Dainese D-Air street airbag vest, £699.99 and sensor kit, £439.99
Time tested: Seven months/5000 miles
What’s good? It’s reassuring to ride with Dainese’s electronic system watching over me, which can detect an accident is happening and fire an airbag to protect my neck, shoulders, chest and back (see right for what you get and how it works). The two kits – the vest and the sensor kit - were supplied by Hertfordshire Dainese dealer Bike Stop and fitted by their technical partners at the nearby Honda dealership. The service was excellent from both Bike Stop and Norton Way, and takes around half a day with the cost included in the price of purchase. The sensors under the seat and on the fork legs aren’t intrusive, although the handlebar-mounted ‘control’ unit is quite bulky (see below). The jacket itself can be worn over normal riding kit and it’s also possible to wear a rucksack over the top of it. When I’m riding with it on, I don’t even know it’s there, which is why it’s handy to have a status indicator on the handlebars to show the battery is charged and the system is armed. The battery lasts ages on one charge - Dainese claim over 20 hours of riding time, and my experience suggests it’s considerably more than that. It charges through a simple USB conenction and will get to full charge overnight or in a day at the office. Mercifully I’ve not crashed in the D-Air Street (yet), but as a previous victim of chest and shoulder injuries, the extra protection in that area is very welcome.
What’s not? I’d like to see a more slender design for the bar-mounted display on future models. Some will criticise the high price - £1400 total. But there is a lot of technology here and to my mind it is a superior solution to airbags that are activated by the release of a tether that connects rider to bike. There is a further inconvenience of an annual service that needs to be carried out at Dainese in Italy. Bike Stop have an insurance/service plan that covers all costs of servicing and any damage caused in an accident.
Quality rating: 5/5
Value rating: 4/5
WHAT YOU GET AND HOW IT WORKS
D-Air Street consists of a sensor kit (the M-kit) and the best (J-kit). The M-kit has an underseat sensor to detect impacts from the rear, fork sensors to detect front impacts and a bar-mounted computer processor unit (CPU) that also displays status. The underseat sensor also detects if the bike is falling.
Both rider and a pillion can wear vests and the M-kit on the bike will trigger both simultaneously.
The M-kit is powered from the bike’s electrical system and the J-kit has a self-contained battery that is recharged by a phone-style charger. Dainese claim over 20 hours of riding time from one charge.
The LCD display on the CPU informs the rider of the status of the vest’s battery, whether the two kits are connected properly and also flags up any errors with the system.
The J-kit and M-kit both have phone-style SIM cards and communicate wirelessly. If it detects and accident the M-kit sends the signal to inflate the airbag and it takes 45 milliseconds from first contact between bike and a foreign object for the vest to be fully inflated.