Alpinestars Supertech. Italian company Alpinestars has been making motorcycle gear for over 50 years and has developed some of the best protection in that time, but has never ventured into off-road helmets until now. A high performance helmet was a risky product for Alpinestars because designing a helmet of this class from scratch is a major undertaking. But the company did the impossible.
Today, cross-country helmets have to be more than safe to be truly effective. They should also fit well on the head, be comfortable, provide adequate ventilation and be moderately light so as not to cause fatigue while riding. So when the company debuted its premium Supertech M10 helmet in January 2018, to say the entire industry was at a loss was a massive understatement. Will it be a triumph or a failure? Luckily, everything went perfectly.
The helmet has been in development for five years. The company took their time and decided to create the most advanced, lightweight, well-ventilated helmet. At the beginning of the project, Alpinestars and set the primary and secondary goals: to create the most effective protection and provide excellent ventilation, comfort and weight reduction.
The main goal was to allow riders to push the limits of performance with confidence-inspiring safety technologies, reduced weight distribution to minimize muscle stress in the neck, shoulders and back, and improve physiological and cognitive function with an exceptionally well-fitting and well-ventilated design that optimizes ride comfort.
We recently had the opportunity to test this product and the first thing we immediately noticed about the M10 is its light weight. The shell is made of carbon and the helmet in size M weighs only 1260 grams. It is much lighter than most top helmets. When we compared models from Troy Lee Designs, 6D Helmets, Fly Racing, Shoei, Arai and Bell, none of them hit the 1360g mark. In fact, the lightest helmet we weighed was the Troy Lee Designs SE4 Carbon (size M), which weighed in at 1400 grams, which is quite far from the weight of the M10.
The raised and cushioned area of the helmet design on the sides reduces the forces that act on the collarbone. The base of the M10 has special curves, the lower profile is slightly raised so that the helmet does not press on the collarbone. There is also a special cushion made of flexible rubber. If the helmet still touches the collarbone, then the lower edge will bend a little, but will not press. The chin guard is made of polypropylene, which flexes when needed, which also helps to protect the collarbone. In addition, the helmet is equipped with an ERS system (Emergency Removal System)
Alpinestars Supertech Ventilation
Ventilation has been an important item in Alpinestars research and development process. As soon as we hit the track, we noticed that this helmet lets a lot of air through, noticeably more than other off-road helmets we have tested recently. As a result of Alpinestars thermal mapping testing, a special air duct has been developed that creates a positive flow into the helmet above and around the rider’s head, which improves riding comfort and reduces heat stress in extreme conditions.
Alpinestars Supertech Visor
The S-M10 visor is not adjustable as usual, i. does not have screws to hold it in place, and uses three round points to secure it. This allows the visor to come off from any direction since you don’t always know which way you are going to fall. This minimizes unnecessary head jerking and the only downside is that the visor is not adjustable.
The design of the visor is also a very innovative part of the ventilation system as it is profiled to direct the airflow and acts as a channel to concentrate and smooth out the flow in the case.
The Supertech M10’s interior liner scheme is designed to optimize airflow around the rider’s head before exiting through the rear exhaust ports. The visor design also features a patented attachment/release system that fits snugly into the helmet shell. This makes the helmet even more original and seamless. The visor snaps into place and stays in place until the right level of resistance causes it to release and detach from the helmet to cushion any rotational forces that would otherwise be transferred to the rider’s head, brain or neck in the event of a fall.
Alpinestars Supertech Materials
In terms of safety aspects of the M10, the carbon shell features a multi-composite combination of 3K high density carbon on the outer layer, a unidirectional carbon composite layer (which provides greater radial strength around the shell, preventing compression but allowing deflection to be controlled to reduce transmitted impact energy) and an aramid fiber layer , which provides critical penetration protection.
This multi-layered shell is surrounded by a high-density, four-layer EPS liner that absorbs impact forces dissipated across the outer shell. The EPS liner itself is made up of four parts, which means that the most impacted sections can respond with different protection densities. And it all works in conjunction with the MIPS multi-directional impact compensation system.
MIPS and similar technologies are becoming more common in helmet construction these days. This is an impact protection system that uses a low friction glide layer between the comfort padding liner and the EPS layer, allowing for slight independent movement to dampen, redirect and reduce stress on the brain and neck, helping to reduce the chances of a concussion. The key word here is “reduce”. This system will not prevent a concussion from a very hard impact.
There are many types of “helmet technology” in our world, so study and determine which one you believe in the most. Again, as with neck protection technology, you have to take the scientific information and decide for yourself which one you trust the most.
Other benefits of the Alpinestars M10 shell and EPS liner are the patented A-Head system as well as hydration system compatibility. The A-Head system allows the helmet to be adjusted exactly to the height and angle of the helmet on the head of the riders. The micro-adjustable cushion, which is connected to the inner shell of the helmet, allows you to raise or lower the helmet, as well as tilt the helmet forward or backward. It’s easy to use and adjust, but we found that a rider of average height needed to use thicker cheek pads to fill in the area inside the helmet.
It is also important to note that the company has not forgotten the enduro riders, and just those who spend a lot of time in the saddle, chasing off-road. On either side of the chin behind the cheek pads is a channel for a hydrant tube or similar system. It’s cool that Alpinestars includes a bit of “off-road”.
Each size of the Alpinestars Supertech M10 helmet comes with its own signature carbon shell and EPS liner construction. This not only ensures that riders have the correct fit, but most importantly, improves helmet protection and performance in the event of an impact (while optimizing weight across the entire size range).
The Alpinestars Supertech M10 is DOT and ECE certified and comes in six different sizes from XS to XXL.
As for the practical part of the test, the M10 is very comfortable and great at speed. The fit system allows the rider to fine-tune the angle at which the helmet sits on the head for comfort and goggle positioning. Everyone who tested this model liked this option.
Overall, we were satisfied with the Supertech M10: the sound level inside the helmet was average, while the ventilation was very good. In fact, we could not find any serious shortcomings. However, I would like to draw attention to three aspects.
The top vents on the front of the chin have no screen and they fill up quickly with dirt. The vents at the top of the helmet were not flush, allowing dirt to accumulate on the helmet. And finally, the exterior design of the helmet is a major part of the company’s identity – and not to everyone’s taste. It’s more space age than organic form.
Testing helmets for visibility is one thing, but wanting to wear one every time we train or race says a lot more about the quality of a helmet. And not only in terms of comfort and appearance, but also peace of mind, as we trust in the protective qualities it provides.
All in all, Alpinestars has come up with a great looking product and there is no doubt that the design and construction is cutting edge. Our only suggestion for them in the future is to develop a cheaper version as well.