The Evolution of Motorcycle Safety

The Evolution of Motorcycle Safety

With several safety measures already in place, motorcycling has never been safer than it is right now. Compared to the early 1960s when motorcycle fatality peaked at an alarming rate, motorcycling disasters have drastically reduced, making motorcycling one of the coolest and safest mode of transportation.

Over the years, motorcycle safety has undergone several advancements to make motorcycling safer than it was at its inception. Similarly, motorcycling gears such as gloves, helmets, boots and eye protection have evolved to ensure that bikers are as safe as possible.

Recent innovations such as airbag jackets, reflective vests, and Kevlar clothing have redefined 21st-century motorcycle safety and can drastically reduce the risk of fatalities. Several trends contributed to the evolution of motorbikes’ safety features and an increase in its level of safety. To gain an in-depth understanding of the evolution of motorcycle safety, here are some vital events that marked the development and changes observed in motorcycle safety over the years.


1885: the invention of the first motorcycle.

1903: establishment of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company

1928: Harley-Davidson introduces first front-wheel brakes

1939: flashing turn indicators

1940: the introduction of helmets with either a cork shelled lid or a rubber one and sealed-beam headlamps.

1945: 198,000 motorcycles registered in America

1949: first Honda motorcycle model invented

1952: hydraulic brakes

1953: first motorcycle helmet patented by Professor C .F. “Red ” Lombard

1954 –Bell 500 helmet developed by Roy Richter

1955: the number of registered motorcycles in America increase to 450,000

1957: first usable helmet

1958: rear suspension introduced by Harley-Davidson

1958: 500,000 vehicles registered in America

1960’s – Safety helmets evolved into fiberglass exteriors and foam or cork interiors.


1962: number of motorbikes registered in America peaks to 646,000

1965: registered bikes in America increases to 1.4 million

1966 – the introduction of the Highway Safety Act

1967: first full-facial coverage helmet introduced by Bell Helmets

1971 – Bell developed the first full -face motorcycle helmet and first full – face off-road motorcycle helmet

1973: the founding of Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF)

1973: airbag system tests conducted

1975: registered motorcycles in America increases to 5 million

1976: first airbag jacket submitted in Hungary

1977: rear-wheel steering project funded by NHTSA

1980 – First motorcycle safety conference sponsored by MSF

1984: number of registered bikes in America peaks to 5.4 million

1988: Anti-lock brakes introduced by BMW

1990: second MSF Conference

2012 – the introduction of Racing suits with built-in airbags

2013 – 47 states and D.C. enforce helmet laws for motorcyclists

2014 –GPS enhanced helmets