There are two different systems as seen with Honda patented motorcycle airbags – One deploying from the front, and other from the back
For a long time, airbags have been associated with vehicles with more than two wheels. They deploy during a crash and protect occupants from colliding with interiors. In case of an accident, the driver collides with the steering wheel, cracking his head or ribs.
For a long time, cars are considered safer than motorcycles as they are concealed and pose a structure around to isolate them from potential hazards from the outside. Motorcycles are not like that as the helmet is the rider’s only best friend where safety is concerned. Honda wants to change that by patenting airbags for scooters and motorcycles.
Honda Working On Airbags For Motorcycles, Scooters
Is this the first time that airbags are part of motorcycles or scooters? No. We have seen airbags being offered as part of motorcycles before. Coincidentally, it was on a Honda Goldwing tourer. Honda offered airbags on Goldwing for as long as 2006. The associated costs around it and limited impact of it on rider’s safety must be reasons why it never came into mainstream 2W vehicles.
Honda’s recent patents show airbags offered with both motorcycles and scooters. With expertise to bank on, Honda seems to have come up with a new breakthrough. For starters, the new patents show detachable airbags that when deployed, cover not just the rider’s chest, but his back along with sides of their torso as well.
Airbags On 2W
Just like airbags on cars and trucks, this airbag system also requires a sensor to detect a crash, a detonator, and a bag where gases can expand. Reportedly, Honda’s new airbag system detaches from source after deployment and is sealed off using heat applications to retain expanded gases in the bag as is.
This means that the airbag ECU, module, sensor and actual bag are mounted on the vehicle. It will then detach once deployed, wrapping its rider. There seems to be a check valve too, which Honda is using to control the rate of inflation of gases. From the patents, we can see that there are two different designs Honda is working on right now.
One is demonstrated on a street-naked motorcycle where the airbag is mounted at the vehicle’s front. And the other is demonstrated on a scooter where an airbag is placed behind the rider and integrated into the seat. These look to be very rough around the edges as of now and are not likely to see the light of day anytime soon.
Questions On Safety
On a tourer like Honda Goldwing, one would sit upright and an airbag for their torso and head is very logical. But as demonstrated by Honda in their patents, is it viable for a street bike? What if a rider is ducking to get a sportier position, will they survive a whiplash caused by an inflating airbag?
Also, on a system demonstrated on a scooter behind the rider’s back, there are chances of airbag dislocating thighs from the pelvis of its pillion. If a rider is sitting behind a favourable spot, they can suffer injuries from a dislocated spine as well. There are jackets and helmets with gyro-sensors that detect a fall and deploy airbags. Those seem to be a better bet until new breakthroughs happen.