In the United States, approximately 5,000 motorcyclists die annually. It’s a tragic statistic that many people are pessimistic about, believing that there is very little that can be done in the way of safety. But maybe some of them would be swayed after seeing the latest street airbag system coming from Alpinestars.
Debuting at last week’s EICMA show, the new Tech-Air Street Airbag System is already being called a game-changer in the world of motorcycle safety. Typically, safety air bags are reserved strictly for track use, but this is the first legitimate jacket designed specifically for the everyday rider.
Providing the safety that every rider covets, the Tech-Air system is a self-contained under-garment device that utilizes an airbag to protect the rider’s neck and back in the event of a crash. But how does it know when to deploy? Well, the system is built to respond to hard deceleration and impact. At that time, the protection is provided.
Engineer Colin Ballantyne says, “The project started in 2001. We had a working system in 2003 and in 2004 started data-logging in racing. The racing system was introduced in 2009 and has since been used by all of our MotoGP riders, including four world champions.”
According to Ballantyne, the product has been through the most rigorous of testing. In fact, the airbag has gone through 300,000 kilometers of data gathering, and last year alone, it was deployed over 200 times on the racing circuit– never misfiring once. The airbag was even successfully deployed during a leg-breaking crash that Ballantyne himself was involved in.
Ballantyne says, “We tried to engineer the system in the most natural way possible. Basically you put it on like any other garment. The master switch is used for storage and transport. When the zip reaches the closed position, the system will automatically start.”
“When the battery is fully charged, you have 25 hours of continuous use, which should be adequate for a weekly commute. A one-hour charge gives four hours of operation, and you have a micro-SD port for recharging. On the arm of the jacket is an LED display. You never want to see all of the LEDs blinking because that means you’ve just been involved in a crash.”
Now ready for production, the system has been officially CE-certified and cleared by an external medical advisory that deemed the jacket completely safe. Its deployment was proven to neither harm nor restrict the body of the rider. No official prices have been set yet, but there will certainly be a market for it. After all, health and safety is priceless.