Alpinestars' next generation of inflatable protection is here... and the future looks awesome.
The newest version of the Alpinestars Tech-Air inflatable armor, which is already protecting MotoGP stars such as Repsol Honda riders Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa, builds on the previous generation. While earlier versions mainly protected the collarbone, the new system now covers the shoulders completely as well as the entire back, sides of the torso, and hips.
This new Tech-Air system realizes that your body isn’t flat and is designed so that different areas inflate to different volumes to optimize protection for the rider. The sections on the shoulders and sides of the torso inflate to full volume, while the sections at the back and hips inflate to a medium volume to help support the shape of the body.
The system is so smart it won’t even enter into “armed mode” until it detects you’re seated on a motorcycle and moving at a low speed. I have no idea how this black magic is attained, but I like the idea that you can’t deploy the super fancy air pockets in your super fancy suit should you trip or something. As with the previous version, this new Tech-Air also detects whether you’re high siding or low siding and is able to respond accordingly – all before you hit the tarmac.
The previous system worked well on the track, but didn’t translate as well to riding on the street because of the varied types of impacts street riders might take. This is a huge step towards something more widely applicable and gives us a glimpse at the future.
Márquez and Pedrosa were not among the many crashers at the opening round in Qatar this past weekend, so they did not test the new system in race action. Considering that Alpinestars just began developing the Tech-Air technology in 2001, the progress is impressive. Just imagine where we’ll be in another 10 years, with technology like this built in to even the most accessible pieces of gear. We’ll be wondering why we ever dared to throw a leg over a bike without it.