Dainese originally created the D-Air concept around the year 2000. The idea was to produce a protective vest that functioned as a car airbag, but for a motorcycle rider. Initially, they developed a vest-like garment that inflated when by a pull cord.
This eventually evolved into an internal system contained within a rider’s leathers. First seen by many in an official race when Marco Simoncelli crashed out of the 2007 Valencia 250GP.
After more years of development, the Dainese D-Air system was released, for track day use by everyday riders in 2011. This latest suit kept the airbag internal to the suit, unlike Simoncelli’s external suit.
Having the airbag internally saves abrasion damage to the bag, which in order for it to work has to be sealed. Every day riders can’t afford a new suit every time, so replacing a new panel in the event of an off is cheaper than a whole new airbag.
Is an airbag suit worth it?
Dainese’s patented D-Air protective race suit offers a luxury experience like few others. With both off the peg sizing and tailored custom measurements available. Dainese also offers customisation from start to finish.
With custom sizes and colors, the Misano lets you feel like Rossi, whilst also being protected to the same level. Constructed out of the same D-Skin 2.0 leather with aluminium and titanium inserts and sliders, the same as Mr Rossi himself.
I bought my suit through the Manchester D-Store, they sorted all the custom measurements, and let me sort out the colours. The delivery took around two months, which isn’t bad for a full custom suit.
The Misano leathers initially were a bit tight when I first got them, but the D-Store told me they would stretch out promptly, and after 2-3 days riding they fit perfectly.
I’ve had plenty of crashes in them and wouldn’t ride on track without an airbag suit now. I don’t even hear or feel it go off, but it’s never failed to go off during a big crash.
The only time I’ve fallen off and it hasn’t gone off is in the wet at Donington. I had the most gentle low side I’ve ever had, but the suit still looked after me despite the airbag not deploying.
Dainese airbag suit review
The airbag itself has prevented me from sustaining a serious injury to my shoulder and collarbones after an off at Cadwell. When it deploys, it’s about 3” thick around your shoulders, and it is amazing how padded it makes you feel. According to the owner’s manual, the airbag has a 4 Litre capacity to pad out your head neck, and shoulders, keeping them in place.
Once the airbag is deployed, it makes it next to impossible to pick the bike up or do anything until it goes down which takes about 5 minutes after being set off.
Dainese D air deployment
A downside to the Dainese D-air suit is you have to send it back to Dainese in Italy to have the airbag replaced, which usually takes two weeks. However, I think they are now offering it as a service at British Superbike events too. I didn’t want to injure myself in a crash wearing a non-airbag suit, while my main set was being serviced, so I bought a second pair to make sure I could always be fully protected.
It’s best to always swap to the other suit once one has gone off. Racing also dictates, if the airbag is deployed you have to retire, as it is really unsafe otherwise.
The good thing about the suit going back to Dainese, is they replace any damaged panels and inserts whilst it is with them. Considering the damage, repairs aren’t even that expensive. The airbag replacement itself isn’t cheap though, around £180 a time.
I’ve had both suits for just over 2 years now, and I’ll be replacing them with the exact same suits again when the time comes for replacements.
The Dainese d axial boots that go with them are without a doubt the best boots I’ve ever used too. So comfy and offer way more protection than my previous boots, whilst also fitting under the leathers.
Are motorcycle airbags worth it?
The clever thing about the D-Air system is the brains behind it all. Whilst the airbag is great at deploying rapid protection, it wouldn’t go anywhere without a brain telling it when to activate. Dainese has made a super-smart mini-computer that sits within the leathers. This super small computer takes readings of your position, orientation, g-force impact data and speeds up to 1000 times a second.
This data is then plugged into an algorithm to detect whether the airbag should deploy or not. Deployment leads to a massive reduction in force transmitted to the rider, in the event of an impact. It comes in at 1/10th the force needed to pass CE II certification.
Data logging options
There is data logging for racers too, but George has never used it. The onboard sensors can get lap times and the G readings from any crash you have which is pretty cool.
The battery lasts for weeks and only takes a few hours to charge up. It’s only active when the little zip cover is connected, so on track days/races, it can last a long time. Probably less so if used on long road rides but could easily last a few days.
The Dainese D-Air suits also come with a small LED indicator to tell you when the suit is on and working, when the system has gone off or when the system is low on power and needs recharging.
George heads up GDH Motorsport, the company that makes the finest paddock stands in carbon fibre and Stainless steel. All products are designed and made in the UK!
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