The airbag coverage offered by In&Motion is the same across all the brands that use the technology – here it’s shown in the Ixon universal airbag vest
Date reviewed: March 2020 UPDATED April 2023 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: £120 /year | www.inemotion.com
Motorcycle airbag technology has come a long way in the past few years – from initial ideas that saw airbags fitted to bikes, to the tether-triggered devices like Helite and the wireless Dainese and Alpinestars options.
The Helite, which is set off by a lanyard attached to the motorbike, offers a fairly universal and easily rechargeable system that slips over pretty much any kit, whereas the Italian brands’ devices use electronic triggering, but have to be sent away for repair once they’ve fired.
Now though, there’s a lot more choice, with Helite introducing its own electronic system to complement its tethered devices, and In&motion’s stand-alone airbag that’s compatible with a wide range of products, from the Ixon vest (designed to be worn under the majority of kit), to Furygan, RST, Held, Klim and Tucano Urbano textiles and leathers, with more brands coming on board.
While this review focusses on the In&motion airbag system itself, as it's basically the same product in whichever garment you buy. You can read our reviews of it in various brands by checking out the product review pages.
The In&motion box itself is little bigger than a smartphone; the airbag it plugs into is basically the same across all the brands, made up of a CE-approved Level 1 back-protector (or Level 2 in the case of some Furygan kit, thanks to a collaboration with D3O) and an airbag that also covers the back, shoulders/neck and chest.
The concept was originally developed in collaboration with Ixon, using its sponsored racers Bradley Smith and Aleix Espargaro, as well as by sending 500 vests out to road riders around Europe; all of the data gathered has helped to develop the algorithms that control the deployment.
Every time the In&motion box is plugged in to charge (via a micro-USB cable on the older models, and USB-C on the current ones) and turned on, it uses WiFi to send its usage data back to In&motion, which allows the company to further refine the software analysing data from the built-in sensors that – when what’s considered an ‘unrecoverable imbalance’ is detected – fire the gas inflator… all within less than 60ms. Because that usage information is constantly fed back to In&motion, new updates are fairly regularly rolled out, the result of more than 65 million miles of data and 6,000 crashes.
As soon as you pick up your jacket or leathers, the box automatically arms, so there’s no faffing with switches. However, unlike the Dainese and Alpinestars systems, there are also no lights on the outside for you to check. GPS is used by the system, but it’s not essential so you won’t have any problems with it arming immediately.
Note that any knock will wake the In&motion, draining its battery, so I tend to keep it turned off with a double-tap of the button on the control box when I hang it up.
At the time of updating this article, In&motion claims a crash detection rate of more than 95%. The idea of getting on for one in 20 crashes not deploying the airbag sounds worrying, but it’s important to understand that In&motion is basing that 95% on every single possible crash, not just the ones that are required for CE certification. Some airbags might not fire outside the parameters of certain impacts, but while In&motion’s system covers front and rear collisions, high-sides, low-sides in road mode or low sides with tumbling in track mode, as well as impacts from a standstill, the aim is to cover 100%. But to do that without false triggers is incredibly hard.
“As soon as the In&Box [the control unit] is switched on, the sensors inside are constantly measuring and analysing the rider’s movements,” says Quentin Forge, trade marketing manager of In&motion. “The information captured by the box is extremely precise, and thus identifies if there is a normal, or a dangerous driving situation. When these values exceed the trigger thresholds, the system will fire the airbag’s inflator.”
“Calibrating the detection algorithm is a balancing act between protecting against falls and avoiding inappropriate triggering of the system. For example, you might fall while at a standstill, without any danger around you; that doesn’t require any inflation. But you could be at zero speed and be hit by a car from behind; in that situation you would want the airbag to inflate.
“It’d be easy to avoid triggering the system at the wrong time if it were never triggered, just as it’d be easy to cover absolutely every fall by triggering the airbag every time, even in situations where it’s not necessary, so we’re constantly walking this tightrope.
“When we develop a new algorithm, we replay all the recording sequences stored in our database. By simulating journeys with this new detection strategy, we visualize the progress made and our ability to cover the falls experienced by our users.
“The times the In&motion system doesn’t trigger are typically low speed accidents or very rare situations, but these situations are complex, and still need more data on our side to be well covered at the right time without creating inappropriate triggering or efficiency drops in other falls.
“But we’ve made a commitment to offer a 100% coverage rate with zero cases of inappropriate triggering.”
