Dainese Elbow Sliders with Valentino Rossi
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While looking at some images from new acquaintance Darren Marlowe recently, I noticed that Valentino Rossi was sporting what I thought was a new style of Dainese elbow slider at the first Sepang MotoGP Test.
Here is a close up of Darren’s image, cropped tightly to show the slider:
How does this design differ from what we usually see Rossi in? In the past, Dainese leathers have had simply the metal protector plates, which mirrored the look of the titanium plates found on the knee and shoulder area, as shown on Stefan Bradl’s leathers from Phillip Island, 2013.
Titanium is cool and all, but is it the best material to rub against the pavement?
The chances of such sparks leading to anything catching fire is certainly remote, but why take the chance?
A friend from Alpinestars pointed out to me that his brand would never use titanium in such a location. