Alpinestars Race Replica Suit With Tech Air | MC Tested

By Ari Henning, Photography by Joe Neric

I haven’t had the, um, opportunity to experience a deployment, but Bradley Adams, Associate Editor at our sister publication Sport Rider, experienced Tech Air’s capabilities when he highsided a ZX-10R at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. Data pulled from his suit’s control module shows that Bradley was spat off at 90 mph and spent almost a full second in the air (250 milliseconds longer than Lorenzo at Laguna!) before coming down on his left shoulder. The predictive capabilities of the Tech Air system ensure the airbags inflate prior to impact, and in Bradley’s case the airbags fired 675 milliseconds before he hit the deck. The accelerometer in his suit’s left shoulder recorded a force of 27 G upon touchdown, yet Bradley escaped with only a separated shoulder. Tech Air isn’t designed to protect the shoulder joint so it’s hard to say whether the airbags prevented further injury, but the predictive capabilities show that the system operates as advertised.

The downsides of Tech Air are few but significant. First is cost: Tech Air adds about $2500 to the Race Replica’s $2899 price (the Tech Air suit retails for $4999). The airbag setup also adds 1.5 pounds to an already hefty suit. Another issue is complication. While the technology is easy to use and maintain, things can go wrong. In my case, the magnetic sensor on the collar came loose, so the suit wouldn’t arm until I re-attached the wire with a dab of silicone sealant. Like the sensor wire, the control module is insufficiently secured within the hump. It’s supposed to clip to the nitrogen canisters but pops off given the slightest bump and is free to float around within the hump, making it hard to reach the on/off switch and offering the potential of wiring damage. Lastly, my suit threw a code midway through a weekend-long testing session. The control module has its own WiFi network so you can check the system’s status via a smartphone or laptop, so I used my iPhone to determine that the left-side leg sensor wasn’t working. Alpinestars says the Tech Air system can operate with up to two accelerometers inoperable, so I was still protected, but it’s discouraging to think that my suit has already had several issues even though I’ve only worn it a few times.

My final complaint is that the suit can give you a false sense of security. That’s a subjective issue, of course, but wrapped in leather and armor and watched over by ultra-intelligent software and high-tech hardware, it’s easy to rationalize taking bigger risks on the racetrack. But Tech Air isn’t a science-fiction forcefield, it’s an added level of protection.

Alpinestars Race Replica Suit With Tech Air
PRICE: $5399
CONTACT: Alpinestars
www.alpinestars.com
Verdict - 4.5 out of 5 stars
Impressive protection, but too pricey not to be flawless.

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