Kawasaki Ninja 300 Forums banner
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I've been looking at air bag vests and I saw that they are becoming more affordable, so I did some research and may be getting one soon.

It looks like for around $600-800 you can get either a tethered outsider vest or an electronically controlled vest to wear under the jacket or suit.
But the ones controlled by a computer, Dainese and Alp* as far as I know, have to be recharged by the manufacturer, and it's expensive, so in the end, the tethered ones are cheaper when you crash.

The one that I like the most is the Alp* Tech Air 5, mainly because it covers the shoulders and seems to cover more of your upper body in general. Even though Hit Air (made in Japan I guess) claim to have the largest volume when deployed.
Tech Air 5 costs $750. Then, around $200 for each of the first two deployments. When it deploys for the third time, you have to get a new bladder too, so $300-400.

Is anyone using them? Any testimonies of real-life deployments?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
315 Posts
I am using the TechAir 5, had it since about a year ago now. Fortunately, I have not experienced a deployment myself, but I enjoy the comfort in all weather conditions, long battery life, simple operation, and ease of use. Sizing was a bit strange, because I am 155lbs, and 6'. I turned out to be a small, but for jackets and shirts and the like, I am usually a medium. But also to take into account that this fitment is for an airbag, not a jacket or shirt. I tried on both sizes at a dealer actually, and found the medium to be too loose/baggy, and thought it was less safe if it could move around on my body too much, before or during a deployment. Plus, the smaller size technically deploys faster, lol.

Updating was a pain, took a few tries but eventually went and it's fine now. I honestly rarely ever have to charge it, and I use it a ton. The claimed 30hr(?) battery life is so much that I usually cannot remember the last time I charged it by the time I need to charge it again. The LEDs indicated a "full charge" until about 25% battery life remaining (8 hrs IIRC) in which case, I just throw it on the charger then after that day's ride. I thought I would hate having to charge yet another electronic riding device, especially a safety-critical one at that. But they really have made it so good that I don't ever worry about it being low, and it almost always never is. The magnetic USB charging cable is great as well, it's like an old-school macbook charger. Impossible to damage, you won't wear out the actual micro-USB port, and it looks nice.

The app is pretty lame. You have to use it to change between street and track mode, which is really the only interaction I have with the app. For some reason, the bluetooth "range" on the airbag is super bad. I literally have to place my phone onto the airbag control module to establish a connection stable enough to perform the change. This isn't a huge problem though, it's basically akin to just plugging it into a computer to make the change, but not a deal breaker. Also, when you change street/track modes, the app crashes every single time for me. Kinda dumb. But I always re-launch the app, and verify the setting has changed, and that the setting is changed by the change in LED indicator behavior (the LEDs won't indicate a full system arming when not moving in track mode, unlike street mode). The app is usable, and records total system hours as well, which is helpful for sending the unit in at 500hrs when it's due for a diagnostic check.

The comfort is quite good with Astars TechAir enabled suits and jackets, I have one of each currently. I have the Missile Ignition suit and jacket set, and the TechAir 5 fits under both perfectly. Some people complain they have to try super hard to keep the "sleeves" of the airbag from scrunching up into their armpits when they put the suit on. I don't really have this problem, but it's probably because I am super lanky and skinny, but when I finally pull up the last sleeve on my suit, I always check with my hands that the sleeves of the bag are pulled down my arms as far as they can go, not hard. A deployment with the airbag scrunched might make it fail or hurt excessively, so keep that in mind. A non-issue, just a disclaimer.

Of course as I said, I haven't experienced a deployment in mine, but I personally know some track rats who have, and they have also experienced the V1 track-focused airbag deployments in actual crashes. They all said it was like falling on pillows - as much as one probably could expect, comparing that to crashing with no bag. Of my track riding clubs, everyone who has crashed in an airbag (of my anecdote) has sustained no serious back, neck, shoulder, spinal, or collar bone injuries at the track. Mostly just broken fingers, some leg/foot injuries, or similar recoverable things.

The crash experience I had unfortunately was prior to me buying the airbag - of course the crash prompted me to buy it lol. I crashed with a Level 2 CE D3O back protector in a suit, and sustained non-bone and non-nerve damage to my spine (among other things). Luckily no fractures or spinal cord damage, but super sore disc or other soft tissue damage messed me up for a while. To this day 2 years later, I still get a sore back if I have bad posture or slouch too much, but it's all muscular, the other tissue(s) have healed. I just need to workout more now...
I say all that to say that I took an impact to my spine with a standard Level 2 CE protector in a suit, and it probably is why I can walk today. If I had the airbag on that day, I probably would have had little to no back injuries at all. The claims on the TA5 are something like 9x better impact distribution than a LVL 2 CE passive protector. Boy, I would have liked an order of magnitude in reduction in that impact.

I'd give the TA5 a solid 8/10, without having crashed in it yet. If you think you'll be going through recharges a ton at the track, I'd either invest in 2 units, or just eat the cost of the recharges. It's more than literally just new canisters of Argon, it's a full electronic diagnostic as well. They wash the airbag, check all the systems, replace the Argon canisters, and run diagnostics. I'd rather pay the extra couple hundred after a crash to get a verified, good working order airbag back than save a few bucks on recharges. But of course if you'll have 10 recharges a season, might be cause for consideration of other options.

