This is the final production version of Dainese D-Air, the new airbag equipped racing suits that you’ve seen Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo racing in this year. Dainese’s is the most sophisticated motorcycle airbag yet. 10 years in the making, D-Air incorporates GPS, three accelerometers, three gyroscopic sensors, the ability to fully inflate in .05 seconds, deflate in 5 seconds and it will reduce forces transmitted to the shoulders and collarbone tenfold while also preventing neck injuries caused by hyperextension or flexion. Dainese D-air is the future of motorcycle safety and this news story is exclusive to Hell For Leather.
D-Air isn’t the first airbag-equipped leather suit to be unveiled. We attended the unveiling of Alpinestars TechAir last April, but that system won’t go on sale until next summer and, despite the similarities, isn’t as sophisticated as Dainese’s solution. RS-Taichi, Spidi and others also offer airbag-equipped suits or jackets, but those all rely on a lanyard connecting rider to bike, limiting their practicality and effectiveness (forgetfulness will cost you and, in some accidents, the rider doesn’t always fully depart the bike before impact occurs).
D-Air is similar to TechAir not just in name, but also in form. Both systems are incorporated into a suit’s aerodynamic hump and inflate inside the suit. Both are also designed to deflate quickly to allow for race restarts, but Alpinestars’ airbag takes 20 seconds to fully deflate to Dainese’s 5-second time. TechAir allows for a second discharge in case of an accident after a race restart, it’s not currently if D-Air is also so capable.
TechAir also incorporates accelerometers and gyroscopic sensors like D-Air, but Alpinestars does not make use of a GPS unit. That might help explain the weight difference between the two: TechAir wighs 500g to D-Air’s 650g.
The reason that D-Air incorporates a GPS sensor is in order to measure speed. Dainese is serious about only triggering airbag inflation when it’s really needed and claims the system is able to tell the difference between the kind of low-side where you slide without tumbling — not necessitating airbag protection — and the kind of low-side where you bounce and spin along the ground — requiring the added impact protection.
Using the three accelerometers, which each monitor movement in a single plane and the gyroscopic sensors, D-Air can also tell the difference between a low-side and a high-side, when you definitely want some added impact protection. Just ask Valentino Rossi, who credits the system with reducing the severity of the injuries he suffered when he highsided at Mugello this summer, breaking his leg.
“The airbag in my leathers worked very well and my helmet was just slightly scratched,” Rossi said from his hospital bed after the 111mph crash. “I don’t have a single bruise! The problem was that I landed on my leg, and it was stuck under my body. If I had landed on my back it would have been different.”
Dainese didn’t stop there with GPS or the other sensors though. Since they’re there anyways, Dainese’s enabled them to collect performance metrics like lap times (accurate to .1 seconds), top speed, rates of acceleration and deceleration, lean angle and precise locations of all the above. You can connect the suit to your computer to download this data via USB. The suit incorporates a rechargeable battery that lasts for up to eight hours.
As you can see in this short video, D-Air incorporates an external multicolor LED status display mounted on the suit’s sleeve.
It seems crazy that we’ve come this far into an article about a new airbag without discussing the bag itself. Filling to 5-liters of capacity, the bag inflates around the shoulders and collarbone provide, Dainese claims, a “tenfold” reduction in impact forces to the areas it protects when compared to the company’s existing body armor. The areas of the suit surrounding the bag incorporate an elastic material, allowing the suit to expand as the bag inflates. Of the two bags you can see in this photo, it’s the one on the right that will be incorporated into this iteration of D-Air. A system for road use is still under development and will presumably incorporate the expanded area of bag coverage.
When inflated, D-Air also serves as a sort of bumper for the helmet, helping prevent your neck from bending too far to the side or rear.
Dainese plans to officially unveil D-Air at EICMA next week and it will be available along with the rest of the company’s 2011 collection. We don’t currently know what kind of premium D-Air will demand, but Alpinestars will add $2,500 to the cost of its suits for TechAir. D-Air will not be available in the US, likely due to liability concerns.