Let’s take a look at how manufacturers are trying to make riding safer. Some of the things being tried are airbag-type devices, anti-lock brake systems, stability control systems, helmets that help with blind spots, and better brake lights.
Honda introduced an airbag system back in 2006—the Honda Gold Wing. That type of airbag is helpful in a head-on collision. Some motorcycles come with windshield airbags. They help prevent the injuries that happen when riders are hurled into the windshield. Those airbags don’t offer protection for other types of crash. Some companies are offering clothing that comes with the motorcycle and includes airbags. RS Taichi, for example, offers both jackets and full suits that must be physically connected to the bike. The Ducati Multistrada D-Air includes a jacket that is wirelessly connected to the motorcycle and deploys its airbag within 45 seconds after it detects an accident. Now gear manufacturers are beginning to include built-in airbags in jackets and vests. They will help protect your chest and vital organs in a crash.
Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are effective in preventing cars and trucks from skidding. It stands to reason they would add to motorcycle safety. In fact, research shows that can cut fatal motorcycle accidents by about a third. Harley-Davidson’s Road King includes both ABS and Harley’s own Reflex Linked Brakes, a system that regulates brake pressure applied to each wheel. The Honda Interstate offered ABS as an add-on option, and even the Indian Chief Vintage comes with ABS.
Anything that can help a rider maintain balance is a plus. Bosch came up with a motorcycle stability control system (MSC) that works in tandem with ABS. It starts with an Inertial Measurement Unit that senses the angle of lean or roll, chassis pitch, and acceleration or deceleration. With that information, the MSC controls traction, engine-braking torque, hill start, wheelie, and rear lift. Most manufacturers include MSD, either standard or as an option.
Motorcycle riders have blind spots, and it can be hard to see what’s behind you, especially when it’s not really safe to turn your head. Manufacturers are stepping up with helmets that include built-in GPS and cameras so you can see what’s beside and behind you.
You probably have noticed that your motorcycle can slow down and stop much more quickly than a car. And you can decelerate without even touching the brakes. These facts can cause problems when the car on your tail doesn’t notice you slowing down. A company called Vololights out of San Diego is trying to solve that problem. They’ve developed brake lights that come on whenever the motorcycle slows, whether you’ve hit the brakes or not.
The best motorcycle safety device might just be a good rider, wearing protective gear, and being aware of all their surroundings. What safety devices do you wish for? What is the safety feature of your dreams?