Best Motorcycle Airbag Jackets

Updated May 2021

The latest rage in safety advancements for motorcyclists is airbag technology, and for good reason: it can dramatically reduce the severity of injuries during a crash. Obviously, nothing is 100% guaranteed to keep you from getting hurt (or worse) when you go down, but airbags have shown how effective they are in cars. Now, the tech is slowly trickling down to motorcycles. Here we’ve compiled a list of airbag jackets from various manufacturers to give you a better landscape of what’s available and what they protect – primarily the collarbones, vital organs, ribs, and back. Some even go so far as to cradle the neck. The triggering is provided either by a tether or electronic sensors. If you’ve been on the fence about airbags, hopefully this will help make up your mind.

1. Editor's Pick: Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 System

Tech-Air 5 is a slim, self-contained wearable airbag vest designed to be worn under virtually any jacket. The system provides unrivaled upper body protection uniquely covering the rider’s shoulders, critical in motorcycling accidents, in addition to the chest, ribs and full back. The Tech-Air 5 Airbag System offers the most comprehensive coverage of any motorcycling airbag available today.

The state-of-the-art Tech-Air 5 System features six integrated sensors (3 gyroscopes and 3 accelerometers) to continuously monitor the rider’s position. An algorithm developed closely with MotoGP race data and data from over 2,000 lab-simulated crash scenarios determine when and how the system deploys. The airbag has a maximum inflation time of up to 40ms (or less, depending on vest size). The impact absorption while wearing the airbag results in a decrease of impact force by up to 95% compared to a passive chest or back protector. Inflation time is quick enough to deploy the airbag before the rider’s first impact with an obstacle. In addition, the vest will protect stationary riders in the event of a rear-end collision.

The airbag has a battery life good for 30 hours of riding time on a single charge, and an LED display conveniently shows system status directly on the garment. The system features Bluetooth connectivity to pair with the Tech-Air App, which uses the rider’s phone to display the system’s operational status, battery status and provide detailed analysis of a ride. Over-the-air firmware updates are also handled through the app. Alpinestars includes a micro USB charger for quick recharging.

Why is this the editor’s pick? Because MO’s own Troy Siahaan was wearing the Tech-Air 5 when he got hit by a car. Other than some soreness the next day, he was perfectly fine.

2. Alpinestars Tech Air Race Vest

Alpinestars Tech Air Race Airbag System is a state-of-the-art, tether-free airbag protection system designed to be used with Alpinestars Tech Air Race prepared riding gear. The onboard computer system uses Alpinestars’ proprietary algorithms to process the information gathered by the vest’s accelerometers and gyroscope. Should the system sense a crash, it can trigger and fully inflate the airbag in 45 milliseconds, providing comprehensive protection to the rider’s full back, shoulders, kidney area and chest. The Tech Air is ready to go right out of the box – no need to install sensors on the bike or go through a complicated pairing process. Simply install the vest in a compatible jacket or race suit and go ride.

The Tech Air Race comes preloaded with Alpinestars racing algorithms—the same algorithms used in MotoGP and WSBK– which are designed to detect the crashes typical of closed course competition. In this configuration, the system only uses one of its two charges at a time, saving the remaining charge for a second deployment. The vest is immediately ready to deploy its second charge. So, if you and your bike are able to continue the race, you won’t have to do it unprotected. If remounting a crashed bike to chase a precious few championship points isn’t exactly your style, the vest can be set to deploy both charges simultaneously for a quicker inflation. Due to its larger size, the 2XL size vest will always deploy both charges at once to ensure it is fully inflated in the same time as the smaller vests.

The Race Vest is also compatible with Alpinestars’ street software settings, for use during typical sport, touring, and adventure riding. In addition to being better suited to detecting street crashes, which typically involve a second vehicle, the street configuration fires both charges at the same time, lowering the deployment time to just 25 milliseconds. Users can quickly switch between race and street modes using a PC (no Mac compatibility, yet) loaded with Alpinestars Tech Air Connect software. The Street Vest is NOT compatible with the Race algorithms.

3. Alpinestars Missile Air Leather Jacket For Tech Air Race

There are several Alpinestars jackets that are tailored for the Tech Air Race system, and the Missile is one such example. Wearing the traditional sport-like fit and aesthetic, the jacket itself is constructed of premium race-grade 1.3 mm genuine cow leather, punctuated with strategically-placed accordion stretch gussets and stretch fabric panels to allow for maximum mobility on the motorcycle. CE certified Alpinestars GP-R protectors and external sliders at the joints make the Missile ready for a high speed slide, while localized perforation and an airflow-optimized back hump ensure you stay cool during the ride.

4. Alpinestars Tech Air Street Vest

A common misconception is that the Tech Air Airbag system is comprised of one vest worn under any jacket or suit. This is not the case – kinda. The Tech-Air 5 can be worn under most suit or jackets, but as you can see in the two listings above, there are actually two other Tech-Air vests – the Race and the Street. Both have very similar hardware, both need to be used in specific Tech-Air compatible garments (this is the main difference between the Tech-Air 5), though they operate on slightly different software. With the Street vest, the ever-vigilant ACU is able to detect that things are going awry within 30-60 milliseconds, even when hit from behind at a stop light. It then triggers the dual argon inflator charges, fully inflating the system’s airbag in 25 milliseconds. After deployment, the Tech-Air compatible jacket can still be worn for the rest of the ride, taking advantage of the built in CE level 2 back protector. Then the Tech Air Street Airbag Vest system can be easily removed from the jacket and sent to Alpinestars for repair.

In the Tech Air Street Vest, you are always protected. Whether you are carving canyons, putting in long miles on the interstates on a Goldwing, railing down a fire road on a GS or commuting to work on your trusty scooter, the Tech Air has your back.

