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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Tony Carter

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