For 2018 Alpinestars has focused on making its Tech lines more technical. New technology has been brought to its Tech touring line and changed the way its looks at a touring rider’s needs. The 2018 launch will also see the roll-out of Alpinestars Tech-Air Race Vest system which can be used under compatible race suits as well as specific jackets to give the technology both track and street applications.
Alpinestars has taken a new approach with its Tech Touring line, focusing efforts on keeping the garments less bulky by laminating their waterproof membranes to the outer layer rather than using removable liners. While we have been skeptical of this approach in the past due to lack of airflow, we will be curious to see how it performs. Alpinestars says it has moved in this direction not only to keep things less bulky, but also to keep the garment from becoming weighed down during rides in the rain. In previous iterations of touring jackets, the exterior shell of the jacket will generally absorb water to an extent while the waterproof liner inside helps to keep the rider dry. This results in the outer shell becoming weighed down which, at the end of a long day, can contribute to rider fatigue.
Alpinestars presented the Yokohama Drystar jacket ($489.95) and pant ($329.95) which showcase the laminated Drystar membrane mated to their outer shells. The new pant and jacket are geared toward touring and adventure touring with the jacket being a bit longer and the pant offering large expansion areas for off-road boots with adjustable Velcro closures. The jacket features Alpinestars Bio Armor in the shoulders and elbows as well as pockets for upgradable chest and back protection. Pretty much standard across the Astars line.
In our experience, mating waterproof layers with outer layers can result in a jacket that offers limited airflow, making the jacket quite warm once temperatures rise. Thankfully, Alpinestars has included large intake vents in the front as well as exhaust vents in the back which it calls the Jet Ventilation System. This may help to mitigate any lack of airflow from the waterproof membrane, which would be a good thing considering our previous experiences under Drystar have tended to be sweaty affairs. The Yokohama jacket and pant also offer removable thermal liners that should help stretch this combo deep into the cooler temperature range. The Yokohama jacket and pant come in sizes S-4XL.
We also saw the Hyper Drystar jacket ($269.95) and pant ($249.95) debuted as more of an all-weather sport riding set up. The jacket is shorter than the Yokohama which makes it more apt for standard and sport riding, as it won’t bunch while you are leaned over. The Hyper Drystar jacket and pant boast all of the same features as the Yokohama in a shorter sportier package. The Hyper jacket comes in four color options and both the jacket and pant come in sizes S-5XL. A Stella version is available for women with the jacket having three colors options and both jacket and pant available in S-2XL.
New for 2018, the Guayana Gore-Tex jacket ramps up its waterproofing and breathability to give wearers optimum comfort in any situation. While Alpinestars proprietary waterproof membrane, Drystar, claims similar features, Gore-Tex jackets and pants, in our own real world experience, have shown to significantly outperform their Drystar cousins when it comes to staying cool and dry on warm days, this makes them well worth the extra money in our professional opinion. Not to mention Gore-Tex products carry a lifetime warranty from Gore-Tex itself. The Guayana jacket uses the same technology as the aforementioned jackets, mating the Gore-Tex membrane to the outer shell to provide an all-weather adventure-touring jacket with less bulk for $699.95, available in two colors.
Keeping with the touring and technical theme, Alpinestars showcased a new touring boot; the Campeche Drystar. The Campeche Drystar is a waterproof mid-height touring boot which comes in black ($249.95) or a very nicely done brown, oiled leather ($259.95) for those looking to add a bit of style to their touring get-up. Sizes range from 7-13.
Also new for 2018, the SMX-6 V2 Gore-Tex boot comes in from a sport to sport-touring perspective offering a design similar to the SMX race line while using a slimmed down shin plate and a Gore-Tex liner. It has also dropped the toe slider to dial back the racer guy look on the SMX-6 V2 which retails at $329.95 and ranges in size from 36-50 euro.
Of course, we need gloves to complete our ensemble. Astars showcased three gloves during its presentation: the Equinox Outdry ($149.95), the Patron Gore-Tex ($199.95), and, situated in the Oscar line, the Café Divine Drystar ($129.95). All three are waterproof, available in S-3XL, and come with different names for their waterproof membranes with Outdry and Drystar being Alpinestars own proprietary technologies. The Equinox is a textile armored touring glove with the Outdry waterproof membrane, providing a layer with no seams that is mated to the outer layer. The step up from the Equinox would be the Patron offering Gore-Tex’s Gore Grip technology keeping all the layers inside as one to prevent your hands from sliding around inside the glove while maintaining the waterproof, breathability that Gore-Tex is known for. Taking a step in the more fashion-focused direction, the Café Divine is a great looking full goatskin, brown leather glove which includes a Drystar liner for waterproofing.
