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TKART magazine First Analysis | AK-1 Kart Body Protector: the first Alpinestars FIA 8870-2018 homologated rib protector
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AK-1 KART BODY PROTECTOR: THE FIRST ALPINESTARS FIA 8870-2018 HOMOLOGATED RIB PROTECTOR

Jacopo Colombo
08 June 2024 • 10 min. read

Like other products on the market (Bengio AB7 and OMP KS-1 PRO), the Italian company's new protective device features a structure that alternates between rigid (such as carbon fiber) and flexible materials. The real new element, however, is the Speed Lace system, designed to allow the bodice to be adjusted to the driver's torso quickly and precisely. How does it work? And what are the other features of this product? Keep reading…

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RIB PROTECTOR
THE STRUCTURE
COMFORT
THE OPINION
ADDED VALUE
MEASURES SHEET

Released for sale starting in 2023, AK-1 Kart Body Protector is the first rib protector produced by Alpinestars to be homologated FIA 8870-2018, the FIA Karting technical standard that regulates the construction of these devices (and defines their minimum safety standards). The use of homologated rib protectors is currently mandatory only in karting competitions entered in the FIA Karting international sporting calendar, but it is logical to think that as time goes by, this type of device will also be adopted in the various national series. The design, development and deliberation phases of the AK-1 rib protector have engaged the Italian company from 2018 to 2022. A time frame in which the project also experienced a period of suspension of work due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is why it was commercialized later than the products of competing companies (such as Tillett, Bengio, OMP, Sparco). In defining the AK-1, the Alpinestars research and development department focused on creating a bodysuit that would respect the minimum reference dimensions indicated by the FIA regulations for the various parts that make up the rib protector (side shells, sternum guard and back), which vary according to the height of the driver, who will wear the rib protector (for more, read “Technical | The FIA homologation 8870 - 2018, for kart rib protectors”). All this in order to achieve: “A product - as reported by Alpinestars Media Services - that is light, minimal and ergonomic.” In achieving these goals, the biggest difficulties were found regarding the optimization of the fit of the rib protector. Specifically, in the search for a solution that would allow the elements of the rib protector (which, according to FIA Karting regulations, must be permanently and removably connected to each other) to be able to move closer together and farther apart, to allow them to adapt to the different builds of the users.  And it is precisely in order to solve this problem that the element that distinguishes the Alpinestars rib guard from other homologated products available on the market was designed: the Speed Lace system.

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