I like the hi viz so I haven't gone for the newer stuff, but the Alpine Stars, Dianese, and Klim all look great.

  • Steve Coffman Steve Coffman on Dec 15, 2020

    I see where electronically deployed airbags are becoming more popular but one reason I chose not to go that way and go with a tethered version is that the tether always works. If the electronic vest isn’t charged, it’s of no use. I don’t need one more thing to keep charged. I can also reset the one I have without having to send it back to a factory. I love electronics, I’m just not convinced that it’s the best for street riding.