Airbag vest adventures, highs, lows etc

Here’s a verbal diatribe about air bag vests…because I truly believe I’ve been round the horne on this…

Maybe this’ll be useful. Maybe it won’t. At best it may help you sleep. If nothing else it may help me to coalesce my thoughts! So don’t get grumpy, this is really a thread for my benefit :slightly_smiling_face:

Current status … Helite Turtle 2 sold, sent, and now lost in transit by DPD…

But now what?

Let’s start with how we got here…

Ok, fessing up time…I’m new to riding. I’m late 40s. I’m married, mortgaged and kids. Knee down, peg scrapping, carefree blasts around the Oxfordshire countryside are as far from what i am, or aspire to be, as it gets…

I use my bike for transport. To commute. I like to go fast enough to put a smile on my face, but am equally satisfied filtering between the Oxford traffic. I enjoy a good fettle…the hobby, for me, is ownership. From riding, to reading, to pootling to speeding, cleaning and preening, to fixing and switching … I like it all.

The caveat to all this, by current, MK1 wife, is that I always come back in one piece…

To this end I was and have been “sold” on the idea of airbag vests for about 4-5 years. If you, absolutely and entirely, are not interested in the whys and wherefores, the benefits or hindrance of airbags …then move along. You’ll just get wound up…and the country is going to hell in ​a hand cart enough that requires your venom, this little rant simply isn’t worthy of your time.

Right, for the rest of you still reading …

Did I make a mistake selling my Helite Turtle 2 high Vis airvest?

I made the purchase for this about 4 years ago, when getting on my second “big bike” having been sold on them being a good idea. The Helite, for me, was a no brainer… Having scanned the whole of the internet it is plain for all to see (well, for me to see at least) that the Helite wins hands down on an area of comparison that no one, ever, EVER, compares…and that is the level of protection/coverage in an off - which is surely the whole point, right!?

Forget the deployment method, that’s not the point of discussion just now…

The barrel shaped protection, front, neck, rear and lower back protection is simply better than anyone else’s. Isn’t it?

Others have similar systems - I’m thinking “in motion”; whether it be Klim or Ixon, or others such as Dianese or Alpinestars…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m only highlighting “differences”; it’s not for me to qualify if those differences are good, bad or ugly. Look at you own Google pages to see what level of deployed protection your vest of choice offers…

Perhaps the answer is obvious, the research and stats bear it out, that accident and injury to the back, or lumbar region is low, so Helite coverage is unnecessary? I simply don’t know … But hey …I was sold anyway…

I loved my Helite T2, I decided I had no issue with the tethered nature of this beast… And I rode with it for many happy miles…but…those miles always ended with a sore neck…

After a lot of on, off, vest on, vest off, head turning, filming, riding etc, I decided that…the Helite, with it’s length - no doubt inherent for it’s superior deployed coverage, was meaning it “rode up” slightly in use. Simply put, the base of the jacket, cupping me arse, with a Level2 back protector in it, would sit on the saddle and push up, and therefore caused the top collar of the vest to ever so slightly, interfere with the base of my helmet. This very slight interference, over the course of miles, meant my neck was in tension as it/my helmet “pushed against” the vest, resulting in a sore neck and shoulders…

I tried riding without the back protector. I tried riding with the protector in my actual jacket… Anything that meant I could persevere with my trusty Helite…but, alas…after many more weeks, I just decided enough was enough and the hunt began for a new vest…



Firstly, well done for getting on a bike. You’re never too old, as they say. You’ll be aware by now that we have people still gaining experience right up to those with more years in the saddle than some of us have had in the planet.

I have got too much to say about air vests other then they do seem bike an excellent innovation. I would have a jacket with one now but the cost when I last bought new leathers looked was still quite high. Cheaper than a new back, I realise, but there you go.

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Airbag vest? Too pessimistic

Might be your riding position… leant forward, head cranked back, eyes staring through the top edge of your visor = neck pain! But I see you’re on a Tiger 1050, so that shouldn’t really be the case… however, you are right that your seat (being very stepped) could be pushing the protection up to your helmet.
Did the neck pain coincide with the new bike, or was it always there with the jacket? Did you get a new helmet with greater occipital coverage?

