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.

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2020 Motorcycle of the Year

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