Protective Airbag Vest for Cyclists Shown at CES 2019

Jan 15, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  

We've spotted this new cycling gadget at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that could make the Euro look a thing of the past.

The Helite B'safe is a smart airbag that protects riders in case of a crash and it has been awarded a 2019 Innovation Honoree award at CES. The airbag uses two sensors, one attached to the seatpost and one in the vest to detect when a rider is falling by analysing the rider's position and speed. When it has determined a crash is taking place, the vest inflates with padding that covers the neck and upper body and is claimed to take 90% of the force out of a crash. The sensors can detect a fall in 60 milliseconds with the bag taking another 80 milliseconds to inflate using a gas cartridge. The vest is reusable but you will have to install a new CO2 cartridge each time.

The vest is breathable and designed to be worn over clothing. The battery is claimed to last for 10 years so there shouldn't any worry about it running out just when you need it.

It's worth saying that this product isn't designed for mountain bikers and we've no idea how it would cope with things like drops or jumps at this stage. Matt Wragg and Paul Aston have both previously spoken to Dainese (who pioneered MotoGP airbags) about the concept and they said that the technology would not work for mountain bikers given the sudden and unpredictable movements of the sport. However, Helite also make these vests for horse riders and skiers, so maybe they could crack the code.

So what do you think? Will airbags replace D30 and hard shells as the protection of the future? Or are we silly to place our safety in the hand of machines?

The B'Safe is expected to cost around $700 and will be available next spring in the US and Europe.


122 Comments

  • + 126
 It a great development and visualisation of what is possible. Even if the practicality is a bit lost on the enduro/DH crowd at the moment, it's a start.
For instance: It would be great if this eventually developed into a protective item that protects your neck, wrists, ankles etc in the event of a nasty crash. Parts that you regularly need freedom of movement while riding, but tend to snap like twigs.

I'd take a Leatt neckbrace with deployable airbags anyday. And knowing the way tech goes, it can also inform my loved ones and delete my browsing history while it's at it.
  • + 4
 same hopes here - sometimes, the item in question might not be the all-and-most-answer but it could be a gaping bridge to new product development
  • + 6
 What happens if your buddy pushes you into a wall? It'd be tough to stand up with all your joints locked up by inflatable bags.
  • + 2
 @scott-townes: POOOF airbags deploy...
  • + 4
 @laxguy: Does anyone really want to be refered to as ''bubble boy''.
  • + 12
 @DJ-24: If it lets me get up and then hug my wife and children.
  • + 2
 may not work well for guys doing backflips
  • + 1
 there has been a company that has done a similar sort of helmet a few years ago, it worked as a neck buff/brace type of thing and inflated when it 'detected' and accident. Cant remember the make sorry! But I recall somewhere in Scandinavia.. appologie if I am wrong.
  • + 2
 @MrBurger I don't know if everyone read through your whole comment. Lol!!
  • + 7
 Browsing history deleters really need to be more of a thing. Haha.
  • + 1
 Lol...
  • + 7
 Incognito mode + VPN = a more confident rider
  • + 5
 @BenPea: I can finally try to send some road gaps. LMAO
  • + 2
 It needs to deploy and turn into a Zorb.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ljbOmNX7x0
  • + 3
 I install hundreds of auto airbags every year and would rather the money spent on bags went into a stronger cage and better seat belt. Racing doesn't use airbags and I wonder if they feel the same. I do think this is a better use of an airbag as I don't think we will see cages on bikes soon but I could be wrong.
  • + 32
 Bubble wrap and duct tape ftw.
  • + 8
 And magazines. Prison body armor.
  • + 6
 @Xc2dh1: Did butchie send you?
  • + 27
 Why do so many people fail to understand the process of R&D or first generation devices leading to second, third, fourth, etc?

"This would never work for MTB because this one doesn't work for MTB."

What a bunch of twats.
  • + 3
 Getting bashed on PinkBike does not speak poorly to the quality or potential of the product. This is an innovative product for a large segment of the cycling community that deserves visibility and traction. I'd love to wait to see how other companies approach the same issue for the dirt market, but the question laid before us was:

"So what do you think? Will airbags replace D30 and hard shells as the protection of the future? Or are we silly to place our safety in the hand of machines?"

