If you’re in the sport of Motocross and Supercross then you love new Moto-related products. Let’s face it, most of our industry is based around new parts and products. We all love unboxing new tech for our trusty steeds or the latest gear that helps us spruce up our kits and to keep us safer. Motocross has some of the coolest tech and products out there, and we love them all. It’s pretty much unanimous, getting new gear and parts is definitely one of the best parts of our sport. Since we, total moto-nerds, share in the love of new products we decided to start a whole new segment dedicated towards showcasing new innovative products in our sport. This month we hit up Dave and Natalie Castillo over at AC Systems to find out more about their really unique and totally trick breathing systems that you may have seen on some of your favorite racers….
So tell us how you got your start in motocross?
I started riding motorcycles at 5 years old and racing at 10. My dad, Jim Castillo, rode and raced, so it was just a natural thing for me to do it as well. I turned pro in 1991 and raced 125 west coast super cross. I had some fun with that but ended up injured a fair amount. I’m a big guy so when I was healthy, I jumped up to the 250 class. I never did too well but was able to help form The Great Western Bank team for ’96 and raced along side some amazing team mates in Phil Lawrence, Buddy Antunez, and Denny Stephenson. We had a ton of fun and those guys all had really good results.
What led to the start and development of AC Systems products?
My dad always had issues with goggle foam pinching his nose when he rode. He came up with the notion that, if he could keep the foam from holding his nose shut while at the same time opening his nasal passages, he would be able to breathe more air. The original system was a pair of magnetic clips that attached to the inside of the goggle, holding the foam off of the nose. Then the stickers that had steel disks embedded in them were applied to either side of the nose, which the magnets in the clips attached to and pulled on. It was amazing. We were all so excited about having this available to everyone that we released it as soon as we could. Of course, this being the first version and really only testing it our ourselves, there were issues that needed to be fixed. We pulled it from the market and went back to the drawing board. That’s when my dad came up with the AC Sport Band. We decided that it would be better to have this incredible technology put into a much simpler form that could cover all types of activity, while still fixing the goggle foam issue. Along this journey of completely changing the product we started to educate ourselves more and more on the power of nose breathing. It changed entirely from “more air” to “the right air”, which is something that we are working to educate the market on. The AC Sport Band that we have available today is a simple, durable, sleek design that uses the original combination of magnets and steel embedded stickers to open your nasal passages. It is far easier to use, more effective, and it has become an essential piece of performance wear for most everyone who has tried it. Having started in Motocross we are now working to spread the studies on nose breathing and its effect on the body and mind so everyone can try this product and experience the benefits. It has been incredibly interesting learning all that there is to know about why it’s so vital, especially after spending my life as an athlete, learning that I have been one of the many who has been breathing incorrectly was really eye opening.
What are some of the unique benefits of the your product?
There are many unique benefits of our nasal band over standard nasal strips, such as Breathe Right. Then there are the benefits of nasal breathing itself...
Number 1. One of the issues with the standard nasal strips is that they come right off. The typical nasal band is made similar to a band aid. It is a single piece of limp sticky material that pulls on itself in order to open your nose. So, it is basically working against itself to pull itself off of your nose the second that it is applied. Ours don’t do that. When you apply our nose stickers they are not being pulled on immediately, so they have time to set and adhere to the skin. We include wipes with each of the kits that we send out so even if you’re out in the middle of no where you can clean your nose, apply your stickers, let them sit for about 5-10 minutes to properly adhere, and then pop the band on and go.
Number 2. Our system is two parts- the stickers with the steel disk in the middle and the magnetic band. Once you apply the stickers and let them adhere, the band is placed over the nose and the disks snap out to meet the magnets. This means that the intense pull is coming from a rigid plastic band that is only moving the part of your nose that you want to move, which opens your nose to its max. Think of our stickers as suction cups- when you try to pull a suction cup off glass it’s near impossible when you pull from the center, but when you slide it off the edge it comes right off. That's like us compared to nasal strips.
Number 3. Our stickers are designed to wick sweat out through their own pores, but do not allow moisture to affect them from the outside. For example- triathletes have been applying their stickers before the swim portion of their race without them coming off in the water. They don’t use the band for the swim as it would allow too much water to enter their nose, but after their long and challenging swim race they hop on their bike with their band waiting, pop it on, and finish out the day with the stickers fully adhered to their noses. It has been really fun to see how successful the stickers have been staying on through so many different activities.
Number 4. When it comes to goggle sports there is really no reason to use your typical nasal strip. The flexible material collapses under the foam of the goggle and because you have added material on your nose, now it is being pinched down even more. Our two part system with the rigid band is strong enough to open your nose to an incredible nose breathing capacity while pushing the foam out of the way. We also have a variety of sizes so you can choose how widely you want your nose pulled open.
What are some of the internal breathing issues that the AC Systems product addresses?
Well, one of the issues that we are really looking forward to helping with is those who have deviated septums. It's incredibly common and can create some serious limitations with sleep and exercise. When we put the system on people who suffer from that issue, they can't believe the immediate sense of relief from being able to breathe through their nose for the first time. Nose breathing is also incredibly helpful for those with asthma. Really what our system does is simply make nose breathing far easier, and especially as your heart rate increases. At rest, most everyone can breathe in and out through their noses without much struggle. That is how we are designed to breathe, not at all through our mouths. But as soon as we start to exercise, our heart rate increases and we feel the need to take in more volume of air so we switch to mouth breathing. And one would think that getting more air is the answer, but it isn’t. You can get more air through your mouth, it makes sense. Your mouth is a larger passageway than your nose. But, in fact, that is one of the problems. Mouth breathing leads to over-breathing, hyperventilation, dehydration, depleted carbon dioxide levels, vasoconstriction (constriction of the blood vessels), and reduced blood circulation during exercise. So what does that mean? It means that your body is not getting enough oxygen to your brain or your blood when you’re huffing and puffing through your mouth. You are losing a lot of water when you exhale through your mouth. And your blood vessels are getting squeezed smaller and smaller with each mouth breath you take.
