The Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 airbag vest gets several upgrades for 2021, including new firmware, a new Race mode, and a new re-inflation service. These upgrades will be available for new Tech-Air 5 vests, but can also be added to vests that have already been purchased.
The Tech-Air 5 vest
Airbag safety equipment for motorcyclists has been around for a while, but the original designs required riders to use a specific suit or jacket that had the airbag built in. The Tech-Air 5 vest is designed to fit under any moto jacket, within reason, presuming it’s fitted correctly.
Obviously, this is a benefit to riders who don’t wish to invest in all-new gear, but want airbag protection.
You can see our first coverage of the Tech-Air 5 here. At that point, Alpinestars told us “The state-of-the-art Tech-Air® 5 airbag system features six integrated sensors which continuously monitor acceleration and the rider’s position. In the event of a crash, the system has a maximum inflation time of up to 40ms and the impact absorption while wearing the airbag results in a decrease of the impact force by up to 93 % compared to a passive protector. The airbag has been designed to deploy before the first impact with an obstacle, and in addition, protects riders in the event of a rear-end collision.“
The 2021 upgrades
The latest upgrades are good news, even for existing Tech-Air 5 owners, because they can update their already-purchased equipment. First, users need to download the new Tech-Air 5 firmware; the vest has a Bluetooth connection you can access with a mobile device, and presumably this operation is done that way.
After updating the firmware, riders will be able to switch the vest between Street mode and Race mode. Race mode is only intended for track use. What’s the difference between them? The press release doesn’t get into technical details. It tells us “The Tech-Air® RACE Riding Mode is developed for the riding conditions associated with the racetrack and the riding style typically found at the racing circuit. The STREET Riding Mode is for street riding conditions where motorcyclists frequently stop at traffic lights and intersections.“
Presumably, the Race mode processes data from the vest’s sensors differently than Street mode, and running Race mode on the street could result in the airbag either deploying when you don’t want it, or not deploying when you do want it.
Along with the upgraded modes, Alpinestars also offers a new inflation service. As per the press release: “Now riders will be able to purchase an INFLATORS ONLY option for $179 which includes the replacement of the two Argon Canisters. This service offering is available at Alpinestars’ Tech-Air® Servicing, and soon also at Certified Tech-Air® Service Centers. The Tech-Air® 5 Airbag System is certified to withstand at least 3 deployments, after which the airbag sack must be substituted and a FULL service completed at a cost of $299. The full service includes the inspection, Tech-Air® 5 cleaning, replacement of the airbag, as well as the replacement of the 2 inflators.“
In other words: If your vest deploys, this allows you to re-use it, instead of buying a new one. For racers, this is no doubt a particularly useful service.