I have been jonesing after a HitAir jacket for a while, I think it will be on my Christmas list. I have been looking forward to reading a good review of it, so far none. I have seen reviews for the vest alone and it looks like an excellent passive safety device.
I know I'm resurrecting a year-old thread, but I think this is an important topic. I've been riding with a Hit-Air vest for about a year now. I really like it, it makes me feel safer and I have seen some reports online that they have saved lives.
A couple of myths I hear about them: First, that they are hot. Truth is they are really lightweight and they don't interfere with airflow that much. Second, that they will go off accidentally. I have gotten off the bike many times forgetting the tether, but it takes 35 pounds of pressure to set it off. I feel the tug when I get off and just unhook it. My biggest problem is remembering to hook it up when I get on the bike. I have put the letters "ABV" for "Air Bag Vest" in orange Sharpie on my windscreen to remind me. I rarely forget now.
Most of the people I used to do track days with had those vests. I've seen demos of those vests going off and I've seen them inflate in real crashes (on track).
For track use, they provided excellent high-side protection. When the rider got catapulted off the bike, the vest would inflate immediately (tether actuated) and it seemed to save collarbones for sure. These did absolutely nothing for low side crashes. I don't see these being very helpful in most street crash scenarios.
I also don't see a scenario where it would make it worse to be wearing one, so if you can afford it, get one!
I got the Helite jacket at the BMW rally in Mariposa Ca in May. The jacket was cheaper than the vests...closeouts?
It's heavy at 8 pounds but the weight seems to disappear once you are on the bike. I've ridden in 100 plus degree weather and the vents seem to work fine for me.
I didn't need the wet vests I had with me.
It worked fine on the opposite end of the temperature scale with the Gerbing heated jacket cooking away underneath.
Stupid of me to buy the jacket since I have so many good riding suits already. The vest would have worked over all of them.
Maybe next knee jerk purchase will be the vest. The jacket and 3 lanyards was $599. The vests were going for $639.
The sales feller used me as a demonstrator and pulled the cord and inflated the jacket. It's right now and the back and neck protection is quite pronounced. Good protection to the chest area too.
I got a couple extra cartridges just in case.
Getting used to remembering to clip the lanyard is a bother for old forgetful folks but practice and repetition will help. Positioning the lanyard so it is on the front side of the leg is helpful for a bit of slack to get off the bike. The pull required to operate the device is quite high so accidental operation is unlikely.
Reinstalling the spring and firing pin is straightforward and the wrench is provided so changing the cartridge is easy. The cartridges are about $25 a POP!
I own the Hit Air race model vest and it works. How do I know? I crashed hard on cold tires at the track. The vest deployed and kept my head from snapping forward and protected my collar bone. I walked away with no injuries. Replaced the co2 cartridge and the vest is reactivated. Good insurance and while I paid close to $500 worth every penny. Highly recommended.
Sounds like my experience with my Helite Turtle, only mine was on a dirt road.
Basically I just bounced off the road. I think. It was over so quickly I didn't really have time to think about anything.
But I was utterly uninjured. Until I cut my hand on a fragment of my windshield - which I had apparently flown through. But, that was after I got up off the ground, having suffered some damage to gear but not so much as a bruise to Yours Truly.
As you say, I put in a new CO2 cartridge, and am still riding with that Helite vest today.
Definitely one of my better purchases.
My only gripe with the Helite is the weak tether hardware. I don't know how it is on the other models, but the one that came with the Turtle was kinda garbage. I've never yet had a tether last much more than a year, and I'm sick of paying $30 each for them because a 25¢ plastic buckle breaks.
My wife and I both have one, even though she rides very infrequently. I've never crash-tested it, but did meet someone who has done so, three times. Not a young feller, either. He was thoroughly convinced of the value of the vest. I personally feel better with it on, and have had no issues with comfort or durability. I think I'm repeating myself from other posts, but I think these things are great. The ground is very hard, and bodies are not really design for hard landings.
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