ABS, cruise control, built-in speakers. You name it, there’s a bike with it these days. And it’s all tech that’s trickled down from the world of four wheels. It seems that anything a car manufacturer decides to incorporate into their models eventually finds it’s way onto a showroom motorcycle. And that goes for everything from comfort, to performance to safety upgrades. And the latest news from Piaggio, is that they are working on airbags to go on your motorcycles and/or scooters.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of Motorcycles having airbags. Honda have, for quite a few years now, been dabbling with different variations of airbags on their behemoth Goldwing. But let’s face it, the Goldwing is closer to a car than it is to a normal motorbike. The fact that the Piaggio Group are working on an airbag system, suggests that, airbags on bikes may, at some stage, become more mainstream.
This new system has been designed by Swedish company Autoliv, a worldwide leader in automotive safety systems. Their airbags, which mount to the bikes frame, can deploy in milliseconds; although they don’t say how many milliseconds. And at this stage it’s unclear how the triggering system will work. Will there be a GPS system similar to the airbag in some leather suits? Will it be triggered by a lanyard, like some horse riding airbags? Or will there be crash sensors on the bike, similar to those on a car? I’m sure we’ll find out soon.
Because Autoliv are well past the initial concept stage, and have already done all the simulations and full-scale crash tests. The next step, which they are about to begin, is to work with the Piaggio Group (who, remember are responsible for quite a few brands, including Aprilia) to polish off any development work, and make their motorcycle airbags viable.
Obviously at this stage there are a lot of unanswered questions about how, exactly, this type of thing will work. At the moment though I’m struggling to see how an airbags on motorcycles would offer a massive amount of benefit. Because the vast majority of the time, when you sustain an injury in a motorcycle crash, it’s not hitting the bike that causes the injury. The damage is usually done when your body hits the ground, or it hits the thing you crashed into; be it a wall, a car, a lamppost etc.
That’s why, in a motorcycling context, airbags fixed to your body make a lot more sense. And that’s why people are starting to use them more and more.
If Autoliv and Piaggio can develop a sensible airbag system that genuinely benefits safety in a motorcycle crash, I’d be mega impressed. I’d also be very surprised.
Let’s see what happens.