Do You Really Own It? Motorcycle Airbag Requires Additional Purchase To Inflate

If you ride a motorcycle, you may have noticed that the cost of airbag vests has dropped. In one case, something very different is going on here. As reported by Motherboard, you can pick up a KLIM Ai-1 for $400 but the airbag built into it will not function until unlocked with an additional purchase, and a big one at that. So do you really own the vest for $400?

Given the nature of the electronics and computer business lately, we spend a good bit of time thinking of what it means to own a piece of technology. Do you own your cable modem or cell phone if you aren’t allowed to open it up? Do you own a piece of software that wants to call home periodically and won’t let you stop it?  Sometimes it makes sense that you are paying for a service. But there have been times where, for example, a speaker company essentially bricks devices that could work fine on their own even though you — in theory — own the device.

Nice Airbag You Got There; Be a Shame if It Didn’t Go Off

The Klim airbag vest has two components that make it work. The vest itself is from Klim and costs $400 and arrives along with the airbag unit. But if you want it to actually detect an accident and inflate, you need load up a smartphone app and activate a small black box made by a different company: In&Motion. That requires your choice of another $400 payment or you can subscribe at $12 a month or $120 a year. If you fail to renew, the vest is essentially worthless.

To put this in electronics terms, it is one thing to realize your oscilloscope no longer does I2C protocol decoding because accounting screwed up paying the bill. It is another thing to suffer life-changing or life-ending injuries due to an accident. Granted, you get a 30 day grace period to correct any problems with payment, but still.

Pardon Me While I Feed the Meter on My Critical Safety Device

I can’t really decide how I feel about this. The capitalist in me knows that you need to make a profit. However, this seems like putting coin-operated oxygen on a commercial airliner. Especially since the vest apparently can work fine with no external support as long as you paid the extra $400. In all fairness, indicator lights which must be verified before every ride will alert you if the vest is locked for non-payment (or any other problem), so there’s little chance you’d drive with it thinking you had protection that you didn’t.

So maybe this is defensible, but you have to wonder where this trend will take us. Will we see cars that require a subscription to use advanced safety features the way automotive companies already upsell some non-critical software features?

What do you think? Do you own a vest that needs a subscription? Some things are incapable of working without backend support (for example, your cell phone or cable modem). Is it more defensible to cut those off? Even so, many areas require all cell phones to be capable of calling emergency services (like 911 in the US) no matter the state of their associated account. That’s a crucial safety feature of a phone and all it requires is that you have the device, not the subscription.

215 thoughts on “Do You Really Own It? Motorcycle Airbag Requires Additional Purchase To Inflate

        1. Libertarians often forget that the Everyman is incapable of making such choices. What is offered is often the only choice they see. What happens when every company starts doing this? When all choice is removed and the entire world is a subscription?

          1. I would have to imagine that at least one company would produce one that doesnt do this and inevitably outsell the rest, unless all of the manufacturers get together and agree to do subscription schemes, but then you are entering cartel activity which is already illegal. My issue with having the government step in at all on this, is that they will likely end up making it a requirement to wear in order to lawfully ride/drive a motorcycle.

          2. Reply to DJ, in ideal lab environment yes. But real markets aren’t perfectly transparent, goods aren’t perfectly exchangable, they also aren’t fully available everywhere and customers don’t make the best choices based upon mathematical analysys and don’t have perfect knowledge. There are thousands of examples where worse solutions win over better ones. Theoretical models of Libertarians (Austrian school of economics and similar) don’t take into account real world is not perfect lab conditions.

          3. If you are that stupid maybe you should walk.

            However, I also agree that safety features that are paid for should never be bricked or held hostage. But rather than have the government intervene, I simply will never purchase such a product.

          4. What if every government mandates something different, but equally stupid? Governments, like companies, are made up of people, and have all the flaws of their constituent parts.

            If everyman is incapable of making such a choice, everyman’s government will be no better.

          5. > Everyman is incapable of making such choices.

            That’s why consumer advocacy organisations exist. It’s not a dichotomy between the state and nothing. When people don’t expect the state to think for them, they have to organize for their own benefit.

            Kinda like how unions and guilds were a normal thing to oppose the rule of big business owners, before socialists hijacked them and forced the connection between all worker organization and leftist politics.

          6. >the fairy tale than any mandatory good grows into something bad

            It’s just the basic observation that there isn’t any fixed set or rules that couldn’t be worked around by people looking to exploit the system. The attempt to find a system just results in the need of a system to fix the system, etc. ad infinitum, fixing problems introduced by the rules.

            “Mandatory” implies exactly such systems, where “good” is defined by some theory or assumption that is never exactly valid because it doesn’t consider the individual in any sense.

        2. Actually the government (in the US) is part of the reason why hedge funds are so bad, because they only let you trade in certain ways if your net worth is incredibly high. In this case the regulation is actually harmful.

        3. This is as good an idea as thinking that not falling for scams is the best way forward to eliminate scamming. There will always be enough dumb people to make such operations feasible unless some third party intervenes.

          1. As a counterpoint, ineffective measures to fight scams, such as meaningless product labeling, irrelevant standards, non-enforceable laws etc. creates a public illusion that someone is taking care of the issue and therefore you can stop thinking.

        4. “Seriously? Spend your money and let the market decide.”

          This isn’t asking the government to “fix” things. It’s literally just saying “yeah, we’re not going to allow this kind of market because it’s not ethical.” There are many, many, many other examples I could give of *totally* uncontroversial government market bans. Soooo many.

          But just to play in *this* space: would this product be okay if it didn’t have warning lights, or any information besides some buried fine print that you have to pay the fees in order for the air bag to work. Or would it be OK to sell an airbag jacket that didn’t actually work, so long as it had an asterisk that said “not actually a functioning lifesaving device”?

          If your answer is “yes, of course, let the market handle that, it’s up to the consumer to be informed,” that’s… insane. Because you’ve removed all barriers to entry (no regulations!) the company can just go ahead and put *anything* on the market, and it’ll take time for the market to realize it’s utter garbage and kill the product. And if it’s a lifesaving device, people will die in that time, and you’ve literally now created a market for garbage products, due to the lag in figuring out that products are useless.

          Even worse, if you’re a *really* clever company, you can just *bury* organizations that try to expose something as useless, buy off testimonials and flood the market with disinformation. I mean, this is child’s play. Entire markets do this. All the time. We have the term “snake oil salesman” for a reason.

