Motor Culture Asia had the great privilege of speaking to Mr Lino Dainese, President of Dainese, and the company’s CEO, Mr Federico Minoli, when they were in town for the unveiling of the new design of the Dainese showroom in Singapore.
Dainese, an Italian company founded in 1972 by its current President Mr Lino Dainese, started out as a manufacturer of Motocross leather pants. Since its beginning, the company’s history has been intertwined with that of legendary riders who have made motorcycling history: from Giacomo Agostini, Barry Sheene, Freddy Spencer, Kenny Roberts and Kevin Schwantz in the FIM Road Racing Championship to Edi Orioli and Franco Picco in the Paris-Dakar off-road race, champions were wearing Dainese gear as far back as the 1970s. Today, the tradition is carried on by the most illustrious names in motorcycling like Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, Jorge Lorenzo, Nicky Hayden and many others.
Good day, firstly please share with us the current vision of Dainese.
Well, our vision in the longer term is that we intend to bring our expertise in apparel-based protection to a broader public, not only the people who participate in sports or racing, but to those who use motorcycles to commute. What we have established now we will continue to develop in the areas of comfort and lightness. Our intermediate focus is the further development of our air protection technology in more diverse uses. We started development of the Dainese D-Air system in the most difficult and testing of conditions such as the MotoGP, and have since progressed to the streets. Now we intend to look at other areas such as skiing.
What are the new technologies and innovations to follow-up on the Dainese D-Air?
We actually have a room at the Dainese HQ that is completely painted white. It is our room of ideas. We have filed a huge number of projects in that room which we will work on when the opportunities arise. In the past we have always focused on sports and performance, but now we realised that what we have achieved in wearable safety technologies could be applied in different areas such as safety garments for the elderly and it is actually not that complex as there is much more reaction time afforded to protect and anticipate accidental movement impacts. We just need to compute the algorithms for these uses.
In fact Lino loves to think the field of motorcycling could teach the developed world a thing or two. We are the first to create an electronic sensor-based intelligent air-protection system that knows when to deploy itself way before the rider does. Our new D-Air Street has a key sensor unit attached to the front forks that ensures impact deployment reaction time within 40 milliseconds. We have tested traditional cord-based airbag systems and 150 milliseconds just aren’t fast enough.
Lino has this saying that cultivating the aspect of safety is paramount. When he evaluates about how a Dainese product performs, it is not about protecting the client but more like his own son. There is a lot of emotion channeled into all Dainese products and the quality and performance clearly shows.
How different are riders today compared to 20 years ago?
The way that they ride these days is self-evident. When we first started the Italians’ track style was different from the Americans. Kenny Roberts was the first to put his knee down at the corners. We still have his visor that we taped to his knee at the races. Lino Dainese invented the knee slider soon after that. The recent years we have launched titanium shoulder pads and now some MotoGP riders are touching the ground with their arms and we are looking at protecting that area at this moment.
The culture of safety is more evident with today’s professional riders. Riders of the past were more accepting of the risks associated with their profession without really questioning it. Today’s racers question safety aspects a lot more but it is still hard to convince them to put something new on. But once they try it and discover it works, they are really appreciative about the additional input. Now all riders seriously want to be well-protected and will not tolerate any risks.
Mr Lino knows motorcycling is a very passionate affair and a great adventure on every ride with friends, but he says do it in an intelligent way – the cobblestones in Italy doesn’t care if you fall off a Vespa or a Ducati.