A motorcycle is a fairly high risk form of transport and you can’t ever fully mitigate that risk. We primarily do it for two reasons:

  1. We love the thrill and adventure of riding
  2. It’s a quick and convenient form of transport

While it makes sense to try and mitigate the inherent risks by wearing sensible safety kit, if that kit makes you uncomfortable it will just become irritating and distracting which probably increases your chances of having an accident in the first place.

Riding a motorcycle is never going to be as safe as driving a car or taking the bus no matter how hard you try.


I tried a Helite at the track.
Gave up with after two days, it got in the way too much and made me sweat like anything (I was in Spain doing 3 days on track)
I now wear a an RST suit with a built in air bag, much better, no interference and I stay cooler.
Helite vests were a good idea initially when airbag suits were a lot more expensive, but my RST suit wasn’t a lot more than buying a Helite vest, so it was no contest.


Thanks all, interesting replies…

To answer some questions, it’s been the same helmet throughout the experience, albeit I am now due a new one (timewise( and the occipital coverage could well be/have been a consideration… Was on a 955 Speed Triple before so always been upright when riding - if anything the neck issue was slightly better on the Tiger.

I have already made peace with, and am happy with the level of risk, but also level of mitigation offered by an airvest (of some description). And it keeps wife happier.

I ride daily, for necessity, which I also enjoy, so I also therefore ride for pleasure…but it is a commute and as such perhaps I am concatenating my risk. I never say “I’ve never had an accident”; I always say “I haven’t had an accident, yet”.

With that in mind these trials and tribulations - yet to be continued, regards an airvest, or “which” airvest are the reason for my thread… It is TTT… Triumph Thread Therapy. I’m hoping that by vomiting out my thoughts I may reach a conclusion :thinking:

More to follow…

Continued thanks for your thoughts…


Very interesting write up on your airbag vest situation and some fair points raised in response.

I’m a late biker, started at the age of 56 and have been immersed in the world of two wheels ever since. :sunglasses:

I’ll be honest and say that I’ve never considered an airbag vest and nor am I likely to. That’s just my standpoint, not a criticism of you for choosing to wear one. You’ve confirmed what I partly suspected in that they can be cumbersome to wear and may make you uncomfortable when riding. For that reason alone its a no from me.

Motorcycling is risky but we all want to come back safe, even if just to ride again the next day!
My solution was to improve my riding by taking a Bike Safe course with the local plod and then the IAM advanced test a couple of years back.

There is no substitute for greater awareness and having greater confidence. It’s not for everyone but it worked for me.


I didn’t see you mention whether you tried riding without the airvest to see if the neck and shoulder pain went away? I saw you removed the back protector. I suffer neck pain on my trophy but not on my royal enfield, so riding position may be contributing? Just had to ask!


Thanks again…

Yes, have been riding for a while now without the vest, and it was definitely the vest in this instance causing the issue…regrettably. But just to add, the vest was in no way any more or less cumbersome when riding than any other equipment can/might/sometimes can be…Other than my neck, I wouldn’t really notice it in use… Yeah, hot in summer…but so are decent riding jeans…and boots…and gloves…and helmet etc… When it is unbearably hot; it is no more unbearable because of the vest… If it is THAT unbearable, then you should be questioning your “need” to ride in the same way you would if it were icy…

Like I said, this is not a ramble about the very idea of having a vest - I am totally sold on the idea. Each to their own etc… No preaching…just my opinions and experience on what I have come across…

Ditto the advanced training…I have done the BikeSafe course too, and also hope to embark on my IAM training as soon as I have the cash! If you are unlucky, I may create a thread about that as well!

So…to continue :slightly_smiling_face:

I really like the Helite for the coverage, but also the user friendliness and cost of replacing a cartridge…at £20 a throw…it is a doddle and cheap… Likewise I was entirely happy with the mechanical tether deployment system. Rest assured, through multiple opportunities I can categorically confirm that; “No”; it can not go off by accident.

So, so far, I like the Helite as it was a decent price, for a piece of kit, that I was happy to own, that gave excellent coverage, and excellent protection, in a simple, cheap, user-friendly package. I just wonder if, perhaps they did it in a “short” version, rather than a Long - which, as I was size XL, it came as “XL - Long”…maybe it would have helped?