With Alpinestars thinking toward the future, the company has looked to the next generation of motorcycle racers. The gear manufacturer currently outfits all of the riders in the Red Bull Rookies Cup and Asia Talent Cup, and for the upcoming season, it will also sponsor the British Talent Cup with Alpinestars equipment. Each of these series include 22 up and coming riders who will likely remember the support when/if they move up to the big leagues.
Alpinestars will now offer the Youth GP Plus suit in two colors and three sizes (130cm, 140cm, 150cm) for $699.95. With 1.3mm bovine leather, external sliders, CE-approved inner armor, and a race hump, the Youth GP suit cuts no corners for younger riders. While Tech Air is not currently available for the youth suit, it is in the pipeline says Alpinestars’ Jeremy Appleton.
Alpinestars 2018 technical motorcycling collection launch brings with it the pinnacle of motorcycling safety technology in the form of the Tech-Air Race Vest. While Alpinestars may not be the first to market or even have been the first Italian company to market, we think that they did their research and waited patiently until they had their Tech-Air airbag system just right before releasing it.
Alpinestars Tech Air Race Vest retails for $1149.95 and currently comes in sizes M-XL. Unlike other systems, Astars decided to develop its airbag technology in such a way that it could be used under different suits or jackets that are compatible with the technology. Former MO editor Troy Siahaan, presently of Alpinestars, has also been keen to mention, “The Tech Air system is the first and only fully independent and integrated complete torso protection system in the world.” What he means by this is that there are no tether attachments to motorcycles like some earlier models of airbag technology.
The complete torso coverage is the part that stands out here, as other brands do not currently offer as much coverage. Although some current competitors come close, there is still not an airbag system on the market that gives coverage at this level. Something that competitors do offer however, is downloadable data and analytics based on GPS which can help riders increase their pace around the track. The Alpinestars system offers no downloadable information to the user.
Alpinestars started developing and researching airbag technology in the late ‘90s and have continued to develop its system in racing over nearly 20 years. It has spent time with the highest level of racers from all disciplines to develop the technology carefully and accurately and are now bringing to market a refined and technologically advanced form of safety that truly is a step toward motorcycling’s future.
Like most technology we see on motorcycles, it trickles down from the highest levels of racing, which is much the same with airbag technology. All of Alpinestars’ sponsored riders in the world stage of racing, Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP, currently use the Tech Air technology. With more than 600 crashes in MotoGP, Astars claims zero false deployments and zero instances in which the airbag should have deployed and it did not. With the Tech Air system hitting the market in the U.S. we are excited about the competition between the two Italian companies leading the way in airbag technology to, together, elevate the safety standards of motorcycling overall.
The Tech Air Race Vest is designed to be completely self-contained. This allows customers to switch the vest between compatible race suits and jackets easily. Another key point for the system is, with a simple firmware update, you can switch the system from its race algorithm to the street algorithm. To us, this is a major step forward in terms of real-world usability. The $1149.95 asking price is not cheap, but when it’s this versatile, it starts to make the investment seem a lot more realistic. Alpinestars has managed to stretch the value of the vest further by incorporating two deployments before needing to be re-packed and serviced. For re-pack, you must send the unit back to Alpinestars in Torrance, CA (if purchased in North America) where it will provide any necessary fixes (unless totaled) for $299.
Battery life for the vest is 25 hours with a 6-hour charge time to reach full capacity. Once connected to a Tech Air compatible jacket or suit, the LED light on the arm will indicate the system’s readiness. With different algorithms for track versus street, the argon-gas-charged system inflates in 45 milliseconds when in race mode and 25 milliseconds in street mode. For reference, it takes 100 milliseconds to blink your eye. Appleton noted the need for deployment is much faster on the street given the unpredictability of incidents.
Tech Air compatible garments for 2018 will be the GP Tech for Tech Air race suit priced at $1999.95, the all new, Missile race suit which, coming in at $999.95, is a relative bargain, and the Missile leather jacket which retails for 599.95.
As of late we have seen jackets come available that are basically the top half of race suits and, in turn, carry with them very racy undertones in terms of style. Alpinestars knows that not everyone interested in this level of motorcycling safety wants to look like they just stepped out of a race paddock. Enter the Charlie leather jacket from the Oscar line. This leather jacket offers timeless retro-ish styling and now, not so retro technology, giving riders state-of-the-art performance protection without looking like Marc Marquez.
Out of the 76 new items being released at the end of August, these are just a few to give you the flavor of where Alpinestars is headed. We’re excited and chomping at the bit to get some of these new products out on the road for testing and see how they stack up to real-world usage.