5. Alpinestars Yaguara Jacket For Tech Air Street

Like the Missile jacket above, the Alpinestars Yaguara Jacket for Tech Air Street expands the number of jackets that will take the Tech Air Street Vest. With a Drystar waterproof membrane laminated into the shell with 8 ventilation zippers, the Yaguara Jacket is versatile to adjust to changing conditions. CE level 2 armor at the elbows and shoulders comes standard. Add in CE rated chest and back armor to complete your typical street-oriented protection. Max out the Alpinestars Yaguara Jacket protection by adding in the Tech Air Street Vest.

6. Dainese Carve Master 2 D-Air Gore-Tex Jacket

The Dainese Carve Master 2 D-Air Gore-Tex Jacket combines touring features and track technology for a feature packed jacket that can tackle inclement weather as well as provide air bag protection. Mugello and 3D Stone fabric combine to create a shell that moves freely while still holding up to abrasion and regular wear and tear. A Gore-Tex waterproof membrane is laminated directly to the shell to cut down on bulk. A removable thermal liner holds in heat while strategically placed vents flow some air as the weather improves.

7. Dainese Smart Jacket

The Dainese Smart Jacket brings Dainese’s MotoGP experience to a standalone airbag vest that you can wear in a variety of situations. D-air airbag technology distilled down into a vest (sleeveless jacket) that can be folded and easily stored in a bag, top box or backpack. Wear the Smart Jacket over or under any jacket or outfit. Its sensors and activation does not rely on a specific shell to house the technology so you can wear the device with your leather track suit or your birthday suit (not recommended). A complex algorithm recognizes when you’re in danger so it can inflate the airbag post-haste to protect your back, chest and vital parts; no tether to your motorcycle is required.

Put on the Smart Jacket, secure its fasteners, and you will be protected for 26 hours on a fully charged battery. The Dainese Smart Jacket uses seven sensors to analyze data at 1,000 times per second so the vest will be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. MotoGP airbag protection can now protect the common rider outside of the professional paddock.

8. Helite Turtle 2 Airbag Vest

If you don’t want to invest in electronic airbags, or simply want an airbag vest to wear over your existing gear, the Helite Turtle Airbag Vest offers the highest level of rider safety. The lightweight vest protects riders’ spine and vital organs due to its revolutionary design, incorporating a back protector on top of the airbag that disperses impact forces across the vest instead of concentrated in one spot. With its mechanical trigger and lead system, there are no delicate sensors to fail or batteries to replace. Simply connect the lead to your vest and bike and go. When the rider is ejected from the motorcycle in the event of an accident, the trigger is pulled and the vest inflates, creating a rigid neck brace as well as firm support to the spine, back, chest, ribs, and kidneys.

9. Helite Free-Air Mesh Airbag Jacket

Not just a company that makes airbag vests to wear over other jackets, Helite also makes its own gear with the airbag incorporated into it, like the Helite Free-Air Airbag Jacket. The Helite Free-Air Vented Airbag Jacket is equipped with Helite’s patented Turtle Airbag technology. It has a 600D Cordura exterior with mesh panels for maximum airflow. The Free-Air Airbag Jacket includes a removable waterproof rain liner for those cold, wet riding days. The rain liner is fleece-lined with no connecting points to the jacket. The jacket comes equipped with Level 2 CE approved Komine shoulder and elbow protectors.

10. Hit Air Motorrad-2 Mesh airbag jacket

The Hit Air jacket uses CE certified armor to protect the shoulders, elbows and the spine but most importantly, the Hit Air jacket also incorporates an airbag system. In the event of an accident and a rider is thrown from the motorcycle, the airbag instantly inflates (within 0.25 second) to protect the rider’s body. Activation is simple and automatic; A coiled wire is attached to both the motorcycle and the jacket. Once the rider and the motorcycle are separated, the coiled wire pulls a key out of a gas release system and inert gas inflates the air cushion.

The inflated jacket provides the necessary impact protection. After a few seconds the gas is automatically released through the gas release valve.

11. Spidi Air DPS Airbag Vest

The Spidi Air Airbag Vest protects your neck, ribs and spine in case of a get-off. The airbag inflation is triggered via a tethered cord in 200 milliseconds once activated. Wear the Spidi Air DPS Airbag Vest over your motorcycle gear for everyday riding protection.

Are motorcycle airbags worth it?

Cost is a somewhat relative thing, isn’t it? For the über wealthy, price is merely a number. For a struggling college student, every penny counts. Save for one jacket on this list, each option below range from $500 and can go beyond $1100. If your financial situation makes you balk at these prices, consider for a moment the cost of an ambulance ride – or worse, a helicopter trip should you crash and hurt yourself in an area an airbag would protect. Either one is an order of magnitude higher than any of the options seen below – and we haven’t even begun to talk about the hospital bill after they fix you. When viewed under that light, these prices are much more amenable.

What is the best motorcycle airbag jacket?

The one you’re wearing. Like virtually any other piece of protective equipment, they don’t do a thing if you’re not wearing them. Different riders will have different qualities they’re looking for. Whether it’s cost, technology, integration with their existing gear, or any number of other criteria, simply calling one airbag jacket or vest “the best” doesn’t cover the nuance of the question. Choose one that fits your needs – then hope you never have to actually use it.

What motorcycles have airbags?

As you can probably imagine, it’s much harder to integrate airbags into motorcycles than it is to integrate them into a car. This is why airbags are something we wear. However, a few different manufacturers have tested airbags on their motorcycles. Most notably, airbags were a feature on certain Honda Gold Wings.

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