But then…I got reading about the electronic vests…and that opened up a whole other can of worms…

When I say “Electronic”, my research led me very distinctly to the “In & Motion” system used by IXON and Klim…

Again, just to reiterate…I am not, here, discussing the whys and wherefores of the electronic “subscription based” ownership model. For me, the whole issue is entirely moot. You don’t need GPS. Once the unit is “armed” it won’t suddenly disarm because your subscription lapsed 30 days ago. It’s your call whether there’s enough battery to see you through your journey. You would have to choose to purposefully make an effort to actively ignore numerous opportunities of “the vest not arming” to get on a bike with a vest that you thought was armed, but wasn’t. Is this possible? Yes. Is it likely…? No. Do you check your tyres before you ride? Yes. How do you know you haven’t just got a puncture wheeling it out the garage? Did your brakes work fine yesterday? How do you know they work today? Anyway, I digress…Electronic airbag system and principle - SOLD/TICK.

I liked the idea of the electronic system as: more than anything, being an “under garment” I would eliminate the whole neck interface problem…and, as stated by others, you’re only gonna use an item if it doesn’t cause discomfort, right?

However, my other BIG driver was the very nature of my individual/personal riding experience…as a commuter, the type of accident I am most likely to have is going to be me “riding in to something”; and it just got me thinking… If I am thrown over the handlebars and a car bonnet; the Helite mechanical system will deploy just as readily as an electronic system… But…what if I hit a wall? Or the side of a van? If I am not clearing the handlebars…then will the tether have time to deploy? It is the “flying phase” that is required. I will be doing less flying if I hit a wall…

Based on this, AND the neck issue…I was literally about to hit the “BUY” button on a Klim vest…

Measure twice, cut once is a useful saying to live by; which I nearly always, always forget! Fortunately I managed to remember it in time, and so decided to just check out the Dainese and Alpinestars electronic vests as well…just in case…



Have the Alpinestars TechAir 5. Happy to answer any questions you may have on it but I haven’t had the need to test it yet thankfully so may only have limited info.


Interesting to hear your thoughts - you think about things on the same sort of scale as me!!

I did look briefly at airbag vests but I am happy with always wearing good kit and never, ever riding without a back protector; I have fractured several vertebrae in an accident (not bike - related!) and am not sure I would be lucky enough to walk away twice. The appeal to me as someone who has been involved in trauma care would be the neck immobilisation, but I also don’t want to encumber myself with extra kit, I like kit that doesn’t make me feel too bulky on the bike.

I also think the fact that wearing one keeps your wife happy is good - it would be a big deal for me if I were to ride knowing that people I loved were opposed to it or worried. It wouldn’t necessarily stop me, but would remove some of the joy and add a little guilt to the mix I think.


Thanks MrsV… Not wanting to bore others, I am happy to sell the virtues of a vest in general either elsewhere or in pm…should you want… But I take no umbrage should you not!

Next part of my therapy session is rumbling…like a big burp…


Always happy to learn and hear peoples’ thoughts, an airbag vest is not for me but good to learn about them all the same and hear your rationale for whichever you go for.

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I like this thread, I have been keeping my eye out for the perfect air bag setup.
In 2021 Hellite were at the bike show, which was the first time I learnt that they even existed. I liked the concept and was gobsmacked by the rigidity of a vest following deployment. initially I thought the weight of it would be a pain in summer and make you too warm.
This year at the bike show I was expecting there to be more of a focus on air bags but to my surprise I didn’t see any. I was keen to try on the Dainese two peace leathers with their built in system whilst at the Dainese stand alas Dainese didn’t bring any to the show, which made me question the popularity right now.


Helite were there this year - quite a small “low key” set up though.

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Ah no wonder I missed them this year.

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That’s very interesting to hear…I guess that they are on my radar, so I seek out and find the information.

But it is odd that they are less apparent.

I do sincerely think that they have a bit of a kickback negatively…not sure why… Bikers are a funny lot…

Perhaps there’s a place for a separate thread on their virtues, or not!

I’m happy to take a shot at defending them, should anyone feel the want…but be nice… I’m fragile. It’s why I wear an airvest :innocent:

For what is worth, specific to the Dainese, it misses the mark, for me.

How come?
I’ve not done a huge amount of research yet and never tried any suits on curious to hear any thoughts you may have.