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.