What you need to be safe on an Airbike: Jacket, helmet, gloves, boots.
Average weight and price: 13 kg/200 KS
High: 24 kg/900 KS
Low: 7 kg/80 KS
An airbike jacket is the most important piece of equipment you need. It consists of four major parts: shock armor, anti-grav unit, elemental conditioning and firmware. Each jacket has varying degrees of quality concerning these parts. Money, however, is not always the determining factor in what constitutes the best jacket.
Shock armor's secondary use is to reduce the amount of damage done to your body when you fall from your bike. After the anti-grav generator runs out of power, the shock armor cushions your fall the rest of the way. The primary purpose of shock armor is to cushion riders from the bumps and bangs taken from dust particles, small airborne devices, other riders and even other vehicles. Most common placement of shock armor:
Forearms, around whole arm, shaped to not interfere with elbow movement
Shoulders, dipping down to shield the outer arm, but leave the bicep, tricep and inner arm exposed
Back, three-quarter and full-size jackets still stop at waist
Upper chest, two panels split by fasteners
Note that some jackets have the armor exposed, giving a feel of intimidation to the jacket. Military and law enforcement tend to have combat armor instead of shock armor. Racers have armored suits.
The anti-grav unit acts as a failsafe when a rider falls off the bike. Passively linked to the bike, it activates when the bike sends out a unique signal that says, “Rider has fallen off at XX kph from xxx meters up.” The unit then kicks in according to that information, unless programmed otherwise from the jacket's firmware. A common setting is to reduce the force of the fall to something like falling off a kitchen table. In a standard riding jacket, the unit isn't very big, but it can be heavy. It's usually a thin harness set between the armor and the jacket's comfort liner, and is linked to the jacket's firmware. To maintain the lightest weight possible, the battery is usually very small – enough to work for a few seconds, then let the shock armor do its work. Some jackets boast expensive batteries that allow a rider to float safely to the ground. These are, however, very expensive.
Elemental conditioning is corporate longhand for the main material of the jacket. All jackets are water resistant. Some are built to withstand extreme cold, where others resist extreme heat. Instead of relying on just the armor, a few jackets are designed to withstand piercing weapons, such as a pickaxe. Military and law enforcement get access to custom jackets resistant to laser fire, but the black market has plenty of such a jacket. Common materials are metal thread (titanium, tungsten, so on) backed by a non-poreous substance. There are rumors of a jacket made of a Yamatai compound called yarvex. However, no one has ever admitted to seeing such a jacket.
Firmware exists in a jacket for one reason – to control the anti-grav unit. Usually the computer is the length of a match and the width of a man's watch. Most jackets have it below the ribcage and off to the side, though some have it hidden near the collarbone. Such jackets tend to be an older style that allows for a wired link to the anti-grav unit.
Average: 3.1 kg/250 KS
High: 7.6 kg/1000 KS
Low: 2.4 kg/120 KS
Like jackets, helmets have some basic parts: the shell, the padding, the HUD (heads-up display) and the computer. About 98 percent of airbike helmets would be considered “full-face.” The helmet's main function is to act as an interface with the bike's computer.
Mostly for painting nowadays, the shell of a helmet is constructed of a light polymer, probably about a centimeter thick. All manner of decorations are applied to it one way or another. Some use it as a gang symbol, others to express themselves, still others for safety. The thickness of the shell is due to the componets it holds, such as the HUD hardware and optional components (video camera, sensors, communications, so on) and the insulation needed to protect those components. There are, of course, ventilation shafts that are force-fed new air and push out old air. The shell could take a blow to the head quite well, but …
The padding isn't meant to be shock-absorbing. It's for comfort. The pads in the helmet are usually soft foam with fabric around them. Of course, the fabric, unless very cheap, wicks moisture away perfectly. A few helmets have moisture collectors in the fabric pads, which then eject the moisture out the ventilation shafts. However, hardcore distance riders tend to gut some of the pads and put in extra modules or batteries.
The HUD is the most important part on a helmet. Through the visor it displays vital statistics during motion – speeds (yours, wind, other vehicles), mechanical information (tach, engine heat and condition) and directions (maps, arrows, etc.) Depending on the modules installed, it could also display images and run other programs. For example, helmets with video transceivers have cameras installed to provide a face when communicating. Others operate complicated networks from their airbikes. Space is usually the limiting factor.
A helmet's computer is usually small and tends to be placed either at the back or curved over the top. They're usually limited in either memory or output. The former implies the use of a network transceiver that can access ports of information. The later is more common.
Average: 60 KS
High: 400 KS
Low: 30 KS
Gloves are the most simple thing in an outfit. They carry the same shock armor as a jacket does, covering the knuckles, palm and wrist. However, other than offer weather protection, gloves don't really do anything … unless you enjoy violence. In which case, gloves are modified with all sorts of weaponry – darts, lasers, electric knuckles, pneumatic devices, and so on. For thugs, the possibilities are endless.
Average: 100 KS
High: 650 KS
Low: 80 KS
Boots are the next simplest thing. They also only have one purpose – weather protection. Some are sold with certain bikes to aid in operating the controls, but the norm is to have much plainer boots. Some don't even get actual airbike boots, preferring whatever they walk around in. Airbike boots usually lock onto the pegs of an airbike to help keep the rider on the bike. Higher-price boots use narrowly angled magnets to keep a rider's feet steady and on the pegs. These magnets, next to glove modifications, are very popular weapons for riders, as they can be regulated to be overpowered. This lets a rider angle a boot in another rider's direction and possibly throw off that rider's balance or line of travel.
Pants aren't a main piece of gear mostly because the jacket protects the legs well enough with the anti-grav unit. However, many jackets are designed to seal up with a matching pair of pants, usually with the same weatherproof qualities as the jacket (if not the shock armor.)
Wrist-mounted weapons are usually found on law enforcement officers, not civilians. They remove the problem of dropping a weapon in mid-flight. These range from small machine guns to pulse laser weapons and everything inbetween. Of course, if there are wrist-mounted weapons, there must be defensive measures available.
Hence, arm-mounted shield units. These also vary from extending shields of some material to energy projectors that require backpack power supplies. The energy units are rarely enclosing – most are angled in a certain direction (side, front, sometimes aft). The shields seem to be a favorite among lesser gangs due to their intimidating image.
Some gangs and individuals prefer a more personal approach. Gloves, on occasion, are modified to become specialized boxing gauntlets. The modifications that can be made are limited – some are reinforced with steel, others with electrified plates. Some even have small power supplies built into them to deliver multiple blows (OOC: think knuckle bombers ala Bubblegum Crisis, or a similar instrument).
There are two items closely monitored by the Star Army of Nepleslia – camouflaging gear (jackets and so on) and specialized power supplies. The later are the types of power supplies found in many energy weapons, but customized to hook up to several devices a military rider might need, such as weapons, defensive measures and extra programs. They can look like a benign gun magazine, so all such supplies have a beacon built in that activates as soon as the supply is disconnected to the jacket.
The camouflage units are easier to find, as all jackets with such equipment are too heavy for even a bulky Nepleslian. Extensive training is needed to handle the jackets and learn to ride so as not to interrupt the camo's field.