Last November I traveled to Valencia to watch the final race of the MotoGP season while on assignment for a men’s magazine. There I experienced Grand Prix motorcycle racing for the first time, and I can testify that it is the real-life version of Tron; only, in this case, the sleek and sensuous texture of the racing scenery seen in that film’s recent update has been replaced by piping hot pavement and deafening engine noise. (Try to conjure in your mind’s ear something to the tune of ten thousand chainsaws having violent sex with one another.) One can only imagine what it would feel like to crash while pushing 200 mph on one of these 800cc beasts.
It’s a problem riders have always had to grapple with, and this past year racing apparel company Alpinestars managed to make some headway toward solving it with the introduction of their Tech Air Race Suit. This thing is essentially a full-body airbag, and it points to a new era in driver safety for street racers. Accordingly, Popular Science just awarded it a spot on the 2011 edition of their “Best of What’s New” list, pointing out that the revolutionary new safety suit “can reduce the impact of a motorcycle crash to one tenth of what a racer wearing conventional body armor would suffer.” Maybe — just maybe — by that logic, anxious mothers across all street racing circuits will now be able to breathe 90% more efficiently. Cheers to that.