The chart above is the data recovered from the Alpinestars racing suit of Repsol Honda Rider Marc Marquez after he crashed during practice on the front straight at this weekend’s MotoGP round at Mugello (click the pictures below for an enlarged view) while traveling 209 mph. This information is recorded for all Alpinestars suits equipped with the Tech-Air airbag technology.
In case you’re curious about the effectiveness of airbags in leather suits, and the severity of impacts experienced during a 200 mph getoff, let’s examine the data. The blue trace is Marquez’s left shoulder impact, green is right shoulder and red is his upper back. The total duration of the crash was 4.250 seconds. At the far left, before the crash, the lines look relatively steady, picking up the natural vibrations from the motorcycle and suspension while traveling at speed.
However, when the data trace begins to spike — meaning a crash is taking place — the on-board accelerometers detect this and inflates the airbags, reaching full inflation in 0.050-second. Only 0.030-second later does the first of 20 recorded impacts with the ground take place. What this means is that between the time Marquez was separated from the motorcycle and the moment he hits the ground, the airbags had already fully deployed.
As far as Alpinestars can tell, he sustained impacts to both shoulders of at least 25g — the highest the onboard accelerometers are able to record — meaning the impacts were likely of higher force. Despite the severity of the crash, Marquez was able to walk away under his own power, his only injury being some slight discomfort on his chin. He would go on to race, and subsequently crash again after overtaking second place from teammate Dani Pedrosa. Fortunately, he was unharmed.
More than just a dead cow on your back, airbag technology is proof the leading companies producing motorcycle racing leathers, Alpinestars and Dainese among them, are always searching for new ways to keep you, the rider, as safe as possible.