Honda patent vertical airbag for motorcycles

The Honda patent shows a vertical launching airbag system that is mounted within the front-end bodywork

Honda patent vertical motorcycle airbag system

HONDA has just patented an airbag system for motorcycles that launches vertically in front of the rider. The system works in a similar way to a conventional airbag – whereby compressed gas is released to inflate the bag – although the mounting of it is something we’ve not seen before.

The idea of fitting an airbag to the front of a motorcycle has been around for almost as long as the airbag itself. The main problem for motorcycle designers wanting to incorporate one on a bike is packaging. While cars have plenty of space within the dashboard, side pillars and seats to stash the airbag and its inflation hardware, motorcycles are almost always devoid of such space. The new system that Honda has just registered shows a small, airbag system that is compact enough that it can be mounted within the front-end bodywork of a small motorcycle or even a scooter.

How does the Honda airbag system work?

The system uses a casing that holds the bag and is mounted in the area around the headstock of the bike, with the airbag launching out of the container on both sides of the headstock. When the system detects a crash, we assume via conventional accelerometers, the airbag is inflated by the in-built compressed gas canister, shielding the rider from the frontal impact.

While the system will only provide protection to the rider in a couple of types of accident, either rear-ending another vehicle or running into a solid object, the system does look as though it could help prevent some of the most dangerous upper body and head injuries that help to make up a large proportion of motorcycle accident statistics.

While the idea may seem like pie in the sky to many, let’s not forget that Honda is one of the pioneers of this kind of tech, having already fitted airbags to the range-topping Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT Airbag. The system on the Gold Wing is a little more conventional though, in that airbag emanates from the centre console of the bike and not from the headstock area. There is also a fair amount more space to hide the airbag system on a bike like the Gold Wing, this latest system looks custom-built for the small capacity and or scooter segment.