Could parachutes be the future of motorcycle protective gear?

A Swedish company is developing a parachute system designed for motorcycle leathers, with the hope of being able to slow crashed riders down more safely.

Airbag Inside parachute patent drawings. - Cycle World

PARACHUTES are not a new phenomenon in general. But, to motorcycles, they are. Parachutes are more commonly found attached to people falling from planes or helicopters. On the floor, the are used to slow down drag racers, and now Airbag Inside, out of Sweden, is trying to use the same concept for motorcycle riders. 

The parachute from Airbag Inside (which has already developed airbag products under the brand name Mo’Cycle) would be fitted into the leathers of the rider, and the idea behind them would be to bring the rider to a halt in a faster, but more controlled way than is currently experienced. This is because, as Cycle World says, parachutes help to keep the object they are attached to pointing straight while decelerating. 

The complicated thing with parachutes is getting enough airflow into the parachute itself to get it to deploy properly. In a motorcycle crash, it is difficult without some (extremely) favourable winds to get this sufficient airflow. 

This has not gone unconsidered at Airbag Inside, though, who have what they hope will be a solution to the airflow problem with a parachute. Cycle World reports that the theory of Airbag Inside is to use two small canopy parachutes with inflatable outer edges. These inflatable edges would allow the parachute to fully deploy almost immediately. This eliminates the need for sufficient airflow to deploy and expand the parachute. Additionally, the attachment of the two individual canopies would be inflatable, which would make them sturdier and allow the parachute to remain above the rider’s head. With Mo’Cycle’s system, the only strings would be those used to stop the canopies from spinning, and these would be attached to points above the rider’s head to prevent tangling, and to keep them away from the neck. 

Airbag Inside - under the brand name Mo’Cycle - has already developed airbag trousers and jacket sleeves for motorcycles, and plans to bring its airbag technology to boots also. It is using the technology from these developments that the outer edge of the parachute would be inflated. 

Once the parachutes are inflated, the idea is that the rider will be slowed down quickly, and therefore taken away from the bike. The rider would move feet-first with the parachute deployed. 

It is certainly an interesting development from Airbag Inside, but it is probably not something we will see on the market in the too-near future. After all, even airbags are not universal yet, and they have been around in some form or another in motorcycle leathers for over a decade. But it is technology that undoubtedly has an opportunity to greatly increase the safety for both road and track riders.

Lead and top in-text image courtesy of Cycle World.