Alpinestars Tech-Air Off-Road: Finally, ADV Airbag Safety

Note that the Tech-Air Off-Road has passive impact protection as well, but you'll want another outer layer if you're worried about road rash. Also note that while this can save you from serious injury, you can still get very badly injured while wearing it; it's not an invincibility suit. People get mangled or even die at rally raids while wearing airbags, so ride smart. PHOTO CREDIT: Alpinestars

Airbag suits have been around for a few years now, starting with tether-activated suits in pro roadracing, then independent jackets, pants and vests that use sensors to detect crashes and activate the airbags when you’re in the middle of a crack-up. Alpinestars’ Tech-Air system is one of the most prevalent and popular, but for a long time, they only had street-biased systems that weren’t intended to go off-road. Until now, that is! After years of development testing by off-road riders and racers, Alpinestars reckons the Tech-Air Off-Road is ready for the public, and it is now available for sale.

At its core, this thing is just a giant airbag that inflates so you bounce off the ground, so we’d be tempted to say “It’s not rocket science” … but actually, a lot of science does go into this jacket, as it’s designed to know when you’re crashing, and when you aren’t. For off-roaders, that’s a pretty tricky algorithm to sort out.

It works by having three different ride modes: Street (the most sensitive), Rally and Enduro. In Street mode, it can even detect a rear-end strike, and protect you from more severe damage. In Rally and Enduro mode (less sensitive/least sensitive modes), it will put up with more dynamic jostling before it activates.

The airbag balloons around your torso, protecting your vitals, spine and neck. You can see it at the end of the video below:

It’s powered by two cartridges in the back, which are used at the rate of one per crash. Once you’ve used ’em both, you must replace them (you buy them from Alpinestars). After four crashes, Alpinestars wants you to send the airbag jacket back for an examination to make sure it’s safe before plugging in more cartridges. Dakar riders probably don’t do that (and this is one of the suits they use in the rally), but for Joe Schmoe out on his GS, it might be a good idea.

The jacket does require a charge to keep it working, so that’s something to sort out on the road, and it isn’t waterproof, only water-resistant, so you would be wise to integrate it with something like A-Stars’ jackets that are specifically designed for that purpose.

The Tech-Air Off-Road is already listed on Alpinestars’ Canadian website, but we haven’t been able to find a price yet. The other A-Stars airbag vests seem to sell around the $750 mark in Canada, so we would expect a price tag close to that range, but probably higher. Keep an eye on FortNine, and you’ll no doubt see them pop up there soon, if you’re interested in buying one.

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