Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 Airbag System Review: Safety for All

The Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 is the Italian manufacturer’s first standalone airbag offering, allowing riders to enjoy the added protection of an airbag system, regardless of the jacket they wear. With no cables or capability issues to worry about, the system represents a great value, as it extends the life and utility of riding jackets we currently own.

Before we dive in, we need to talk about use. This vest is designed exclusively for street riding and light off-road use, strictly. Those looking to hit the track should stick with the Tech-Air Race system and compatible garments, while hard-core off-road riders will have to stick to conventional impact protection, for now.

Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 Airbag System Review - For Sale

Featuring a slim cut, the Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 vest is designed to achieve as low a profile as possible, and we advise using the Alpinestars sizing guide will ensure that you get a close fit. Even with a snug fit, the Tech-Air 5 vest allows a full range of mobility, thanks to stretch panels under the armpits and on its sides.

There are some fitment considerations to keep in mind when not using a Tech-Air compatible jacket. Alpinestars recommends that any jacket paired with the Tech-Air 5 vest must have four centimeters (just over 1.5 inches) of extra space around the circumference of the user’s chest, to function and deploy properly. That’s a difficult measurement to discern. However, if you can wear a hoodie or sweatshirt under your riding jacket, and still move properly, you’ll be okay. If your jacket has a skintight-race-cut, then you’ll need to bump up a size. Also, remove any back armor, as this unit replaces it.

Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 Airbag System Review - MSRP

In terms of actual protection, the Tech-Air 5 is equipped with a heavily vented CE Level 1 back protector. The airbag provides ample amount of coverage, deploying in areas surrounding your chest, ribs, and the entirety of your back. Alpinestars claims that the airbag helps decrease impact forces by 95 percent when compared to conventional armor. The amount of protection provided by a successfully deployed airbag is the equivalent of eighteen CE Level 1 protectors or nine CE Level 2 protectors.

Three gyroscopes and three accelerometers rapidly detect when things are going south and relay that information to the triggering computer. Depending on the size of your vest, the Tech-Air 5’s airbag will deploy in times ranging from 20-to-40 milliseconds (1/50 to 1/25th of a second). Our size Large vest should inflate in roughly 25 milliseconds.

Ventilation is a consideration in warm places such as Southern California, and Alpinestars designers have done their best to ensure positive airflow by utilizing breathable perforated fabric everywhere. Still, it is an extra layer and will decrease the amount of air felt, especially when riding at low speeds. My solution is always to wear a sweat-wicking base layer and ditch my t-shirt for the day. Wearing the vest is a slight compromise in comfort, but it’s one I’m willing to make for higher levels of safety.

Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 Airbag System Review - Marc Márquez
Marc Márquez can wear one, though not on the track

Ease of use will appeal to owners, as the Tech-Air 5 is ready to go once you’ve zipped it up and secured the magnetic flap. The LED display at the bottom indicates the number of deployable charges and battery life left. After 30 hours of riding, you’ll need to recharge with the provided Micro-USB charger.

Software updates can be made via Bluetooth with the Tech-Air App from a smartphone. Additionally, you’ll also be able to review data from the ride, remaining battery life, charge, and more.

Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 Airbag System Review - Smartphone compatible

The Tech-Air 5 is equipped with one charge only. If you’ve taken a tumble and your airbag has deployed, you will need send the vest back to Alpinestars to be repacked with new compressed-air canisters and a fresh airbag membrane at a cost of $300.

At $700, the Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 airbag system is a relatively affordable way into the pricey world of motorcycle airbag system, saving you the cost of investing in compatible jackets.

Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 Airbag System Fast Facts

Sizes: XS-4XL

Color: Dark Gray/Black

Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 Airbag System Price: $700 MSRP

Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 Airbag System Photo Gallery