Something worth noting is that not all airbag systems incorporate a passive back-protector; Dainese’s Smart Jacket, for instance, and the Alpinestars Tech Air 3 offer no protection without deployment; In&motion’s traditional back protector means a rider always has some level of protection whatever happens.
Also, while an airbag can offer significantly more protection than a back-protector, they’re even more effective with an passive protector on the outside to distribute the forces across the airbag.
The battery should last 30 hours of continuous riding, and takes up to three hours to charge fully. It’ll consume a lot less power in sleep mode (which it enters automatically), but it only takes the lightest of knocks to wake it up. Realistically, most road riders will get a week’s use out of it before needing to recharge, but you do need to remove the box, then plug it into a USB charger (which isn’t supplied – you only get the cable). This can be a bit of a fiddle, depending on the garment the airbag’s fitted to – I’d love to see a remote charging connector on In&motion.
The only real issue is that there are no external indicators, so you while you see the battery status the moment you pick a vest with this in, on other brand’s products – where the system is zipped or clipped in – you can’t easily see the warning LEDs that flash when there’s only 45 minute of charge left (though you can also check it on the app). I asked In&motion about the possibility of an audible warning in a future update and was told that it will be suggested to the development team.
The inflator is similar to that found in cars (with a pyrotechnic firing system) and can be replaced by the owner. A new one costs £89.99 and has a lifetime of 10 years
It’s important to understand that the garment you buy, be it a standalone vest, a jacket or a set of leathers, contains the bag itself, the inflator and the back-protector that the box clips into. The price of these garments will vary, though the standalone vests are typically the cheapest with retail prices of £380. There are discounts to be found though, and also keep in mind that some of the RST kit that has the airbag built in can be extremely keenly price. Note that you one need ONE In&motion control box for all of your kit from any brand.
Whatever you choose, you’ll receive the control box separately, then need to register it and pay for it at my.inemotion.com with three payment options available:
All payment options include all software updates for as long as the unit can support them. When paying by subscription, if new technology means that the software updates won’t work on the old boxes, In&motion will swap yours for a new one; if you bought it outright, you’d be left with the last workable update (though at the time of writing, it’s already very good).
If you have any faults with the control box at all – including a failing battery, which should be automatically identified), you’ll get a new In&Box, but when buying outright you’re limited to a two-year warranty.
In a recent change to the pricing structure, you can now choose the device’s primary detection mode at purchase, currently from ‘Street’, ‘Track’ or ‘Adventure’. The additional modes can be purchased separately for £8/month or £25/year, or you can change your primary mode every time your subscription renews (so if buying outright, it’s locked in).
If you pay monthly, you can also pause your subscription for up to four months in total, but you still have to pay £4 per month while it’s paused. That means the most you’d save over a yearly sub is just £8, but it does make for a more affordable initial start-up cost when buying your first garment.
If you end your subscription, you have to return the In&Box to In&motion in France, at your own expense. You also have to gain proof of postage by the last day of the subscription. This could cause issues if the date falls on a weekend for, so I’ve asked In&motion if they’d consider five working-days of lee-way, as well as pre-paid returns. Note that In&motion expects you to keep the original box and everything that came with it, apart from the stickers.
In&motion is keen to stress that its subscription price hasn’t changed in the several years it’s been available, but it’s frustrating to see that the price is also 120USD and 120 Euro, which at the exchange rates when writing means UK owners are paying £23.20 more than riders in the States, and £14.60 more than those in Europe.
At a recent press conference, In&motion stated that it’d need to have five to ten times more In&Boxes in use to be able to afford to significantly reduce prices. Personally, I think getting the UK subscription price down to £99 (which is about half way between the US and Europe) would make it a fair bit more attractive.
The inflator clips into the back-protector
If you pay by subscription, the In&motion control box – or In&Box – warranty is unlimited; if something goes wrong, and it can’t be sorted out over the phone, they promise to send out a replacement within 72 hours. If you buy the box outright, the warranty lasts two years.
I found setting up the In&Box easy, with simple step-by-step instructions, though I did struggle to get it to conduct its first update. Unplugging it from the charger then plugging it back in again solved the issue, but I also found the membership and billing forms a little clunky on a phone.
I did speak to one owner who’d had more of an issue; he contacted In&motion, who pointed him to the video tutorials, but there were then only three (there’s four now), and they were all in French with English subtitles (these have an English voice-over now).
