One look at Alpinestars’ motorcycle gear and apparel collection is all you need to realize how dedicated the Italian gear manufacturer is to protection. From airbags (read the Alpinestars Introduces New Tech-Air Airbag Systems in 2022 article) to street denim and everything in between, there’s hardly a void in the lineup. That’s even more true now with the introduction of the Supertech R10, Alpinestars’ first full-face streetbike and track bike helmet (ECE 22.06, DOT, and FIM certified).
Editor’s note: Read the Alpinestars Supertech R10 First Look Preview to learn more about the S-R10 helmet.
Don’t let the words “first ever” turn you away. Thanks to an intimate knowledge of materials accumulated over decades of product development, and a close working relationship with some of the fastest motorcycle riders on the planet, Alpinestars has all the tools needed to build a fully modern, top-tier roadracing helmet. This doesn’t happen overnight, mind you; the S-R10 is the end product of more than 10 years of study, development, and testing. The result of that commitment? A helmet that’s just as innovative, protective, and comfortable as it is stylish.
We recently had the chance to test the first model in the Supertech R10 lineup—the limited-production S-R10 Launch Edition—in a wide range of environments, including on the track, freeway, and canyons. Below are the main takeaways from our time with the helmet.
1. Protection comes first, and that’s especially true in the case of the S-R10.
It’s easy to be distracted by the S-R10′s bold lines and especially by the Carbon/Red Shadow colorway of the Launch Edition, but Astars is a brand centered on safety, thus protection was the number one focus for its Helmet Product Development Department. Rightfully so.
In the end, the team adopted a multilayer shell consisting of a 3K high-density carbon outer layer (3,000 filaments are used per piece of carbon fiber yarn), a unidirectional carbon composite layer that limits compression while reducing transmitted impact energy, and a layer of aramid fiber and fiberglass for penetration protection. Layers are bonded together using an epoxy resin.
Eight pieces of EPS material are used in varying densities, but Alpinestars goes a step further by using a low-friction coating on the inner surface to mitigate rotational impact forces and allow the rider’s head to move independently inside the helmet. For added convenience, the EPS material has cutouts for speakers. This isn’t just a track helmet.
Fortunately, we have not tested the true protective capabilities of the S-R10, but what stands out is the dedication to optimal shell construction, which enabled Alpinestars to build a helmet that’s protective enough for MotoGP riders but also very lightweight; our size medium S-R10 weighs just 3.4 pounds. This is aided by other safety-conscious design elements such as the specially shaped chin bar with raised bottom profile for reduced chance of collarbone injury in a crash. Less shell means less weight, but in this case there’s an added safety element.
Alpinestars goes on to point out that, during in-house testing, the S-R10 exceeded current ECE 22.06 helmet regulation standard limits for linear and oblique impacts. Impact performance was 37 percent below the standard requirements for linear impacts (impacts with a 90-degree angle between the helmet and object) and 65 percent below the standard requirements for oblique impacts (impacts where energy comes from an angle other than 90 degrees).
2. The S-R10′s ventilation system is well-thought-out and remarkably effective.
Alpinestars equipped the S-R10 with 11 ventilation ports, including seven intakes and four exhausts. The star of the show is a slider-controlled top vent with three large openings and a perforated channel that’s uncovered as that same slider is pushed to the open position. The benefit of this system is that it’s easy to operate and flows an incredible amount of air toward the top of the rider’s head when fully opened (you can open the slider halfway for less airflow).
Airflow is especially strong when in a tuck position at the track, but that’s not to say you won’t notice the benefits when riding down the highway and sitting upright; this system works incredibly well to bring air into the helmet regardless of the riding type, and flows more air than any helmet we’ve recently tested.
Two separately operated intake vents are placed opposite a centrally located chin bar vent that’s revealed by removing a rubber cover, each of these vents doing an admirable job of increasing airflow at the front of the helmet. Admittedly, it’s frustrating having to remove and keep track of the aforementioned rubber cover, especially if you decide to do so in the middle of a street ride but don’t want to pull over. The same can be said at the track, as the rubber piece can easily get lost in a pile of tools or other miscellaneous items. If you’re as forgetful as us, there’s a good chance you’ll be looking for a replacement cover soon or riding with the middle chin bar vent open at all times.
Extractor vents positioned halfway up the chin bar are used for channeling humid air to the outside of the helmet and work brilliantly alongside the chin bar vents to keep the visor from fogging up. The system works so well you’ll think the shield has been treated with anti-fog products; regardless of how hard we tried in varying conditions, we were unable to get the shield to fog up.
