Alpinestars has just introduced its new Tech-Air Off-Road jacket, bringing airbag safety technology to the world of offroad racing. Sort of.
According to Alpinestars’ marketing copy, the new airbag jacket is “Designed specifically to handle the rigors of Rally riding.” In other words, Alpinestars isn’t saying you should use this for enduro or motocross or other offroad riding.
Although the press release doesn’t give a reason for this, it’s likely because the Tech-Air system relies on clever electronics, which sense a crash and tell the airbag to inflate. The press release calls it a “Rally-riding crash detection algorithm.” It’s possible Alpinestars doesn’t have the system fine-tuned enough to handle the bumping and banging of woods riding or motocross jumps. Not that you can’t get big crashes in rally raid racing, and keep on going, but it’s a different style of riding. Or maybe it’s another reason—whatever the case, it’s likely A-Stars is working on bringing this to the rest of offroad sector sooner or later. For now, though, airbag suits are mostly for on-pavement riding, and Alpinestars’s new suit is a big step forward.
In its current form, the Tech-Air Off-Road jacket is blended into the Bionic Pro v2 jacket. There’s airbag protection in the back, chest, shoulders and collarbones, as well as standard protection in the arms and chest.
Alpinestars says it developed the Tech-Air Off-Road jacket through the 2019 and 2020 Dakar races, with factory rally raid teams testing the final version of the system at Spain’s Andalucia Rally in early October. Now, it’s available for professional riders planning to tackle Dakar in January. This year, airbag suits are mandatory for quad and motorcycle racers at Dakar, so Alpinestars’ timing is perfect.