The Motorcycle Airbag System

Honda became the first to develop and deliver a production motorcycle complete with airbag about 4-years ago.

The first tests were conducted date back some 37-years, but Honda began serious work on the airbag system back in 1990. The Motorcycle Airbag System was finally announced exactly 5-years ago, to be released at the end of the first quarter of 2006. So far the only model equipped with an airbag is the Honda GL1800 Gold-Wing Delux.

It comprises of an airbag module, which includes the bag itself and an inflator, crash sensors – which monitor acceleration changes – and an ECU which is the brain of the system and which calculates when a crash is actually taking place.

During an impact to the front of the motorcycle, the four crash or 'deceleration' sensors mounted on the forks measure the change in acceleration and send the data to the ECU, which determines that a crash is in progress. When deployed, the bag itself should absorb some of the impact of the rider, cutting down the speed at which he or she is thrown from the motorcycle itself.
Honda has been at pains to show that the system works and a number of well-publicized 'first crashes' have appeared around the world. Probably one of the first persons to benefit from the Honda airbag system was a guy in Florida, USA. He was T-boned by a car that had puled out in front of him and despite not wearing a helmet he walked away from the crash with just a few bruises. He told a local newspaper 'I hit the car on the passenger side between the front wheel and the passenger door – I simply didn't have time to brake. The accident was witnessed by a nurse who has been involved in the rehabilitation of people after motorcycle crashes and she told me she couldn't believe that I was still walking.'

The Honda airbag system took more than five years of development and it proves it was not in vain and that it really does work. Satoshi Lijima who was head of the team responsible for the Honda ASV (Advance Safety Vehicle) motorcycle on which the airbag system were developed was later awarded the Safety Engineering Excellence Award in recognition of his contribution to road safety.
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