They may be declining in both numbers and importance but downhillers still have cash to spend and as most of them are tech-heads they may be willing for fork out for a protective airbag that inflates on impact...

Could downhillers be protected by airbags?

A blow-up vest, developed using military ballistics technology, and which instantly inflates around the wearer in a crash will be available in the UK from the autumn.

The vest has been developed by motorcycle clothing manufacturer Dainese which also makes DH protective clobber and is aimed at motorcyclists.

WHilst not suitable for everyday cyclists, the airbag waistcoat may be suitable for downhillers. It looks a bit bulky right now (see but may be made in less cumbersome versions in the future.

Three separate airbags are built into the vest and are constantly monitored by two miniature computers, one in the garment itself and one on the motorbike.

Detectors on the motorcycle activate the vest if it crashes into a solid.

It immediately cocoons the chest, spine, neck and other vital organs and stays inflated for a further 20 seconds.

The vest is expected to retail for £550.

Fitting the computer to the motorcycle will cost a further £50.

The vest cost £5 million to develop in co-operation with the Israeli military.

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