Ducati unveils airbag option for Multistrada

Ducati project engineer Paolo Versari demonstrated the airbag with a trial firing at the press conference at the company’s factory in Bologna, Italy

Ducati has unveiled the first rider airbag to be integrated into a motorcycle. Ducati’s Multistrada S Touring D-Air model is loaded with sensors and an extra ECU to analyse the sensor data and fire an airbag worn by the rider. Riding jackets loaded with an airbag, or an airbag-equipped vest to go over existing riding kit, are available separately.

Sensors at the front and rear of the bike, and additional accelerometers, detect an accident in around 25 milliseconds. Once the onboard system gives the signal, it takes a further 15 milliseconds to fully deploy a 5cm thick airbag to protect the rider’s back chest and neck. Ducati says the airbag absorbs or deflects twice as much energy as current top-spec back protectors, and covers a wider area of the rider’s body.

Ducati has developed the system in association with Dainese and it’s based on the clothing manufacturer’s D-Air Street airbag vests and jackets. It has been tailored to work with the Multistrada with a refined electronics package and LEDs on the instrument cluster to tell the rider the airbag system is operational, or to warn there’s a problem.

At a press conference in Bologna to unveil the new Multistrada D-Air system, Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali said: “We need to tell our customers that we are taking care of them. If the system we have developed with Dainese can save just one life then it will pay back all the effort the two companies have put into this.”

Multistradas equipped with D-Air will be available from May 2014 for £16,450 – a £655 premium over the price of the Multistrada S Touring. UK prices for the airbag-equipped Ducati Gore-Tex riding jacket and mesh vest aren’t available at this time, but Ducati in Italy estimates the jacket will cost 1400 Euros and the vest will be 700 Euros.

Honda unveiled the first motorcycle airbag on its GoldWing in 2007, but that airbag is on the bike rather than the rider and is designed to protect against impact with the machine itself. Ducati and Dainese’s system protects from frontal impacts, being struck from behind and falling from the bike. The D-Air’s airbag stays inflated long enough to protect a rider sliding along the road following an accident.

Tony Hoare

By Tony Hoare

Former MCN Consumer Editor