Helite AirNest Air Jacket | £449 | www.helite-motorcycle-airbagjackets.co.uk / 01132 843497 | Tested by Carli Ann Smith
You might not realise straight away, but this Helite motorcycle vest has an inbuilt airbag. In the event that I should part ways with my motorcycle, the airbag inflates within 80 milliseconds to protect my upper body.
A CO2 gas cartridge is mounted on the front of the vest with a spring-loaded piston primed to pierce it. An elasticated strap is attached to my bike and I simply ‘clip in’ on every journey. If I come off, the strap pulls a ‘key ball’ out, which allows the piston to pierce the cartridge and inflate the jacket.
The mechanism can withstand up to 30kg of pull, so if you start to get off your bike without unclipping it, then you are warned – that’s something I was worried about, but it’s proved itself completely reliable (I’ll admit to jumping off at the petrol pump and forgetting a few times, but with no embarrassing accidental inflation).
If the jacket has been inflated, then you can easily install a new cartridge (prices start at £18) and re-arm it yourself, rather than having to send it off anywhere.
I’ve been wearing the jacket for commuting and ride-outs, and it’s definitely been a conversation starter. I was amazed at how comfortable it is to wear and I quickly forget I’ve got it on, I now feel bare when I don’t go out with it. Did I mention it has an inbuilt CE-approved back protector too?
Before I got the jacket, I tried out what it was like when inflated and was shocked at just how powerful and quick the inflation was. Whilst it wasn’t a pleasurable experience, it didn’t hurt and knowing the protection it would provide in the event of an accident is more than worth it. A hi-vis version costs £475.