“There are two kinds of bikers: those that have been down and those that are going to go down” Biker saying.
Going down in the 1970s meant to get badly hurt most of the time and this is where Dainese’s journey starts. For a better understanding of the man and the company, we’d like to bring you on this journey. We collected some stories that catch the essence of Lino’s contribution to motorcycle safety not only on the racetrack but also on the street.
The first pants
When he was 20 he fell in love with off-road riding and bought a Bultaco. He didn’t have much money so with the help of his mother he sewed a pair of leather pants taking the inspiration from the one of a professional rider. This is the point where his passion starts along with his career.
Agostini and his first crash
As Agostini remembered during an interview, the suits in the 70s were black and thin, like a second layer of skin. Although the risk of serious inquiries was very high, riders concerns were limited just to lightness and aerodynamics. To give you an idea of the lower safety standard imagine this: a well-folded racing suit would fit into a helmet. When Agostini had his first crash he stood up the suit was torn and he was half naked. Lino Dainese had his first appearance in the World Championship in 1972 with Dieter Braun, a two times Champion of the 125cc and the 250cc. In that time Dainese went to visit Agostini but knowing that he was already a star Lino didn’t want to make any mistakes, so he asked if he could inspect his suit and promised to be back in a year. The Black red and white “Ago” suit you see in old pictures is Dainese’s and the first with stronger protections.
The first back protector
In the end of the 1970s, a new rider from oversea came to Europe to compete in road racing. He met Dainese to start to work together on a Friday but on Sunday, during a race, he had a terrible crash where he broke his spine and let him paralyzed. Exactly after this horrible accident, Lino Dainese started to work on a back protector. His first thought was to contact the helmet manufacturers to make them develop a protection starting from the head. He thought that should have been the right way to go since they were already working with hard shells. The response was negative, there was no practical way to develop it from the helmet. So Lino took charge of the situation and inspired by nature, he developed the first back protector called the “aragosta” (which means “lobster”). The idea was to dissipate the energy of the hit on a wider area sustained by the back muscles which are very strong.
Lucchinelli and the Spanish sponsor
His obsession for improving safety made Dainese follow his riders on every race collecting the feedback. He developed also a strong connection with riders like Marco Lucchinelli who used to wear Dainese’s suits his whole life except for one year. It was 1981 when he became champion, and he had a Spanish sponsor who wasn’t very good in sewing the leather so that he had troubles in flexing his knees. For Dainese this is more than just a business, so he made the suit with the same colors and put the name of the Spanish sponsor on it.
Rossi and the long john
Some riders are so sensitive that they can recognize who sewed their leather, one of these riders is Valentino Rossi. That’s why he, like other riders, has his personal seamstress. His father Graziano brought him to Dainese, he was 11 years old and he was so small and thin that he had to wear two long johns under the suit to fit in.
In 2010, Rossi had the worst crash of his career forcing him out of the competition for weeks. The result is a broken tibia and fibula, the bone perforated the leather and the protection. A lot of work has being done in order to improve that area since then.
The Zero gravity Suit and the Proxima Mission
I’m not joking, it’s called BioSuit and it really went to space. Dainese is currently involved in his second space mission with the astronaut Thomas Pesquet on the Proxima Mission since November 17th. Through the partnership between the European Space Agency and the Dainese Science and Research Center, a new space suit was developed. It’s a skin suit to use inside the space station and it simulates Earth’s gravity load in a weightless environment. To make this suit Dainese requires 150 measurements of the astronaut’s body. The BioSuit was developed for the first human journey to Mars planned in 2030.
4 Great Inventions that changed motorcycle safety
#1 First of all, the back protector. It was a real game changer in motorcycle safety.
#2 The knee slider made after Kenny Roberts riding style but brought to reality by Dainese
#3 The aerodynamic bump, created to reduce turbulences at high speed which is a big problem on a motorcycle.
#4 Finally the airbag. We try to protect our soldiers with armors since the beginning of time and the principle didn’t change, it just evolved. The airbag, on the other hand, was a big leap in technology.
One last word about the future
Lino is very passionate about modern art, he said it’s the only way to have an intuition about the future. He likes artists who are manually gifted and try to look 20 or 30 years forward.
CC BY-SA 2.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2196645
By Unknown – http://www.jumpingjack.nl/GP-races_1978_heden.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17451601
By Alex Simonini – GP of Qatar, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10468512