Air bag crash protection has become standard equipment in the cars we buy and that same idea has been discussed for motorcycle and ATV riders as well. Alpinestars has been doing more than talking about it, though. They have developed an air bag system that riders can actually buy today.

Alpinestars has been in the riding gear business for many years and their motocross boots have always been a top choice for off-road riders. They have also been at the front of offering the best leather suits for motorcycle road racers. This is actually what sparked the push for them to develop an air bag system which they have been working on for years.

Motorcycle manufacturers and MotoGP race teams have a lot of money invested in their riders. The starting salary for a MotoGP racer is at least a million dollars with series champ Marc Marquez getting paid 14 million. Those guys go sliding out in turns on a regular basis with a chance of becoming injured and perhaps missing out the rest of the season. So, it makes sense for the teams to provide what ever possible to keep their riders healthy and on the track for each race.

The Tech-Air system that Alpinestars developed to go underneath their road racing leathers will also fit just as easily underneath an off-road racer’s jersey or riding jacket. It is self contained with small batteries and sensors to trigger the system without a tether to the vehicle.

A closer look at the vest style mini jacket reveals that its main focus is to provide extra protection to the upper body area. The instantly inflating air bags make injuries less likely to the chest, shoulders, collar bone, back, upper abdomen and kidneys. The rider’s back also gets extra protection from the plastic molded piece which also contains the Argon inflator cartridges, control unit and lithium-ion batteries.

An LED panel that the rider wears on his left sleeve indicates the system’s status. The Tech-Air system goes into sleep mode when non-riding. Alpinestars figured in safeguards to keep the air bags from accidentally inflating when you don’t want them to.

Alpinestars offers two versions of the Tech-Air system, Race or Street. Either one would work for off-road riders or racers. The price is $1,150.

At this point, the only clue we have of how well the system works is by watching MotoGP races on TV. All of the riders are required to wear the  Alpinestars Tech-Air system. We saw a rider go down and when he stood up you could tell that his jacket was puffed up larger than normal.

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In moments like this the Tech-Air system would certainly be a good thing to be wearing. ATV race photos by Stephan Tripp.

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