Couple of years back, after witnessing the birth of our Granddaughter in Utah, my Ex&I were riding across Nevada on our way back to Idaho. It was early in the morning, on a lonely stretch of road, when we happened across this young pilgrim.
He was on a Grand Motorcycle Adventure: riding his spanking new Triumph across the Western US. Unfortunately, his journey was rudely interrupted by a deer a few minutes before we encountered him.
He was traveling about 80 MPH when a deer leaped across the road right in front of the pilgrim. It happened so fast he had no time to react and slammed head-on into the animal.
Thrown from his bike, he’d landed some 60 feet away from where the machine ended up (it was right on top of a fukin’ ant hill that he laid, poor bastard).
“It saved me, I knew it, I knew it would” was the refrain we’d heard upon approaching the pilgrim.
And we’d both thought it was rather amazing that he was alert, lucid and quite verbose, all things considered.
What saved him from a more serious scenario?
An Airbag vest!
I don’t know if he was wearing a Helite or another brand, but the results were impressive. I remember thinking at the time that I wouldn’t mind having one of those vests. Back then I was broke, however.
Fast forward to now and the Tracer. Not so broke anymore and frequently hitting triple digits, I decided to upgrade my riding gear, which for me always involves lots of research. After watching two helmetcam vids of riders hitting deer at night whilst wearing Helite airbag vests, I decided one of those would be on the list right after a new Helmet (Snell rated this time around, a Shoei RF SR with photochromatic shield).
At $700, the Helite is an investment to be sure.
So how does it feel to ride in? It’s heavy, standing up in it, you feel the weight. The first day I rode with, I felt like it was adversely affecting my riding in the twisty stuff. By day three, however, I didn’t even notice it. And if you sit right, the enormous spine protector takes the weight and you feel kinda like a turtle in its shell.
Do I feel safer in it? No, I never feel safe on a bike (shit I don’t in my car either, too many fools on the roads nowadays). I do feel better protected- even if the thing failed to inflate, it’s heavy Cordura construction and huge spine protector would buy you a little extra protection. And inflated could prevent a serious spinal injury and/or internal organ damage.
To me, it’s like the difference between riding in regular jeans and armored riding pants. If I ride every day in armored pants, and then go for ride in regular jeans, I feel naked and exposed (damn, really goin’ miss that kneecap if I low-side at 100mph, eh).
It would be nice if the Helite used sensors instead of the Old-school leash to inflate the vest, but the current offerings using sensors are all designed to be worn inside special jackets. The Helite goes over whatever you are wearing.
I like it. Better odds of staying out of a wheelchair, eh.
Helite Hi-Viz Airbag Vest Turtle 2 Technology
Turtle 2 Airbag Vest Hi-Viz Helite