          If your answer more reasonably is “no, OK, there need to be some regulations” then it’s just a question of where to draw the line, and your vitriol over suggested regulations is silly.

        5. I used to believe like you. And here we are in a world of DRM’d media and even farmers that can’t fix their own tractors!

          The market already failed. The people fail to protect themselves when they “vote with their dollars”. HaD readers are the fringe exception to the rule. Most people don’t care until after they are already affected.

          How bad does it have to get before the market fanboys can admit it?

          1. “I used to believe like you. And here we are in a world of DRM’d media and even farmers that can’t fix their own tractors!”

            Market doing well enough both because there are other makers than just John Deere and there are foreign hackers that are willing to break any DRM. Not to mention the used market is doing well. Plus the right to repair movement is working it’s magic.

            https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/23/climate/right-to-repair.html

          2. “I used to believe like you. And here we are in a world of DRM’d media and even farmers that can’t fix their own tractors!”

            All of which are the results of government intervention into the markets. These large corporations pay lobbyists big money to ensure that the government either doesn’t explicitly disallow their behavior or requests it to directly support their behavior. At no point in history has the United States ever had an actual free market without government intervention. The corruption runs deep here and sadly we’ll never have an actual free market because people continue to think that the government needs to fix all their problems. Hence the reason we’re turning to a new age of socialism in America. The very thing that refugees from the USSR warned us about is coming to fruition. 1984 wasn’t just a fantasy tale. It was a warning and it’s one that we’ve sadly ignored or passed off as a conspiracy theory.

          3. “The corruption runs deep here and sadly we’ll never have an actual free market because people continue to think that the government needs to fix all their problems.”

            Uh… you might want to check your reasoning here.

            You’re saying part of the problem is that companies “ensure that the government either doesn’t explicitly disallow their behavior” and then say “we’ll never have an actual free market.”

            If we had an explicitly free market, then they wouldn’t need to *do anything* to ensure the government doesn’t disallow their behavior. So… companies dumping money into the government to ensure it behaves the way you’re saying is *better* can’t be a problem.

            As for not having “an actual free market,” there’s no reason to believe that a free market would be any more optimal than what we have. In most situations there’s strong reason to believe it *wouldn’t*, given the massive violations of all of the welfare theorem assumptions.

          4. > I used to believe like you. And here we are in a world of DRM’d media and even farmers that can’t fix their own tractors!

            Yeah… literally because of government intervention and lobbyist interests.

            Weird.

          5. You forget that a “corporation” is a creation of the state. They exist as the law defines them – limited liability, personhood, etc. which makes it so that the owners and stockholders of the corporation are not responsible for its actions. The state itself has created a market which needs to be regulated by the state because it has created corporations that can and will disregard all moral and ethical considerations, since nobody is personally responsible for them and everyone involved has a golden parachute or a get-out-of-jail card.

            Likewise, DRM is the result of copyright and patent law, also creatures of the state. When the rulers rule that you can copyright the shape of icons on a smartphone and prohibit the public from making copies of certain numbers, they also create a situation where the corporations they created will abuse these rules to make money.

            The free market does not mean only the absence of active state intervention, but the absence of arbitrary laws and rules written in favor of people who try to break the market.

        6. Do you know what else isn’t a novel idea? Abuse of the patent system, monopolies and collusion between corporations to fix prices or features to limit consumer options.

          You guys think you’re so clever when you spout “free market”, but all you’re doing is putting on display your own naivety. That or you’re in a position to gain personally from anti-consumer behavior.

          1. “Abuse of the patent system, monopolies and collusion between corporations to fix prices or features to limit consumer options.”

            All of these are supported by your government. Monopolies are illegal, except where your government has allowed them, which is where all your monopolies exist. Price fixing is also already illegal, except where the government has said it’s ok. Stifling competition is also illegal, but large corporations have the money to lobby the government and bribe politicians so they look the other way. You can’t tell me the free market doesn’t work when we’ve never had a free market.

          2. @ Naviathan

            I mean… If you want to ignore the period of history when lead was substituted for sugar and wood/minerals for flour go ahead.

        7. Except corporations lie…. as boeing proved. Anything activated by subscription will deactivate… the company goes out of business and your vest is worthless.

          1. The vest should always be able to activate. The benifit of the subscription is constantly being improved more data from other crashes. With that in mind and it being based on a company staying in business hard pass on this one.

        8. The market usually makes whatever decisions marketers tell people to make. And when safety is optional, tech that should cost $50 if it were mandatory and made by the million instead costs $500.

          In some cases like backup cameras, it’s not even the purchaser who pays the price of the less safe tech.

        9. What happened to government enforcing basic contract terms? If you have to pay more to actually use it, don’t allow them to structure buying the device as a sale unless the transaction includes perpetual activation.

          Otherwise, fairness would dictate that government (police and courts) also stay out of it if you attempt to reverse the transaction with a couple friends and a baseball bat. I don’t think we as a society really want to go that route.

    1. I don’t beat you up if you pay me :D That’s protection money.

      Or your bike won’t kill you if you, if you maintain your brake pads (by regularly buying new ones), that’s life:D

      1. Do you mean that I have to pay to put gas in this bike?

        I own it. I shouldn’t have to pay to use it, let alone maintain the thing.
        Subscription based brakes, Maintenance based brakes, both safety features i didn’t factor in for my purchase.

        1. Guys: do you prefer to have the choice: buy OR rent this airbag system or NO SYSTEM at all that can save your life because nobody wants to pay ?

          This vests have deployed already on 1500 crashes with 0 situations of crash with unactivated system because of payment issue.

          If you don’t like the sub, you can buy it ($800). Let the choice for those who wants to have it.

    2. That is utter BS!!! BS like that is the reason I will never own an icrap phone. Once I pay for it it’s mine to do with as I please and My safety shouldn’t be compromised because you’re trying to make another buck. Do yourself a favor, old military style life vest actuator works best. The only cost it has is time to connect it.

    3. Couldn’t agree more. If they require $800 for the vest to function, then the price should be $800, not $400. I hope this company goes bankrupt, what they have done here is truly next level evil. Here’s a life saving device, but let’s only let it save your life if you pay… this shit is getting out of hand. A subscription? Give me a break…. Hopefully the folks who made this decision are killed in a motorcycle crash. They deserve it, because by making this decision, they have essentially killed others who will be in a crash.

