The Problem With This Motorcycle Airbag Vest Could Kill You

It’s well known that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars, and motorcycle accidents are among the most common causes of death. But that doesn’t mean you should lock up your bike and buy a sedan. However, you should take a few extra safety precautions. But one common safety concern is the lack of motorcycle airbags. And it has prompted companies to create airbag-equipped jackets, vests, and even jeans.

But unfortunately, one motorcycle airbag vest has a potentially fatal flaw.

The Klim Ai-1 motorcycle airbag vest

The Ai-1 motorcycle airbag vest from Klim is pretty advanced and, on the surface, looks like a great purchase. It’s a reasonably comfortable and low-profile vest that fits underneath your jacket and has airbag deployment technology driven by artificial intelligence. Supposedly one of the highest-rated motorcycle airbag systems, the In&Box DPP (Detect-Protect-Perfect) platform is pretty fancy.

According to Klim, the vest costs $399.99, but that doesn’t include the cost of the In&Box module. You can purchase the module upfront for an additional $399, or you can use a subscription service for either $12 per month or $120 per year. Klim seems to push the subscription service by including a new In&Box after three years and an unlimited warranty. The company claims the goal of the subscription service is to eliminate financial barriers to getting the vest.

What happens if you miss a payment for your monthly subscription?

However, the monthly subscription plan poses a major problem, Jalopnik points out. Namely, if something causes you to miss your monthly subscription payment, such as an expired credit card or a glitch, your airbag vest might not work. Which, incidentally, is not what you want from your airbag vest.

Klim does state that it will never turn off your system mid-ride, leaving you in a situation where you think your vest will work and then it doesn’t. Also, LED indicators are supposed to alert you before you put on the airbag vest if it isn’t active. 

Simpler motorcycle airbag garments

If you don’t want to take the risk that your airbag vest might not deploy if you miss a payment, you could opt for a simpler alternative. For example, some manual motorcycle airbags use a tether to pierce a CO2 cartridge to inflate. And other airbags have built-in computers that sense when a rider is crashing and the airbags should deploy. None of these are perfect, though. For instance, electronic airbags must be recharged, and some jackets, such as the Dainese, must go back to the manufacturer to recharge. 

These simpler alternatives might not have the fancy technology the Klim vest boasts, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, the Helite Turtle 2, a mechanical airbag with a tether, inflates around the neck, shoulders, and chest, functioning as a neck brace. The downside is that it works via a physical tether to the bike. But it still inflates faster than many electronic airbags, and it won’t inflate because you stepped off your bike.

Whether you choose the Klim Ai-1 motorcycle airbag vest or the Helite mechanical airbag vest, you should always be aware of how it works, what causes the airbags to deploy, and what alerts you to any malfunctioning. In addition, even without subscription services, electronic airbag vests must be charged, and manual airbags must have a working, properly installed CO2 cartridge. Finally, wearing an airbag garment should not be a substitute for safe riding. 

RELATED: Why Do People Ride Motorcycles When It’s So Dangerous?