Here at Asphalt & Rubber, we spend some pixels talking about the finer points of helmet usage, especially when it comes to the debate regarding mandatory helmet laws. Looking at helmets from 50 years ago, and the basic concept hasn’t changed all that much in the time since.
A hard shell, some impact material, and a soft lining mated to a visor and chin-strap system, over the last half-century most of the improvements to the basic helmet design have been for added fit and comfort, or cheaper and lighter materials — even the more creative and innovative designs that are being hocked around the internet right now don’t stray far from the current concept.
Think 50 years ahead though, and it is hard to imagine the same shapes and designs staying constant. In fact, it becomes possible to imagine motorcyclists wearing no helmets at all. No, I am not talking about some sort of libertarian movement that will rush through our political system, freeing us from the shackles of big government.
Instead, I am talking about the true next-generation of safety devices for the gray matter that resides between your ears, which might put the mandatory helmet law debate to rest (well…probably not).
The (r)evolution I am talking about here is the advent of active body protection systems, the most primitive form being the ubiquitous airbag.
Already being used on the race tracks of MotoGP, WSBK, and even the AMA, we see the use of airbag systems in racing suits of companies like Alpinestars and Dainese, and it won’t be much longer until airbag system for street use will readily be available to consumers as well.
It is not hard then to see the writing on the wall for motorcycle safety apparel, as the rate of progress in regards to the development of the current helmet design has so obviously plateaued out, while the pace of development for active body protection systems is increasing rapidly.
While it might be easier to develop and incorporate an airbag into a rider’s jacket, the logical progression of the solution to a rider’s head is not far off. Already exploring the concept for human-powered two-wheelers, some Swedish entrepreneurs have developed a stylish solution for bicycle riders (checkout the video below).
Is it so hard to imagine something similar being developed for motorcycles in the next fifty years? A decade seems more like it.