  1. Let me do the math to see if I understand that:
    * vest $400 + control box $400
    * vest $400 + control box $120/year

    If I’m right I don’t see a problem. You pay $ 800 and own it.

    The bigger problems are those coming with always-manufactur-connected cars/harvester/tracktor/agricultural machine/whatever that can be turned on/off by the manufacturer at their will. Want to sell it? Can’t because manufacturer won’t transfer ownership of software or data services…

    1. The rant is about having to make 2 substantial purchases to buy and use one product. Most companies have sorted that and include the licence fee in with the equipment.

      Non transferrable licence to use software was standard for computer equipment – the OS was registered to a specific owner of a specific machine.

      Indeed, that was the sentiment on a number of PC look-alike machines of the early 1980’s.

      MS, apparently, tried to disable some versions of Windows when they were obsoleted.

      1. “The rant is about having to make 2 substantial purchases to buy and use one product.” as opposed to one substantial purchase? Keep in mind that the one substantial purchase was much higher in price.

        It’s psychology. That fallacy re: “two substantial purchases” is what the HaD article is trying to evoke. It’s even more pronounced when you realise the second purchase comes from another company

    2. Yeah, kinda feel like this article is apples and oranges. They are extremely up front about how this product works, and there are plenty of other options out there if you don’t want to use this product…

    3. The main question is: how does it check that you have paid your subscription fee? Probably over-the-air, internet. But that brings two new questions:

      1. Will it still work if it wasn’t able to check its subscription for more than some period of time where it was not able to connect to the internet?
      2. Will it still work if the company goes out of business?

      All in all, it’s one piece of unreliable equipment. While it’s supposed to save your life if necessary.

      1. The article said it has a grace period, so my assumption (i know what they say about assumptions) is that it would continue to work unless it didnt authenticate with the app for at least thirty days.

    4. What about smartphone app? Does the control box require continuous connection with the smartphone to keep it activated? It’d suck if you went into area that has no cellular coverage and the control box shuts down because it can’t connect and verify the payment is still active. Or what if the smartphone got dropped or died?

        1. Nope, just read the manual. It authorizes for the length of the time paid for and can then operate offline for that length of time. For that matter, it can operate offline indefinitely with a manual activation process. Seriously, what hack writes an article about a product without reading the all the literature first, try starting with the manual.
          Or of course you could just buy it outright and have it operate for it’s useful life (offline) just like any other airbag in this price range.

      1. Waiting for the first lawsuit filed when a fully paid for vest fails to activate and the rider is injured or killed.
        Nothing is foolproof. This model seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen…rider pays, but, due to accounting error, or software glitch, the vest isn’t updated.

        1. Whoever advised this company to do this is very likely to end up costing the company more than they would ever make off a subscription model. I could see someone argue in court that they thought that airbag was activated. Someone coming into court with terrible injuries that might not even have been prevented by this gadget would make sympathetic plaintiff netting millions in punitive damages. Or worse yet a class action lawsuit.

    5. As long as they’re up front about it, and it’s made very clear to customers, I don’t see any problem with this arrangement. However if it’s not made very clear before purchasing, I’d consider that to be deceptive and fraudulent.

      Also could someone just pay for the couple months that they actually ride, or is a constant subscription required for the thing to operate? I live near Chicago and I really only roll on two’s 4, maybe 5 months a year.

      1. If you spent any time browsing car auction sites, you know that classic cars are already making a comeback. Although be prepared to pay a hefty premium for well taken care cars that are 30+ years old. Either that, or get a cheap rust bucket and get your knuckles dirty.

      2. Except now they are replacing the 5% ethanol gas with 10% ethanol which classic cars can’t run on. At least here in Sweden and some other countries in Europe, but of course they will do the same everywhere.

        1. It not terribly hard to make classic cars run on any percentage of ethanol, as long as the appropriate hoses and seals have been replaced. It’s slightly harder to make them run efficiently on variable-percentage ethanol, though.

      1. Should be considered distracting if it displays image or video, like watching a DVD player or streaming video. Or when your 8 year old kid says “Why is that woman dancing with no clothes?” while watching ad for local strip bar.

    1. … or an ad blocker, which I have for my PC. Ghostery, Pi-Hole, and antix-advert-block which comes with MX Linux.

      I’d expect the in-car blocker to blur out the part of the windshield between my eyes and the billboard.

    2. I see ads while driving as a serious safety problem.
      We do not want drivers distracted from the easy-to-trivialize task of driving safely by advertisements.
      Every time an advertisement attracts your attention it takes a small but nontrivial amount of time to return the attention to driving.
      It’s bad enough that billboards are more and more animated and attention grabbing, but the idea of a car itself displaying ads that unexpectedly divert your focus from the road honestly scares me.
      Motor vehicles are heavy machinery just like a lathe, except they do not have a constrained operational box.
      Even worse, motor vehicles feel friendly and normal, luring you into a complacency regarding their safe operation; as opposed to less-sexy and more obviously-dangerous devices such as a powersaw or excavator.

  2. Annnnd …… that is so very right, so here goes my extension rant ….

    I would have thought that selling a safety product that is inoperable without an additional (and substantial) purchase is morally indefensible, not to mention, in many countries, illegal. If the manufacturer were to include that registration in the price (maybe subscription to cover the warranty period, and to then insist on annual service checks, which will include another year’s subscription), then that is not selling an inoperative product, and incidentally adds value to the tune of “we insist that your product be serviced regularly for your own safety”.

    Though why we should purchase subscriptions to operate some piece of equipment that we have bought is beyond me – especially since it usually assumes that we each carry a “smartphone” that is connected to the internet 24/7 (I do not – indeed, where I live there isn’t even 2g connectivity unless I sit on the loo seat upstairs, and that makes phone calls unpleasantly echoey).

    My bugbear is IP security cameras and doorbells …. they require a smart phone to operate, they require access to your internet connection 24/7 and they won’t connect to a wired network at all – given that there are 4 ft of stone between my wireless router and my front door, you can guess how well *that* works – and what’s more, many won’t connect to a wireless network with any sort of security enabled.

    As to emergency calling, I leave an old burn phone in the car. No SIM card, but it’ll dial 999 regardless, which is what it is there for.