What you need to do is breathe through your nose the way your body was designed to breathe. This creates the proper mixture of gasses coursing through your blood for optimal health and performance. When you breathe through your nose, your body re-breathes the expelled Carbon Dioxide and the Nitric Oxide that is naturally produced in your sinuses. Both of these gasses are vasodilators (blood vessel openers) which deliver more oxygen to the brain and muscles faster. Breathing in and out through the nose actually helps you take fuller, deeper breaths, which stimulates the lower lung to distribute greater amounts of oxygen throughout the entire body. When the lower lung is stimulated, it triggers the parasympathetic nervous system which calms the body and mind. Mouth breathing only uses the upper lung, triggering the sympathetic nervous system, which activates the fight or flight reaction and stresses the body and mind
What results have you seen in testing and using the new AC Systems products on racers?
One of the biggest differences we’ve seen is lower heart rate (BPM) on our riders. We have seen it first hand with the riders who show us their heart rate monitors as well as in the tests that some cycling magazines have independently done. The cool part about our product is that we don’t really need to convince people that it works. The benefits of nose breathing are scientifically proven and all of the articles, studies, schools of thought, and facts about it are already done and out there for the world to see with a quick internet search. We want people to feel the benefits of nose breathing, and the only way to do that when you start to get your heart rate up is to have your nose stay open. So again, what we do is simple- we just make nose breathing possible and easy. With a lower heart rate and increased oxygen you will have less arm pump, more endurance, your body will be calmer, and your focus will increase.
In modern Motocross and Supercross physical fitness is extremely important, how does this product directly impact that aspect of the sport?
Well, if the above is true, and it is… Training progress should be accelerated. If you now have the ability to be more focused, have less arm pump and less fatigue, then you can do a few extra laps at top speed during the week’s training. So you progress faster. Then you take that confidence and experience of knowing that you’re better than you were into the race weekend with you… and so on and so on. What we really want our users to understand is the science above. Of course the band has the benefits that we mentioned with use under a goggle, but when used as a training tool in the gym, cycling, cross fit, etc. it really trains the body and mind to nose breathe without having to think about it. Basically it shouldn’t just be used on race day, but also throughout training. Practice how you play.
What was some of the initial feedback on the new products from riders?
Well aside from the benefits of nasal breathing and the findings above as long term benefits, it's an immediate “experience”. It feels so good the moment you put it on because it is such a dramatic difference. People’s eyes always light up and they almost all let out a “WOW!” (Or other exclamations we shouldn’t share). It’s not the same as other products where you just hope that they help, but can’t really tell.
Around the pits we've seen multiple riders (mostly factor riders) wearing the new AC Systems, it seems to be a huge hit. How do you plan to continue to see growth for the new AC Systems?
Yeah we have had it on a lot of guys and it has been really fun to see them all loving it. We have actually been purposely holding back from a full release of the product. We have only had it available on our own website and we have done little to no advertising. We wanted to have it out on a limited number of people to get their feedback and also to make sure there weren’t any big problems that we didn’t foresee happening. We are just now starting to allow dealers to have it. We will also be working on worldwide distribution. But that’s just the off-road motorcycle market I’m taking about. Beyond that we are actually in the process of rebranding the company. When we got up and going, we didn’t put too much thought into the name. We just took what we called the previous model and made it onto the new company name. Since then we have come up with a better name that we are very excited to announce. It will be more clear who we are and what we have to offer as well as position us better for all activities and sports. We are basically redoing everything except the product, which is still going to be reworked a little bit. Once we rebrand we will spread into all athletic fields while spreading the knowledge of nose breathing. We will also create a slightly different band while using the same technology to wear for sleep. Although the current design is already being utilized for that purpose, we have some ideas to make it better. There is a lot that we are looking forward to showing you all down the road.
In Motocross and Supercross it's innovations like these that keep the sport progressing and evolving. Where do you see the sport going (technology wise) in the near future?
Well its hard to guess. It seems that technology advances faster and faster as time goes on. I’ll just go along with Elon Musk and say that we will all probably be cyborgs in the near future and we can just plug into our bikes with our Apple iBrains… Hahaha. IDK.
What are some things that we can expect from you guys in the future?
With our rebranding we hope to produce a number of things in the near future. We have a range of products that we would like to make and ideas coming out of our ears, so it’s just a matter of time before we will be launching more.
Where can people go to find out more about and purchase AC Systems products?
People can learn more about us on our website and instagram.
Be sure to give AC Systems a follow and keep and eye out for their upcoming releases and announcements. AC Systems will be hooking up our followers with an exclusive 20% off discount. Head to acperformancesystems.com and use promo code “TCE20” at checkout to get the same bands that your favorite racers use. A huge thank you to Dave and Natalie Castillo and the entire AC Systems team for giving us a true product deep dive and insight into their company. We can’t wait to get a system of our own to try out. Stay locked to TCE for more awesome articles revolving around the sport we all love.