All kids will suffer scraped hands and knees when they first ‘get up to speed’. Whether it's their first steps, those first meters on a bike without training wheels, or when starting out on a motorcycle. When we fall, instinct dictates that we put our hands out in front of us. So if our hands are often our best protection, then we in turn should do our best to protect them.
Dainese has been developing gloves since the late 1980s, but the most important step came in 1995. The Full Pro glove was the first to feature rigid carbon fiber and aramid fiber inserts on the back and knuckles, a solution first tested by Max Biaggi. In 2006 the level of protection rose again when titanium plates were laid on top of the fiber plates. And that's when the first Full Metal glove was born. Now in its sixth evolution, hence the name, Full Metal 6 is the most advanced hand protection to be developed over almost half a century of research and experimentation in the racing world.
Full Metal 6 makes extensive use of extremely sophisticated materials with unrivalled properties. The back of the hand and knuckles feature carbon fiber and titanium, bonded so as to offer the best combination of protection and lightness. The lower carbon plate serves to effectively absorb the force of any impact, while the upper titanium plate dissipates any impact over a wider area and encourages the hand to slide when in contact with the asphalt, reducing friction. Carbon fiber protectors are located on the glove sleeve, around the head of the ulna, and on the thumb, index, middle and ring finger phalanges.
Titanium and carbon are used not only for their protective properties but also for their lightness. A key feature in a glove, as important as it is in a helmet or boot. The decision to use high quality and high performance materials such as titanium and carbon fiber has to do with the search for absolute perfection.
The leather used in the Full Metal 6 glove is goatskin, rather than cowhide, commonly used for jackets and most leather suits. Goatskin is softer and more suitable especially in the palm area, where maximum sensitivity is required on the handlebar. Nothing in a glove can be left to chance, the perfect balance between protection and freedom of movement is absolutely essential. Selecting the right materials is crucial.
Across the glove, the threads used for the seams are made of aramid fiber. The reason for this is simple but important, as aramid fiber has the ability to withstand the very high temperatures generated when there is friction against the asphalt, without deteriorating. In this way, even if the rider scrapes their hand along the ground during a fall, the glove remains intact and continues to fully protect every part of the hand.
To allow maximum comfort and responsiveness to wrist and hand movements, the glove is constructed with a natural pre-curvature of the sleeve and fingers, which traces the position of the hand on the handlebar. The shape of the glove is designed to offer the optimal riding position already at rest, so that joints and muscles are not overly strained, for the best possible control of the motorcycle. As well as ensuring greater freedom of movement, the pre-curvature drastically reduces fatigue, so the rider can concentrate solely on performance, whether in a race or over a longer session.
In order to guarantee the hand the right freedom of movement, numerous elastic panels have been added to various parts of the glove. The most obvious is the one that divides the knuckle protection from that on the back of the hand. Here, four elastic bands work in synergy to trace all movement in the best possible way. Other highly mobile areas are found on the fingers, with the exception of the little finger, at the point where the glove sleeve meets the underside of the thumb.
A rider’s little finger is the part of the hand most exposed to serious trauma. This is because it is often the first part to hit the ground in the event of sliding, and also because it can easily get stuck under the handlebars. Special attention has been paid to the little finger and an additional protective device has been developed.
The DCP system is a plastic insert, affixed to the glove with aramid fiber stitching, that is positioned at the base of the finger and can limit any unwanted movement or dangerous twisting. The little finger also features special thermoplastic plates, sewn onto the outside, which are designed to protect against abrasion and trauma.
The hands, as well as the head, back and feet, are very exposed parts of the body that need to be well protected. Not only for those racing on track at three hundred kilometers per hour, but also for those heading out for a Sunday ride, as well as those who use a scooter for day-to-day trips. This is why the technologies tested on racing gloves are also incorporated in less extreme products, to offer all riders the same levels of safety and confidence as professional riders.