To be fair to In&motion, I had a look at this customer’s app and found he was struggling to make the intial setup as he had location services turned off, and the app was flagging up a warning. He’d missed this though as he had left activation until the day before his son’s first race to save money, so was in something of a panic. Once I’d turned his location services back on, everything went smoothly.
The support offered from the garment brands will likely vary – RST for instance has stated it will offer its own support where necessary, and its airbag dealer training programme also promises to offer advice, but the company has said it will make itself the first point of contact for anyone with difficulties.
Ultimately, I’m pretty confident that small kinks in customer service are being ironed out; I emailed the company to ask about carrying the system on a flight and had a very helpful reply within an hour.
The In&motion system was first developed for the Ixon IX-U03 universal airbag vest
The first implementation of the In&motion box was in Ixon’s IX-U03 airbag vest – this was what set the development for the product, with 500 riders around Europe wearing it with a variety of kit (as well as Espargaro and Smith in MotoGP). The vest is designed to be worn under any kit, as long as it’s not tight; Ixon says the vest shouldn’t be worn under other brands of race leathers, as theirs are designed to accommodate the vest when it deploys, which is understandable with particularly close-fitting leathers.
Ixon was the first manufacturer offering a standalone vest, which proved popular with riders that already have kit they don’t want to change; apparently one of the major markets is motorcyclists with Rukka textile kit.
RST has the airbag built into variations of its top-end leathers and textiles, yet the company has kept costs impressively low. I’m quite a fan of the RST Adventure X suit and the Fusion leather jacket.
The potential disadvantage with RST’s implementation is that, if the garment is severely damaged in a crash, the whole thing will need replacing. Still, at these prices, and remembering that the In&Box will likely be fine, you probably won’t be too worried.
Furygan’s approach is to have an airbag vest that can be zipped into a range of its products, like the Apalaches textile jacket or the Vince V3 leather jacket. It also offers a standalone vest now that Ixon’s licence has expired – the Furygan Gilet airbag, which also has space for passive chest protectors and comes with a D3O CE Level 2 passive back protector.
Held also offers its own In&motion eVest, which clips into its garments, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it also soon has its own standalone version.
Tucano Urbano offers the Airscud Gilet or Jacket (with removable arms) that’s designed to be worn under or over other riding kit.
Klim also offers standalone vest.
You can of course swap the In&motion control box between any of these garments – which is what I’ve been doing – so one subscription or outright payment will cover the controller’s use in anything that has the airbag fitted.
There are a couple of things to be aware of: a rucksack / backpack shouldn’t be worn with an In&motion airbag if it’s over 8kg, and there needs to be a 10cm gap when you pull the straps away from your body. It should also not be used with jackets that have a strap going under the crotch. Equally, In&motion says it cannot be worn with a jacket that zips to trousers.
There needs to be space inside your jacket for the airbag to inflate; Furygan’s advice with its Gilet is that you first measure around your chest (for me that’s 111cm), then the biggest part of your belly (106cm) without wearing the vest. Now add the two numbers together (217cm).
Next, lay your closed jacket on a flat surface and measure around the chest and waist areas, while stretching it as much as you can. The jacket’s total measurements need to be greater than or equal to 13cm larger than your combined body measurements.
If the airbag does go off, it’ll inflate to protect your back, support your neck and cover your shoulders, as well as right down your chest. It will deflate fractionally, but won’t properly go down until you remove the inflator cartridge.
Unlike the Dainese and Alpinestars competitors, if your airbag deploys you can recharge it yourself. A new canister, which is similar to those used in cars, costs £89.99 and comes with an insert that allows you to inflate the bag with a tyre pump in order to check that it hasn’t been damaged in firing
In the past I’ve tried as hard as I can, but haven’t been able to trigger the In&motion airbag by accident; I’ve thrown it across the room, down the stairs and jumped up and down on the trampoline, as well as thrown myself around while riding. However, that was before it had the ability to fire while you’re sat stationary on the bike, so it had to be travelling at a certain speed first. I have since managed to get it to go off by punching it across the garden, but I still haven’t had any false deployments through normal use, including deliberately hitting pot holes and speed bumps far too fast, and getting off the bike as quickly as I can.
While it goes to sleep automatically, it wakes up at the slightest movement, so if you’ve got it in the back of a car, or you’re taking it on a flight you must turn it off. You can download a transportation document to show airlines from the website.
To turn the box off, simply double-tap the centre button; doing the same turns it on again. There is a slide switch, but this must never be used without first shutting the box down with a double-tap.
