In the unlikely event of ejection from a fast-moving motorcycle, the split-second before impact is the only thing separating you from (we hope) stomping away in anger – or if fortune frowns upon you, an unplanned visit to your local emergency room.
Deep-pocketed gear manufacturers like Alpinestars and Dainese have engineered complex, GPS- and accelerometer-based solutions which instantly inflate airbags to avoid collarbone fractures. Those tech-laden suits perform remarkably well, though we recently came across an airbag system that takes a decidedly low-tech approach to crash protection – one that just may be crazy enough to work.
Using a tether that attaches the rider to the bike, SaferMoto packs a CO2 cartridge into a jacket or vest that's linked to a trigger designed to deploy its contents in about 250 milliseconds – slower than the pricey full-body systems, but still quick enough to react in time to protect the rider, according to SaferMoto CEO Alan Cunningham.
During our planned detachment test while standing safely next to a motorcycle, we heard a BB-gun-like poof and felt an instant puffing of the neck and spine areas, which sustained a stiff, constricting grasp for several seconds before the internal polyurethane bladder was finally ready for collapse. Incidentally, the attachment point on the bike requires a serious tug to separate, in the interest of avoiding unintended Michelin man impersonations.
SaferMoto runs between $350 and $500, and has attracted a following among riders like this knee-dragging fellow, who took a slide on a racetrack without effect.
We can't personally confirm or deny whether this safety device operates as advertised – and as with all things crash related, we hope to never find out. But for a relatively affordable piece of equipment that offers a decent chance of reducing injury, the SaferMoto seems to be worth every penny of its sub-$500 price. [$350-$500; safermoto.com]