    Now I’m going to go and glare at next-door’s cat. *grins*

  3. I have the same feeling about OnStar. If you don’t pay for it, they could literally know that you’re in a very serious accident and, by not contacting the authorities, lead to your demise. Just because you didn’t want to pay $30/mo. It seems like life-saving services should be included for free – make your money through other add-ons.

        1. Except that for eCall you don’t pay anything except for the actual equipment in the car – the system works using the 112 emergency number infrastructure.

          So that’s not at all like OnStar which doesn’t work unless you have a subscription.

    1. I’m pretty sure the emergency services part of OnStar works regardless, it’s the convenience features that require a subscription. Friend of mine got rear ended and spun her Tahoe into a lamp post, setting the airbags off, OnStar notified her they had detected a crash and were sending emergency services, which was a good thing since her phone had gone flying out of the cupholder on impact and she couldn’t get to it, but she had never paid for OnStar.

    2. OnStar is essentially a built in cellphone\, and is an option you can choose.

      Now, they might love it if the “government” required all cars to use their service, but someone has to staff the offices.

  4. I know for a fact that I don’t own my cable modem because Comcast told me so. In actual practice I’ve never returned one to them, nor suffered consequences so in day to day reality I DO own it.

    Airbag vests for motorcyclists? Pull the other one.

    1. Lucky you. I am personally aware of comcast customer who owned his modem and ended up getting a collections judgement for not returning a “rented” modem. This was more than 10 years ago though so…

  5. The software engineer in me wants to know about edge cases.

    – What happens if your subscription expires during a ride? Does it stop working, so resulting in a situation where the indicator lights told the user it was functional when it’s not? Or does it continue working until power cycled, resulting in a situation where you can keep it working indefinitely by leaving it plugged in?
    – How do you load licenses into it?
    – Does it have remote access via cell phone network or is it all offline?
    – How does it know what the time is?
    – Can the clock be spoofed to keep it running longer? Can the clock be spoofed to make it shut down earler?
    – Can the clock be spoofed to make the subscription expire mid-ride, resulting in random strangers being able to remotely shut down your safety equipment while you’re on the road?

    1. And there speaks the voice of the paranoid engineer – the one who asks the difficult questions that need to be asked.

      ALL valid questions that a user should be asking. Happily, I don’t ride a motorbike, and my wheels are pre-connectivity-is-everything, so I only need to worry about routine maintenance.

      1. While a user should be asking these sort of questions it rarely does them any good – and that is on the rare case when somebody with an engineering/security type understanding is the user so realises they need to know – As those sort of details nobody at the damn company that made it knows (and quite possibly the programmer/ company that worked on the core functional components would be horrified to see them used in such a manner).

        There are more questions around these things too, endless streams of them. Including just around their basic safety premise, what triggers them and is that really fast, reliable, and durable enough actually do the job every time it is actually needed – putting in all the ‘smarts’ to manage the ‘need’ of the subscription for functionality doesn’t fill me with confidence the core triggering device is actually going to function correctly and promptly – as its probably all part of the same microprocessor that must be running so many ‘pointless’ tasks to make the subscriptions service model work, and any slow process there, or worse bug that leads to hangs could actually invalidate the core safety element you were paying the subscription for anyway which really should be running analogue or on a true real-time ASIC, nothing else in that loop to delay the activation…

    2. Well, the article says it connects via smartphone app – so most likely it’s a bluetooth enabled device. Which leads to:
      – Can the device and/or app be hacked via the bluetooth connection?
      – Can the bluetooth module be exploited to do any of your applicable questions?
      – Does the vest contain an accelerometer (or equivalent device) for detecting a crash, or does it use the smartphone’s hardware for this?
      – Can the device be inflated without accelerometer data (if it uses it), and without taking into account current velocity? (imagine a hacker driving around a major city inflating every one of these they come across regardless of driver’s speed…)
      – What happens if you brick the bluetooth module on the vest? Does it just stop working entirely, or does it work indefinitely? Do the warning lights reflect this status? Same questions, but with the smartphone’s bluetooth module instead.

      It’s a horrible concept if it works this way at all. Why not just sell the inflating mechanism as a consumable? That mindset works for saw-stops, and they function very similarly (small explosive leading to a safety measure).

  6. Just wait till the first lawsuit happens, “they bought this safety device that has an airbag but they died because the manufacturer decided not to enable it due to loss of profit.” I’d like to be on that jury. Not just a disable of the ability to play mp3, but makes the life/death decision for you.

    1. Permanently crippling someone is expensive. The manufacturer hopes the user dies, not survives as a vegetable. A payout for a death is cheap compared to a payout for permanently crippling someone (or being responsible for it).

  7. I’d be more concerned about the fact that Polaris owns Klim (look up the RZR fire disasters) and the fact you are trusting your phone to be in any sort of control loop on safety. I just ended up driving 10 miles out of my way than I had to because the GPS in my phone locked up but everything else appeared to be working properly. I’m not ready to trust my life to this device.

    Also, they are pretty clear up front about what is required to make this system work, so I feel like this isn’t the hill to die on for this argument.

    1. Yes, a phone is not developed to automotive safety standards. It is just nut suitable as a safety controller. My phone is a little older (Galaxy S5) and hangs sometimes for several seconds if you open a bigger app. Not suitable as an airbag controller.

  8. So, correct me if I am wrong, but the vest has no value *other* than the airbag, right? You wouldn’t buy it for any other reason?

    In that case, it’s good old fashioned deceptive bait-and-switch pricing. You’re offered X for $400, but you end up having to pay $800 to actually get X.

    1. If any functioning adult in this society can look at this site and not walk away entirely crystal clear on the fact that it is either going to be $400+$400 or $400+$120/yr or $400+$12/mo; then we have a different problem to talk about.

      https://www.klim.com/Ai-1-Airbag-Vest-3046-000

      Personally, living in a northern state where we get 4-6 months of good riding weather, I’d take the monthly option. I could get over 5 years of use for $400, but likely want to change/upgrade before then, so it would actually be cheaper for me.

      1. In a bait and switch, the customer pretty much *always* knows the final price by the *end* of the deal. The question is deception in the process of getting them into the store (or onto the site) and mentally fixated on buying the particular product.

        When I look at that page you linked to, I see a very prominent, visible “$399.99”. That makes it a bait and switch, and the fine print below that doesn’t change that fact.

        … and the fact that that such tactics are now considered “normal” is a problem.

