Alpinestars Bio Armor explained

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We’ve been making a big fuss over thin, flexible D3O, but it’s not the only choice if you’re looking for slimmer motorcycle armor. This Alpinestars Bio Armor may not be bright orange or come with science we hardly understand, but it is safe. 100 percent safer than traditional Alpinestars foam armor, for example, while only measuring about 1cm in thickness. It’s this that we’re installing in our safest tier of jacket as part of our as-yet-unnamed project to make actually good-looking, yet still safe motorcycle gear.

Check out this picture of a size large Bio Armor elbow guard (on the right) next to size small Alpinestars foam elbow guard (left). That foam protector on the left exceeds CE certification EN 1621-1 and is already only about 1.5cm thick and very flexible.

This chart compares that Bio Armor elbow guard to that foam elbow guard in the EN 1621 test. The foam armor, in white, exceeds the standard, but the thinner, more flexible Bio Armor averages 100 percent less force transmitted to the rider from the impact test. That’s huge. Bio Armor will be replacing the foam across the Alpinestars jacket range.

A, B and C are different locations being tested on the armor. A is above the elbow, B on the point and C is below. In the EN 1621 impact test, which is the standard all CE-approved joint armor is tested to, an 11lbs weight with a 1.5 x 1.0-inch striking face is propelled into the armor with 37lb/ft (50j) of energy. The average force transmitted through the armor must average 39kN or less.

That probably doesn’t mean much to you, but you likely have an idea of what it feels like to hit something with CE-certified foam armor. Cut that transmitted force in half and you have Bio Armor.

The company isn’t revealing the exact compound used in creating Bio Armor, but calls it a “specially formulated closed cell foam.” It feels like rubber and is malleable and flexible in a way that belies its contoured shape.

The EU is in the process of drafting a new certification level that will include tests in very hot and humid conditions of the kind that can soften traditional foam. Alpinestars claims Bio Armor is already tested to work in a wide variety of climactic conditions.

Comparing the safety of Bio Armor to D3O is frustratingly difficult as neither company publishes exact force transmission levels and we’re not equipped with a safety lab in which we could test them ourselves. Both products are similar in shape and size, with neither taking, at this early stage in the project, an apparent lead in wearability or comfort.

Where Bio Armor does appear to have a massive edge is in availability and cost. Kits which include a pair of elbow and shoulder protectors are widely available for around $40 while CE Level-1 Bio Armor back protector inserts are only $30.

Sewing starts tonight. Seriously, please help us come up with a name for this project.

  • Peter

    Kinda looks like the Knox stuff that came in my Corazzo jacket… Wonder if it’d be worth it to switch out to the thinner stuff.

    Call it the Defenestrator. It sounds badass. The meaning is a stretch but whatever.

    • Erica

      It’s definitely better than the knox in Corazzo. Corazzo has switched to SAS-Tec for their newer jackets.

  • Kevin

    I’d vote for Project: Motosexual.

    • Dan


  • the_doctor

    I thought Smith was your safety lab(rat).

    Sure, this is all well and good, but if you make crashing a non-issue, then everyone will be doing it.

    • Sean Smith

      I’ve tested the Bio Armor a few times actually.

      The stuff works great. The Astars Kinetic jacket I was wearing on friday night had this in the shoulders and elbows. Before sliding forever, I initially hit the ground with my right shoulder and arm, and they’re not even sore.

  • Kevin

    As an aside, is there some reason you guys don’t seem to do external links? You’d think that clicking on “Alpinestars Bio Armor” would lead to the AStars website, not to a search of that term on the HFL website.

    • Wes Siler

      That’s just basic SEO work and us crafting a future category page so that reading this article in 6 months will refer you to more content (planned) on the same subject. We link externally multiple times in virtually every single article.

      • Sean

        Wes, from your writing, it sounds like you kink in a lot of situations… nyuk nyuk.

        • Wes Siler

          Damn iPhone autocorrect.

  • Joel

    I like the idea of implementing safety gear subtly into well fitting clothing. Will someone pleeeease try out these hilarious shoes in the name of safety?

  • Ben

    I wonder how different this is from the pro-life or SAS-TEC armor I use in my jacket? Always eager for more protection with a lower profile.

    • Erica

      looking at those photos, the smaller armor is made by SAS-Tec. It’s the same as some that I have in a Dainese “city” jacket called the Triest that I bought about 3 years ago.

      • Ben

        Yeah, maybe? I have the Rev’It Ignition jacket, which i bought because it looks least like a power-ranger while still being pretty protective and not too hot. But comparing armor from company to company is impossible since everything is rebranded.

        • Erica

          The Rev’it ignition has pro life armor in it. Rev’it uses Knox in their cheaper stuff, pro life in mid range, and SaS-Tec in the high end stuff. Pro life is pretty good, but not quite up to the SaS-Tec protection.

          • Ben

            Yes, but I put the SaS-Tec back protector in it… so it’s a mix…. but how do these compare to this?

            • Erica

              Those SaS-Tec back protectors are badass. Probably one of the best you can buy. Rev’it sells them for something like $50.

  • Erica
    • Wes Siler

      What you mean there’s ANOTHER motorcycle gear company that sucks at marketing. I’m shocked and scandalized i tell you. Shocked and scandalized.

