Honda Motor Co. said Thursday it has developed the world’s first motorcycle air bag system for commercial use, to be mounted on a production model to be released in the United States.
The automaker said the new Gold Wing motorcycle due for release late next spring in the U.S. will be the first to feature the new air bags as an option.
Honda plans to expand the air bag system to other motorcycle models and to other countries, including in Europe and Japan.
However, Honda declined to specify how much the air bag option would cost.
The structure of the motorcycle air bag system is similar to that in automobiles — the air bag is inflated when the sensors detect a collision.
Making it fit for practical use was not easy because motorcycles move in a variety of ways depending on how they collide, Honda officials said.
“Unlike automobiles, motorcycles are not equipped with a seat belt and it is difficult to predict the movement of the vehicle” and the rider, said Satoshi Iijima, chief engineer in charge of developing the new system at Honda R&D Co.
By conducting crash tests and analyzing data from computer simulations in order to see the movements of motorcycles during collisions, Honda said it was finally able to develop an air bag system that suits the Gold Wing model.
Honda said the air bag system would be effective in reducing fatalities and severe injuries caused by frontal collisions, adding that frontal collisions account for more than half the accidents in Japan, Europe and the U.S.
However, the system was not made to counter collisions from the side or from the back, it said.
But some analysts doubt whether the air bag will attract buyers.
Yasuhiro Matsumoto, an analyst at BNP Paribas Securities (Japan) Ltd., is skeptical about its effectiveness in reducing injuries.
“I think many riders don’t want to pay additional costs as they don’t believe the system is worth the money,” he said.
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