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Could motorcycle air bag technology make helmets obsolete?

The question posed in the headline is somewhat facetious, but we don't think it's completely incredible to ask. In many ways improving safety is one of the final frontiers confronting motorcycling engineers.

As we noted in a post back in July, a lot of focus has been on trying to invent the next great motorcycle helmet. But experts agree it's been tough. The nature of the accident tends to dictate the kind of helmet that would be best suited to preventing injury. And since it's impossible to predict the conditions ahead of any given incident, no single helmet is capable of covering all the bases. This may be where air bags come into play.

Really serious motorcycling enthusiasts in North Carolina may be aware that full body leather suits with air bag technology incorporated have been available to professional and average riders for some time. Unfortunately, such technology hasn't been made available for road warriors in the United States. But that is changing.

Dainese is an Italian company that's been in the airbag suit business for awhile and it just recently released what is described as the first commercially available, self-contained air bag motorcycling jacket. One reviewer for the online magazine, Asphalt & Rubber, calls it a "sea change for motorcycle safety."

It's called the D-Air Misano 1000. What it provides to street riders is basically the same safety protection that professionals have come to depend on, though with some slight changes to the crash-sensing software that's used. Because of its all-in-one design, any rider on any bike can wear it and be protected against such common motorcycle crash injuries as broken collar bones, broken necks and shoulder and chest injuries.

The main drawbacks that experts find in the product are that the U.S. rollout isn't expected until mid-summer next year, and the estimated cost could be around $1,500.

That might seem steep, but when you consider the cost of broken bones or the lost life of a loved one, it is bound to prove a good value.

And it seems feasible to think that air bag head protection could be next.

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