Passive Motorcycle Safety

Investigation of a novel safety concept for motorcycle riders

Cars and motorised two- and three-wheelers registered worldwide based on a WHO dataset*. An interactive data plot for download can be found at

Motorcycles are enjoying growing popularity as a compact means of transportation in congested cities and as a leisure or lifestyle object. Especially in combination with electric drivetrains, motorcycles have a high potential as an agile, space-saving and clean mobility solution in cities. Driven by the highly topical debates about driving bans due to excessive nitrogen oxide and particulate matter pollution, the increased switch to motorcycles can contribute to easing the situation here. The better CO2 balance and the lower fuel and energy consumption offer a cost-effective improvement in the traffic situation and pollutant emissions.

Road traffic fatalities per billion kilometers traveled in 2019 in Germany

However, the probability of a fatal accident involving a motorcycle is many times higher than that of a passenger car, based on the number of registrations and taking into account the lower mileage of motorcycles. The high mortality rate in motorcycle accidents is due to the low level of passive protection for motorcycle passengers.

Source: YouTube

Project "Safe Motorcycle"

The "Safe Motorcycle" project is investigating a completely new safety concept consisting of a combination of seat belts, several airbags and protectors. In the event of an accident, the rider is secured to the vehicle and the motorcycle and its safety equipment form a protective shell around the passenger. The goal is to significantly increase the vehicle's suitability as a commuter vehicle and/or shared mobility solution. By increasing the passive safety of motorcycles, more people can be motivated to switch to motorcycles. The concept to be investigated offers a solution approach to significantly improve the passive safety of a motorcycle without losing the "DNA" of the motorcycle.

Experimental tests with prototypes are extremely expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, the protective effect of the system for the riders depends on a large number of components and their parameters. For a methodical design and optimization, simulative approaches are used. The research objective is to further develop the proposed safety solution based on biomechanical analyses of injury severity and to prove the concept suitability for different accident scenarios.

Virtual modeling and simulation strategy

Project funding

This research project was funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labor and Housing of the State of Baden-Württemberg as part of the "Innovative Mobility Solutions" program from 2019 to 2020.


  • Maier, S.; Helbig, M.; Hertneck, H.; Fehr, J.: Characterisation of an Energy Absorbing Foam for Motorcycle Rider Protection in LS-DYNA. Proceedings of the 13th European LS-DYNA Conference, Ulm, October 5-7, 2021.
    [ Link ] [DOI: 10.18419/opus-12000 ]
  • Maier, S.; Doléac L.; Hertneck H.; Stahlschmidt S.; Fehr J.: Finite Element Simulations of Motorcyclist Interaction with a Novel Passive Safety Concept for Motorcycles. In Proceedings of IRCOBI Conference, IRC-21-17, pp. 60–78. Munich, September 8-10, 2021.
    [ Link ] [DOI: 10.18419/opus-11900 ]
  • Maier, S.; Doléac L.; Hertneck H.; Stahlschmidt S.; Fehr J.: Evaluation of a Novel Passive Safety Concept for Motorcycles with Combined Multi-Body and Finite Element Simulations. In Proceedings of IRCOBI Conference, IRC-20-38, pp. 250-265. September 9, 2020.
    [ Link ] [DOI: 10.18419/opus-11899 ]


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