Sports apparel manufacturer Dainese and American Flat Track racing (AFT) have taken a significant step in the interest of motorcycle racing safety. Following a similar rule established in 2018 for MotoGP racing, American Flat Track’s AFT SuperTwins competitors will be required to wear airbag track suits starting with the 2020 season.
Differences in MotoGP and AFT racing include the types of falls that occur and how racers’ bodies move during events. These differences meant Dainese needed to redesign the air bag suits and reprogram the software that triggers inflation.
According to AFT CEO Michael Lock, the Dainese-sponsored Estenson Racing five-rider team participated in testing the Dainese D-Air airbag system during the 2019 American Flat Track season.
D-Air racing suits have inflatable chest and shoulder sections. Motorcycle racers move around and are thrown around often. Flat track racing uses four types of tracks. On tourist trophy-style tracks, riders go over jumps, which means riders can land hard after the jumps. The suit is useless if it inflates unnecessarily. The technology that controls the suit’s inflation, therefore, must accurately differentiate between movements normally associated with racing and a combination of movements that mean the rider is about to crash.
The Dainese D-Air suit relies on a system of sensors, gyroscopes, and GPS units. The suit’s electronic control unit analyzes data from the sensing modules up to 1,000 times per second with an algorithm that must inflate the airbags immediately when it determines a crash is imminent.
Lock told Digital Trends that, while only AFT SuperTwins Class riders will be required to wear airbag racing suits during the 2020 AFT season, the eventual plan is to extend that rule to the AFT Singles and Production Twins classes.
Dainese has been developing airbag apparel for motorcycle riders since 2007. The company sells D-Air motorcycle racing suits, jackets, and vests with airbags to the public in addition to custom-tuned suits for MotoGP and AFT racing. According to Dainese, working with racing teams helps all of their customers because the technologies developed on race tracks extend to consumer apparel.
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