I charge my phone and my helmet, and now I charge my Alpinestars Andes Pro Drystar Tech-Air Compatible jacket, too. Why not?
Alpinestars’ new Tech-Air Street airbag system is a follow-up to the widely known Tech-Air Race system that debuted in MotoGP in 2009. Now street and off-road riders can have the same protection as the racer boys and girls.
The Tech-Air Street system requires a compatible jacket, of which now I see 16 different models on Alpinestars’ website. The jackets cover the gamut of race and touring/ADV, to general riding jackets. This allows the Tech-Air system to be used, interchangeably, with any compatible jacket in all weather and riding conditions.
Some say, “Dress for the crash.” Others will tell you, “It’s not if, but when,” as it relates to having an unexpected get-off. With that in mind, why would a rider gear up in less than the most protective apparel? Well, if they can afford to spend $1350 on this setup, I recommend doing just that.
Tech-Air Street System
“Tech-Air is the world’s first self-contained street airbag system that independently functions without the need for sensors to be installed on the bike and the subsequent need to link a specific motorcycle to the airbag system used by the rider,” according to Alpinestars. “This means that Tech-Air offers the freedom to ride any bike on any surface at any time.”
“Offering instantaneous, high-pressure inflatable protection, Tech-Air gives the rider comprehensive protection in a crash by covering the full back, shoulders, kidney areas, and chest,” Alpinestars continues in its description. “The Tech-Air street airbag is incorporated into a specially designed vest, which is then attached within and used in conjunction with a compatible jacket.”
All you and I need to know is that it requires a charge via Micro-USB about every week or two, depending on how often you ride and for how long—it is rated for about 25 hours of run time. There is a main power switch on the back of the device, inside the jacket. I only turn that off when I know I won’t be wearing the jacket for a few days or more.
The system activates when I zip up the jacket, and the distinctive yellow hook-and-loop fastener sections in the middle of the chest connect together. They must be perfectly aligned to activate, and I can tell I have been successful when I see the green/yellow/red lights on the left sleeve turn on and flash. Then they blink a bit as I do a mandatory walk in a small circle to allow the system to obtain GPS and gyroscopic acquisition. Then I’m left with a solid green light, telling me the system is ready.
Alpinestars has done a remarkable job on the Tech-Air Street airbag system. My only criticism is that the alignment of the yellow fasteners that activate the system is sometimes hard to accomplish, so I use a mirror or have a friend do it. I think that if they put a snap connector in the middle, it would be easier to locate and connect.
The Alpinestars Tech-Air Street system weighs about 11 pounds on my bathroom scale, and it feels heavy to carry out to the garage. However, once I put it on and cinch the included waistband, the weight just disappears. I’ve worn it for many days, all day, and even while eating lunch without it being uncomfortable or distracting.
After 20 years of development from project inception, data acquisition, racing, and final product, the resultant Tech-Air Street system is designed so that users like you and I don’t have to think much about it to obtain the benefits.
Andes Pro Drystar Tech-Air Compatible Jacket
I have been testing the Andes Pro Drystar Tech-Air Compatible Jacket for several chilly winter months. This is a four-seasons adventure-style jacket, as it is warm in the winter, yet has some excellent venting for hot days. I often find that winter jackets do not have enough venting for hot summer days, thus rendering them three-season ready—not so for the Andes Pro. When needed, there are two large panel-style intake vents on the front, exhaust vents behind each shoulder, and sleeve vents with two-way zippers up to the elbows.
For the cold, Alpinestars includes a typical zip-out, long-sleeve poly quilted thermal liner. To repel water, Alpinestars utilizes Drystar—its Gore-Tex equivalent—which is incorporated into the fabric. I rode on a drizzly day and had no leakage, though I did not have a chance to ride through any significant precipitation.
To make the Alpinestars Andes Pro jacket Tech-Air compatible, the jacket is designed with stretch gussets on the arm and sleeves to accommodate the Tech-Air’s inflated volume when deployed without compromising seam strength or material integrity. There are protective polymer layers on the elbow and lower arm areas for extra abrasion resistance.
Elbow and shoulder protectors are removable and CE-certified. There are chest and back pad compartments for use if the Tech-Air vest is not installed; we strongly recommend using Alpinestars’ Nucleon protection should you not go for the Tech-Air Street system. Additional safety in low light is provided by reflective panels. If you like to connect your jacket to your pants, there is an internal waist connection zipper for use with compatible Alpinestars trousers.
There are two front waterproof cargo pockets, a large, external utility pocket on the lower back, plus waterproof internal pockets and wallet pocket. Keep in mind, though, that you won’t be able to access the interior pockets once the Tech-Air in installed, unless you unzip it. Additionally, there are two zippered breast pockets sewn onto the fold-down vent panels.
The Alpinestars Andes Pro Drystar jacket has a nice, soft collar edge, and the internal liner is mesh poly for venting and comfort. Zippers are YKK brand with two-way sliders for the front closure. I like the ability to open up from the bottom a bit. The sleeves are pre-shaped with accordion stretch panels on the elbows for comfort, plus two cinch straps on each arm for a customizable fit. A hook-and-loop waist adjustment belt allows further personalization of the fit.
When trying on the Andes Pro, I found I had to go up two sizes. I usually find Alpinestars’ sizing to be on the small side. However, I was surprised that I needed an XXL rather than my normal L. Take care when ordering if you aren’t buying from a local shop.
Upon careful examination, I found that the fit, finish, and construction quality is as good or better than typical moto offerings. There are no loose threads or mismatched seams. The proportions of the cut of the garment are excellent, and the jacket fits well, looks great, and is all-day comfortable.
I got my hands on this the Alpinestars Andes Pro a few months ago, and I’ve not reached in my closet for another jacket since. It gives me everything I need, plus the added level of protection of the Tech-Air Street system.
I’m not a racer, I’ve not crashed in a long time, and I do not intuit an upcoming disaster. Still, I figure that the cost of a Tech-Air system, amortized over the years, will be a lot cheaper than, say, a few broken ribs or worse.
Photography by Don Williams
Alpinestars Andes Pro Drystar Tech-Air Compatible Jacket Fast Facts
Colors: Black/Red; Light Gray/Black/Dark Gray/Red
Tech-Air Street System Price: $800 MSRP
Andes Pro Drystar Tech-Air Compatible Jacket Price: $550 MSRP