After the problems Honda had with the massive global recall of dangerous Takata airbags in their Goldwing, the company is now filing for a patent on a smaller airbag suitable for smaller bikes.
Instead of deploying in front of the rider like a big bean bag, it goes straight up to stop the rider being flung over the bars.
While the rider in this video says his airbag suit was a lifesaver, we wonder what effect a vertical motorcycle airbag would have had, preventing him being flung clear of the vehicle.
Airbags seem to be the flavour of the times for the safety “experts”.
A host of airbag leather race suits is now available, airbags are mandatory in most motorcycle racing and some companies such as Dainese, Alpinestars and Furygan, are now releasing aftermarket airbag vests that go over or under a normal jacket.
And Brooklyn start-up Airbag for Bike even has a patent pending for a motorcycle seat that ejects a rider in a crash and then cocoons them in a full-length airbag suit to protect them from injury.
As for motorcycles airbags, we can see they may be a safety device in crashes where the rider hits something head-on or is hit from behind, but not glancing blows or being hit from the side.
The original Goldwing airbag – supplied by Takata which went bankrupt – is located in the “tank” area because it is bulky and would only fit big tourers.
However, Honda’s new patent is for a much smaller airbag.
It would be suitable on smaller motorcycles as shown in this patent drawing of a scooter published by Visor Down.
We imagine this will also be a cheaper airbag than the one in the Goldwing.
It’s not the first time Honda has considered adding airbags to smaller bikes.
In 2017, the company exhibited an airbag designed for scooters at the Honda Meeting in Tokyo. (See image at the top of this page.)
The danger of this type of cheaper technology is that safety experts will one day deem it as a mandatory fitment on all bikes just as they have with ABS!
Honda has been having something of a blitz on patents in the past couple of years.
While this idea seems quite reasonable and may make it into some future motorcycles, a lot of the others are less likely.