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Honda unveils world's 1st airbag-equipped motorbike
Thu Sep 8, 2005 02:06 AM ET

TOKYO, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co. (7267.T: Quote, Profile, Research) unveiled on Thursday the world's first airbag system to be mounted on a production model motorcycle, with plans to offer it on the new Gold Wing touring bike to hit U.S. showrooms next spring.

The airbag module is built in between the bike's handles and activates when four crash sensors detect a severe frontal collision, creating a buffer as the rider is flung forward on impact.

Honda, Japan's third-biggest car maker and the world's top motorcycle supplier, said the airbag would be effective in significantly reducing fatalities and serious injuries, citing data which shows that most occur during frontal collisions.

Honda will eventually offer the airbag option in Europe and Japan, Operating Officer Suguru Kanazawa told a news conference. The company declined to say how much the add-on would cost.

The 1800cc Gold Wing is Honda's biggest motorcycle and starts at $18,600 in the United States. It sold 12,000 units in North America last year, 1,600 in Europe and 270 in Japan.

Officials said Honda aimed to offer the airbag on more motorcycles in future, but acknowledged a number of hurdles.

Because the airbag works by absorbing kinetic energy from the forward-flying rider, the motorcycle itself needs to be heavy enough not to tip over, throwing the driver over and past the deployed airbag.

The airbag also needs enough space to blow up safely in front of the rider, meaning the system can't be mounted on a sporty bike where the driver leans forward into the handle.

Still, Chief Engineer Satoshi Iijima said having the airbag could mean the difference between life and death. While the system works best in a straight-angle frontal collision at up to 50 km (31 miles) an hour, the airbag can slow down the rider being thrown off at twice the speed, causing only a minor injury in an accident that would otherwise result in certain death.

Honda is at the forefront of vehicle safety technology, offering Japan's first airbag in 1987 on the Legend high-end sedan. It began research and development on motorcycle airbags in 1990.

As part of its safety drive, Honda has also developed technology to warn motorcyclists of oncoming cars that are hidden from the rider's view, and headlight designs that help others on the road better gauge the distance from the motorcycle.

Those technologies are not yet available on production models.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.


:)
 

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there's also been an "airbag vest" around for a few years now.

Basically when you go down, it inflates around your chest to lessen the blunt trauma of hitting the pavement. It also straightens your posture and keeps your neck & spine in line and stiff to help prevent neck injury. The one I was looking at was called the "hit air" vest and was ~$800USD.
 

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seems like you'd have to use some kind of seatbelt to keep you from flying over the top of the airbag....
 
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If anyone could make it work it'd be Big Red. I can see a market for it as an accessory for the 'Wing crowd, but please don't let them (the federales) make it mandatory! I'm not all that comfortable driving around in my car with a pyro device / gas generator two feet from my chest; I'd be even less comfortable on a bike.

I think this project came out of a tech project by the Japanese equivalent of our DoT. They had (have?) a proactive engineering competition to stimulate R&D in this field, things like HUDs and intelligent headlights that point where the bike is going in a corner. Sort of like a transportation equivalent of DoD's DARPA.

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Nexus242 said:
[size=12pt]
TOKYO, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co. (7267.T: Quote, Profile, Research) unveiled on Thursday the world's first airbag system to be mounted on a production model motorcycle, with plans to offer it on the new Gold Wing touring bike to hit U.S. showrooms next spring.




It figures they'd try it out on the Civic 1st. (where did the :twisted smiley go?)
 

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"As part of its safety drive, Honda has also developed technology to warn motorcyclists of oncoming cars that are hidden from the rider's view"

does that sound like a cop detector to anyone else? ;D

the airbag sounds cool though, just hope it works as well as they say it will. i can just see people here ready to buy one and sue honda for some stupid reason...
 
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