...so that's what this community thinks as the technology stands right now.
  • + 21
 Just don't sell the manufacturing rights to Takata whatever you do!
  • - 1
 Takata is not even a company anymore, filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and went under. All assets of the company were purchased by a different brand last year. So worry not.
  • + 2
 @gnarnaimo: oh well there goes my witty comment :-P
  • + 1
 @ctd07: It was witty, just not possible.
  • + 16
 I like the idea but in reality even for the commuter I think it fails. When ever I have fallen for crashes riding a commuter or road bike i have always fallen forward and the first point of contact has been hands so inevitably the damage had been hands, elbows, shoulders, collar bones and head. I could see the benefit of chest and back protection in hi impact crashes with motor vehicles but would the air pressure in the best be high enough to provide any benefit under these circumstances?
  • + 7
 I can give you a pretty accurate answer as my sister in law had a very huge part in creating this airbag: his brother use it will riding his 650 LC4. He had a big crash, hit by a car at not an mtb speed. He was wearing an early prototype and it clearly saved his life.
No commuting without this ( nor Rampage, but, well, less often)
  • + 20
 The number one solution for making commuter cycling is improving cycling infrastructure, The Netherlands being a prime example. There, 70% of urban streets have a 30 km/hr speed limit for cars. Also, there's a network of 33,000 km of protected, separated, and solitary cycling paths. In the city of Amsterdam people make over 70,000 cycling trips in morning rush hour (double the number of cars on the street at the same time). Finally, no helmet requirement and low accident rates. So, forget about that vest.
  • + 7
 @mi-bike: There's no chance of increased cycling infrastructure where I live. It's nice to hope/wish for it, but it is not going to happen. I'd gladly wear any additional gear that can afford me protection when I'm on the road. So, in countries/regions without the infrastructure, I would expect there to be a market. I just wish it protected the neck/shoulder area more...
  • + 1
 Commuter crashes that suffer limb injury’s are something that is a damn sight less detrimental to the body than hitting you neck, back or chest you on the street furniture. Granted, lower level body armour will protect them parts that you mention but, protection of your main organs and skeletal support is far more important.

People are always hospitalised in a bike accidents on commuting/road riding due to third party interference IE- motor vehicles. This is what they’ve based this on I reckon. The fall is just a simulation on to highlight the speed of deployment of the vest.
  • + 0
 @mi-bike: Yeah, let's rely on the governments to take care of us (insert massive eye roll). I have not been to Brazil and living in the western US where:
1. Commuter cycling is rare, the cities are spread out too far.
2. Due to government regulations, it would take years to accomplish such a task in a small town, much less a city.
That being said, I think that the consumer market fills in the gaps, with items like this vest, pads, and those pesky helmets that you don't like (btw, they are proven to cut the risk of severe traumatic brain injury by half when riders suffer a head injury).
  • + 16
 "what pressures you running brah?"
-"21/19 front/rear"
"No man, that vest, I find best aero at 4 psi with the inflation speed ramped to 600ms, your strava seem faster though so wondering what vest spec you are at?"
  • + 6
 I crashed at the weekend on the road. I simply went in to a corner far too fast. I've no idea what I wasn't thinking. For the first time I'm aware of, I didn't get my hands down first. My hip got most of the impact - maybe they could do pants. In principle, this might have worked for me. I'd be willing to try it.
  • + 6
 At Red Bull Rampage you watch the whole way. What if this was triggered by your mate who is watching and pushes the button to inflate the vest. Would your mate be your manager or your mom?
  • + 4
 Well you would need about 12 CO2 cartridges for a regular Bike park day with big jumps, and having the strap of your full face helmet shot in your throat one every huck to flat would be slightly... unpleasant to say the least. But honestly i actually think its a neat invention and could actually be useful for MTB if it is engineered to function at the right time.
  • + 6
 Well look at dh skiing they use those wests as well - i think it’s a great idea let’s wait for the mtb version this is obviously the street fighter edition
  • + 7
 There are a lot of oblivious phone zombies on the sidewalks that could use this
  • + 3
 Seen this being pushed as the next big thing in eventing it showjumping by point2? Over a decade ago, to guard against rotational impacts crushes of the horse rolling over you.
Tech works, was activated by a tether release if you dismounted etc
  • + 6
 Cashing in on the Yellow Vest movement
  • + 4
 If only all my crashes were damped by a perfectly placed crash matt! Nothing shows faith in a product more than testing it on grass with a crash matt!
  • + 6
 i need one, once a get drunk in the pub on the way to home....
  • + 3
 I ride with a mate who has 'crash detection' on his Garmin and Strava - it incorrectly detects a cash every single ride, even commuting. The crash detection on this vest will make or break things.
  • + 4
 Dang I’d love someone to make one of these for MTB. Sounds like Alpinestars have one coming to the Moto world, so let’s hope we see something decent.
  • + 2
 Yeah it would be cool to see one for sure. Especially for those people who dont like to wear a neck brace. Im not one to lie I dont wear one myself when I go to the park.But I also dont race. If it could stay slim and pump up to stop the neck from moving too much on a crash, that would be huge.
  • + 2
 The last time I crashed I landed square on my right shoulder, then elbowed myself in the ribs. This would have helped marginally with the elbow to the ribs but it's not going to help much with wrist and collar bone injuries that are so common.
  • + 1
 I've had this crash 3 times, all with bust ribs Frown
I notice this vest has no air bags there at the sides
  • + 1
 Yes, but with a broken wrist and collarbone you will likely heal back to normal. A broken back, neck, damaged organs, shattered rib cage etc.. Might be fatal or permanently crippling.
  • + 4
 C'mon, admit it, we all just want a system similar to the car foam in Demolition Man. Mmmmm, comfy crashes. www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnyhkBU1yaw
  • + 1
 Plenty of people here criticising this exact product which is fair game. But give it a few iterations and it could be excellent. It has applications in other gear / devices too.

