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Alpinestars

Superslim body armor and mobile airbags from the leaders of state-of-the-art motorcycle gear

by Seth Brau in Design on 13 April 2011

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For over 40 years Alpinestars has been developing state of the art technology for motorcycling and motorsports safety. From the racetrack to the street to the sketchiest off-road terrain, Alpinestars leads the way when it comes to motorcycle apparel and protective technology.

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The statement, “We believe the best design and research is achieved under extreme conditions,” comes as no surprise, considering Alpinestars products have been through the ringer at the world level, actively protecting top racers in everything from Moto GP to the World Rally Championships. But long before any of their products hit the road, they undergo a laundry list of development and testing.

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With research and development facilities in Asolo, Italy and Los Angeles, Alpinestars' in-house testing laboratories allow their designers and technicians to analyze material construction, strength and flexibility across a wide array of parameters. There’s even a prototype testing facility for measuring the durability of products under insane real-life conditions. Wondering whether your pants will fade? They’ve got a machine that can simulate an entire year of sun exposure in just 24 hours. How will those boots wear? The "walkometer" subjects footwear to hundreds of miles of actual steps in all sorts of varying body weight, stride patterns and surfaces. Couple all the scientific data with the experience of thousands of miles of road testing in the gnarliest of conditions, and Alpinestars can guarantee their products maintain the rigorously high standards the company has set for itself.

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The focus on technology has led Alpinestars to solve some of motorcycling apparel's biggest conundrums. One such advancement comes in the form of revolutionized jacket padding that cuts down on typical bulk and discomfort without leaving you unprotected. The solution comes in the form of a premium range of lightweight, slim and pliable protectors called Bio Armor.

Constructed using specially formulated closed-cell foam— engineered with perforations to allow for greater ventilation and weight reduction—Bio Armor protectors offer twice the impact protection with half the thickness. The resulting slimmer profile seamlessly integrates with their jackets in a way that's much less noticeable than past designs for a better looking jacket with even better protection. All of Alpinestars new jackets for 2011 and going forward boast the latest Bio Armor technology.

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Another clever innovation from Alpinestars is electronic, wireless, airbag technology. For over 10 years Alpinestars has been researching and developing the technology to create a state-of-the-art, fully functional airbag system that could ultimately be available to riders everywhere. The system, which provides active yet compact airbags inflate using a nitrogen based gas mix and is powered by a battery pack. Currently, the setup incorporates two bags covering the rider’s shoulders and collar bones, with inflation times of less than .05 seconds.

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To accomplish this, Alpinestars created a modified version of their leather racing suit designed specifically to accomodate the necessary electronics, sensors, inflators, and airbags. The Tech Air Race Suit, as it's called, has been tested and deployed on MotoGP riders and road riders to fine tune the activation parameters. Developments of this active system led Alpinestars to create a now patented dual charge system which offers the rider two airbag inflations without needing to reset or recharge the system. It’s kind of like an extra life, you can crash once and hop right back on your bike, knowing you’ve got the same level of protection if you go down a second time. After that second crash though, you might as well call it a day.

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