; We crash. We tip over. We tumble
and sometimes we break. We all
know the deal and happily sign on
anyway. If off-road riding is part of
your lifestyle, you know that accidents come with the territory and
consider it part of the contract, like
marriage and going to a Broadway
show once in a while. It’s a price you
have to pay. It’s possible, however, to
pay a little less when the time comes
by wearing the best protection available. That’s where the people at
Alpinestars come in. They’ve been
striving to make the best protection
gear possible for racers. That doesn’t
mean you have to be in an ATV
National to consider wearing
Alpinestars stuff. It will work just as
well in the dunes and on the trail.
NECK TO TOE
Here are some of the products that
we’ve tested recently.
BIONIC NECK SUPPORT
We hold some truths as self-evident.
At the top of the list: more protection is
better than less. Neck supports are
now worn by the majority of riders on
the line and are creeping into the
trail-riding world. Along with Leatt,
Alpinestars has established itself as
one of the two big players in this field.
The idea of all neck supports is to prevent the neck from extending to the
front or rear beyond its normal range
of motion. In a crash, the base of the
helmet hits the support and distributes that energy over the upper chest
and shoulders. The Alpinestars BNS
Tech Carbon has a number of key features. Its construction is of a carbon
polymer compound and is very lightweight. It also has a quick-release,
locking rear stabilizer over the upper
spine in the back. And, the fit can be
customized with interchangeable
EVA foam pads.
We’ve been riding with the BNS for
several months and consider it virtually unnoticeable. In normal riding
situations, you simply don’t know it’s
there. At first, the support seems a little obtrusive because it’s difficult to
look at your feet before the ride starts.
The solution is to not look at your feet;
put your boots on first. The best feature of the Alpinestars BNS is the
latching system. It’s super easy to
install or remove. You can even put on
the support after your helmet, and
with the latch in front, it comes off easily. On the trail, the support can move
up and down slightly, but there doesn’t seem to be any downside to this. If
you use it with the A- 8 Light chest protector, there are little elastic bands
that prevent this.
We’ve become big fans of the BNS.
The price is a little severe, at $349.95,
but like all protective gear, if you need
it, it’s a bargain.
Knee braces are still an acquired taste.
The Alpinestars Fluid Tech is light and
has excellent patella protection.
A- 8 LIGHT CHEST PROTECTOR
There’s a big personal preference
factor when it comes to chest protec-
tors. The Alpinestars A- 8 Light is for
the rider who likes it small, light and
unobtrusive. It has front and rear
panels without anything covering the
shoulders, elbows or sides. If you’re a
racer, the roost protection is substan-
tial in front, and the back protection is
as good as anything available. In the
center of the back guard, it has a pad
that can limit head movement to the
Gearing up for maximum protection
By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Alpinestars still doesn’t sell full sets
of riding gear in the U.S. The company
specializes in protection for the neck,
chest, knees and feet.