        1. Yups, and given that The Product is incomplete as is just adds fire to the argument.

          If the prominent “$399.99” was accompanied by “Additional purchase required”, that *might* mitigate it.

          Or not.

          The cost of the subscription, on the other hand, is just gouging for the sake of it.

        2. Sorry, but I just can’t see this argument. The cost for the system literally fills the whole screen when you scroll down to the item description. I’ve seen some shady sites that hide things in the fine print. Do you routinely buy things without reading the product description?

          Look at this cell phone on Amazon. There isn’t a single mention of a monthly Verizon fee to unlock all of its features. Is this a bait and switch to you?

          https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Unlocked-Smartphone-Pro-Grade-SM-G991UZVAXAA/dp/B08N3J7GJ8

          1. @fiddlingjunky what say you about my Amazon link? There is not a single mention on the page about having to use a monthly service to use all of the features the product description talks about.

          2. I *think* someone previously mentioned that a cellphone requires back end connections and services to be fully functional and we all know that. The reason Verizon isn’t mentioned is because Verizon ISN’T required… Some GSM carriers is and the ad goes on to mention/suggest some for the buyer.

            A safety vest has NO valid reason to require any additional services to be fully functional.

            Stating a price that does not yield a completely functional purchase IS bait and switch.

      2. @jake I’d like to see you resell your fully functional vest in 5 years, when you want to upgrade while the vest is still perfectly fine and safe, and see if anyone wants to still buy it from you when you tell them that they will need a $150/y subscription for it to actually work.

        Most likely, you will not be able to sell it. So the perfectly good vest will end up in the attic. And in a landfill 10 years or so later, when you clean up your attic.

        1. Lifespan on every vest I’ve looked at is 10 years or less, so yes, in 10 years they are all going to the landfill. Most helmets are only good 5 years from purchase, 7 years from manufacture. Those too, in the landfill. I also get a new jacket every 3-5 years because they get gross with bugs, sweat, and wear. My last helmet was $750 (worth every penny, it is so nice a light). My last jacket was $500. I do not sell any of my used safety equipment as I am not qualified to verify the protection they still may or may not offer.

          We are talking about a toy/hobby here. No one NEEDs a bike. If you want to ride, and you want to be as safe as possible while riding, it isn’t cheap. If you want to ride, and you don’t want to be as safe as possible, I feel that as an adult you should be able to make that choice too.

  9. I find it morally reprehensible that people think they are entitled to anything from anyone else without paying what the creator thinks their product is worth. If you don’t like the terms, then don’t buy the product. If the issue is false advertising (i.e. they are not making it clear that the product requires the license to function), that is already illegal, so sue them if you were harmed. I’m smart enough to do simple math and realize that the product really costs $800, and I don’t think that anyone should be riding a motorcycle who is too dumb to figure that out.

    1. Agreed (mostly), but it is still not right that you are required to make 2 separate and substantial purchases – it just smacks of poor business ethics (legal or not). I also had the imperession that the activation fee was a hidden cost, if not, then I sit corrected.

      Being safety equipment, I would rather see the warranty period subscription bundled with the product, and then the annual subscription lumped in with a safety check & service on the product. No great difference in price, but I would feel that I was getting added value out of it.

      As for the ones who are too dumb to figure it out? Surely the problem there solves itself sooner or later. Of course, I no longer ride – we have too many touristic lunatics who leave their brains behind when they come here for 2 wheels to be anything other than a game of roulette.

    2. Here’s a potential issue though. The company or group of companies (insurance companies?) lobby to have usage of something like this mandatory. Yet, you can’t afford $800. So you dig into the couch cushions and find enough coins to get the $412 to have it and be able to ride legally. Then comes this:

      1) The rider is dirt poor and can’t really afford the $12/month. So he stops paying and is now riding unprotected. Gets into a accident and is liable for all sorts for trouble, including the insurance company not paying for anything as the rider was not following the rules.

      2) The rider is dirt poor and the company has managed to make hundreds and hundreds or dollars over the years from the rider that just could not afford the thing at once and save himself the much needed money for something that might be just as or more important later.

      I can see where this model would work if you buy it for 800 or pay 400 and the rest is a monthly payment until you’ve payed total of $900 at which time the thing is yours and functions just as if you had purchased it for 800 to begin with.

        1. I still could pick my own helmet from a wide price range from open-face to closed. If people want to complain about mandatory then complain about auto insurance. Never-mind I’d take mandatory helmet over lifetime vegetable any day of the week.

          1. The cheapest regular priced Snell rated lid on RevZilla is $135. A person running a $50 bargin-bin DOT open face isn’t the same person buying an airbag system.

            I’m saying Criatura’s imaginary person that is dirt poor that can’t afford $12/mo for their hobby doesn’t exist. Bikes are a toy. They are not cheap toys. They are expensive to buy, they are expensive to operate, and safety equipment is expensive. Acting like someone has the right to inexpensive safety equipment to operate their toy is a silly argument.

          2. That is not what I said at all @jake.

            In the US, owning a bike might be owning toy. In many places in the world, a motorcycle is virtually everyone’s first vehicle because cars are so expensive and many people can’t afford in their 20s (Brazil, where I am from, is such a place). And most people don’t start out with a new 1100cc bike either. It’s usually an used 125cc from the previous decade or older.

            My gripe is not about making it mandatory or not, making the price of the equipment moot. If it’s required you need it or shut up. The gripe is with if you can’t afford to buy for 800, they’ll make you pay forever in such places.

          3. @jake For you a bike may be a toy, for many people its the way they get around, the only transport they have. A bike isn’t always a hobby!

            I’d also disagree on expensive, certainly a bike can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Running cost and purchase price of a small bike here at least is low compared to anything you can legally use on the road with 4 wheels.

            The only real justification I can see for a ‘subscription’ type model is if every 6months/year whatever you took/sent it in for its mandatory service. That covers the repair/replacement costs, keep the company happy as their product won’t get bad press for failures (as if you don’t do the service its not on their head but yours) and they get to keep taking your money, making profit in the insurance company style. From a company I’d trust to still be around and not just cut and run and reappear under a new name I know I’d happily pay a relatively high subscription style arrangement that means my safety equipment is always ‘safe’, might not work out cheaper than buying new stuff every few years, but you have the peace of mind should you get into an accident it will function as well as it could.

