Dainese rides in, guns for new-gen bikers
Italian riding gear maker revs up its India gameplan, aims to draw new-generation bikers with its wide range of acclimatised-for-India products. Karthik H reports.
“We offer protection, comfort and style in all our products,” said Federico Minoli, CEO, Dainese Protective Gear. Dainese’s arrival in India, according to Minoli, was triggered by the presence or upcoming plans of high-powered motorcycle manufacturers like KTM, BMW Motorrad, Triumph and Aprilia. “For India, we will roll out our ‘Hot Climate Collection’ which is a range of specially perforated riding gear for hotter conditions,” added Minoli. The Hot Climate Collection is a brainchild of the company’s R&D centre in Malaysia.
Dainese currently manufactures a range of its helmets in an export-oriented unit in Vadodara. The plant has an installed capacity of around 500,000 helmets per annum, with current numbers hovering around the 150,000 units mark each year. Almost all of the produce is exported to European markets, but a small number is sold in India. The recently launched line of apparels by Royal Enfield includes Dainese’s helmets.
“The helmets are only assembled here. There aren’t any anti-fog and clear coat suppliers (for visors) here in India,” added Minoli. The helmets are exported as AGV Helmets, a Dainese brand.
Dainese’s product line for India includes helmets, riding gloves, protective gear like elbow and knee guards, boots, jackets and pants. All of these, at least for now, will be imported and sold from exclusive Dainese showrooms.
The Italian company is known worldwide for its protective gear for motorcycling, mountain hiking, skiing and bicycling. Some of the more high-profile users of Dainese gear include nine-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi and six-time world champion Max Biaggi.
On cue, Minoli talked about how tough it is to instill the practice of wearing safety gear while riding. “Bringing in the culture of wearing safety gear will be tough, especially given how many people ride here. We will start from the racing track, because it’s a lot of exposure and poses the maximum danger,” he added. Minoli’s excitement about the racing track became obvious when he said, “We are willing to sponsor an Indian rider to learn about safety in our school in Italy if that helps to spread the culture of safety here.” However, Minoli is not targeting the family of four on a bike. “We are looking at that youngster who has bought a Royal Enfield or a KTM, who understands safe riding,” he quipped.
For its India operations, Dainese, understandably, has chosen to partner with an existing and experienced retail firm in Tusker PAM. Tusker will operate the D Store in Bangalore with full back-end support from Dainese’s tech centre and marketing office in Kuala Lumpur. While the often baffling Indian market can be a challenge to even the biggest of brands, Dainese has allied itself with a retailer whose experience comes from selling Harley-Davidson motorcycles in Bangalore and Goa and also premium eye wear brand for bikers, Wiley X.
Tusker is managed by avid biker Srinivas Reddy. “This was important to us,” said Minoli, “as we wanted someone who would understand biking in India.” Reddy narrated his side of the story by adding, “When I proposed to the company about my dream of having the brand in India, they were equally happy and motivated to materialise my dream.”
Asked about the upcoming store in Bangalore, Reddy was only too glad to share the details. “D Store Bangalore will be the first of its kind in India that would provide safety and protection with top quality, fit and style to all motorcycle and bicycle riders across the country. We aim at being active in educating riders who are not aware of the height of safety they require and what Dainese offers,” he said. Minoli insisted that Dainese as a brand has to remain premium and that he can’t possibly compete with the prices offered by local manufacturers.
For India and other countries with similar weather conditions, Dainese’s R&D team in Malaysia has brainstormed to come up with the Hot Climate Collection of products that includes perforated jackets. The D Stores in India will mainly market this collection. “We will be equipped with a collection in all ranges but concentrate more on the riding gear with perforation,” said Reddy, who, of course speaks highly of Dainese’s commitment to safety.
“While promoting riding as a culture, we stress on the importance of safety and protection and Dainese is a perfect fit for our vision. I believe that premium motorcycle and bicycle riders in India value quality that is impeccable and Dainese has the products that fit the high expectation of the riders,” he said. Dainese’s gear is worn at the highest level of motorcycle racing by racing ace Rossi. “What better place than the race track to show how safe a rider is in our gear,” queried Minoli.
Reddy is visibly excited by Dainese’s plans for India and has already planned to set up more stores across the country. “Over the next few years, we aim at opening stores in major cities that predominantly are known to have embraced the culture of premium motorcycles. This would mean cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Coimbatore,” he added.
Although the products may vary, Reddy promises that the upcoming D Store will follow the standards established by Dainese’s stores across Italy and Germany. Which means quality will be sacrosanct.
INTERVIEW WITH TOMMASO BRUZZESE, AREA DIRECTOR — SOUTH EAST ASIA, DAINESE
What went into creating the perforated riding gear? Was it just the climatic conditions in Asia?
Basically, it was due to the climate condition. I would like to remind you that safety means the combination of three important factors — protection, comfort and style. We always keep in mind our ‘safety mission’ when we launch a new product.
What are the materials used in this particular gear?
The main fabric that we use for the summer gears are boomerang fabric, quick dry fabric and mesh fabric. The combination of such fabrics and their specific qualities studied by Dainese allow keeping the rider cool without compromising on the high resistance to abrasion, breaking and tear.
What are the effects of using perforated riding gear in conditions like India's?
The first important effect is that you feel definitely fresher, you will feel more comfortable and you will enjoy your riding. A model such as ‘Air Frame Tex’ offers excellent ventilation by ample mesh insert; whenever the temperature drops, we offer a removable lightweight wind cheating insert. It is already included in the jacket. It is not optional.
What are the savings in weight, if any, in this particular riding gear?
Definitely they are lighter than leather or gore tex jackets. However, it is difficult to be too specific.
What products comprise the ‘Hot Climate Collection’?
We developed a wide range of product for hot climates. These include:
> The City Guard is a fully perforated jacket with chest and back protector included. It is the perfect combination of protection, comfort and style.
> Air Three Tex and Air Frame Tex, which are typical city jackets.
> Super Speed Tex.
> Air tourer jacket.
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