Dainese's D-air racing airbag suit is finally available in US
It’s impossible to talk about Dainese without recognizing its impact on the market. The list of “market firsts” for the Italian motorcycle apparel company is impressive. It includes colored leathers, the back protector, knee sliders, the aerodynamic hump, carbon-/titanium-protected gloves, biaxial boots, and now the wireless airbag racing suit.
Observant readers will note that MotoCP racers have been wearing airbag suits since 2007, with the first deployment in competition occurring that year at the Valencia GP. D-air has been available in Europe since 2011 and was certified by Germany’s very stringent TUV product testing agency in ’10.
So why has it taken so long for D-air to come to market in the US? The short answer: There are different standards for electronic devices in the US, namely FCC and UL requirements. Now, with those hurdles finally cleared, two products are ready for sale: the Misano cowhide-racing suit ($2,499) and the custom-order kangaroohide Mugello (starting at around $4,000).
D-air’s brain resides in the suit’s back hump. Seven sensors, including three accelerometers, three gyroscopes, a CPS receiver, and 2CB of internal memory and a lithium-ion battery are packed into the compartment.
While the hardware is special, the key to the racing suit’s effectiveness are algorithms written into the software.
Because repacking/rearming the suit requires sending it back to Dainese, you don’t want the airbag deploying unless it is absolutely necessary. This means there are certain situations in which the suit will not deploy. Right now, only a D-air racing suit (intended for track use) is available, but a street version is currently undergoing certification. At speeds below 31 mph, the airbag won’t deploy, and it can also detect how you are crashing. In otherwords, itwill deploy fora highsideor lowside in which there is tumbling but not a simple slide on your backside. When the sensors determine a crash is imminent, it triggers the Cool Gas Generator, which deploys the 4-liter airbag to protect the shoulders and collarbones in just 30 milliseconds (about a tenth of the time it takes to blink your eye). It then stays firmly inflated for about five seconds and deflates completely in about 30.
Proof of D-air’s effectiveness? Since 2009, only one MotoCP rider wearing the suit has fractured a collarbone, while riders not wearing D-air have suffered 52.