Classroom or real world? Given the choice most will opt for the outdoor immersion in favor of the indoor lesson. Alpinestars took this into consideration when introducing its 2014 MX protective gear. Instead of herding a group of journalists into a sterile, white room with overhead fluorescent lights, the apparel giant instead invited scribes to ride Milestone Ranch MX Park outfitted with new-for-2014 Alpinestars gear.
Headlining the event was Alpinestars’ new Tech 10 and Tech 7 MX boots, Bionic Neck Supports and Fluid knee braces. Also introduced are new renditions of the company’s Bionic jackets, the Pro and Tech. Special to attending journos was a matching Alpinestars’ jersey and pants – special because unless you’re a sponsored rider, it’s nearly impossible to acquire the gear in North America because Alpinestars’ doesn’t import its riding gear to the U.S.
The Tech 10 has been a top choice among MX riders, but this highly regarded boot has received continuous development and introduces many new features on the 2014 models. A new TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) blade prevents frontal hyperextension and offers greater flex control, while the medial-facing panel improves structural stability. The TPU calf protector plate utilizes a rear blade system to protect the heel and features a hyperextension guard. Its TPU shin plate uses a dual closure system with an internal microfiber flap, and a new buckle-closure system is self-aligning and easily replaceable.
For a guy with archless, flat feet, the inner ankle brace is a bit snug, but there was no discomfort when riding, while the overall support and comfort of the boot is quite remarkable. As a streetbike guy unaccustomed to the pounding MX riding delivers, the Tech 10s protected my ankles and feet from injury during my afternoon of amateurish riding antics.
Worn in conjunction with Alpinestars’ Fluid Tech Carbon knee braces, I managed a day of MX riding with no residual aftereffects of aching knee or ankle joints. An impressive feat considering an hour-long racquetball session usually requires a couple Tylenol to quell the soreness in my knees. Now, if Alpinestars could only do something about my lingering arm pump.
Unique to the Fluid Tech Carbons is the ability to personalize the brace’s fitment. “Fine-tuning the protectors,” says Alpinestars’ technical protection design and engineering chief, Sebastian Hess, “in regards to size adjustment, is not just to reduce the width of the brace around the knee but also to balance its fitment to anatomically different knees. We try to personalize the product as much as possible.”
In other words, a person can increase or decrease the space on both sides of the brace to fit a rider’s left knee differently than his right knee if said knee, for instance, has suffered damage, surgery, etc., from a past incident. Alpinestars’ literature refers to this customization as “Dynamic ErgoFit Tech (DEFT), an innovative, reduced material design construction for improved weight-saving and excellent ergonomic performance.”
The knee pivot also incorporates a tool-free poly-centric hinge system allowing for fast and easy changing of extension stops of 0, 5, 10, 15 and 20 degrees to prevent hyperextension injuries.
The light weight of the Fluid Tech Carbons comes from the same long-fiber carbon polymer construction of the Bionic Neck Support (BNS) Tech Carbon neck brace.
“We managed to reduce the weight of the BNS Carbon by 38% compared to last year’s model,” says Hess. A significant reduction considering the relative minimalism of the brace’s design.
Also, like the knee braces the BNS Tech comes with a size adapter system to customize its fit. “We try to think in systems that work together with all our gear as well as being compatible with other brands,” says Hess.
A good example is the detachable back protector of the Bionic Tech Jacket that allows it to be worn in conjunction with the BNS Tech. The jacket also features an incorporated kidney belt, removable sleeves and removable comfort padding.
All of the aforementioned items have similar yet slightly more affordable Pro versions (BNS Pro, Bionic Pro and Fluid Pro) that are constructed of different materials or forego some of the amenities but nonetheless provide nearly equal level of protection. For more on Alpinestars’ 2014 MX gear collection visit Alpinestars.com.
2014 Alpinestars MX Protection
|A-8 Light Protector||One size||$139.95|
|BNS Tech Carbon||XS-M/L-XL||$349.95|
|Bionic Pro Jacket||S-XXL||$189.99|
|Bionic Tech Jacket||S-XXL||$229.99|
|Fluid Tech Carbon Knee Brace||S-L/XL-XXL||$349.95 (per brace)|
|Fluid Pro Knee Brace||S-L/XL-XXL||$399.95 (per pair)|
|Pro Coolmax Socks||S-M/L-XXL||$15.95|
|Supervictory Coolmax Socks||S-M/L-XXL||$15.95|
|Tech Coolmax Socks||S-M/L-XXL||$15.95|
|Tech 7 Boots||5-16||$349.95|
|Tech 10 Boots||7-14||$579.95|
|Tech Tool Pack||One size||$39.95|