We love seeing new innovations coming to the market, especially when they concern our safety. A first in the adventure market is this jacket equipped with airbag technology, from British firm RST. Air bags have been proving their worth in road racing (most notably in MotoGP) for some years now, so it’s good to see this trickling down, not just into leather suits for the regular road rider (which RST also do) but for adventure riders, too. And this jacket has been through the most rigorous testing, a prototype having been worn by Mick Extance in the 2020 Dakar Rally.
Even before the addition of the air bag, the Adventure-X was already a high-specification jacket, with double layering combining MaxTex – a lightweight high dernier synthetic material – over the body of the jacket with Ballistic textile overlays over the impact areas. Even the stitching is top-notch, the jacket being triple stitched in a coated bonded nylon thread for added abrasion resistance.
Being an adventure jacket ventilation is essential and this is covered off by way of a mesh lining and multiple chest, arm and rear vents. For cooler – and wetter – days there’s a quilted thermal liner with SinAqua waterproof membrane. The liner can be conveniently stored in a pocket on the rear of the jacket when not in use.
Armour is to the highest, CE Level 2, specification with a back protector, shoulder and elbow protectors (and in the knees of the matching pants).
To this we add the airbag system. RST has partnered with French specialists In&motion to fully integrate the system into their jacket. The system relies on an electronic brain – the In&go box – which is wireless, and embedded with algorithms that analyse the rider’s moves 1000 times a second to detect a fall and so activate the air bag. Inflation of the airbag takes less than 60 milliseconds, and given the constant monitoring there’s minimal risk of it deploying anytime other than in a crash. The rechargeable battery that powers the brain lasts 25 hours (and 15 days on standby) so you have guaranteed all-day cover (battery recharge is three hours). The airbag is reusable up to three times (by changing the gas cartridge), although as you can imagine after a heavy crash you might want to get the jacket and airbag professionally checked out. Technophobes need not shy away, operation is simple, just switch on the box and activate the airbag functionality.
Colours are the red, white and blue seen here, or black. Sizing ranges from UK40 to 54 (that’s EU S – 5XL). And bottom line: the cost – RRP is a very reasonable £499.99. The jacket can be matched with the RST Pro Series Adventure-X pants which retail for £219.99.
So, getting back to Mick Extance, how did the trial by Dakar go?
Mick: “I swear by that jacket. As a rider you can go to sleep (on the trail) but the jacket never sleeps, the box is always monitoring you. So when on the day I did have a big crash sure enough it inflated before I hit the ground, I skidded along and I was able to get up afterward with not a scratch on me. I stood up afterwards with it all blown up, then after a short while it deflates itself and away you go again!
“It is definitely the way forward and I’m so glad that airbags will now be compulsory for the 2021 Dakar; equally it’s a massive aid to rider safety for adventure and road motorcycling. To have been involved in the development of this product is an honour for me, but also to have seen the passion and dedication that has gone into the development of the jacket has been quite something. I totally believe in the jacket, I’m still wearing it in everyday riding in the UK. I rode out for a short ride the other day without it, and boy did I feel nervous! It’s a game changer.”