MCN sat down with Dainese and AGV CEO, Cristiano Silei, to find out about the man behind the brands, the future of motorcycle safety and why protection is so important to him.
Who is Cristiano Silei?
“I’ve done a number of things. I was with Ducati for almost 19 years and I worked in a number of positions. The last one was Vice President of Sales and Marketing for more than 10 years.
“I was CEO of North America and several other things in the meantime, so I’ve had a long stint with motorcycles. Before that, I was a management consultant.
“I consulted for Ducati back in 1996 and I worked on their strategy plan. At the end of that, they made me an offer I could not refuse – as Italian’s like to say!
“I accepted that and I’m glad I did. I had a wonderful time at Ducati and I did a lot of things in those years, but now I am here, I am having the time of my life. It's phenomenal."
Why is motorcycle safety so important to you?
“I’m a business person, but every decision I have made in my life through my career has always been driven by things I have passion for – that’s why I spent so much time at Ducati. I loved the brand, I loved the people, I loved the bikes.
“Motorcycling is a special passion, it’s a special place. It’s very genuine and people are very enthusiastic about what they do. However, when you produce motorcycles, in the back of your head, you are aware that you are producing a tool that is inherently dangerous.
“In almost 19 years at Ducati, we had several experiences unfortunately where people close to us got in trouble and sometimes fatally so. I enjoyed what I did and loved the product, the people and the passion, but there was an element of risk, which in a way, I was indirectly contributing to.
“Here it is exactly the opposite. You get to enjoy the same passion and determination for the industry, yet every day you go home and you know that everything you’ve done today – even if it’s only book keeping – has contributed to saving someone from the consequences of crashing.
“That makes a huge difference for all of us here, knowing that the end result of what we do is not just beautiful products and business, it is contributing to protecting people that enjoy one or more of the sports that we love.”
What is the next big step in motorcycle safety?
“I thoroughly believe that the best we can actually do as an industry is to raise awareness of the importance of being properly equipped.
“People that really love motorcycling understand that well and you won’t see any racer that doesn’t understand how important it is to have the best equipment available to them. Making people more aware of the importance of doing this – that will be the most important innovation, in my opinion.
“The other step is also how do we foster utilisation? How do we make sure it’s easy for people to understand? That’s why I believe that the true next step for protective gear is making it more intuitive, making it simpler, making it easier, making it lighter, making it more accessible.
“An example of this is back protectors. They make a huge difference if you have a crash, especially on the road, so why don’t people use them?
“Well, first, it’s because they’re heavy. The second reason is because they are cumbersome. They are rigid and they bother you, especially if you have a tight jacket. The third reason people don’t use them is because they sweat underneath them.
“This is how we think and this is what we are thinking about in order to adapt for the future. That’s how the Dainese Pro Armour family was born.
“This offers a CE level two back protector, which is light, flexible and 43% of the surface is hollow so air goes through. All of a sudden, you are removing at least three of the major objections to wearing a back protector. This is how we think here.”
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