The Tech-Air airbag technology developed by Alpinestars through its MotoGP racers is now available to we mere mortal everyday riders with the new range of Tech-Air Street jackets.
It all starts with the Tech-Air Street Vest, the NASA-grade nerve center of the operation. Far more than your standard back protector, the Tech-Air vest houses a CPU that's constantly processing date from four onboard sensors. It's constantly monitoring and deciding whether it's time to deploy. And when it does deploy, it starts and finishes all within the instant between the start of a crash and the impact of, say, a rider into the hood of a car. Start to finish takes about 25 miliseconds, or just a few flaps of a bumblebee's wings.
Once deployed it covers, shoulders, upper arms and chest, and it wraps around the kidneys too for full torso coverage. In short, Tech-Air is about the safest gear you can wear on a motorcycle. The Tech-Ais system is broken down into two categories— a Race Vest that works with track leathers, and a Street Vest that works with a small but growing number of more versatile textile jackets. Scroll to the bottom to check them out.
How does it work?
Magic, frankly. Algorithmic magic backed up by lots of time spent in R&D.
Each Tech-Air vest houses a small aresenal of sensors that are constantly reading data from the environment and feeding in into a CPU. Alpinestars engineers have developed proprietary software that processes all this data and makes the call as to when it should deploy.
At the heart of the Vest is a standalone CE-Level 2 back protector. It's slightly thicker than other Level 2 standard back protectors—and it has to be. The sturdy turtle shell houses a computer, a gyroscope, three accelerometers, a lithium ion battery and two high-pressure CO2 canisters that fire simultaneously to deploy the vest in approximately 25 milliseconds.
It all sounds complicated, but it's not. You never even see the working parts. All that the user has to manage is zipping up the jacket and checking the LED indicator light built into the sleeve of any Tech-Air Garment.
The Tech-Air Street Vest requires a compatible Tech-Air Street jacket to operate. It cannot be used independently, or hacked to work with your existing jacket. You’ll need 1) a built-in wiring harness in the host jacket. And 2) a Tech-Air certified Street jacket, which is built with special expansion capabilities. Putting an explosive high-volume airbag device into a jacket not designed for it would be like putting a firecracker in a trashcan.
What sets Alpinestars' system apart from others on the market is its total independence (no lanyards or GPS signals are required), and ultimately the speed and accuracy of the system.
What jackets are compatible?
Currently there are two jacket options available for the Tech-Air Street system: the Viper, and the Valparaiso.
The Viper Tech-Air is a short-cut mesh jacket, built for warm-weather riding. The more versatile Valparaiso Tech-Air a full-featured, 3-season option, with a 3/4-cut and independently removable zip-out thermal and waterproof liners. With both liners out and the jacket’s sleeve, chest and back vents open, it’s a highly capable summer option. With some combination of liners in, it’s ready for any cold or wet conditions you can throw at it.
Either of these jackets are fully functional on their own. They come equipped with CE elbow and shoulder armor, a slot for a back protector, and standard sets of features anyone who’s shopped for a motorcycle will recognize. So for anyone who wants to leg-into this purchase, buy the jacket now, save up for the Tech-Air Street Vest later.
What sets these compatible jackets apart is the built-in wiring harness and discreet LED light panel on the left forearm. Note the yellow Velcro patch built into each Tech-Air Street jacket’s main zipper—once plugged in and powered on, the magnetic switch that occurs when the jacket is zipped up past those yellow locating squares signals to the jacket that it’s time to party.
The LED panel will come alive with a series of readouts indicating battery level and system readiness. Once zipped up, the green LED will go from flashing to solid. From there, it’s ready, but not yet armed. That happens only when a rider is on a motorcycle and moving down the road. Within a minute the system will fully arm.