July 19, 2005 A few weeks back we reported rumours of AlpineStars developing a motorcycle leather “cooling system” and our belief that the system was used by American Renegade Koji Honda rider Ben Bostrom at the Misano (Italy) round of the World Superbike Championships. Now further details have come to light confirming the information that he was using a prototype of a new Alpinestars cooling system incorporated into his Alpinestars Tech back protector. Codenamed Embedded Air, the innovative project is part of Alpinestars’ on-going ‘Cool Rush’ program, which is looking at many new technologies specifically targetting the area of rider cooling. The entire Embedded Air system adds only 200g to the weight of the Tech back protector, while tests have shown the level of protection it offers isn’t adversely affected.
Several other Alpinestars’ MotoGP riders like US MotoGP winner Nicky Hayden, John Hopkins, Kenny Roberts Jr. and Shane Byrne have also utilised the system, which provides a beneficial cooling effect where the active area of the back protector drops significantly in temperature for up to 40 minutes.
The system sees a small, lightweight fan built into the top of the back protector and held firmly in place between hard foam bosses, while several intake holes drilled into the hard plastic armour above the fan allow air to be sucked in while the rider is stationary, for example while waiting on the grid for a race to commence.
The fan is powered by a slim, ultra lightweight battery pack, also concealed within the protector itself. When on the move the air is forced into the protector simply by the motion of the bike, but the air circulation itself only tells part of the story.
Embedded into the shock absorbant foam of the protector are two frozen gel inserts that run along the rider’s spine, which provide an immediate cooling effect as soon as the protector is worn. But next to these are two special frozen sponges that melt at a controlled rate, infusing a slow release of cool water, which is then distributed along a 50cm length of a special channeled mesh.
This mesh allows both the cool water and the circulating air to be distributed relatively evenly along its length, the two combining to lower the temperature by around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) for the first 10 minutes, with a constant, noticeable cooling effect for the following 30 minutes of around 45 degrees Fahrenheit (around 7 degrees Celsius).
The Embedded Air back protector was certainly a plus for Bostrom at Misano, where the on-track temperature was nearing a scorching 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). “It felt really nice, especially when I was sitting out on the Misano grid for so long during for race one,” Bostrom said, adding: “Instead of getting really hot, you’ve just got this cool feeling down your back.”
The system was used by Hayden, Hopkins, Roberts Jr and Byrne at the MotoGP event at Laguna Seca, as part of Alpinestars’ commitment to the constant development of motorcycling safety, protection and human performances technologies.