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.
After a lengthy legal battle over the intellectual property found in the Alpinestars Tech-Air and Dainese D-Air airbag systems, the Munich Court of Appeals has ruled that Alpinestars violated a Dainese patent (EP 2 412 257 B1), which confirms the decision of the Munich Court of First Instance.
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.
The FIM is taking further steps to contain the cost of aerodynamics. The banning of winglets decided earlier this year was made on two grounds: removing the danger of being struck by a protruding wing, and reducing the potentially astronomical cost of an aerodynamic war beginning.
Banning winglets would prevent the first issue from being a problem, but would do nothing to address the second point. Indeed, with the aerodynamics cat well and truly out of the bag, the factories have already hinted that their focus would switch to fairing design.
The Grand Prix Commission have moved to stop that war starting before it begins. From 2017, factories will have to homologate fairing and front mudgard designs, with only one upgrade to each allowed per season.
The idea behind it is to allow factories to continue to develop aerodynamics, but to limit the amount of time and money spent in search of wheelie prevention.
The rules do leave one loophole open, however. The aerodynamic homologation rules apply to each rider separately. In theory, each rider on a Yamaha, Honda, or Ducati could start with a different fairing, the results of which could be assessed by the factory to help develop the next homologated version of the fairing for use in mid-season.
If you follow the four-wheeled world at all, you will know that there has been a massive recall for vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. The recall affects roughly 34 million vehicles in the United States, at last count, though more seem to be added each week, my own four-wheeler included.
The size of the recall is due mostly to the fact that Takata makes the majority of vehicle airbag systems, and their design is fairly universal. In fact, it’s so universal that Takata even powers the airbags found on the Honda Gold Wing, which brings us to this story.
For the same reason that millions of cars are being recalled, American Honda is recalling 2,701 Honda Gold Wing motorcycles that were equipped with an airbag feature.
American riders will be pleased to hear that the Alpinestars Tech-Air Race airbag technology, which is a self-contained and self-actuated system, will finally be available in the USA, starting later this summer.
This means that the same technology that protects MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, and Dani Pedrosa will now available to the common two-wheeled enthusiast – thus a huge step forward for motorcycle safety.
Alpinestars says that when the Tech-Air Race is fully inflated, it protects that back (with an integrated back protector), kidneys, chest and shoulders. Additionally, with a firmware upgrade, the Race system can be configured to run the Tech-Air Street settings, for non-race use in both on-road and off-road situations.
Roughly two weeks ago, we broke the story that Alpinestars and Dainese were headed to court over the alleged patent infringement that was occurring between the two brands’ airbag technologies. That report has since spurred a pair of press releases from the two brands on the subject.
First to respond was Alpinestars, which released a statement that clarified that the lawsuit in Italy centered around the material of the airbag. Alpinestars also offered correction to our report, saying instead that that no legal action had occurred in the German market.
Dainese has now released its own statement on the matter, which insists that legal action was indeed taken in the German market – the Court of Munich ultimately granting an injunction on the sale of Tech-Air products in Germany – and Dainese restates that legal action is underway in Italy.
You can read Dainese’s full statement after the jump. We’ll reiterate what we first said when all this started: the outcome of this legal battle will have big consequences in the motorcycle industry. Stay tuned, we doubt this is far from over.