This is what Dainese D-Air Street looks like

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In two weeks time, Dainese be showing off this vest at the EICMA show. That’s significant, because it’s the first street-oriented airbag that doesn’t require a tethered connection to the bike, meaning it doesn’t have to wait until you’re already flying to trigger inflation. That’s doubly cool because this isn’t some dorky, bulky thing, it’s a slick and stylish way to add an unprecedented amount of protection. Here’s how it works.

Dainese D-Air Street will benefit motorcyclists with a 75 percent reduction in impact forces to the back over a CE2 back protector and an 89 percent reduction over a CE chest protector. D-Air Street also helps prevent hyperextension, hyperflexion and compression of the neck, all while inflating in as little as 45 milliseconds to guard against frontal impacts. This is the next level of safety.

D-Air Street has four main components:
- An ECU/user interface that mounts in the cockpit/on the bars.
- A pair accelerometers that mount on the forks.
- A lean angle sensor under the seat that detects falls.
- The actual airbag unit on the rider.

As you can see, that’s a far, far more complicated, sophisticated setup than the primitive airbag vests that have been on the market for a while. Those work like the kill switch on a jet ski or quad, requiring you to separate from the machine, physically pulling a switch that triggers inflation. The problems with that setup are obvious: impacts can occur without you leaving the bike and the potential for accidental inflation is huge. With D-Air Street, those accelerometers mounted on the furthest-forward part of the bike — the lower forks — can detect an accident and trigger inflation in .025 seconds. ie before you even know you’ve hit something. There’s zero potential for accidental inflation, D-Air Street’s connection between user-worn garments and the ECU is completely wireless.

Why is there a need for a wearable airbag on the road?

According to the Motorcycle Accidents In Depth Study, the most frequent road accident for motorcycles is impact with an automobile. Those account for 60 percent of all accidents. The time between the motorcycle impacting the car and the rider hitting is just .08 seconds. After the head (which should already be protected by a helmet), the most frequently injured body parts in those accidents are the chest, abdomen and back. As you can see, D-Air Street inflates to provide comprehensive coverage of the chest, upper abdomen, collar bones, neck and the entirety of the back. This area of coverage is remarkable, expanding safety away from small bits of body armor to nearly the entire upper body.

Does D-Air work just in head-on impacts?

No. The lean angle sensor mounted under the seat will detect falls or slides, again triggering inflation and providing all the above protection, again in an incredibly short time.

With a wireless connection, is the airbag subject to interference?

Dainese claims it’s not, employing a continuous radio signal connection between the wearable unit and ECU to eliminate the potential for interference. With no existing certification processes in place, Dainese actually worked with Germany’s super-strict TUV certification program to develop a set of standards for wearable airbags. Over 800 tests will look at the following areas:

- General safety
- Ergonomics
- Radio and telecommunication
- Algorithm/software
- Functional safety
- Chemical harmlessness
- Quality management

D-Air Street passes those tests.

Can D-Air inadvertently hurt me or my passenger?

Dainese has tested the system in a variety of circumstances that could hamper inflation or cause injury. Wearing a backpack? D-Air will still inflate. When it does inflate, it won’t impact your helmet in such a way that could cause whiplash. A pillion sitting close to you? The bag won’t throw off their grip or unseat them or cause injury if it impacts them during inflation. Sitting flush to a top box or other luggage? The bag won’t throw you off.

How do I install and operate D-Air?

Dainese will handle installation at their D-Stores, the only places D-Air will be available. Once installed, you need to handle battery charging and installing a SIM card. The battery in the jacket or vest lasts 30 hours and recharges via USB. Simple. The SIM cards handle communication between the ECU and the rider and passenger. The garments then “mate” with the ECU so yours doesn’t accidentally inflate that of another so-equipped rider near you. That cockpit unit displays battery charge levels, system activation and warns you if something’s screwy. The airbag unit itself can also vibrate if it needs to tell you something.

What can I wear D-Air Street with?

Initially, there’s going to be two versions of this vest available. The low-key black version and the high-vis for safety nazis and military types. At EICMA, Dainese will announce that the vest will retail for €750, requiring an additional €460 set of sensors to be installed on any bike you want it to work with. The system will be available in Europe around the end of the year.

The vest gets worn over existing jackets or leathers; you can still wear traditional static back and chest protectors and other armor underneath it.

The takeaway.

D-Air Street isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s expensive and it is going to require installation on your motorcycle/s. You will need to recharge batteries and generally be responsible for putting it on and taking care of it. But, for those riders who use motorcycles as their primary means of transportation and take safety incredibly seriously as a result, this is going to make them massively safer. Once installed, operation requires virtually no user input and the area of coverage and level of impact amelioration are both huge. 75 percent safer than the safest existing back protectors? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to know that I’m not going to break my back or destroy my heart/lungs in a crash and I’m prepared to pay for that added safety.

  • Steve

    Yeah, man, but what happens when sew my MC rockers on it?

    • Frosty_spl

      Sons of Safety

      • Erok

        awesome.

  • Holden and Annette

    1210 euros is about $1,568. Plus the bike trip to San Francisco, Southern California or Chicago for installation.

    It’s a lot of money and time, but man, when I imagine walking away after T-boning a left-turner…

    Yeah, as a daily commuter, gotta get it. I hope they offer this soon in the States.

    • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

      The expensive gear is very likely less expensive than going to the hospital. And even if it may cost more than your insurance deductible it beats having to go to the hospital. KnowwhatImean?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      You can’t literally just translate the Euro price to dollars. There’s many more factors to pricing than just a calculator.