Might not be too long until we get something like this www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKqdgvsbfFQ
  • + 1
 They have airbags/vests for downhill skiing - which has LOTS of heavy G-outs, huge jumps and severe being tossed and rattled around and they work. But to be honest I think DH and other pros are just too dumb to wear them. They prefer to look cool, break bones and skip a few races or the whole season.
  • + 3
 Another vid. Crash test dummied. Seems to do the job in a commuters ecosystem. Dont look at the head though..
m.youtube.com/watch?v=HKyOl5qLw88
  • + 1
 Opening line of the video.... why no, no i have not ever.
Then they should have shown someone full speed cartwheeling to see how it works and what it does and doesn't protect. It may be good in the PNW during rainy season if you get caught in a flash flood on the trail though.

@theredbike
Lmfao....yupp!!
  • + 1
 love how the crash they show in the video was entirely unaffected by the airbag as he lands right on his unprotected shoulder. realistically, yeah any extra safety is good, but for 90% of serious riders the extra bulk wont be worth the relatively minimal extra protection provided here. for casual riders (like shown in the video) who don't need to stay light and completely unhindered, this kind of thing is probably great, unlike that gimmicky inflatable helmet replacement I've seen making it's rounds recently.
  • + 1
 IMO the method of crash detection is the weak point.

Ergonomics and protection areas can be shifted pretty easily, but the method of detecting what is "riding a bike" vs "a bike riding you" has potential for improvement.

We've seen suspension manufacturers build digitally actuated valves that respond in similar time scales to this airbag, adapting to the trail in real time. If our bikes are already fitted with these sensors, and we accept that our sport will be battery-powered within the decade, could some combination of gyroscopes, inversion detection, and slip detection be added to build a complete profile of what a "crash" looks like? Heck, even heart rate could play a role.
  • + 3
 You simply cannot beat proper body Armour ever. MTB world you need puncture protection and something that can hand sharp edge impacts for rocks etc.
  • + 1
 I think the video and marketing makes it clear that this vest is for commuters. Helite also make vests for motorcyclists as @fracasnoxteam notes, that are triggered by a cord attached to the to motorcycle with a quick release fitting. The vest only inflates when the cord is pulled with a certain amount of force, so accidentally inflating the vest if you forget to unclip and step off the bike is a non-issue. One version of this vest has a layer of flexible armor over the airbag for abrasion resistance and protection from sharp objects. I could see a mountain bike version using something like D3O over the airbag, activated with a similar pull-cord mechanism attached to the stem.
  • + 1
 Great start. Assuming everyone has seen the inflatable helmet-collar alternative. Trouble is you never fall on your back or chest, it's something that inflates to protect your shoulders and neck that is needed (scorpion, helmet hit, dreaded collarbone break) for cycling. Vest doesn't protect shoulder at all.
  • + 1
 Last time I rode my bike, I took a break in the trail and rested my foot on a head sized rock. The rock gave way and I dropped my bike. When I went to push the rock back to its original position I lost my balance and tripped over my bike. It would be super annoying if my vest inflated as I hit the ground, especially since my legs got the worst of it when I landed on my crank and frame.
  • + 2
 Who are you, Harold Lloyd?
  • + 1
 @BenPea: Had to look up Harold Lloyd. Unfortunately, I doubt my "crash" was as entertaining. My description is accurate though.
  • + 2
 Airbag best work great for motorcycle road racing as I know firsthand but for anything off Roading you need to protect for sharp rigid edges that you don’t find on flat asphalt.
  • + 3
 I wonder if you ride bunny hopping everything on your way to work if it will inflate on the first agressive move
  • + 3
 Most Pinkbikers don't even wear elbow protection cause it's not "cool". Good luck selling them on this.
  • + 2
 The difficulty in adapting this to mtb would be the false positives coming from the sensors. Perhaps they could engineer it to go off at the sound of "oh sh.t!"
  • + 3
 Shoulder protection is not really under their scope yet. But nice development!
  • + 3
 Can PB please re-do some huck-to-flat videos with riders wearing this vest? Want to see everything in slow motion now.
  • + 3
 Bubble wrap sounds way better ????????
  • + 5
 *pop pop*
  • + 2
 would be awesome if something like this is going to protect your neck and collarbone like in motoGP.
  • + 2
 every time someone/something looks goofy you call it euro look.

