Since they first produced motorcycles safety has been a priority, but Honda wanted to take motorcycle safety a step further. In 1990 they began to research airbag applications.
By 1996, Honda partnered with Takata to begin full-scale research of a possible motorcycle airbag system. The two companies had to understand the dynamics of injuries caused by crashes, including such scenarios as impact with other vehicles and objects; protecting out of position riders; strength of the airbag cushion; placement of the airbag system; environmental issues; as well as packaging, to offer a design that is satisfactory to the motorcycle enthusiast.
Reports from ITARDA (Japan), U.S. Department of Transportation (US) and MAIDS (Europe) all concluded that more than 55% of motorcycle crash injuries came from frontal collisions. The system would be designed to protect against frontal collisions.
Evaluations were jointly conducted to determine the likely characteristics of the airbag system, including cushion size and shape, speed of inflation, and positioning of module, for the most effective energy absorption in the event of a crash, as well as rider position and two- rider scenarios. The shape had to account for out of position riders, and had to be strong enough for two. Tethers were attached to keep the airbag from rolling over the windshield during a crash event. Electrical connectors also necessitated design for protection against environmental conditions.
The product of joint analysis and development made its appearance on the 2006 Honda Gold Wing touring motorcycle with the industry’s first and currently only motorcycle airbag. Honda and Takata have collaborated to introduce many firsts in Japan, including vehicles with seatbelts, driver airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, motorized seatbelts, and now, motorcycle airbags.