      Also, this is the first real generation of a new product category. As with any technological advance (cell phones, flat screen tvs…), they’ll be pricey and specialized at first, then grow more universally applicable and cheaper as adoption rates and development continue.

  • http://www.TroyRank.com Troy R

    The price is steep, but once these things are proven, I can’t see how it’s not worth every penny for any serious rider.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

      Especially those pesky safety nazis!

      • http://www.TroyRank.com Troy R

        Hey, it’s your neck. This doesn’t seem like it will detract any from my riding enjoyment.

  • *

    I’m wondering if something like this would be covered by insurance under optional accessory coverage? How I’d go about getting a replacement after an impact is something I’d like to know before I pull the trigger on one of these.

    • Devin

      Insurance agent here. Damage to gear is covered under your accessory coverage, I can’t imagine this would be treated any differently than a helmet or jacket being replaced. Make sure you call your agent and increase your accessory coverage to include this, the standard $3,000 barely covers most riding gear + bike accessories.

      • *

        Got it! Thank you, sir!

  • BMW11GS

    I wonder if this and a ‘stitch could be the ideal commuter combo? If the stitch is baggy enough, could you where this under it?

  • aadmanz

    Funny, as I mentioned in a comment on this article:

    http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2012/01/dainese-d-air-the-safety-race-is-on/

    Bering has such a system, but that was not interesting according to you guys, because it had a lot of stuff bolted to the bike. Now Dainese finally comes clean that you need to mount a lot of stuff on the bike and now they are the first?
    Admittedly it looks good, but I miss some of the fabled HFL impartiality. :-)

    • aadmanz

      And check Stempere’s comment here :-)

      http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2012/03/a-revolution-in-road-bike-safety/

      “But why do they insist on calling it the first wireless system? Bering has been selling a similar system for 2 years now. The sensors are even at the same places.”

      Come on Wes, don’t just copy the press release, give us one of your rants.. :)

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        I’ve never heard of that system. Does Bering even sell gear in the US? Never received so much as an email or press release or anything from them or on them.

        • aadmanz

          I wouldn’t know if they sell in the US, they are a reasonable size player in Europe. But still, Dainese is not the first one to develop such a system.
          Anyway, technical things and who was first aside, what I find interesting was that Bering has brokered a deal with some major French insurance company to cover the cost of replacement of the system in case of a crash. And I think some kind of insurance discount, but I am not sure about that part.

        • http://pics.zenerves.net/index.php?gallery=vehicules tropical ice cube

          Indeed we are talking 2y.o. tech. They hired a stuntman to demo it at French 2010 bikefair, enjoy: http://www.bering.fr/airbag

  • Johndo

    Like the concept but I have 2 bikes. I’d have the pick the “safe” bike…

    • gsx750f

      I’m pretty sure it will be possible to have a second set of sensors fitted to the second bike, and just move the master-controller around. Or maybe you have to use a second SIM-card. But I think they would have thought of that.

      • Holden and Annette

        The technology was tested in racing, so they had to have developed it for use on multiple bikes. But the price could be high, whether dollars or euros.

      • PenguinScotty

        The ability to do that is not a problem at all with the SIM identification. The main concern for me at this stag is that you have to slap another 400+ on our bike. I can’t even begin to imagine the implications when you primarily ride with a pillion.

        • Johndo

          “vest will retail for €750, requiring an additional €460 set of sensors to be installed on any bike you want it to work with”
          That’s exactly why I’d have to pick one bike.
          When DVD readers came out they were like 600$USD now you can get a reader/recorder for 50$USD. So maybe in 2-3 years the complete kit including 2 sensor sets will be 5-600$USD. At that price I think these would sell by the bucket.I did put 800$ on a helmet, I did put 2000+$ on a Rukka suit, twice. I always try to buy the best protection I can afford, cause I’d hate being in the hospital and thinking, damn should have spent a little more for better protection and save 6 months of reabilitation.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Yeah, that’s why the sensors/controllers have a separate price. You’d buy one vest and then electronics for however many bikes you wanted to use it on.

  • PenguinScotty

    Personal concerns on said technology.

    If YOU get T-Boned, there is only minimal protection (The neck being the main advantage here). And let’s be honest, the possibilities of somebody running a red light and T-boning you, are fairly good.

    In all other aspects that road-riders tend to encounter, i can see a definite advantage or improvement.

    I’m just not sure if i could, at this point, shell out that kind of money for a system like that. The non-intrusive neck protection is most definitely my favorite aspect of it, but running something like a LEATT brace is acceptable in my opinion, albeit no way as comfortable.

    If you get hit, or somebody hits you, you’ll end up in the hospital regardless. No questions about it. You still got quite a bit of your body dangling outside the safety of your Airbag.

    I’m not trying to knock this technology, because i really like it, and for Racing, it’s an amazing thing, but it definitely needs more time to progress for on-road markets. Hopefully Dainese will be able to continue on developing and move this stuff forward.

  • Bruce Steever

    Nope.jpg

    I’ll gladly pay most of $1000 for a helmet that fits me perfectly, but this is just too costly at this level of development.

    Now, if they can offer me the airbag system from the novel Snow Crash, then i would gladly pay this sort of coin…

  • Campisi

    How does this system hold up against abrasion? Would I be wearing it over an armoured jacket, or am I to forgo shoulder and elbow protection?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      It’s for wearing over existing gear. Supplementary impact protection only.

  • Lawrences

    This would look good with my Levi’s.