It All Started With Curtains...
A trip through Europe on a Vespa to groovy 1968 London is what inspired Lino Dainese to create motorcycle gear. There, he met with avid young riders on their new superbikes, sporting cool black leathers—something that left a strong impression on young Lino.
While Dainese was only officially founded as a company in 1972, the first project to receive the now famous name was a pair of motocross pants designed in 1971 that would later become the Motocross I Series. It all started with newspaper patterns and a mockup made from curtains fabric.
The Armadillo Or The Lobster
The team at Dainese insists that every piece of gear they work on combines protection, aerodynamics, and flexibility—a principle adopted by the brand early on. In 1979, Dainese came up with the industry's very first back protector.
In order to provide additional rigidity to protect the rider's back without compromising on range of motions, the company drew inspiration from an armadillo and a lobster shell which are both solid and flexible.
The Famous MV Agusta 500 Three
Vittorio insisted that racing such as MotoGP not only serves a purpose as a spectacle for the enthusiasts, but is also the best test lab for gear they have. The brand associates with such high level racers as Giacomo Agostini or Valentino Rossi to push the limits of the gear and collect precious data and feedback on what works and what needs to be improved.
He repeated a number of times that the evolution of Dainese wouldn't have been the same without motorcycle racing. It isn't about marketing and politics—it's about putting the gear through the ultimate, most demanding test. Ago's 500 seems perfectly appropriate in this context...
The Forrest Of Leathers
While used and damaged suits were formerly thrown away, Lino Dainese insisted that they be kept. In his opinion, every leather suit that's been in a fall is a precious source of information.
By analyzing how the racer fell and how the suit reacted to the impact or the slide or the fall, the team is able to determine where the design needs improvement. Every suit in the Forrest of Leathers has been worn by racers of all levels and has taken a tumble. The scratches and tears are displayed like medals.
The Wall Of Celebrities
Lining up the wall are the leathers of some of the biggest names in racing history. Just like the 500 Three, they serve as a reminder that the evolution of motorcycle gear not only relies but depends on motorsports.
Isle Of Man TT And Paris-Dakar
While MotoGP holds a special place in Dainese's heart, the brand has been involved in a number of other racing series, including the Isle of Man TT and the Paris-Dakar rally. In 1983, the biggest names of the desert raid were sporting the Demon logo, which recently inspired a collection of clothing.
In the D-LAB, we get to check out the "behind the scenes" of motorcycle gear manufacturing. From the patterns used for the leathers of the biggest names in racing hanging on the wall to the drafts for new collections to the color, motifs, and material charts; we get a unique peek behind the curtain.
Early Ideas Of Using Air For Protection
It took Dainese no less than 26 years to perfect its D-Air airbag technology. The idea of using an airbag system to protect the motorcycle riders's neck, a sensitive area, came to Lino while he was diving in 1994. His Buoyancy Control Device made him feel safe and secure.
Early designs suggested the airbag be deployed from the helmet—the concept was introduced at Intermot 1996. As Vittorio explained, however, this compromised the helmet's integrity and made it heavier, so it was back to the drawing board.
The Jacket Is The Answer
Ultimately, the company decided that the airbag should instead be integrated to the jacket. In 2000, Dainese in collaboration of Israeli firm MERHAV AAP introduced the first functioning concept of the D-Air jacket. MERHAV AAP possessed the military-grade technology Dainese required to make its jacket.
The first generation of the airbag was too bulky for success, which prompted the company to continuously work on the design to end up with the fully integrated airbag, introduced in 2008.
Different Sports, Different Airbags
Dainese might be best known for its motorcycle gear, however, the company also designs gear for speed skiing athletes including helmets and specially adapted D-Air suits.
Today, the lineup of D-Air products spans a number of disciplines and because different sports will face different types of impacts in case of a crash, the airbags vary in form to adapt to the requirements of the discipline.
To Infinity And Beyond... Or Just Mars
Dainese was approached by the MIT to work on a space suit prototype for the NASA for a future mission to Mars. The Biosuit combines Dainese's experience creating gear that is both sturdy and flexible, but also its understanding of how the body moves and how gear can be optimized accordingly.
Ground Control To Major Tom
While MIT dreams of Mars, Dainese is already in space with this under armour suit that combines all the qualities of a Dainese design with added health benefits for astronauts.
This special suit is meant to help combat the effects of Zero Gravity on the human body by simulating gravity—it creates a slight compression by pressing the shoulder down and the feet up, the same way gravity compresses our bodies. This is meant to avoid degenerative bone and organ issues some astronauts face after prolonged stays aboard the ISS.
14 / 14