Alpinestars Bionic Air Back Protector: light, safe

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With this new Alpinestars Bionic Air Back Protector, the company set out to meet the latest CE safety standards while making the protector as light and small as possible. Addressing comfort means more people will wear it more of the time, which, in addition to the increased safety, means fewer back injuries.

As you can see, the protector is made from an outer shell of perforated polypropylene plates that can articulate with your back’s movements. The perforations reveal the honeycomb structure of the outer plates, which adds strength and prevents penetration and spreads impact forces across a wide area. Under that is honeycomb elastomeric foam which absorbs impact energy.

In addition to the standalone protectors which strap-on under a jacket or leathers, there’s also an $70 insert designed to fit the pocket on Alpinestars products.

The $120 Bionic Air is designed to meet the new EN1621‐2:2010 CE Level 1 back protector safety standard and has been designed to focus it’s protection around the spine, which needs it most. concentrating mostly on that area has allowed the company to produce a very light and very slim protector.

Even when Grant and I ride in jeans and leather jackets around town, we always wear a good back protector like these. They’re as essential a piece of riding gear as a helmet, if you don’t want to be paralyzed.


  • mugget

    Hmmm.. yeah I gotta get one of those.

    What do you reckon about the other protectors with built in chest protectors? I guess it’s just a cost/comfort trade-off…

    • Wes Siler

      Yeah, you sorta gotta figure out a system that works with your existing equipment. I just just started wearing chest protectors with my leathers, they fit into built-in pockets.

      • seanslides

        I’ve got those in my leathers as well. I’ve been looking at these guys for a little while for something better though. A friend of mine who had sternum broken by another riders stray boot (right where the inserts don’t cover) suggested I think about my armor a little more.

  • Dave H

    Looks nice, probably would eventually be an upgrade from my existing back protector.

  • Fredrik

    Interesting to see that such relatively expensive product from a brand like Alpinestars is only tested to CE level 1. I would’ve assumed that they achieved level 2.

    But I guess that’s what happens when stuff “needs” to be thin.

  • Devin

    I currently just have a Joe Rocket crash jacket I got on discount six years ago when I started riding. This year I want to gear up with pants/full gear. Not track quality, just something to be safer while on the roads.

    This item looks pretty good at a reasonable price. Have you guys published an article before on getting fully ATTGAT’ed for public roads for Dummies? I’m having trouble figuring out where to start.

    • BeastIncarnate

      There’s so much gear out there to choose from and so much confusing information – I can’t blame you for not getting started. It’s important to know your goals/expectations, environment, budget, and tolerance for inconvenience. From there, it’s a winding road of choosing the right material, fit, craftsmanship, armor, climate comfort, and all that jazz.

      A guide wouldn’t be a bad idea, though it’d have to be very general to not quickly go out of date.

    • Wes Siler

      We publish all sorts of material on safety equipment, but haven’t done any sort of comprehensive guide.

      Gear coverage falls under the safety tag:

      A lot of what will work for you depends on personal variables. Shop around, figure out what fits you in your price range, make sure you’re buying quality stuff, then look for deals online. Don’t discount the importance of fit both for comfort and safety.

    • miles_prower

      Also, check out Web Bike World. Not only do they publish their own opinion, but they also do a good job of referencing opinions of and research from other sources.

      For example, here’s an article about the Forcefield Sub 4 back protector. It’s definitely worth reading, even if you don’t plan to buy that particular one.

      • Devin

        Thanks for the links guys. Many good reads.

    • Kevin

      Devin, I’m in the same exact boat as you. Just started to learn about and shop for armor for daily commuting and occasional weekend trips.

  • Mark D

    Nifty piece of gear. I replaced the useless standard foam insert in my A* jacket mid summer with their RC back protector; much more solid feeling, but its just a single block of thicker foam. It feels damn uncomfortable, especially with a backpack on. $70 is a bargain when I spent $30 on the Quasimodo protector.

  • BeastIncarnate

    I can appreciate the “in jacket” version of the product, Alpinestars other options in that form factor are pretty low-end, but the full-size version doesn’t make much sense to me. A full back protector, straps and all, is inconvenient for daily wear. I don’t know anyone who wears one outside of track-use or aggressive street riding – ie, times where they’re especially concerned about protection. It’d be tough to justify going with this product over one of the many similarly-priced but more protective options available from T-Pro/Forcefield, Dainese, or even Astars themselves.

    • Fredrik

      I actually ride with a full back protector (straps and the works) every time I ride, even to and from work. What I should say is that I reside in Sweden, a country known for its safety obsession in traffic. Given that, I’d have to say that most people I know who ride bikes ride with a full back protector.

  • miles_prower

    I use a ForceField Back Protector, top-rated by RIDE magazine. It’s the most comfortable back protector I’ve even worn — much more so than the articulating Alpinestars protector and even the stiff-foam RC insert that Mark D mentions above.

    The Forcefield back protector is available in the US as the Joe Rocket Speedmaster.

  • Zach

    What has changed in the new CE standards?