That's my take on the TA5. Hope this helps man!
-Mike
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Great write up, Mike! Thanks a lot.

I think, and hope, that I won't be crashing much, :) I'm not a crasher. But I would definitely feel very stupid if I crashed and got hurt without having one of these on now that they aren't that expensive.
Hopefully, as more people adopt them and more companies start making them, they will get better and cheaper.

Did you buy your suit and jacket to accommodate for the vest? Or you bought the vest and it just fit well under your current suit and jacket?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
315 Posts
I bought the suit and jacket actually first, but with the intent to soon after put the TA5 in them. I sized them pretty normally, the suit fit great with my old passive back+chest protector, with a bit of space around my torso, since I am skinny. The airbag fit really similarly to my old chest+back protector setup inside the suit. As long as you sized your suit or jacket to accommodate passive impact absorbing gear underneath, the TA5 will fit easily under there in its place.

Glad to hear you're not a crasher, push the limits slow! Smart choice adopting an airbag. I'll post on the forums if I have a crash with it on, so hopefully not soon!

-Mike
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I see more and more air bag vests at the track now, and many of them are people who 'crashed, got hurt, then bought the air bag'. So, I thought to get the air bag BEFORE crashing and getting hurt.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
120 Posts
I have the Hit Air vest that tethers to the bike. I brought 3 tethers for my 3 bikes. I have had it for going on 3 seasons. I crashed tested it last season at the track. I don’t remember the crash. I had a concussion and grade 1 shoulder separation. Ambulance ride to the ER. The vest did it’s job and deployed. I guess the right shoulder injury would have been worse without it and who knows what other injuries. I just had too replace the canister which was $30. I got the vest from NYST for $500 and a free track day. I wear it every session at the track, it fits over my jacket or 1 piece suit with no problem. Any type of air vest is worth the money IMO.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Nice! I guess it's always better to have it than not.

I pulled the trigger and ordered the Tech-Air 5 from Cycle Gear. They had an 'open box' item with a 10% off still full warrantied and the option to change the size or return.
I will have it at my local Cycle Gear shop to try it under my suit.

It kind of hurt to spend $700 that could perfectly have gone to suspension or brakes upgrades or just track time, but I'm over it already. Hopefully I won't test it, and if I do, hopefully I won't get hurt.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
I personally have the Klim ai-1. I know it requires a "subscription" but u do have the option to pay $400 for a lifetime sub (so $800 total essentially the same as everyone else)

The reason I recommend it is that unlike any of the other tetherless systems out there the ai-1 provides full C-spine immobilization. & it works. I crashed on track & it deployed perfectly. I couldn't move my head after deployment. As an EMT I'll tell you, c-spine protection should be your #1 concern. Your breathing is controlled in your neck. So even if your chest is fine if your neck is broke you could stop breathing.

The canisters are $100 to replace. Klim sends a leak tester with the new canister so you can do it yourself. They do want it back to "check for integrity" after the 3rd deployment.

It fits a touch small but that makes sense since it's designed to fit under any jacket.

It includes an integrated back protector which is nice.

I know its gotten a lot of grief but I'm personally 100% satisfied with it.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I received my Tech Air 5.
The fitting of the vest itself is good. Not too tight, not too loose.

I used it at the track one day so far. It's kind of a pain to put and close the suit with the vest on, but once closed, it doesn't feel too bulky or restrictive. I have to say that my suit fits me a bit loose, so the vest fills the gap.
It's not clear how much room has to be under the jacket/suit to allow the vest to inflate, but it's surely not supposed to be tight.

The day at the track was overcast and around 80 degrees. When I was riding, I didn't fell hot at all, but when I came out, I had sweated much more than usual. The vest stops all air flow on the upper body.

I still have to use it in the street. However, the jacket I use for street rides is tighter than the one-piece suit that I use on the track. It feels tight with the vest under it. It still allows me to move well, but I'm dubious if there is enough space for the vest to inflate. Eventually I may a get a new jacket.

All in all, I'm not coming back. The vest is a keeper. Hopefully, as more people use it, it will be more clear how much room is needed between the jacket and the vest, and how reliable the computer is.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
---
Airbag was a nice touch as well. After my last wreck on the roads, I was winded and everything everywhere just kinda hurt, even the parts without broken bones. But this time I got out with just some sore muscles. Would have been awful if my spine or ribs took a hit. The airbag worked exactly as it was designed to, and I will absolutely be getting it serviced, and maybe picking up the new TA10 airbag when the funds are available. Epic tech that would have sucked to not have when learning to push my limits. If you folks don't have one, you will be so happy to have had it after having an accident, and I bet the price of the TA5 airbag will come down eventually with the release of the 10.
---
So, you got the Tech Air 5. How do you like it so far?

