While off-road motorcycles continue to attain new heights in technological advancements such as fuel injection and traction control, so too has protective gear been making significant strides, albeit with perhaps a little less fanfare.Improvements in road-race protection have ushered in high-tech suits outfitted with new energy-absorbing materials, accelerometers, and automatically deployed internal airbags.
Fortunately for dirt enthusiasts, these innovations have had a trickle-down effect. The CE-certified body armor now available is eons ahead of the old plastic clamshell JT chest protector I wore as an amateur.The Alpinestars Bionic Tech Jacket is really not a jacket at all. It is more akin to an ergonomically protective exoskeleton in the form of an undergarment for your entire upper body. The spine and chest protection feature CE Level 2 protection, while the shoulders, elbows, and forearms receive CE Level 1.CE protection ratings are a bit cryptic, but the critical thing to know is that Level 1 protection is good and Level 2 is even better when it comes to energy absorption capabilities. Consider the fact that none the old-style chest protectors and roost guards are CE-rated, and we’re talking serious step up in protection.Usually, and fortunately, we typically don’t test the impact protection of safety apparel. However, I was wearing the Alpinestars Bionic Tech Jacket during a huge get-off, so I have a first-hand story.There I was, early morning on my test loop, like I have done hundreds of times before, testing a Yamaha YZ250FX. Over a high-speed crest on a whooped-out section of ridgeline, I landed the front-end on the downhill side normally.Somehow, the front suddenly tucked, slamming my body down, cartwheeling the test bike (sorry Yamaha), and starting a slide that terminated 40 feet from the initial point of contact. I was fortunate to walk away with only a few bruises on my hips and thighs—no Bionic Tech protection for them.With the back-story out of the way, here’s what I love about the Alpinestars Bionic Tech Jacket:1. It’s comfortable, so I hardly realize I’m wearing it. I wear this protection all the time, whether I’m play-riding, training, or racing. In the summer months, I wear it against my bare skin with a vented jersey over it. In winter months, I’ll start with a Spandex shirt with the Bionic Tech jacket on top of that, followed by a jersey. If it’s really cold, I add an enduro jacket.2. The level of upper body protection is unmatched. Not only is it CE-certified for impact absorption, but the protection stays in place while sliding across Mother Nature, facilitated by the stretch fit and built-in kidney belt.3. The elbow and forearm protection fit well. The myth that elbow protection can contribute to arm pump is just that—a complete myth. Moreover, with the clever cinch system, it’s completely adjustable, so even riders with Popeye-like forearms will have to look elsewhere for arm pump excuses.4. I can comfortably wear it underneath my adventure backpack. Previous incarnations of body armor were always problematic for adventure riding with a backpack, always chafing at the neck opening and feeling loose and out of balance in technical riding scenarios. Since the protection is integrated into the Alpinestars Bionic Tech jacket, I can comfortably wear a pack on top and feel snug and balanced.5. It stays fresh, and the elastane stretch mesh is lightweight and easy to clean—I do a quick hand-wash in my laundry sink. If I forget, I typically get a friendly reminder from a buddy, or at least a hint that my gear bag needs to go in the bed of the truck rather than the back seat.So, if you are riding and racing with only a roost-guard (what we now call an old-style chest protector), it’s time to elevate your protection to CE standards with the Alpinestars Bionic Tech jacket. Consider this your wake-up call. You’ll be glad you did the next time you find yourself doing an unplanned high-speed body slide.
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Motos and Friends—the weekly Podcast brought to you by the editorial team at Ultimate Motorcycling.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
In this week’s first segment, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the much anticipated Yamaha MT-10 SP. That’s the model with the Ohlins semi-active suspension. It’s only been available in Europe for the last couple of years, but finally the good news is, that it’s coming to America. The big question is, whether the extra 3k you’re going to have to pony up for the Ohlins is actually worth it, or perhaps there’s just not that much improvement over the stock KYB suspension that has suited the Yamaha MT-10 so well until now?
In the second segment, Associate Editor Teejay Adams chats with Val Collins. Val grew up on motorcycles and learned to love speed, however her real love is Formula 1 tunnel-boat racing. These are the guys and gals that are strapped into a tiny cockpit and then hurtle down the straights at 120 mile per hour and pull 5G in the corners. We attended the recent season finale in Lake Havasu and watched our friend Mike Quindazzi try to take the win. Val chats with Teejay about her love for two-wheels and tunnel-boats. Yeah, it’s crazy stuff.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode and have a great Thanksgiving Holiday!