      • Erica


      • Erica

        Rev’it also uses SaS-Tec in their high end jackets like the cayenne pro and the defender. It’s a thicker version of it though.

        • Wes Siler

          Hmmm, it may be coincidence, but that SAS-Tec looks 100% identical to the Astars foam pictured above.

          • Wes Siler

            Yep, it even says SAS-Tec on it. Sorry, not impressed.

            • BenP

              Yeah, I just recently bought some SAS-TEC and it’s just ridiculously thick… and if it’s even remotely cold out, you might as well have a plank of wood against your back.

          • Erica

            yup… I was saying that in a comment up a little further. It’s identical to the dainese stuff that I have. The stuff Rev’it uses is a different one that they make.

      • Erica

        Oh yeah and Aerostitch

        • mcfaite

          Wait – Aerostitch uses SaS-Tec, or they suck at marketing?

          I was wondering how the flexible-until-hit material Aerostitch uses fits in with the other types of armor HFL has been discussing so far.

          Also, I’m interested to know how these flexi armors are affected by cold weather.

          • Ben

            My BMW Club 2 Jacket has their NP armor in the forearms and shoulders. I’m honestly not sure what that means as I can’t really find much info on it. Is it similar to the d3o? But I was riding this winter in about 22 degree Fahrenheit weather and the forearm armor FROZE. It wasn’t a huge deal as it froze in my natural riding position, but once I got off my bike I couldn’t extend my arms all the way as the armor was stiff.

          • Erica

            I’m not sure who makes the bmw np armor, but I’ve been told it’s the same sort of material that D3O and SaS-Tec use. The material definitely gets stiff and harder to move if it’s cold out, sometimes your body temp can keep it flexible, but not if it’s super cold temps. I’m not sure if that effects shock absorbance, but I’d guess not too much.

  • kneepuck

    There is a whole new generation of this soft armor hitting the market. I would love to see a comparison of Alpinestars Bio Armor, 3Do, and the BMW NP.

  • Darren

    I’ve found the d30 stuff fairly reasonably priced (30-40 per pair depending on application) as ‘optional’ inserts for various pieces of gear… Is that what you’re using? Add-on optional padding?

    seems like a cheap and effective way to go, since I already own clothes…

  • Steven

    Could this series also include detailed instructions for mounting armor securely into existing jackets? I would love to be able to take my Schott Bomber to a tailor or cobbler and know that the armor will remain in place when I need it.

    • Wes Siler

      That’s the idea, we’d like you guys to be able to do this too and I’m thinking about asking for readers submissions with some sort of prize.

  • robotribe

    Cool. So who of you is going to make the sacrificial hit to the pavement?

    • T Diver

      I think HFL is going to get Valentino Rossi to put them on and crash into Stoner again.

      • robotribe

        I think it’s Pedrosa’s turn to do that to Hayden again.

  • Stephen

    name for the project
    how about

    Kiss the Road Gently

    sounds nice to me, has that moto conotation and sounds a bit off kilter

  • jonoabq

    The SasTec back protector was being sold initially by a few companies for $25, while Aerostich was selling it for $125 (now only $100)? I’ve had one since last summer and while its great in the warmer months, its a rigid brick in the winter so I’ve switched almost everything with pockets to T-Pro. It’s hard to compare companies data in a way that directly translates to real world beyond the anecdotal “I decked doing x-mph and am still walking”. One of the biggest issues is not always energy transmission but getting/trimming/fitting decent aftermarket armor to pre-existing leathers.

  • Kyle

    Retro without a Cause

  • Mr.Paynter

    Project Suggestions:

    I actually really like the Clark Kent idea but here’s another:

    Less logos/PR on our gear and it could also be PowerRangerKillers to those in the know.

    • Bronson

      I like it!

  • ike6116

    The project could be: “In Search of Steve McQueen”
    seeing as how the idea is to look as normal / badass as him with gear that is stealthily protective.

    One might say you’re trying to make great escape from the conventional motorcycle garb. (wa-waaa)

  • Chris Davis

    I’m impressed with the engineering and manufacturing of the “soft armor”. It was able to hit exactly 100.0% in every test. I’m sure there’s nothing fishy about the in-house testing.

    • Wes Siler

      That 100% isn’t a measured percentage, it’s just a data point of performance to compare Bio Armor to. Lets say the foam transmitted 37kN of force in one of the impacts. That 37kN becomes 100% and the force transmitted by the Bio Armor is compared to it.

      It’s that way because no one that makes armor publicly reveals substantive performance data as some sort of annoying gentleman’s agreement.

  • Denzel


  • David

    Here’s a logo concept:

    Capital R and little r inside a circle with a diagonal line (Left to right, down) through both, i.e. anti-roadrash. The line name becomes “Arr”.

    • Lawrence


  • vale1005

    D30 inserts are in the same price point. Currently there are elbow & shoulder inserts in the $20 range…fyi
    Ive been doing a bunch of reading on D30. It appears to be very good. It’s my Samsung S4 and my daughters iPhone4. I’ve dropped my phone so often, I don’t even worry when I drop it.
    I just brought a Alpinestar T-GP Plus R Air Jacket, so I’m betting my body its very good too. =)