Alpinestars has long been a company known for its protective garb, from armored clothing to pads. This year is no different, of course, but there's also a wealth of standard mountain bike clothing on hand with which you might not be quite as familiar.
All new for 2013 is the US$190/£154 Comp Pro Top with three-layer chest, shoulder, rib, and back padding built into its short-sleeved nylon shell. The cut is snug and trim to reduce padding migration and minimize bulk underneath jerseys, while mesh panels also aid ventilation. Padding panels can be removed completely, for washing, or selectively for a better fit with increasingly common neck protectors – such as Alpinestars' Bionic Neck Support.
Users can pair the top with the matching US$60/£48 Comp Pro Shorts, which feature the same skintight fit and ventilated mesh construction but with pads located around the hips, tailbone, and outer and upper thighs. Up top is a straightforward elastic waist, while the leg openings are augmented with silicone grippers to help keep the shorts in place.
Compared to the Comp Pro range's softshell exterior, the US$130 MTB Bionic Back Protector sticks with a more traditional plastic hardshell for a little extra protection against hard objects. Alpinestars constructs the back panel with five separate, overlapping and interlocking segments, to boost flexibility over one-piece units, and the upper panel is removable for a seamless fit with the company's neck brace.
The articulating back panel on the MTB Bionic Back Protector
New for 2013 on the guard front are the US$65/£57 Alps Knee softshell pads, with a lightweight and flexible design aimed at the growing enduro market. Alpinestars builds the Alps Knee with an intentionally trim fit, along with an asymmetrical left/right-specific cut, silicone grippers, Kevlar reinforcement, and a soft liner to help maintain comfort during transfers.
In case you want a little more protection, you can also attach the Alps Shin Guard to the bottom edge of the knee guards for an additional US$35/£28.
Riders needing a little less rigorous armor can look to the US$54.95 Morzine Knee Guards or US$45/£33 Morzine Elbow Guards. Built with a very flexible articulated foam pad and lightweight body, both are said to provide good protection in a crash but can be rolled up into a surprisingly compact package and tucked into a hydration pack when not needed.
Not surprisingly, Alpinestars has several options for the gravity set to go along with its range of guards and protectors, topped by the US$60/£49 A-Line Jersey and US$170/£130 A-Line Pants.
Offered only with long sleeves, the jersey is constructed with lightweight materials and mesh panels to aid airflow. Alpinestars has also incorporated a one-way stretch material and slightly trimmer cut than traditional gravity-oriented tops offer, though, plus silicone grippers along the rear hem to retain a casual look but with a little less bellowing.
The matching pants are heavier duty, with their thicker material and molded rubber logos. They still follow the same design philosophy, though, with a slightly trimmer fit than some might expect from DH pants, plus pre-curved legs and two-way stretch panels at the back, knees, and crotch for flexibility. There's still room for guards underneath, of course, and an adjustable closure up top.
The A-Line Pants look admirably airy
Alpinestars addresses all-mountain and enduro riders with the US$125/£93 Drop Shorts and matching jersey for US$60/£48 – both are also available in women's-specific versions.
As with the A-Line, the Drop Shorts are built with slightly heavier-weight fabrics, for durability, but a trim fit so as not to impede pedaling. Other features include stretch panels in the lower back and crotch for flexibility, zippered vents up front, pockets on the outer thighs, and an adjustable waist to fine-tune the fit.
The jersey is a fairly straightforward affair with its long sleeves, mid-weight mesh fabric, and open collar for a casual semi-form fit. Alpinestars has dressed it up with loops for earphones, an internal wipe for cleaning eyewear, and a side pocket for a phone or media player.
Sitting at the cross-country end of the spectrum is the Hyperlight collection, also available in women's versions. As the name suggests, the US$75/£61 shorts are built with ultralight fabrics, for breathability in hot conditions, plus a trim fit for minimal pedaling interference. Alpinestars doesn't look to have skimped on details, though, with an adjustable waist closure, mesh inserts, a stretch rear yoke, and a pair of zippered pockets for quick-access essentials.
Alpinestars Hyperlight shorts
The matching US$50/£37 jersey is a more straightforward cross-country piece with a form fit, half-length front zipper and single open rear pocket with an additional side-access zippered compartment for valuables.
For more information see www.alpinestars.com.