I don't know if you guys have been in Europe lately
  • + 0
 This is useless, it's usually your extremities that hit first. Just look at the video....shoulder and arm. So many times my full armor with shoulder pads and elbow pads saved me.
  • + 1
 They've had similar devices for motorcycles for a few years now - the idea is to protect the spine and essential organs, not your arms and legs. Breaking and arm or legs sucks, but it usually isn't fatal.
  • + 2
 I might be interested as long as it does not contain a takata airbag.
  • + 1
 Takata is long gone. Besides it was the pyrotechnic inflators that were problematic, due to moisture buildup which destabilized the propellant. CO2 cartridges.. should be safer when exposed to moisture.
  • - 2
 Absolutely useless. You might as well just wear a tunic with some padding or existing body armour offerings. It doesn't protect neck or hands/wrists - often the most injured areas in a serious crash while cycling. The chap in the video has to crash in such a convoluted and specific way to see any point of contact with the protective areas. Dread to think how much it costs.
  • + 1
 I saw this and as a parent of little kids all I could think of was Ryder’s life jacket on Paw Patrol. This is silly!
  • + 1
 Nice idea. If dude is really concerned about safety though he should lose that baby seat.
  • - 1
 Won’t protect you from 90% of crashes a typical Downhiller or Freerider would have. (like a dislocated shoulder or collarbone). Might be good for grandma’s on a beach cruiser tho—
  • + 2
 I would like to see those grandmas rolling over the shoulder like this man in the video
  • + 2
 @mihauek: Just what I was thinking. You need martial arts training for that kind of fall. If it were me I'd be landing on my forarm/elbow and there'd be pain.
  • + 2
 @BenPea: Additionally, he was aware of the fall, so he prepared himself, it's completely different story when an accident is something unexpected. If not martial arts, at least parkour training is crucial Big Grin
  • + 3
 I would love to see some system addressing the worst risk imho: compression fractures of the spine. Maybe something like this connected somehow to the helmet? Anyway it is good to see any sort of innovation.
  • + 1
 I feel like I have heard that theme music before. Anyone with a link or idea to the source?
  • + 2
 Please PB, make a video of Jordie Lunn testing this.
  • + 1
 I bet I could inflate it in about a minute on my local trails lol I enjoy crashing as much as riding I think.
  • + 1
 Lmfao????
  • + 1
 I think this, combined with a Hövding inflatable helmet, would be awesome for the daily commute!

hovding.com
  • + 0
 For £700 id rather take my chances. The idea is nice but its not overly practical..... It would be better suited to marine activities and watersports
  • + 1
 Why, oh why did they make us wait 90 seconds in to see the crash. #failfridaytrained
  • + 1
 Needs the Inflatable helmet and you'll be stylin'!
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q47nzyBrENM
  • + 1
 I can buy new set of balls for the price of this vest.....
  • + 2
 Who,but Lance, needs a second set of balls laying around? Are two not enough?
  • + 1
 Oh yeah, pretty sure Fox news reported The Donald wears this for tub time!
  • + 1
 If it saves my collar bone from breaking, I'm in!
  • + 1
 It won't.
  • + 2
 How much does it weigh?
  • + 1
 Who's wearing this at the California Enduro series was my thought lol
  • + 1
 Can see the down side of this idea, being hot & sweaty in use?
  • + 1
 Pairs well with E-bikes
  • - 1
 Looks like it won't protect from broken collar bones. Also, it looks pretty dorky.
  • + 1
 so do knee and elbow pads. and helmets for that matter.
  • + 1
 Sorry B'Safe, you lost
  • + 1
 id rather die
  • + 2
 lmao
  • + 1
 #soenduro
  • + 0
 protect you against what? drowning....................?
  • - 1
 Dying actually. Already tested in real world.
  • - 1
 Looks like it’s for OAPs...
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