    3. I believe the problem doesn’t come from the “Safety as a Service” model, but from how the end user can potentially believe they have a lifesaving device that they don’t know can/will be disabled at the company’s whim.

    4. Agreed. Seems to happen a lot in ‘this’ community. People in these parts just seem to have a hard time putting themselves in other people’s shoes and/or they want to impose their beliefs and norms on others.

      1. That’s pretty much every comment you’ve made on this thread so far. How do you not see that not every motorcycle rider is as smart as you? So if they’re too dumb to understand this payment scheme, they don’t deserve to live?

        1. Who the heck said they don’t deserve to live?!? Are you saying if you ride with an airbag you live, if you don’t you die?? I better buy an airbag then….

          Motorcycles are dangerous, airbags *might* make them less dangerous. As an adult, if you aren’t ready to accept the risk that comes with a motorcycle, don’t ride. If an airbag makes you feel more safe, buy an airbag. If you don’t like this so called ‘bait and switch’ airbag, buy one of the other 50+ that are available on the market.

          All motorcycle safety gear takes diligence to maintain. It isn’t like a car where you sit down, buckle up, and go. Helmets must be properly sized, inspected, and discarded after its expiration date or hard impact. Hard armor/jackets must be sized and adjusted properly. Every airbag system that I’ve seen requires a thorough yearly inspection. The ‘dumb’ ‘poor’ rider that everyone in comment section seems to know that just blindly buys something without reading product descriptions or manuals is probably doing a dozen other things wrong, the airbag wasn’t going to save them anyway.

  10. As one of your European readers, I feel that this is not tolerable, and might be in conflictwith EU consumer-rules. All prices in Europe must include essentialelements, and teh option to inflate your airbag is certainly essential. I also think that this will test the limits of what is acceptable in terms of product-lifetime. What if the ‘aibagserviceprovider’ decides to terminate the service? This would make for a very expensiive but not very airtight motorjacket.
    I certainly think that this violates my right of ownership.

    1. Agreed. Unfortunately, here in the US, and a lot of other places, the only other options is “don’t buy it then”. Until it becomes law that you must use a device like this but can’t afford it.

    2. Sorry to disappoint you, but In&Motion is an European company, and is even co-financed by the European Union. In EU they resell their same technology to diffenrent manufacturers (most known is Ixon U03), but always with the same subscription. Actually, the same amount, but in Euros instead of USD, so it’s even more expensive in the end.

      1. I am fully aware of this being a European manufacturer. Which does not mean it practices are legal. The license for a tv ( are you British? Then you’re no longer a European European:-) is not comparable. Your tv works perfectly if you don’t pay your licens. Your car has running costs. A airbag not, except when you need to replace the gascanister, which is acceptible. Your printer uses cartridges. By EU- regulations, the manufacturer must accept white-label cartridges. Incase of this airbag, there are no running costs, and there is no alternative for so called services possible, it is vendor lockin. In my opinion, the manufacturer does not provide a service, he is charging for updates within the normal lifecycle of an airbag, which is prohibited, and possibly sabotages normal operation of a critical safety device, which implies liablity.

    3. As someone in Europe, I’m pretty sure this violates no laws.
      I bought a TV. It requires a license to use. This is nowhere mentioned on the advertising, and certainly not included in the price.
      I bought a car. It requires petrol to run. This is not included in the price. Etc.
      In any case, this is pretty clear what the total cost is. There’s just a choice of payment plans.

      However, I agree a subscription payment for something that should be a one-off is crap. But it’s our own fault.
      If people hadn’t jumped on credit back in the 70s/80s and landed everyone in debt, we’d have the concept of paying full price, and manufacturers wouldn’t be doing stuff with subscription models.

  11. This is how companies figure out how to keep on taking money for the long run from those who cannot actually afford their products.

    If you can afford, you pay 800 and you’re done with it.

    But if you’re really worried about your safety and need one, or if it’s a safety feature required by law and you cannot afford to purchase it outright, they keep on sucking you dry for as long as all you can do is to afford the monthly payments.

    It is a very evil way of doing things while the company spins it out to the public as making it easier for the poorer to be safe.

    1. What is the alternative? Should they get rid of the subscription model? That doesn’t solve anything and only puts the safety device out of reach for those that can’t afford the $800 price.

      The only thing evil about this is that the device should always work for the purchaser. The purchaser should be required to sign a contract saying they’ll pay $400 or something if the device goes off out of subscription.

        1. Yep. It’s already been sold and they probably won’t get it back. Clearly it’s not a cost of production issue. If it were, they couldn’t afford to sell them for $400. Would they go out of business if everyone who bought one never activated it? Of course not.

    2. Why are you jumping to the evil thing? For me, it is actually cheaper. I live in an area where I really only ride for 4-6 months out of the year, so if I was going to do an airbag (not sold on the added safety yet), going month to month would mean my break even would be past 5 years. So with this system it would be cheaper to get safe today, and I’d likely upgrade within the next 5 year, meaning it would be cheaper in the long run too. I’d never use this system though, because I don’t like the idea of my phone being used as a critical safety device.

      There are literally dozens of other airbag options out there. If you don’t want to buy into this ecosystem, choose a different one.

      1. I don’t have an issue with this airbag system or the manufacturer. I have an issue with the model. Either pay full price (fair, very fair actually) or pay us forever because you can’t pay full price.

        How about good old financing? Eventually you own the device and payments are done with.

      2. The problem isn’t necessarily *this*, because honestly this manufacturer *seems* like they’ve tried pretty well to get people to understand the setup. Although not *perfectly,* I might add – if the phone actually becomes a critical part of the system, I doubt most people would understand that.

        The problem is the potential for abuse of the model. Something like this needs industry standards, approved by some government branch. And if you say “why government?!” that’s almost certainly something the industry would *want* – because it can act to shield them from liability when they (inevitably) get sued.

        I’d imagine requirements like a required fixed payment option, clear agreement at purchase of required payments, mandatory grace period, mandatory visible/auditory warnings if not enabled, mandatory permanent enablement of device if service option is ended. Stuff like that.

    1. I must admit, most of the riders I know have spine and joint armour and swear by it. I’m not sure that an airbag would survive long enough to help in most RTAs involving motorbikes.

      Besides, there’s something undeniably cool about striking sparks from your studs and plated when you get dumped on the road. (been there, done that, tore the tee shirt the next time out).

