It’s a beautiful sunny day, and you’re taking advantage of that by getting on your motorcycle and cruising down the highway. The highway is great – five lanes, smoothly paved, no potholes, little traffic – until all of a sudden the car to your left swerves and fishtails into your rear tire. You wiggle around trying to regain control, but it’s no use. The bike is not having it. It quickly falls to its side, sliding out from under you, and you hit the ground hard, flipping multiple times, skidding across the other three lanes.
After what seems like forever, you finally stop somewhere on the side of the road. Your jacket is torn to shreds, both your arms are probably broken, you’ve definitely suffered some spinal damage, and you can’t feel your legs. The paramedics show up and tell you that you’re lucky to be alive. And to add insult to injury, not even a month later you receive a medical bill with a number so high you about faint – not to mention you’ll never get on a motorcycle ever again.
Now picture that same situation – sunlight, freeway, blah blah – car hits you. In the twenty-five milliseconds (the blink of an eye is 300ms, to give you perspective) your jacket inflates with an airbag and before you even start to slide, your body is protected.
Your neck is held in position to prevent rolling, your collarbone is shielded, and your shoulders, chest, and back are fully protected. You hit the ground and become fully aware of what is happening. The firm airbag structure made of microfilaments protects your body and once you come to a standstill, you get up, dust yourself off, and handle the situation with a strong head on your shoulders.
Since 2009, MotoGP (essentially the F1 racing of the motorcycle world) riders have been using this technology in their racing suits. Riders have experienced high-speed slides, tumbles, flips – you name it. Thanks to Dainese and their advanced D-Air technology, many lives have been saved. While racing suits aren’t necessarily practical for consumer use, Dainese offers a program where you can customize your suit with various colors and logos. If you want to really customize your suit, you can get it custom fitted.
MotoGP isn’t the only sport that Dainese has introduced this technology to, either. Athletes competing in the Alpine Skiing World Cup have also been protected using D-Air, and Dainese is currently developing similar technology for athletes in the America’s Cup (those cool crazy fast racing sailboats), not only for protection but also as a flotation device. Now with the extreme success in the professional market, Dainese has decided it’s time to bring this to the consumers.
The consumer-friendly Dainese D-Air jackets come in three different styles: the Continental (a very basic jacket), Cyclone (a more versatile jacket which can also be used for touring) and the Misano (a sporty leather jacket). At the top of the spine and jacket’s back protection is where the “brains” of the jacket reside, housing the sensors, gas canisters and electrical components of the D-Air. Once the brain detects that a crash is imminent (developed by testing movements riders make before crashing), the airbag deploys.
As a rider, a concern of mine was accidental deployment. Much to my surprise, Dainese had already experimented with accidental deployment and perfected the process to the point where it would not effect your ride. In the situation of a car crash, for example, an airbag deployment would injure you and make it impossible to drive. With D-Air, the rider would feel a quick, slight jolt and be able to go on their merry way.
The jackets start at about $1700 with an airbag replacement only being $200. While that may seem like a high price for a jacket, the more money you spend on your motorcycle gear, the more protection you’re guaranteed. And with nothing else like this on the market (other companies have tried and been very, very unsuccessful), that $1700 may and most likely will save your life.
The D-Air consumer line is set to come out in March/April of this year at Dainese locations and other retailers around the United States.