In&motion says the system isn’t designed for off-road or enduro use though of course, for the average adventure rider who’s not tackling more extreme surfaces, it’s unlikely to have a false deployment. However, the ‘Adventure’ algorithm is designed for this style of riding, but not motocross. At another £25/year or £8/month.
There can be no argument that an airbag can significantly reduce the risk of injury, and I really appreciate the fact that, while Dainese and Alpinestars have been bickering about copyright and exclusivity, In&motion has produced a system that is bringing access to the technology to almost any rider.
It’s not cheap, but the protection offered is excellent and there’s clearly been a lot of work that’s gone into the detection algorithm. As it’s constantly being evolved using data from owners, in many ways the subscription model does make sense. And a typical road rider can get a textile jacket with an airbag, and purchase the box outright, for less than £800. Remember; once you have an In&motion control box, it will work in an ever-expanding range of products from various brands.
However, the competition is getting cheaper, with Alpinestars for instance now offering the fully autonomous self-contained Tech Air 3 airbag vest for £499.
The other option is a tethered airbag like the Helite, which costs between £550 and £775. These can be worn over any other kit, and give excellent coverage, but can be fractionally slower to trigger than an electronic system due to the split second required as the tether is pulled tight. On the other hand, you can recharge them very easily for just £20. Do not confuse these quality air bags with flotation devices that are being sold on eBay for around £100… those are NOT tested for use on motorcycles, despite the misleading certificates shown in the listings. My slight concern with any airbag that goes over your kit is that if it gets abraded in a crash, it could well be ruined too, meaning it has to be replaced despite being cheap to recharge, and it has to be noted that airbags worn over leathers are now banned for TT racers.
Is this the best option though? That depends on many factors, but I’ll shortly be producing a video to explain all the pros and cons of the options out there, so keep any eye on this page and our YouTube channel.
Alastair Bowers (centre) has RST leathers with the In&motion system
BikeSocial Community member Alastair Bowers bought his RST leathers in August 2020 with the In&motion system installed as it was good value and he liked that it was the same gear used by the Lowes brothers.
“I considered 4SR, as well as Dainese and Alpinestars, but they were too dear for me,” he said. “I lost the front-end in the wet and was absolutely fine; the wet tarmac also meant that my kit wasn’t damaged, so I just paid the £90 to change the inflator.
“I really think it’s great value for money, and it gives me the confidence to push on track.”
Now 13, Max Hardy has been racing since he was just six. Thanks to Michael Wincott Photography for permission to use this great shot of Max at Mallory in 2021
In 2020, Max Hardy – who’s grown up racing alongside his dad and grandad – won the Pre-Teen Ninja race series. His Dad, a previous Yamaha Past Masters championship winner, came second in the Senior 300 cup on the same year.
“The RST leathers I have are the most comfortable I’ve ever worn,” Max tells me, “and I’d never want to be without them or the airbag. We looked at Alpinestars and Dainese, but they’re just way too expensive for us, and if they fire, you have to send the leathers back, so that’s no good for us as we can’t afford multiple sets.
“I did have a low-side at Oulton Park, where it didn’t deploy, but that was good as I didn’t tumble, didn’t get hurt, and I was able to jump back on and keep racing.”
“At £90 to replace the inflator,” says Max’s Dad, Mark, “we’re glad it’s not going off too easily as we just don’t have the money to keep changing that.
“We have seen lots of times that the system has fired among the many friends in the paddock who have it; it’s definitely saved some of them from nasty injuries. One 14-year-old lad high-sided, then got hit by two bikes while wearing RST leathers with the In&motion airbag in. Seeing him get up and walk away was all we needed to never want to be without it.
“Max started with the Ixon vest, but there was a guy who had one under some really tight leathers, and when it fired he couldn’t breathe. It was on the last lap, but when he came in he was really panicking, and his dad had to rip the zip open with pliers to release him.
“Another guy had the vest on under a pair of NFMoto leathers, and the vest blew the zip open. Once we saw that, we took the control box out of the Ixon vest and switched it into the RSTs with no problem. We won’t go back now.
“I don’t like faffing with my phone, and I’ve sometimes found it fiddly to update the In&motion control box. It’s painful having to keep paying the subscription for the airbag, and while I can pause it, that doesn’t help when we might suddenly go racing or practicing one weekend, so I just keep paying. But that £120 every year, AND the £25 on top for the track subscription does sting. But what else can you do? It still feels like it’s the best value way of keeping Max as safe as we can.”