The most advanced motorcycle personal protection system just got a whole lot lighter: new at Sprocketz, the brand new Alpinestars Tech-Air® 3 Airbag Vest!
Lightweight, water-resistant, and versatile, the new Tech-Air® 3 is the perfect choice for your urban commute. However, it is not a replacement for the sturdier, back-protected Tech-Air® 5 Air Bag System. The Tech Air® 5 offers greater protection for highway speeds and track days as well as adventure style off-road riding (no jumps please). But what if your ride falls somewhere in between? Which one will really give you the best protection when you’re on your motorcycle? Well, we’ll give you the rundown on both, comparing the vest and the full system, so you can get all of the information you need to make a confident purchase.
Fit & Comfort
First off, the Tech-Air® 3 FINALLY comes fitted for women! Instead of a single line of sizes like the Tech-Air® 5, Alpinestars is offering a Stella-version of the 3. Rather than converting the men’s measurements to find your fit, you can order an airbag vest specifically designed for you.
And that fit is the only difference between the Stella and men’s version of the vest–everything else we cover for the Tech-Air® 3 in this article applies to both versions.
While both are fairly breathable, the Tech-Air® 3 is made with a bit thicker of a textile material than the Tech-Air® 5. This made it feel warmer when we first tried it on, though it does have air channels through the back, so on the road, we have better ventilation. It also comes with some water-resistance on the body. The electronics are fully waterproof so it won’t damage anything going through a downpour but it also isn’t going to keep you completely dry the same way a Gore-Tex jacket would. Because the Tech-Air® 3 can be worn as a top layer as well, it may allow you to dress somewhat lighter than the Tech-Air® 5.
On the other hand, the Tech-Air® 5 definitely feels thinner and cooler. It's as light as a tee shirt with a back pad. Keep in mind though, it’s made for one purpose: to keep you protected from impacts. Instead of a warmer, water-resistant material for comfort, its sleeves offer greater shoulder protection and the incorporated CE-Level 1 back-protector gives added impact protection. The Tech-Air® 3 does not come with a back protector, but does have a pocket to insert one. Most CE-Level 1 back-protectors that would fit start at $59.95, you could also upgrade to a CE-Level 2 back protector for around $69.95. However, both systems offer full back coverage with the airbag itself, so the traditional back protection is more of a backup anyways.
Under or Over?
An advantage of the Tech-Air® 3 is it can be worn over or under your current jacket, while the Tech-Air® 5 is meant to fit underneath a well-fitting jacket. This makes the new Tech-Air® 3 more versatile. Loose-fitting jacket? Easily wear the vest underneath it for comfortable protection. Have a tighter fit already? The vest will work just as well on the outside.
In contrast, the Tech-Air® 5 is made to fit underneath your jacket. This can make the fit a bit trickier. Alpinestars recommends having 4cm of extra room in the chest of your jacket to accommodate the vest when activated. While they do make jackets already fitted with extra room for the vest, any jacket with enough room will work. If you already have a tight fitting jacket, you should consider that extra cost and whether or not you’re ready to replace your current jacket.
For the air bag itself, both come with six sensors for quick, nearly instantaneous activation in the event of an accident. The biggest difference between the two: the Tech-Air® 3 can’t switch between Street and Race* Riding Modes like the Tech-Air® 5. The track mode on the Tech-Air® 5 disables the system under 12 miles per hour. This is only to prevent accidental activation in the pits. The Tech-Air® 3 is more ideal for urban riders. If you’re planning on longer highway trips or a possible track day, the Tech-Air® 5 would be the better option.
In the end, the choice really depends on how you ride. If you’re an urban commuter looking for some extra safety but still wanting versatility and some layer of comfort, the Tech-Air® 3 offers may be for you. Also consider the all weather usability of the Tech-Air® 3. If you’re going highway speeds more often than you’re cruising downtown, the additional protection of the Tech-Air® 5 would be the way to go.
Both versions of the Tech-Air® 3 are available for $599.95; you can purchase the men’s version here and the Stella version here.
The Tech-Air® 5 is available for $749.95 and you can purchase it right here.
*Race Riding Mode is intended for use on closed-roads and tracks only.