Alpinestars have recently showcased the latest in new technological advances for motorcyclists. Their new airbag technology providing small airbags encased within the motorcycle suit itself has been in undercover development since early 2000. Although only currently developed for road racers, it is set to be rolled out into the public domain over the next two years.
Alpinestars, who are already one of the leading producers of leather suits, jackets and Alpinestars boots, are taking their clothing range to the next level by leading the way in innovative technology. Their initial airbag suits featured airbags on the exterior of the suit which, at the point of impact, inflated to encase the rider. This is still under development and may come from Alpinestars in a few years.
The first consumer implementation of airbags into a leather suit was specifically designed for road racers. These airbags are concentrated on the neck and shoulders, which is the most common injury during a road race crash. The airbags are placed inside each shoulder pad with the electronic ‘hub’ slotted into the neck hump. This tucks it out of view and only adds 500 grams of weight to the suit. This is in comparison to Dainese’s similar D-air suit which weighs between 700-750 grams.
These new airbags come as a saviour for professional motorcyclists and many have already taken ownership of one. These new airbags could be the difference between them bouncing back up after a crash and breaking their collar bone resulting in missing a season of riding.
The most complicated part of production involved developing the algorithms used to control the launch of the airbag. Several years of development and testing have ensured the airbags are controlled to release at the point of contact, ensuring protection of both the neck and shoulder bones. They have also developed separate algorithms for race and road environments in order to produce a suit suitable for public use.
The airbags can deploy in a mere 0.05 seconds and gives the rider 5 seconds of protection. In order to do this, the suit holds cylinders containing a nitrogen based mix of gases which inflate the airbags safely. One more fantastic feature is that the airbags then retract and recharge themselves ready for another crash. This allows the rider to get back on the bike and continue riding knowing they will be protected if they have a second crash.
This is a hugely significant step in motorcycle safety and more specifically road racing safety. The suits are continually being tested and will be available for racing and track day applications in 2011. Unfortunately for us street riders, we will have to wait a further 2 years to be able to get our hands on a suit. These suits are set to be an enormously popular addition to the high quality Alpinestars motorcycle clothing and Alpinestars gloves.