Helite Turtle Airbag Vest

 By Chris Modell

By Chris Modell

Let’s face it, most motorcycle safety products are just not cool. Back in the 60’s wearing a helmet wasn’t cool and arguably it still isn’t. But, would I ride my bike without one now? Definitely not.  Airbag technology for motorcycles is no different. It is fairly new to the market but is now widely being used in MotoGP, with the likes of Alpinestars and Dianese leading the way with their high-end electronic-triggered airbag technology.  In years to come we will all be wearing them, just as we now wear seatbelts and have airbags in our cars.

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Helite has produced a reusable everyday airbag system triggered by a lanyard attached to your bike. They have a range of touring jackets, air vests and a vented jacket. I chose the Turtle Airbag Vest to test, as I wanted to see how it would work as an add-on to my current riding gear. The price point is lower, making it accessible to more riders. 

The biggest problem with testing the airbag vest is obvious: I don’t really fancy throwing myself off my bike at speed and I really do not want an impact with another vehicle, so I am relying on their safety testing and CE certifications. The airbag is CE certified to fully inflate in less than 0.094 seconds. I have tried this and it is truly impressive. When inflated, the jacket directly protects the neck, spine, chest and ribs and indirectly the head, liver, heart, lungs, pancreas and collarbone. It features a CE certified back protector placed on the outside of the airbag, a shock resistant outer material which acts like a turtle shell. It has similar characteristics to a helmet with a hard outer layer and soft material on the inside. It is triggered by a simple lanyard attached to the bike, which will inflate the vest if you happen to leave your machine. The vest is reusable with just a CO2 canister needing replacing, which takes a couple of minutes. 

Fit and Comfort
I tried wearing the vest on the outside of my jacket but this was uncomfortable and I was immediately put off by how it looked, so in my vanity I was about to put it back in the box. Then I thought I’d try it under my jacket just to see how it felt. What a difference! My jacket is quite loose fitting and having removed my jackets’ back protection, everything felt really comfortable. You don’t even know you have it on. In fact, once you have it on for a few days, it feels odd if you venture out without it. 

I was immediately drawn to this product as I have a healthy self-preservation strategy in my life, and the reality is no matter how experienced a rider you are, no one is immune to other road users. 40% of severe or fatal accidents are due to chest trauma, so wearing the best protective gear possible on your bike may not be cool, but could just save your life.  MSRP: $629.00  Contact: www.helitemoto.com

Chris Glaspell

Upshift, 23986 Aliso Creek Road Suite 450, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

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