Alpinestars started working on electronic, wireless, airbag technology
at the beginning of this millennium. This project has culminated in
the development of a state‐of‐the‐art, fully functional airbag system
which provides an active, yet compact, protection system for
Alpinestars athletes in top level road racing and will, ultimately be
available to riders everywhere.
The airbag itself is powered by a battery pack and is inflated using a
nitrogen based gas mix. At present the system incorporates two bags
covering the rider’s shoulders and collar bones, offering a trigger to
full bag inflation time of less than 0.05 seconds which gives the
rider in excess of 5 seconds of vital protection
this system adds 1.1 lbs (500 grams) to a suit. In the example we were
shown the hardware and firing mechanism is nestled into the speed hump
on the back of the suit with seven strategically placed sensors routed
inside the suit arms, legs and torso. The actual airbags are located
over the shoulder area. When deployed the airbags inflate in
0.05-seconds and barely make an identifiable difference in the way the
suit looks. Basically, the shoulders puff up approximately 2-inches
and slowly start to deflate after providing 5-seconds of protection.
The patented system can fire two times, allowing a rider who escapes a
crash unharmed, to remount and rejoin the race.
After nearly a decade of research and development the latest in rider
safety technology is scheduled to be released to the riding public no
later than June, 2011. Initial pricing is not set in stone at this
stage but Alpinestars’ CEO Gabriele Mazzarolo indicated that the
system would cost an additional $2000-2500 above the price of a suit.
Considering a entry level Alpinestars SP-1 suit retails for $899.95
and the MSRP for the high end Racing Replica suit is $2,499.95
consumers will be expected to shell out between $3,000 and $5,000 for
access to this rider protection technology.
Alpinestars has optimized the suit for specific protection to the
shoulder and collarbone area, since shoulder traumas constitute 48
percent of motorcycle injuries. Still, the Tech Air Race suit is not
limited to that region; the system is also modular. The position and
shape of the airbags can be adapted to protect different areas of the
body, and the volumes and air pressure can be modified as well,
depending on biological need and force of impact.
The Alpinestars Electronic Airbag Protection Suit was unveiled on April 29, 2010