A solid motorcycle helmet, while absolutely vital, is just one of several safety accessories you need to go riding. You also need good gloves, a proper jacket, and a solid pair of boots. And, naturally, you also need a pair of quality pants. For casual riders, that typically means a pair of motorcycle jeans. However, a handful of gear companies are looking to give these jeans an upgrade: airbags.
Motorcycle jeans aren’t regular jeans
While motorcycle jeans may look like the standard article, there’s more to them than just denim, The Drive reports. And it’s for the same reason why leather jackets are still popular: abrasion resistance.
Cotton, which is what denim is, only has about one-quarter of the abrasion resistance as leather, RideApart reports. So, modern motorcycle jeans have abrasion-resistant fibers such as Kevlar and Cordura woven into them, Motorcyclist and Cycle World explain. They also often have strategically-placed Kevlar panels or a full lining, RideApart reports.
That way, if the rider hits the ground at speed, the fabric doesn’t immediately shred away and expose bare skin. For the best abrasion resistance, look for motorcycle jeans that have a CE rating, RideApart reports.
Speaking of CE ratings, motorcycle jeans don’t rely on just woven fabric to protect a rider. They typically have pockets to house removable armor. Most motorcycle jeans just have knee pockets, though a few have hip ones, too, Motorcyclist reports. Plus, some jeans come with reflective piping/stitching, Cycle World reports. A few even claim to be waterproof, Motorcyclist reports.
And now, at least two companies are trying to add airbags to motorcycle jeans.
Motorcycle jeans are the latest gear to get airbags
To be fair, the idea of adding airbags to existing forms of motorcycle gear isn’t far-fetched or even terribly new. MotoGP riders have been using airbag-equipped racing suits since the early 2000s, The Drive reports. And today, not only can you buy stand-alone airbag-equipped jackets, but also universal airbag ‘vests,’ Motorcyclist, RevZilla, and Bennetts report.
Adding airbags to motorcycle jeans seems like a logical next step. However, as Gizmodo explains, the trouble is figuring out how to package the hardware and requisite sensors. That’s why it took so long for airbag jackets to become universal: they used to be bulkier and needed to be hard-wired into the bike.
That’s what Swedish company Airbag Inside Sweden AB is trying to do with its motorcycle airbag jeans, Gizmodo reports. The company already sells ‘conventional’ jeans under its Mo’cycle brand. But now it’s working on installing reusable air bladders along the sides to function as airbags. The goal is to have the airbags trigger using built-in sensors, similar to how Dainese’s and Alpinestars’ airbag systems work.
French start-up CX Air Dynamics is also working on a pair of motorcycle airbag jeans, RideApart reports. Unlike the Mo’cycle pair, though, CX’s jeans work via a tether attached to the bike. If the rider falls, the tether triggers four airbags to inflate via a compressed air cartridge.
But there’s another difference between Mo’cycle’s jeans and CX Air Dynamics’s jeans. The latter aren’t standalone jeans, but rather a kind of wrap-around “’ over pants,’” RideApart explains. They give an existing pair of motorcycle jeans airbags, but they’re not airbag jeans in and of themselves.
Are the airbag-equipped versions worth investing in?
Unfortunately, neither the Mo’cycle nor the CX Air Dynamics jeans are currently on sale. Airbag Inside Sweden AB has a working prototype, but not a market-ready product. And while CX Air Dynamics’s crowdfunding campaign was successful, the first examples are earmarked for the backers.
Obviously, we strongly recommend investing in a good pair of armor-equipped motorcycle jeans. But if and when the airbag-equipped models hit the general market, should you consider them? The general consensus with airbag jackets and vests is, yes, if you can afford them, Motorcyclist and Bennetts report. More safety is never a bad thing. In the case of jeans, though, it’s going to take some time.
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