• Apr 29, 2010
Alpinestars Tech Air Race prototype suit – Click above to watch the video after the break

We traveled out to Alpinestars' U.S. headquarters near Los Angeles, California today so that the giant manufacturer of automotive and motorcycle safety gear could show us its latest high-tech hardware. The most important aspect of the visit was a closely held trade secret, but it's now out in the open: the Tech Air Race motorcycle suit.

Airbags in motorcycle suits aren't necessarily anything new, but the big breakthrough here is that the system is small enough to be integrated directly into the Electronic Airbag Protection Suit and is controlled by a high-tech electronic brain. As Alpinestars says, a motorcycle crash isn't all that difficult to describe in words, but in mathematical terms, things get much more difficult.

As such, there is a very complicated set of algorithms that are constantly monitoring the rider's movements, and there are five levels of programing that ensures the airbag doesn't deploy when it's not necessary. First and foremost, though, the system does not arm unless it senses the rider is moving and the engine is running. Interestingly, it's been tested on machines powered by both internal combustion engines and electric motors.

It takes a total of about eight milliseconds for the electronic brain to determine whether a crash is imminent. Once the seven sensors placed all over the suit trigger the airbag system, it takes just 50 milliseconds to fully inflate and stays fully inflated for about five seconds. After 25 seconds or so, the bag completely deflates. After the event, a GPS system is used to help determine exactly where the accident took place.

Alpinestars' airbag system includes two separate cylinders that set off a cold charge of nitrogen. It takes roughly one minute for the system to rearm itself after the initial firing. Currently, Ben Spies, Mika Kallio and Dani Pedrosa are running the data logging suits at MotoGP races.

So, what does the future hold for the Tech Air technology? Alpinestars promises that there will be applications for racing, street and even off-road riding. Currently, the initial consumer-ready suits are targeted for June of 2011, and other applications will follow in the coming years.

Time will tell how effective such active safety technologies prove, but Alpinestars' data certainly looks compelling. At present, the technology is expected to add roughly $2,500 to the cost of a standard suit. A hefty tag for sure, but it's tough to put a price on safety.

Click past the break to watch a video of the airbag being deployed on a rider.






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  • 23 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Dianese has had this for a while. Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi have used them for a while now. When Lorenzo crashed at Brno last year, his went off.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like the concept, but it seems have all that gear on would detract from the riding experience.
        • 4 Years Ago
        People that talk about riding experience have never been in a serious crash.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's like saying "Why wear a condom? It just takes away the enjoyment.", later finding out afterwards that you impregnated her.

        I, myself, as a former rider and knowing a lot of riders...true riders would rather break a bone than getting road rash. Leathers protect you from serious injury, adding air bladders into the leathers prevents from possible death and/or possible spinal injury.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No kidding. You know what really detracts from the riding experience? Death.

        Seriously, that's nothing more than a little extra weight between your shoulder blades and a couple of empty air bladders around your shoulders. If you wear proper gear regularly, that's not going to be noticeable. If you're a tank-top & flip-flop style rider, good luck to you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Gonna have to agree with the rest. If you ride, you will crash. When that happens, you'll be glad you wore your gear. Well at least hopefully you did. I had a high speed crash in 08, fortunately it was a low-side, but damned if it didn't hurt, even with gear. The amount of damage I would have taken without it? Prolly wouldn't be talking about it right now.
        • 4 Years Ago
        yep I highsided last year year, you know when the guy literally flys off the bike and lands on his head. Let me tell you, it REALLY hurts slaming your head into the pavement at 100 then bouncing skidding around wondering where your bike is. I'll take full gear please. Because I got up and walked away.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "All The Gear, All The Time" poser.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I always ride in full leathers, a 2-piece version of what the guy is in wearing in the video and can assure you it doesn't detract from my riding experience. Quite the opposite actually as I feel a little safer.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's it?? I envisioned some huge airbags like those on the mars rover capsule...I am disappoint.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hmmm... Perhaps its just a small step in that direction.
        I was envisaging the same thing too! - I like the idea that they do re-charge.... you don't want it to only blow once.... ;-)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Anyone remember the bodysuit airbag from Snow Crash?
      • 4 Years Ago
      3... 2... 1... (poof)

      Gesundheit.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I didn't read the article but I just saw the word "airbag" and thought of my mother in-law.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Clavicle fracture is the most painful and 2nd worse injury you get in motorcycle accidents.

      Add some hip protetion and this would be a great product.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's awesome. I'd totally trigger that and then destroy everything nearby in a fit of rage.
        • 4 Years Ago
        that is hilarious.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm imagining these as basically the same thing as the bubbles that surrounded the crashing cars in the Speed Racer movie.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am just going to do a huge FART right as I crash and do more than that ...
      • 4 Years Ago
      ya know Im not sure but for the cost of a leather suit around 1k then toss in a 500$ airbag. Im guessing it better be. However if you look at the suit its very tight around the body as it should be so I dont see alot of room for expansion. I didnt hear anything pop so maybe it just tightens up.
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