Tag

airbag

Browsing

Episode 28 of the Brap Talk podcast is now out for your two-wheeled audio pleasure, and as always, it is packed with some interesting motorcycle discussions…and some strong opinions.

Our show starts with news from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where we saw the new Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 airbag vest, and the electric superbike from Damon Motorcycles.

The latter provides quite a bit of fodder for a frank conversation about this motorcycle debut, and the lofty promises the Canadian company is making about its product.

Another debut seen at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the eagerly awaited Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 airbag vest offers a new name in autonomous airbag safety for motorcyclists.

Boasting the ability to put an airbag in almost any motorcycle jacket, the Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 is a direct competitor with the Dainese Smart Jacket – as the two Italian brands continue to one-up each other in this budding space in motorcycle safety.

Genetically speaking, I feel like I am a bit of an oddity. I am a true 6’2″ in height  (not a Tinder 6’2″, which is more like 5’9″ mind you). So, that’s 190cm of Jensen Beeler, coming at yah.

I mention this because I was reading recently that for humans, something seemingly as basic as height isn’t controlled by a single gene. In fact, there are about 700 genes that factor into how tall we are.

It is a fascinating concept on how the DNA from our parents interacts to make us who we are. For instance, despite my tall stature, my parents are pretty much right in the middle of things: my father was 5’8″ and my mother 5’6″. 

I could make a joke about having a tall mailman growing up, but really I get my height from my mother’s father, who was six-foot on the dot. I got his red hair too, which went white when I was a teenager, just like all the rest of the grey-haired Beeler progeny. We must get our hair attributes from a number of genes as well then.

Despite being tall, I have a relatively normal inseam, of 32 inches, which means I make most of my height in my torso. I have broad shoulders too, but like my father, I have short arms (thankfully, not quite as short as his).

I have small feet and hands, so it is size 10 shoes for me (with a high arch), and “small” size gloves in most brands. My head is a large in just about every helmet though, which makes for an interesting bookend on the sizing spectrum.

The point that I am trying to drive home here is that we are all very different people when it comes to our body shapes. There is no simple break down of putting humans into categories like small, medium, and large.

We are more complicated than that…and so should the items we wear.

We have be extolling the virtues of airbag-equipped motorcycle jackets and suits for quite some time now, and to repeat a favorite line of mine, your standard leather motorcycle jacket is now obsolete, if it doesn’t have an airbag in it.

That statement still holds true, but Dainese just gave your old jacket a new life, as the Italian brand just debuted its “Dainese Smart Jacket” system.

Don’t let the name fool you though, this isn’t a new jacket from Dainese, it’s a vest – an airbag vest, to be precise. What makes the Dainese Smart Jacket so…smart…is that the airbag vest can be worn under or over your typical motorcycle jacket.

The future of motorcycle safety apparel just took another step forward, as a new brand has entered the airbag game for motorcycle track and race suits.

It shouldn’t surprise us to see that the brand in question is REV’IT, as the Dutch company is already at the forefront of motorcycle apparel design, and is an avid safety partner for racers at the top level of the sport.

REV’IT joins Alpinestars and Dainese in offering an in-house airbag safety technology system for track use, but the brand is taking things to the next level with its novel approach to keeping riders safe.

For REV’It, the issue isn’t just in deploying the soft protection that an airbag offers a rider. Instead, their new airbag design promises to be lighter in weight and cooler in temperature than the units from the competition.

On Thursday, a German court of appeals in Munich released a ruling that Alpinestars had infringed upon a patent by Dainese, which held bearing over the the brands’ airbag suit systems.

The impact of that decision amounted to a big blow to Alpinestars’ ability to sell its Tech-Air garments in the German market, as the ruling meant that Alpinestars could no longer sell its Tech-Air products in the German market, and also that Alpinestars would have to pay restitution to Dainese for damages.

Letting that news circulate through the weekend, Alpinestars has now issued a statement about the German court’s ruling, which not only adds more clarity to the patents in question, but also shows that the legal battles between the two companies are far from over.

Airbag technology is making your traditional motorcycle apparel items obsolete, and the technology just keeps getting better and better. Both Alpinestars and Dainese continuously raise the bar against one another, proving that competition improves the breed.

As such For the 2019 model year, Dainese is releasing its third generation D-Air airbag system, which boasts significant improvements over the previous iteration.

For starters, the new Dainese D-Air system is 37% lighter the previously generation, which is a big deal if you have ever picked up an airbag-equipped leather suit or jacket.

Dainese also says that its third-generation system has better ergonomics and efficiency than before. Most importantly though, Dainese is going to start using the D-Air technology in suits and jackets for women.

Of all the words that you never want to see in a recall announcement, “explode” probably ranks pretty high on that list.

But, this is exactly what we saw for this recall that affects the 2009-2016 Honda Gold Wing models equipped with an airbag, as the “air bag inflator may explode,” according to the recall headline.

This recall is of course part of the ongoing set of recalls that affect vehicles equipped with Takata airbags – of note, the new 2018 Gold Wing Tour Airbag model does not use a Takata-made airbag.

In total, this recall only affects 960 units (2009-2010 and 2012-2016 model years), though this is the third time that Honda has had to issue a recall for its Gold Wing models, because of Takata.

Starting this season, it will be mandatory for GP riders (Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP) to wear an approved airbag system within their leather racing suits.

The move has been a long one coming, and aims to bring increased safety to the Grand Prix classes.

The rule applies to all permanent racers in the GP paddock, as well as replacement riders who participate for more than two rounds, but it does not apply to wildcard riders.

Along with the mandate, the new rule sets a number of conditions that the airbag systems must conform to, and their specificities are eyebrow-raising to say the least.

In the automotive world, there have been massive recalls of Takata airbag systems. And one has already found its way in the motorcycle industry, affecting over 2,700 Honda Gold Wing motorcycles.

Well, now with another wave of Takata airbag recalls, once again we see Big Red’s venerable tourer getting recalled by the NHTSA – 882 units to be precise, from the 2006-2009 and 2012 model years.

The recall stems from the fact that the inflators for the airbag may degrade over time, because of humidity and temperature, which could cause an unpredictably larger explosion when an airbag inflation is triggered.

The explosion may be large enough in fact, that it could rupture the inflation device, and thus pose a health risk.