Dainese D-Air Street: safest suit ever hits the road

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Inflating to protect your spine and chest —virtually your entire torso — and limiting hyperextension and hyperflexion of your neck, Dainese D-Air Street reduces forces transmitted to your body by 90 percent over traditional CE armor while providing more coverage than armor ever could. After a decade of development, D-Air Street is finally ready to enter the market and, like Dainese D-Air Race, Hell For Leather is the first to bring you details of it.

Both Dainese D-Air Race and Dainese D-Air Street are currently undergoing certification testing by Germany’s TÜV, widely considered the toughest set of road safety certifications in the world. D-Air Race should be available by next summer, but it’s not currently clear when products incorporating D-Air Street will enter the market.

Where D-Air Race packages an entire array of gyroscopic sensors, accelerometers, processors and even a GPS unit into the aerodynamic hump of a racing suit, D-Air Street places about half the load on the bike, which should make the system simpler, cheaper and able to control the airbags of both a rider and passenger.

As you can see in this video of an early prototype (the production airbag isn’t a huge cube), a sensor-based system like D-Air has a huge advantage over cheaper tether-based systems that only activate when the rider separates from the bike. In this collision with a car, simulating a surprise left turn or similar, a tether-based airbag would not have inflated until well after the potentially life-threatening initial impact occurred, but with D-Air, the deceleration was detected, determined to be indicative of a crash and the airbag inflated, all before the rider could come into contact with the car. Dainese also lists “irritating cable flutter at high speed; the cable can interfere with a rider’s freedom of movement; and risk of accidental inflation” as reasons why tethers are inferior. Perhaps most import is that D-Air doesn’t require a rider to remember to use it. Just install the bike sensors, where a jacket so-equipped and enjoy additional protection, your passenger can do that too.

Once through it’s 45 millisecond inflation process, the D-Air airbag offers considerable protection. Measured against a CE-approved chest protector (incorporated into the system as well), the airbag measures a 92 percent reduction in forces transmitted to the rider while measured against a CE Level 2 back protector (also built in), the forces transmitted are reduced 82 percent. That’s an enormous reduction and it’s a level of protection that’s extended across nearly the entirety of a wearer’s torso, protecting the rib cage, vital organs and spine as well as acting as a platform for the helmet, limiting extreme head movements and thereby protecting the neck. Unlike D-Air Race, D-Air Street does not extend protection to the shoulders.

Where D-Air Race is programmed to fire in event of a highside or violent lowside, D-Air street is built to detect the kinds of accidents that are more common on the road: slides and impacts. To do this, D-Air Street includes on-bike accelerometers installed on the forks and frame. These constantly measure the movements of the motorcycle and stay in constant wireless contact with the electronic control unit and firing mechanism worn by the rider. The instant a series of movements is detected that indicates a crash, the airbag is triggered. This process, from detection of full inflation, takes just .045 seconds. You want such a quick activation time if you’re in the process of colliding with a large, immovable object.

As you can see in this video, the D-Air Street airbag mimics the Race airbag in that it inflates inside the jacket, meaning it’s ready for re-use after a short deflation process and doesn’t interfere with the rider’s ability to safely operate the bike should it somehow activate erroneously.

Dainese has already rolled D-Air out to its top-level racers and Valentino Rossi was wearing the system when he highsided at Mugello this season, breaking his leg. Speaking of that accident, Rossi said, “It was an impressive fall. Aside from the leg injury, the day after I was surprised to notice that I did not have any bruises on my shoulders. The airbag worked perfectly, it’s a great result considering that the suit maintains its comfort, I can’t feel it.”

We’re currently unable to pry more details out of Dainese, but the interesting thing about these product diagrams is that there’s no CO2 canisters present, but instead “cold gas generators” that inflate the 12-liter airbag. This could simply be a pseudonym, but Dainese has set reusability as one of its targets with D-Air. There’s also no word on how much D-Air Street will cost or when it will be available.

  • markbvt

    This is the first motorcycle airbag system I’ve seen that I’d seriously consider using. I like the focus on reusability, which means this could even be useful for offroad riding where it would suck to have a presumably expensive one-time-use airbag deploy just because you slid and fell over in some mud.

