Dainese D-air Airbag Technology Arrives In North America

MotoGP-caliber race suits available to the public starting September 2015.

dainese d-air airbag technology
Dainese D|air suit demonstration.©Motorcyclist

Fifteen years in development, Dainese’s D|air airbag technology is finally being offered for sale in North America. D|air Race—which shields a rider’s neck, shoulders, and collarbones in the event of specific types of crashes and is said to reduce impact force by up to 85 percent—has been in use by top-level racers since 2007 and available to the European public since 2011.

Why did it take so long for the technology to cross the Atlantic? Legal red tape is mostly to blame, explained a Dainese spokesperson on hand during a recent product reveal and demonstration at Dainese’s flagship store in Costa Mesa, CA.

With the red tape cleared Dainese is proud to be taking orders on its new Misano suit, which will retail for $2,499 and offer premium protection features including the wireless and fully automatic D|air Race system. D|air Race is comprised of three accelerometers, three gyroscopes, a GPS module, ECU, battery, airbag, and a gas cartridge, with all of the electronic components housed within the suit's speed hump. The entire system is said to add about 1.8 pounds to the suit. The 4-liter airbag is just a few millimeters thick when empty and slips between the lining and leather of the suit. Inflation is by way of a cool-gas generator similar to what's used in modern automotive airbags, and it pressurizes the bladder in approximately 30 milliseconds. Triggering time included, the entire activation and inflation process takes just 45 milliseconds (that's 0.045 seconds), insuring the rider is protected well before he hits the ground.

Made for those who dare to push the limits, the Misano suit is hewn from 2.0mm leather and incorporates CE-approved armor (including a back protector) as well replaceable elbow sliders, a first for a production suit from Dainese. The Misano is also available in a perforated version.©Motorcyclist
Powersports Manager Chris Jonnum©Motorcyclist

“The process happens fast enough that the system can actually wait to verify that a crash is in fact occurring,” explained Chris Jonnum, Powersports Manager for Dispatch Marketing, who spoke during the D|air Race presentation. That time to think is critical because the suit only deploys under certain circumstances, namely during highside crashes and high-speed lowsides where the rider may tumble. During low-speed lowside crashes and events below 50 kph (about 31 mph) the system does not activate. “Our data shows that in those scenarios the added protection isn’t necessary,” says Jonnum.

The Dainese crew initiated a new hire during the presentation, outfitting him in a Misano suit and deploying the airbag as a demonstration (see video below). The airbag inflated with a loud pop and the suit’s shoulders and chests immediately puffed up. The suit is designed to provide the rider free range of movement so he can get off the track or retrieve his bike, and an internal valve permits the bladder to slowly deflate so the rider can immediately return to action if able.

How does D|air Race know when a rider is crashing? It polls its many sensors and compares that data to protocols outlined in complex algorithms that have been refined during more than a decade of development. In addition to offering nearly instantaneous impact protection for a rider’s most vulnerable body parts, D|air Race also incorporates full data acquisition including lap-time data, speed, braking distances, and riding lines.

In the event of a crash, the 4-liter bladder offers additional padding for the rider’s neck, shoulders, and collarbone, reducing impact force by a claimed 85 percent.©Motorcyclist
Marco Simoncelli, dainese suit
Every airbag displays a small tribute to the late Marco Simoncelli, who helped develop D|air Race and was the first rider to race with the technology in 2007.©Motorcyclist

D|air Race only offers one deployment, after which the suit must be returned to Dainese’s Costa Mesa facility for an inspection and airbag replacement. The service costs $200 including shipping and turnaround is estimated at 3-4 days. A 24-month service package is available for $299 and covers unlimited airbag replacement.

Orders for D|air Race-equipped Misano suits are being taken now, with delivery expected in September. Information regarding the availability of D|air Street—Dainese’s street-oriented airbag technology, on sale in Europe since the summer of 2012—is forthcoming.