SLUK 72 6


It’s fair to say there’s a fair amount of alcohol consumed during the course of a scooter rally weekend, it’s generally a 48-hour binge drinkathon. It’s also fair to say that almost all of us, without question, would frown on anybody who drink drives deliberately (or of course, rides). It’s not big or clever but I’m sure we all know a few people who have inadvertently been over the limit the morning after.


Having a digital breathalyser of your own, or sharing one with a few friends isn’t such a daft idea really. Those cheap disposable ones are ok but only give an indication and I wouldn’t want to risk my licence on one. Whereas a calibrated electronic one, made by a reputable specialist is a much better option. The Alcosense ones are endorsed by road safety charity, BRAKE and have won awards for their accuracy. 


You can swap between  % BAC and the more commonly used mg/L reading.
You can swap between % BAC and the more commonly used mg/L reading.


Alcosense Ultra features 


  • Professional 200 mm2 fuel cell alcohol sensor (as used by several UK/US & European Police breathalysers)
  • Professional grade sampling system ensures accuracy/blow pressure/flow rate & volume of breath
  • Blow coach helps you to blow correctly and give tips if you get it wrong
  • Full-colour 1.8-inch screen
  • Traffic light coloured screens with detailed readings
  • Calculates how long until you’re sober
  • Stores 128 results in its onboard memory (downloadable to PC)
  • Backlit blow tube receptor
  • Comes with batteries and blow tubes
  • Annual recalibration service


Sleeping it off is usually the best course of action
Sleeping it off is usually the best course of action
Excel (left) and Ultra (right), very similar in looks and function - big difference in price
Excel (left) and Ultra (right), very similar in looks and function – big difference in price



I’ve owned an Alcosense Excel breathalyser for the last 18 months and use it occasionally before riding home after a rally but was interested to test this Alcosense Ultra out. The Ultra is more advanced and amongst other things it tells you how soon your body will be free from alcohol, giving you a countdown to sobriety. This can sometimes be a bit worrying when you get in after an all-dayer in the early hours of the morning and you’re five times over the limit and won’t be sober until teatime the following day. That countdown is very accurate as well.  


We’re all different


Once you get used to using a breathalyser you can interpret the results quite well because you start to understand how your own body deals with alcohol, we are all indeed very different. It depends on your body mass, size, gender and metabolism. I can go out for a few hours with my other half, we can have four pints of lager and a meal each, come home and do a test and she will blow double what I blow and will take a lot longer to be alcohol-free.


It’s also quite enlightening, on those Sunday mornings where you’re sure you’d be over the limit you can quite often be clear yet feel drunk from the after effects/hangover. The hangover can often be as dangerous as the alcohol itself, slowing reactions, making you tired etc. so you should only drive when you feel fit and well (although it means you’ll not be home from most rallies until Thursday).


Part of packing up after a rally now includes a breath test
Part of packing up after a rally now includes a breath test


Price and availability


To buy the Alcosense Ultra you need to be serious about testing yourself, your friends and depending on your job your work colleagues. It’s an ideal unit to have if you work in transport for instance and may need to random test workers. It’s also ideal if you’re part of a club and want to be sure your members are safe and sober.


The reason I say you need to be serious is that the Ultra costs £249.99. That’s a lot of money for something you’re only using now and again (although obviously much cheaper than a hefty fine, driving ban and subsequent retest and trying to get insured. The Alcosense Pro is a cheaper option at £149.99 and has pretty much all the features of the Ultra (including Blow Coach and time before sober), the Pro costs £149.99.


I do like the countdown feature of the Ultra (and Pro) though but the Excel only costs £99 and is as good in pretty much every other way. The Alcosense breathalyser range starts at just £39 and goes up to £249.99 so there is one to suit all pockets.


The top of the range Ultra has a 200mm2 fuel cell as opposed to a 64mm fuel cell in the Excel and is pre-loaded with a database of UK, European, US  & Australian limits. It also comes with a carry case, 100 mouthpieces and a USB cable. Contact Alcosense to buy online, Halfords also sell it both online and in-store, Boots sell it on the high street and Aldi stock the entry-level Zero breathalyser for just £39.99.





How breathalysers work


The reading measures the concentration of alcohol vapour in your breath as it evaporates from the blood that passes through your lungs when you breathe. The amount of evaporating alcohol is directly proportional to the amount of alcohol in your blood stream. This makes it possible to accurately calculate the per mil Blood Alcohol Concentration (%BAC) or Milligrams of alcohol per Litre of Breath (mg/l) and your level of intoxication. 


How alcohol is processed by the body


When you drink, alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream by your mouth and throat but mostly through the stomach and small intestine. The more you drink, the more alcohol is absorbed by the body and the higher your blood and alcohol readings will be. It takes 90 minutes after your last drink before that alcohol is equally distributed around the body and bloodstream. This is known as the point of equilibrium.


90% of the alcohol is broken down into water and carbon dioxide by the liver as blood flows around the body, a process called oxidisation. A healthy liver typically breaks down alcohol at a rate of one unit per hour.  The 10% remaining ends up being processed by the lungs and kidneys. Your level of intoxication can change quickly for up to 90 minutes after you’ve stopped drinking because of the time it takes the alcohol to reach your bloodstream. If you’ve eaten recently it will take longer, drinking on an empty stomach is quicker. The most reliable time to use a breathalyser is the morning after.


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