The Story of Dainese

As technology evolves, so has Dainese.

If you or your customers are serious about sport bike riding and like to do track days, you probably know the name Dainese, a maker of high-end protective garments, helmets, gloves and boots. Although Dainese (pronounced dye-nee-zee) built its name recognition in racing, the company also makes protective wear for all categories of motorcycle riders.

Started by Lino Dainese in 1972 to make protective gear for motorcyclists, the company branched out into other sports and has produced wearable protection for both astronauts and America’s Cup sailboat racing. Dainese is one of the few aftermarket manufacturers with its own research and development (R&D) center: the D-Tec for the study of protective technology and the development of products for the market.

The company invented the back protector, knee sliders, the aerodynamic hump in the back of the riding suit and racing-specific gloves. An airbag for riders (the D-air) was prototyped in 2000 and has been refined and developed in the 20-plus years since. Dainese has its own stores in major metro areas and also distributes its products in the U.S. through Tucker.

Dainese Group (which also includes AGV helmets and TCX boots) is headquartered in Italy, which was one of the first countries to get hit by the pandemic. The company kept going despite lockdowns and supply chain issues.

“We used technology to keep moving along,” says Louis Ortega, U.S. business development manager for Dainese. “No one lost employment. Our company culture is to place people in a position where they can succeed, and that has worked very well for us. We learned many things from the pandemic, the major one being to rely on outside sources less. As a result, we have built our own factory for AGV helmets in Vietnam. We have our own people in quality control and an R&D lab in the factory where we can develop and test new materials for helmet production.”

Dainese’s standalone stores are staged like the showrooms of designer apparel, with striking architectural elements and carefully arranged displays. However, the important part of these stores is the staff. Dainese retail employees are extremely knowledgeable about the products on sale and know how to share the knowledge with customers without sounding overbearing.

“With our stores, we can create a unique experience and tell our story to customers,” Ortega says. “Our stores are designed to bring attention and raise awareness of our brands. We try to bring that sense of community to our fellow motorcyclists. We don’t feel we compete with dealers since our stores focus on carrying inventory that most dealers will never commit to displaying. Dealers compete more with motorcycle units. If you sell Hondas and there is a Honda shop 20-miles away, they are competing with you, because you are selling the same items.”

Ortega wants dealers to sell more boots, jackets, riding suits and helmets, and he has some tips for retail success, which involve hiring, customers and training:

  • Hire a dedicated salesperson for sales of wearables. Dainese has found that dealerships that have a specific associate who sells garments sell more volume of these items than those that expect the parts person to also sell gloves and helmets.
  • Know your customers. With an in-depth knowledge of who your customers are and what kind of riding they do, you can stock the right assortment of products for your unique clientele.
  • Training is key. Your floor staff should know as much as possible about the products you sell and be able to transmit that knowledge to customers in a friendly and respectful manner.

Ortega tells the story of a couple that came to a motorcycle shop looking to buy the woman a helmet. The associate presented the couple with a mid-range helmet. When the man protested that the woman would not be riding that often, the associate was able to explain, without causing offense, that a person one cares about should be wearing the most protective helmet the buyer can afford. She was also able to explain what makes a better helmet, convincing the couple to buy the mid-range helmet.

Another associate regularly sold high-end helmets to customers by pointing out that someone who spends close to $1,000 on a cell phone — a device that takes photos and sends messages — should consider spending half that amount to protect his or her brain.

One aspect of riding that Dainese believes is often ignored is rider comfort through a range of weather conditions. The sales associate should understand how the gear works in both hot and cold weather and be able to communicate this knowledge.

“Maximum comfort is maximum protection,” Ortega says. “A rider who is either cold or overheated is not functioning at 100%.”

Dainese retailers have access to the Dainese Academy, which includes 100 modules with in-depth information about Dainese products and salesmanship training, available on either Google or Apple platforms. Ortega emphasizes that these videos are carefully designed to impart effective ways to communicate with customers. He also points out that an effective, personable salesperson is a valuable asset, and efforts should be made to reward and retain them.

“It’s important to retain the people you have trained,” he says. “Dealers who retain employees are super successful.”

In the last 10 years, Dainese has invested millions of dollars in equipment specific to women. A major reason for the recent purchase of TCX, a boot manufacturer, was to gain the 20 years of experience TCX has in building a better women’s shoe.

“Most manufacturers scale down garments and market them as women’s gear,” he says. “Dainese builds women’s protection from the ground up. Our next-gen women’s racing suits are built on a ladies-specific chassis.”

Ortega also suggests that women customers should be encouraged to do their own research and be pointed to resources they can use.

“We have found that women typically have the best education if they do their own research,” he adds. “If they ask another person, they tend to get bad advice.”

Ortega believes that education is key in starting new riders off on the right foot. “If we can’t keep people in the sport, we will all suffer.” He believes one way to encourage younger people to take up motorcycling is to encourage e-bikes as a gateway to motorcycling. Dainese currently has a line of cycling protective products to help attract e-bike riders. This is a rapidly growing segment, and with the speeds that e-bikes can reach, riders should be encouraged to gear up.

The company is also partnering with rider training facilities, including the Freedom Academy (specializing is training military personnel who want to ride) and the Yamaha Champion Riding School.

“We are working with other educational organizations and also planning Dainese Expedition Academies at our different Dainese stores across the country,” Ortega says. “We hosted one of these events last year in Orlando with huge success.”

In the next five years, Dainese intends to concentrate on airbag development, hoping to offer “a shield for the body,” and evolve AGV helmets with the aid of the new R&D facility. “Research is never ending,” Ortega notes. “We believe in team research, which helps the technology evolve more quickly.”

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