There are several choices for airbag-equipped motorcycle personal protection.  But these choices are somewhat limited by their operation and cost.  French company IXON may have a solution.

The more moderately priced units require you to tether an inflatable vest directly to the bike.   Other versions do not require a tether but require you to purchase a system integrated into an expensive complete suit.

Digital brain

However, there is now another option.  IXON has introduced an inflatable airbag vest that can be worn under any motorcycle jacket.  IXON’s IX-AIRBAG U03 vest does not require a tether and uses a “computer brain” equipped with algorithms to detect a crash.

The vest’s brain is called the “In&box” system.  It analyzes the rider’s movements 1,000 times per second.  The “In&box” is built into the vest’s CE approved back protector.  The inflator canister containing 12 liters of compressed air also resides inside the protector.

Air is injected into areas of common injury. Photo credit: IXON

When a crash/fall is detected by its algorithms, the vest is automatically inflated.  Air is injected into the vest to areas where common injuries occur;  particularly, the neck, spine thorax, abdomen and, collarbone.

Practical experience

According to IXON, a similar system has been tested extensively on track for three years in MotoGP, endurance racing and French Superbikes.  Because of that experience, you can also buy a “track only” algorithm and the system can be switched between track and road.  Nice.

The vest can be purchased online for about $400.  You’ll have to add another approximately $400 if you want to purchase the “brain”.  At $800 all up, the vest is not cheap.

Lease/rent when needed

But IXON also has a novel program where you can rent/lease the brain when you need it.    They give you the option to lease the brain month to month for about $12.  For riders that don’t ride year round, that’s a nice option.  In addition, if you do lease the brain, you get other features like access to all algorithm updates and optimizations.  You also get an unlimited warranty.

A CE approved back protector houses the digital brain and inflation cannister. Photo credit: IXON

Concerns

One thing that is a concern for me is actually one of the things that makes this vest convenient.  The vest is battery powered and the battery reportedly has a 20-hour life between charges.  That’s a good deal of battery life so no complaints there.  It’s just that you must remember to charge the vest, turn it on and turn it off.

I’m probably making a mountain out of a molehill, but I do have a concern that a rider could forget to turn it on, or worse, it runs out of charge while riding.  Once again, human error could be a problem with a good system.

I haven’t tried or seen IXON’s new vest in action and therefore can’t attest to its performance.  But it’s nice to see motorcycle airbag technology apparently advancing, and the price to entry decreasing.  As time goes on, I hope that this technology and availability continue to increase and the price continues to drop.

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