Airbag technology for riders is nothing new – Honda fitted its Goldwing with an airbag in 2007 –but it seems it’s finally starting to gather momentum and filter down to everyday road rider’s gear.
Airbag leather suits are a familiar site on our TV screens with stars from MotoGP and road racing now wearing airbag suits – Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Cal Crutchlow and Scott Redding can be seen putting the Alpinestars Tech Air suit through its paces while Valentino Rossi, Stefan Bradl, Pol Espargaro and Guy Martin all sport Dainese’s D-Air Racing System. The giveaway is the electronic monitoring LEDs flashing away on the left forearm and shoulder respectively.
And they seem to work too. Dainese claims that none of the 306 crashes by riders wearing the D-Air Racing System between 2007 and 2013 resulted in fractures to the collarbone and shoulder joint areas, which is remarkable when you consider the forces generated in such high speed spills.
Last year Ducati released its D-Air System which links a jacket fitted with an airbag to an on-board computer and BMW and Dainese collaborated to put the D-Air Protect System into the DoubleR RaceAir leather suit.
However, as good as these systems are, they are both designed for specific brand motorbikes. The new Alpinestars Tech-Air Street System is the first system that has been designed for road use that can be used with any motorbike.
It’s a compact, self-contained airbag vest designed to snap/zip into two specific jackets – the Valparaiso touring jacket and Viper road jacket.
It features a high pressure inflatable bladder built into the vest’s shoulders to provide all-over upper body protection by covering the full back, shoulders, kidneys and chest.
Other than charging the battery, no set-up or service is required unless the bag is activated.
The on-board software features an algorithm designed specifically to predict an impending impact. The system will detect an impact within 30-60 milliseconds of contact and maximum inflation for the airbag takes just 25 milliseconds, and that pressure is maintained for five seconds.
The system is powered by an integrated rechargeable battery, which is fed by a micro USB port. A one-hour charge gives four hours of operation, while a six-hour charge offers 25 hours of use. The system is automatically armed once the jacket is zipped up, with an LED display on the left sleeve showing the amount of charge in the battery. And yes, it will even work in the rain.
This isn’t cheap any stretch of the imagination but what price safety? And the price will come down once more manufacturers embrace the technology.
Tech-Air Street System Vest: £999.99
Two-yearly service and diagnostic check: £159.99
Valparaiso jacket: £599.99
Viper jacket: £299.99