  12. Can the company also geo-fence you on your ride? If I ride from Ontario to Quebec, where the laws are whacky, can they disable the device because Quebec law has said that the vests can only protect the French? If I don’t have roaming to the USA, will it get shut down? Safety as a Service is a bad idea. Also, I’m getting tired of everything becoming subscription models, but maybe that’s just me.

    1. The In&Box seems to have only Wifi/Wlan, so it might be hard to implement a working geo fencing.

      There are plenty models of motorcycle airbags. Even cheaper that this combo. I wonder how their business is going.

  13. Actually this is just the way things work now, you don’t buy something, you just rent it, and if you stop paying your rent instead of taking the thing away they just stop it from working, welcome to the serf economy.

  14. Does an airbag vest actually do a person any good in a motorcycle accident? I have been in a couple and it looks completely useless from the photo at the top of the page.
    Airbags in enclosed vehicles work because the airbags can prevent you from going in a few known directions and strking fixed objects. Motorcycle accidents have very few known features beyond being sore as hell if you are lucky and dead if you are not lucky.

    1. Yes. Emphatically, yes. My back never felt the Armco barrier that stopped me. My neck did not snap before that when the forehead portion of my helmet hit the ground because the cervical collar had already deployed. After the initial excitement of the ground/sky precession, and the “bullet time” experience was echoing it’s last recall, I was wondering what had stopped me, and why I felt so “stuffed”. I was surprised to see the metal barrier as I looked up over my shoulder and was amazed that I was not feeling an impression of it in my back. It was only then that I looked down my torso that I remembered that I was wearing the vest, which was why I felt so “stuffed”. It was inflated to quite a tight, rigid, volume, and as I struggled to right myself I imagined what a Tellatubby feels when he’s been knocked down.
      I did suffer a shattered wrist, but nothing a vest could do about that. I am walking, breathing evidence of the benefits. That was in 2010. The $200 vest still serves me, and the only thing it asks for in return is a replacement 38g CO2 bottle and to be tethered every time I mount one of my bikes.
      A few weeks later, the State Highway Administration attempted to bill me for damage to a 20 foot section of guard rail. The inspector was apologetic when I informed him that if my body had caused any of the damages he’d noted, that there would be no “Me” to bill. It was a treacherous curve and the barrier bore many scars, but I’m pretty sure none of them where caused by me.

  15. Regardless of how you feel about the scheme, don’t buy one. Why?

    Because at some point, someone wearing it won’t have paid the extra for the smartphone, will get killed, and their family will sue the company out of existence for not making it clear enough that the additional purchase was required (because it is impossible to make it clear enough.)

    At that point whatever servers this is tied to will shut down, and you will have an $800 fashion statement.

  16. I’m waiting for someone to find the NRF chip that outputs one enable bit to the actual triggering electronics (one can hope), cuts the trace and pulls it high. Now that’d be a hackaday article.

    1. Seems like an esp could get the job done since it’s wifi only. I wonder if the activation code is sent in the open or encrypted. Sniff an activation and see what turns up. Probably the state is saved in an eeprom or SRAM (since it seems to have a nonreplaceable battery). Pull the chip and dump it. If encrypted, brute force it with a little distributed computing or the cloud.

  17. I saw some GPS showing up in the Video and a comment how many miles of riding the company has “recorded” already. Looks like they are recording all your movements.

    Ready for another subscription model: Pay us $10 per month to avoid us sending your data to law enforcement bodies.

    1. Maybe it shuts down the vest if the rider is riding like an idiot. As a cyclist, pedestrian, and driver, I fully support anything which encourages motorcyclists to ride within the speed limit and not like idiots.
      The behaviour modification of a system like that might save more lives than the airbags themselves.

  18. It would seem reasonable to me to say that all of these companies making sketchy business decisions are creating a market opportunity for start-ups to produce goods that are free of all of the bogus nonsense.

  19. I feel like we are missing some details here. What does the black box do exactly? Also, how does the vest inflate? If the black box is uploading data to a cloud service provider and they are using that data to build an ML model to detect a crash, then yes, a subscription is warranted.

    1. Using your customers as guinea pigs in life and death situations is not justification for a subscription. If anything it’s justification for making it free or paying the users for their work.

  20. So the real question is, what electronic function is actually performed by the software locked bits of the vest, reading an accelerometer and turning an “inflate” pin high if a strong enough shock is felt? And what effort would be necessary to entirely rip away the proprietary digital part of their system and replace it with your own digital section to interface with the same analogue sensors and actuators.

  21. This is idiotic and dumb. I hope no one buys this, Riding gear shouldn’t have a subscription service.
    Also what happens if the battery in the vest that says whether your paying or not dies?
    What if you miss a payment by a day or so for some reason and get into a crash and it doesn’t deploy?
    Ridiculous. Boycott this. It’s detestable

  22. This is why I buy old vehicles from rednecks and drive them til they die. Well, one of many reasons.

    Onstar: “Your account is about to become delinquent. Would you like to make a payment now?”

    Driver: “Shut up, I never asked for you to begin with”

    Onstar: “Your account has expired. All active controls are suspended. Deploying airbags NOW.”

  23. Business models are fascinating but let’s go back to physics, shall we? It is intended to wear under outer garment. So when you have tight, strong, non-stretching on corpse part piece of clothing (i.e. motorcycle jacket) what could go wrong? Maybe it’s hidden feature: thrust from escaping internal organs will eject you from accident scene and you won’t suffer any limb damage whatsoever.

  24. Helite Turtle 2 is a one time payment of $660, no subscription required.

    I think subscribing for use of a tool is stupid, even software. It makes sense to have subscriptions for say, music or movie streaming or an online game, but not for Microsoft Word. For an external device tool, it makes even less sense.

    For one, why should you have to have a smart phone app and pay $120 per year to make a vest work? That’s stupid, you already paid for the vest. It’s not like it costs them $120 per year to maintain the vest for you or something, if it just worked and didn’t link to a phone, there wouldn’t even be any server costs to maintain.

    Seems like a scam to make fat stacks of money. I mean take auto insurance… a claim if you wrecked could be $6,000 for example, but you only pay $400-500 per year for it. Even then, I think if there’s no claims, there should be some kind of bank where once it reaches a certain amount, you don’t have to pay any more unless a claim is made to make it fall below that amount.