3. Extensive wind tunnel and on-track testing has resulted in a very aerodynamic helmet.
A primary goal for Astars is to ensure its products don’t interfere with what the rider is doing, and in the case of the S-R10, it manages this through optimized aerodynamics. To keep the helmet from buffeting, dragging through the air, or being noisy is to ensure that the rider can focus on the race or surrounding environment.
The quest for absolute aerodynamic efficiency led to Alpinestars developing the S-R10 in a full-scale wind tunnel, and ultimately to the introduction of things like winglets, a longer race spoiler, and turbulators for the visor.
The dividends are immediately obvious on the racetrack, as the S-R10 remains stable at triple-digit speeds, with very little drag when you’re out of the bubble and looking through a corner. Alpinestars notes that racers spend as much as 80 percent of their time in something other than a tuck position, so it’s great to see the company developing the helmet for something other than just straight-line performance.
On longer street rides, the relatively low drag equates to a helmet that’s all-day comfortable and doesn’t stress your neck. The fact that it doesn’t float or buffet is an added plus, and in many ways, the aerodynamic qualities make the helmet feel even lighter than it is. This helmet cuts through the air like a knife through butter.
It’s tough to say how much of a difference the turbulators on the visor make, but Alpinestars claims these limit the whistling noise that can happen around the rider’s ears as air flows over the area. What we can say is that the helmet is incredibly composed and acceptably quiet at highway speeds, meaning it’s something more than just a great helmet for racers and trackday enthusiasts.
4. The S-R10 is comfortable and can even be adjusted based on rider preference.
It doesn’t matter how well a helmet performs if it’s too uncomfortable to wear on a regular basis or on longer rides. That’s definitely not the case here, as the S-R10 fits well right out of the box and has already got us through multiple all-day rides without creating pressure points or giving us a headache.
Fit is a bit different than what we’ve come to expect from top-tier lids from Shoei and Arai, the S-R10 feeling more snug in the cheek area but with some room around the crown of your head. This is ultimately what allows the helmet to feel snug and secure, without feeling too big.
There’s some flexibility in fit, too, thanks to Alpinestars’ A-Head Fitment System, which consists of a micro-adjustable pad connected to the helmet’s EPS liner. Rearranging the four pins that hold this pad in place changes the height and angle that the helmet sits on your head. This benefits riders who aren’t immediately comfortable in the S-R10 (all head shapes are different), but is more useful for those who will use the helmet on the track or street; rocking the helmet forward provides a good line of sight when in an upright position on the street, while rocking it backward is best for an aggressive tucked position at the track.
The system works as advertised. Adjusting the pad takes under a minute, and there’s a discernible difference in how the helmet sits on your head. We might ask for more adjustment though, for even better visibility in a full tuck.
Pads are removable and washable, as you’d expect from a high-end helmet, and do a good job of being comfortable against your skin while also wicking moisture away. This is aided by the helmet’s ventilation system, which flows so much air through the helmet that the moisture quickly dissipates. Riding 30-minute sessions on the track in 75-to-80 degree weather was enough to get us sweating rather profusely, and yet the inside of the helmet was relatively dry when we took it off. That’s fortunate, as the pads are not the easiest to remove.
5. The S-R10′s visor system is a mix of good and bad.
A lot of thought went into designing a visor system that won’t budge in the event of a crash (think about how gravel or the edges of a curb can grab the shield as a rider slides across the asphalt) and indeed the shield’s metal locking mechanism feels incredibly secure. It takes time to become comfortable with the movement required to open the visor, but you’re almost guaranteed to be used to it after spending a few days in the helmet.
The story is the same with Alpinestars’ toolless quick-release system for the shield that can make shield swaps a bit difficult for the inexperienced. Ensuring that the visor is in the fully open position helps, but it’s difficult to master shield changes. Longtime owners will eventually get it sorted. Interestingly, the system isn’t strong enough to leave the shield up when riding; wind and sudden jolts cause it to fall down.
One neat design element is the lowered side line on each side of the helmet, which opens the field of view a small but noticeable amount. This is beneficial when on the track and looking through a corner, or even when on the street and changing lanes.
The Supertech R10 might be Alpinestars’ first roadracing helmet, but the company has been producing motocross helmets since 2018, and it’s already dedicated more than a decade to studying and developing head protection. The result of that dedication is a full-face helmet that’s something more than just a “first try,” and one that excels in terms of weight, aerodynamics, and ventilation.
The trick now is trying to get your hands on one, as Alpinestars is staggering the release of the S-R10 and starting only with the limited-production Launch Edition tested here. Look for more models and additions to the lineup down the road, including on price.