Following in line with the increasing development of neck braces for motorcycle racers to prevent hyperextension/flexion of the cervical spine (the spinal bones in the neck) that can result in paralysis, RS Taichi recently displayed its new T-RAPS (Taichi Racing Airbag Protection System) device at the Osaka and Tokyo Motorcycle Shows last year. Designed to be integrated with the company's racing leathers, the T-RAPS uses an instantly inflatable airbag that restricts the movement of the rider's helmet during a crash, helping protect his cervical spine and collarbone from injury. The unit is fully selfcontained and when not in use is almost hidden from view and is claimed to not interfere with the rider's flexibility and movement.
In a method similar to the airbag vests that have been in development by some manufacturers (with some already on the market), the T-RAPS uses a coiled tether wire connecting the inflation system with the motorcycle. In the event of an accident where the rider is thrown from the vehicle the wire pulls a key out of the gas-release system of the T-RAPS embedded in the suit, automatically and instantly (less than 0.5 seconds) inflating two stacked airbags that surround the rider's neck.
The maximum pressure when fully inflated is a little more than five psi (which may not sound like much, but Taichi reps claim it is more than sufficient to provide the necessary impact protection and help drastically reduce the risk of damage to the cervical spine). After a few seconds the inert gas is automatically released slowly through a preset release valve.
Just as important are the mounting components of the T-RAPS that allow the rider to quickly and easily remove the complete (even still inflated) system in the event that he and the motorcycle can continue in the race. Pulling upward and outward on the T-RAPS releases a patches that permit easy removal without having to fumble with latches or locks.
The T-RAPS system was still undergoing some fine-tuning at press time, but RS Taichi reps state that it should be available as an optional accessory to various RS Taichi racing suits by the time you read this. For more information, log on to www.rs-taichi.com.