The Tech Air suit has an LED status panel on the left forearm that shows various system status and warnings. The master control unit also has a wireless diagnostic capability via a smartphone
The Tech Air system utilizes a master control unit situated within the aero hump on the back of the leathers that inflates the two airbags in the shoulder/collarbone area via small urethane tubes.
The Tech Air system offers a unique dual charge capability, meaning that if the rider reenters the race, the suit automatically rearms itself and offers a second protective airbag inflationi if necessary.
Hot on the heels of Dainese’s U.S. release of its D-Air airbag protection leather racing suit comes Alpinestars’ American release of its own “Tech Air” suit (Late Braking, October 2011). Like the Dainese suit, the Tech Air was only available in Europe last year, and its cost when converted from Euros was a princely $8500. Now that the Tech Air is finally available in the States however, a pleasant surprise is that the suit’s retail price is $4999, a significant drop.
The Tech Air suit’s outer construction is basically the same as the latest 2012 Racing Replica leather suit with a few modifications (incidentally, anyone purchasing a 2012 model Racing Replica suit can upgrade it to a Tech Air. But your suit must be sent to Alpinestars to have the system fitted, and it’s more expensive than just purchasing the Tech Air outright). Most important are obviously the special integrated airbag pockets within the suit in the shoulder and clavicle (collarbone) areas, along with special accordion leather expansion zones to allow complete and seamless airbag inflation. There is a magnetic activation sensor in the main zipper area (part of the activation protocol that prepares the control unit to arm the system), plus an LED system status panel on the left forearm. The Tech Air suit also comes standard with Alpinestars’ Tech Chest Guard, plus the company’s CE Level 2 certified Bionic Race back protector.
Central to the Tech Air protection system is obviously the master control unit housed within the leathers’ back hump. An internal battery (rechargeable, good for eight hours of riding time) powers the potent microprocessor that controls an inflator module, all housed within a compact, robust casing. Unlike the Dainese system that uses three accelerometers, three gyros, and a GPS unit to help determine if a crash is occurring, the Alpinestars Tech Air utilizes five three-axis (meaning capable of measuring forward-backward, side-to-side, and up/down movement) accelerometers — one in each arm and leg, and one in the master control unit. After fully arming, once it senses that the rider is seated on a motorcycle and moving forward at a predetermined speed, it begins sampling data from each of the sensors every two milliseconds.
The CPU utilizes sophisticated algorithms developed by Alpinestars to determine whether any irregular movements or external forces acting upon the rider are signals of an impending crash (note that having a sensor in each arm and leg is clever engineering; it allows the CPU to sense whether a lucky save or actual crash is occurring, i.e., if the rider is still holding the bars, etc.). If it determines that a crash is indeed happening, the unit triggers inflation of the airbags using nitrogen-based pressurized gas via two small urethane tubes; full inflation takes just 45 milliseconds. The airbags stay fully inflated for five seconds before beginning deflation that is complete in 20-25 seconds.
Another difference with the Alpinestars suit from its Dainese counterpart is its dual charge capability. If the rider has crashed but is able to reenter the race, the Tech Air system is able to rearm itself within 60 seconds of the first activation and offer the rider the added protection of a second airbag inflation if required.
The LED status panel on the left forearm warns the rider of low battery power, any sensor irregularity and status of the system. The master control unit also contains a wireless diagnostic system that can access a dedicated service website via a smartphone and give the rider the ability to check out the system and ensure all components are functioning normally. The system is claimed to only add 450 grams to the suit.
The Alpinestars Tech Air suit is available in white/red, yellow/black, and white/black color combos, in Euro sizes 46-56.