I've got a little problem with mine. When I try to use it in Race mode, I see the lights in the vest doing the checks and then staying in 'waiting to activate' mode. Then I go, do my session and when I come back in the pits the lights are in the same mode, so I don't know if the system did or did not activate while I was riding.
In RACE mode, the system shuts down if the speed drops under certain threshold. I guess it's about 25 or 35 mph.
It's kind of annoying not being able to check what the system is doing.
I tried to contact Alpinestars in different ways about this, but never got a reply, Emails not answered and calls not picked up, so also somehow disappointed with AS customer service.
For the moment, I'm using it always in STREET mode,

Post back on your experience on recharging the system.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
315 Posts
Will do!

Indeed, the use-case situation for Race Mode with the LEDs is designed poorly. The experience you have is the same one I have. It stays in check mode until you move fast enough, and supposedly deactivates after some period of time not moving fast enough. Indeed it is annoying not being able to check the status, especially with the TA5 because the LEDs are on your stomach.... under your suit. Lol.

That said, I had to just blindly trust that it was working, and in my crash on Saturday on the track it did in fact work as I expected.

I suspect your contacting AS customer service may have been a poor experience because the representatives probably do not know the answer to your question. I suspect they don't have the intimate knowledge of the programming of the device, and that is probably intentional. Like the instruction manual even admits, there are instances where the airbag unit will do you no good, and just says you are liable for your own safety blah blah. I would think the same applies to customer service reps knowing too much about the system's programming. Imagine if the customer service rep began to try and explain to you how the system has a "(Insert unintelligible programmer jargon) that causes a momentary shift in the airbag's logic loop" that allows a situation where you as the user could be not protected. Oh no! You mean this isn't super safe?

Them admitting there may be an issue is probably bad for their business, as bad as it may sound. The reps are probably just told to tell people how safe the airbag is, and how many people it helps, and how many injuries it reduces. Not why the LED indicator sucks when you're wearing a required garment on top of the vest, or why you can't tell after the fact if the airbag was working on track.

But, the TA10 model resolves this issue, and has a externally locatable LED panel, allowing you to mount the LEDs on your arm, dash on the bike, tank, or what have you. I think I would greatly enjoy that feature, even if the LED programming is still the same. Have confidence going into every corner knowing the system is still active, or know immediately if it shuts down or has an internal failure.

My TA5 ran over 300 hours prior to my crash, I would say that is pretty good reliability.

I think I will recharge the TA5, and then buy a TA10 once the hype settles and more come in stock, and they resolve the up-front bugs people find in the first batch. I'll share my stories with the Astars recharging program in the coming weeks as well.

I would give the protection it offered me 5 stars though. If anyone here is on the fence, my god, just go buy an airbag. I don't know how well the others work, but this probably allowed me to just get up off the floor and not get winded, and probably prevented minor back injuries or collar bone stuff. It was a gentle crash, but still probably 60mph or so onto the road and off a curb.

Best investment I've made in this glorious hobby since day 1.

-Mike
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the comments.

I'm also interested in the Tech Air 10. The only thing that makes doubt is that it looks very difficult to put it on and off. At my track org, I have 40 mins wait between each 20 mins sessions. I'm afraid taking it off and put it back on after each session may be a pain. But keeping it on for 40 mins in South Florida heat may be brutal. You're basically wearing a plastic bag. LOL.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
315 Posts
That is a good point. I thought of that as well, basically a onesie lol. Although I've ridden around a fair bit in last year's heatwave here in the Pacific NW, and the TA5 itself was not much hotter than my passive back+chest armor. I suspect that at least when you are moving, it must be quite ventilated, and hopefully ventilated enough for when you're not moving.

Guess I haven't thought about it as much, but you are right - I absolutely do take off my airbag vest between sessions as well. I usually leave my suit on my legs and just undo the top and take a seat. Might be a bit toasty...

Looking closely at the TA10, it appears the side of the chest area is where the zipper lies. So I guess you scrunch in through the left pectoral area. Probably not easy to jump in and out of real quick... Lol.

Good point though. Definitely something I will consider before purchasing. Maybe it'll get real nasty real fast too in the heat lol.

-Mike
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
...
Guess I haven't thought about it as much, but you are right - I absolutely do take off my airbag vest between sessions as well. I usually leave my suit on my legs and just undo the top and take a seat. Might be a bit toasty...
...
That's exactly what most of us do and that's where the TA10 may be a pain. If you leave it on, you get toasted, but to take it off, you need to completely take off the suit.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
696 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
A little update on my Tech Air 5.

I finally saw it activated in Race mode.
At the track I had only seen the green and orange lights indicating that the system was trying to activate before and after the session.
Then I turned it on in Race mode while driving the car, but it never activated. It looks like the gentle car movement is not enough to activate it in Race mode.
Then I went to a known spot in the local highways where I can safely do some spirit riding including corners, acceleration, and braking. I connected the phone to the TA5 and rode for five minutes. Then I stopped on the side of the road and checked on the phone that the TA5 was 'ACTIVATED'. I did it again and got the same result, so I rode back home with peace of mind.
It looks like it needs at least some spirit riding to get activated in Race mode.

Now I'm more confident to use it in Race mode at the track. So far, I had the feeling that it wasn't activating at the track, and if used in Street mode I was concerned of the vest deploying in an unneeded situation.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top