  • slowtire

    This looks outstanding. I agree with the advantages over a tethered system. It’ll be interesting to see how they make it reusable.

  • Johndo

    Would certainly consider buying one of these for my girlfriend and I unless it’s 1000$ each…

    • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

      Agreed; you can get a decent replacement model for $1000, easy.

    • muffinman

      Given similar technology from Alpinestars (TechAir) is going to run an additional $2500, I’d say it’ll be at least a $1000… considering the technological breakthrough, I’m willing to pay that amount.

      • Johndo

        The Alpinestars’ model is very different, more complexe. This looks more like a vest you could put over any jacket. I like to think they will be able to sell this at around 500$…

        • muffinman

          They’re actually very similar (Alpinestars Tech Air Race vs Dainese D-Air Race)

          ..the D-Air’s designed go inflate UNDERNEATH the jacket, not as a vest to be worn over (for now). Regardless of whether it’s worn over or under, the cost will primarily be attributed to the technology / computer parts behind it..

          Just an opinion of course, but I will be beyond shocked if this tech comes below $1000… $500 is wishful thinking, especially given how pricey Dainese goods are to begin with (would be nice, though)

          • muffinman

            Case in point.. HitAir’s simplistic, *tether-based* vests go for $400+ … SPIDI’s variation of the tethered airbag vests goes for $600-$700+. RS TaiChi’s tether-based GMX Motion commands a $400 premium on top of the jacket price.

            Sucks but there is no way the far more advanced, technology-packed, brand name Dainese D-Air will sticker for $500… especially given that it’s ONLY competition, the TechAir commands a $2500 PREMIUM on top of the price of the jacket.

        • muffinman
      • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

        I was actually talking about the girlfriend.

  • André

    Would be nice if it also would inflate when it gets really really cold.

    But seriously, looks like a good protection.

  • Terry

    Be nice if they licensed it to other gear companies as well. Looks like something that could be incorporated into about any jacket style.

  • slowestGSXRever

    That second video seems to be a really low speed hit. Should the air bag even be deploying at such low speeds? Is it gonna deploy if you break really hard and your front end drops quickly?

  • Ducky

    We need costs! That being said, if it reduces impact forces by that much, it’s probably worth it even if it costs a bit over $1K.

    Which brings me to another point… 90% less front impact forces sounds great, but can we get either a number (kilo-newtons or lbs) or some other metric to compare? For example, if I ran into the side of a car at 60 km/h, what are the chances that I will survive if the full brunt is taken by the D-air (and not the helmet)?

    This is an exciting innovation. Between this, better helmet technologies and *hopefully* some better tech for arms and legs, would this help reduce the number of motorcycle fatalities (minus squids)?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Check out the slide in the gallery with all the arrows, that’s got kilo newtons on it. Not sure what kind of input force is applied in CE testing though. Anyone else answer that?

      • Ducky

        I found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_armor

        “The test apparatus consists of a mass of 5 kg with a 40mm x 30mm striking face, dropped onto the sample mounted on top of a 50mm radius hemispherical dome

        A protector subjected to this test method is deemed to conform to this standard if the average transmitted force of nine tests is less than 35 kN, with no single test result exceeding 50 kN.”

      • Ducky

        And because I’m a geek, I did yet more research.

        According to this report here.

        It looks like with the regular chest protector (which allows 12 kN of force in the standardized test), you can actually suffer from injuries to your chest area despite the armour (tolerance is stated as 7.4-10.2kN), though I imagine the injuries would be fairly minor. However, the D-air would reduce it to a significantly below that injury threshold. For reference though, 1.2 kN is still enough to almost fracture a cheekbone (and is enough to fracture your knee), so expect some bruising and mild injuries in those types of collisions.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          This is a thoroughly well-researched answer.

  • T Diver

    I would buy this. Tell the Italians there are buyers and to hurry up and make it. I believe most air bags (cars at least) use solid chemical pellets that expand super fast when activated (they react with air or something.)That is why there is no CO2 canister. Look here for details.

  • muffinman

    YES! Finally… I’ve been waiting for so long to hear about the street version of D-Air and am elated to hear it’s close to completion.

  • Turf

    this…is actually awesome

    I could definitely use one, most of my day is spent on a bike.