    Either way, you can think of insurance payments as paying small payments for a potential future—highly expensive—accident. With this jacket, it’s likey only going to work once and need replacing. That would be like if insurance presumed that if you had an accident, it might cost them $30,000 and then charged you $10,000 every year with no refund or proration for not having had an accident.

    Absolutely asinine cost for what it is.

    1. They do give the option of a outrigth purchase for 800USD.

      And the “cheaper” lease option with 400 up front.

      but yeah not really the rigth equipment for leasing

  25. “software that wants to call home periodically and won’t let you stop it?” which is why we all block outgoing packets unless they are from an application we want to have net access, and then only to serves we pick.. And why I’m not using windows 10.

  26. The fact that it can be shut off for non-payment is criminal. If it is a safety device and a software bug for the verification could easily render it useless should have stopped this way of thinking immediately. The legal department at the manufacturer should have put the brakes on that type of pay structure before the first unit left the plant.

    One lawsuit and this type of bullshit is over!

  27. I have the Klim vest and love the product , first of all you don’t have to pay a subscription , you can pay $400 after you receive the best and it would activate it . That’s it . The downside to that and all the other vest on the market is that you don’t get updates or automatic updates. I pay $120 once a year , when I come home the system update automatically to my WiFi . When you turn your vest on you can look at the app and check the status . The other advantage the Klim is that you have 3 inflation before sending it back to the factory for safety check, versus 1inflation for the other brand . Also Klim as track and off-road setting that other brand don’t . The app is easy to use and check all status . This is a great product

    1. What the hell would I need system updates for a vest for?
      I’d rather it worked from day 1 with no updates, and no chance for some flipped bits somewhere to mean it doesn’t go off.

      1. Airbags are still a very new thing, and unlike an automobile, the forces involved in a crash vary widely due to the independent bodies and vectors of travel allowed. Some ‘dumber’ vests have been known to inflate while riding hard, or when going off road hitting bumps/jumps. Early on some vests were known to inflate when hitting a pothole. The really ‘dumb’ ones with a teather attached to the bike almost always get set off accidentally when walking away from the bike after a ride.

        It is a fine line.

      1. Indeed, that kind of scenario did spring to mind. Also, great movie. It wouldn’t surprise me if something akin to secure foam wasn’t in employed in some skunk works somewhere. “Self driving” vehicles are going to be a nightmare. People will most certainly hack them, make them faster, commit murder, add “features” to stop them being stolen. No doubt it’ll either be a wild west or the government will impose Draconian measures and enforce strict controls and fines.

  28. Philiip K. D. (i’m reticent to spell his last name on a forum in today’s bizarre world) wrote books about where we’re eventually headed. Everything coin-operated, even in your own home/apartment – doors, refrigerators, cabinets, etc, etc… Yes, we’re taking a different path there and it’s not exactly the same, but the overall concept is the same. Of course, not spelling his last name for fear that it may put the comment into some sort of auto-mod holding pattern – well, he covered those scenarios pretty extensively as well.

  29. Every “switch” is a potential failure point. Including, in this case, a “cripple-me switch” that decides in real-time whether or not the vest is permitted to “work” at that moment in time.

    It would be swell to see the company set a good-for-society example by sued out of existence after a “paid” user is injured (but still able to spend and enjoy their millions in damages) because of an unanticipated failure in the cripple switch.

    Don’t build cripple-me switches into life-saving mechanisms. Just don’t.

  30. Markets aren’t rational. The cheap option will nearly always win out when the population is too interested in the bottom line than issues like safety – till the safety aspect fails and a family member dies. You should not have to worry about whether or not your safety subscription is still valid for a life saving device to function for the reason it was bought to begin with.

    We require seat belts in cars. Manufacturers did not install these by default when they were invented, (because they cost extra and consumers are cheap!!!!) with a properly designed secure function, till the federal government required it and dictated the results for any functional seat belt. This is no different. Devices that are designed for safety purposes should never, EVER have the primary functionality the device is meant to meet an extra recurring charge. This should be codified in law. Market laissez-faire adherents can impale themselves on their own petard here – stick your fingers in your ears and hum real loud, and wrap a blindfold around your eyes when the lessons of such practices come home to roost. But those that don’t ignore history and basic human nature will still be alive to say “Told you so,” over their corpses. After 100 years of not worrying about food poisoning from every meal we eat, you’d think the “market decides everything” would have figured out THAT DOESN’T WORK WITH SAFETY ISSUES!

    1. This just look at the stuff that went on in China with weak enforcement of food safety laws they stuck melamine in pet food and baby formula so it would test higher for protein content.
      Or even in the US on cars like the Pinto management decided the projected cost of the lawsuits would be less than the total cost of fixing the problem which was projected to cost $11 a car.

  31. Activate a safety feature per month…. that is such a stupid greedy idea that scientists would be interested in meeting its creator. Greed and psychopathy often cross paths it appears.

  32. Forget the government mandating anything. Same with boycotts. Here is the simple idea, don’t buy it and they wont try that business model again. Companies only sell what people are willing to buy.

    1. Indeed !

      If you don’t like the sub, you can buy it ($800). Let the choice for those who wants to have it.

      This vests have deployed already on 1500 crashes with 0 situations of crash with unactivated system because of payment issue.

  33. Pulling this shite on an emergency deployment device is only defensible in the mind of the legal team that gave it the go-ahead to the company – you know the ones: dollar signs spinning where their eyeballs used to be whilst they orgasm over the billable hours tally. THIS is why there are no skid marks in front of dead lawyers on the roadway.
    Whoever dreamed this up has a serious case of assholio.

    1. A single product comprising two items from separate manufacturers, what could go wrong?
      It’s the vest that’s faulty, no it’s the electronics that’s faulty… ad infinitum

  34. klim isn’t the only airbag vest out there doing this . The answer is no I ll not buy something like this due to the long term risk of a company leaving with a useless product . I ve seen it before something get retired or no longer supported . Now that item doesn’t work due to a needing a program or an app to function. I ve seen it with high end speakers and Logitech remotes etc . Lets be clear this isn’t the only item doing this . Car maker are doing it to. On demand gps or you want insane mode on that car that well be $$$ Please. Subscription to make a product fully work are the next way of BS .

  35. You want to own it buy it, you think it’s overpriced then make an article about it but don’t imply that you can’t own it, it’s just one of the options you have.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.