Over the years we’ve seen countless contraptions designed to help protect cyclists in the event of a crash, including a neck collar that inflates around the head, and pants that blow up like a balloon. EVOC Sports’ new Commute Air Pro 18 appears to be a simpler idea, hiding an emergency airbag inside a motion-sensing cycling backpack.
The pack isn’t a replacement for a helmet — you’ll still want to use basic common sense and do everything you can to protect your head when you’re out riding and sharing the road with cars and trucks. But it promises to provide additional protection for other body parts that are easily injured when a cyclist takes a tumble, including the shoulders, neck, chest, and collarbone.
The Commute Air Pro 18 looks and feels just like a standard backpack when worn, but when the magnetic buckle on the chest strap is closed, motion sensors are activated that monitor the position and movement of the pack around 1,100 times every second. If sudden extreme motions are detected, indicating a crash or collision has occurred that was severe enough for the rider to fall, an 18-litre airbag deploys from the top of the pack, inflating in less than 0.2 seconds and wrapping around their upper torso. EVOC Sports claims the airbag “reduces the impact forces and braking acceleration (HIC: head injury criterion) on the cyclist by up to 80%.” After the airbag has been deployed, and assuming it didn’t suffer any damage, it can be repacked and its igniter cartridge can be replaced, so thankfully the backpack and the safety system are reusable.
The Commute Air Pro 18 is a functional backpack, too, with the compressed airbag taking up very little space inside. It leaves room for a laptop which is accessible from the side of the pack, various pockets throughout the interior for keeping other electronics and knick-knacks organised, including a smartphone and glasses, and an adjustable hip belt that ensures the backpack isn’t sliding around while you ride, as well as taking some of the weight of the pack off the wearer’s shoulders.
When available in the spring of next year, however, the Commute Air Pro 18 won’t come cheap. It will be priced at €900, which is a little over $1,350. That’s probably more expensive than the bikes many people actually commute to work on, but while it’s not cheap, you probably won’t bemoan how much you spent on it the day it saves you from serious injuries in a bike crash.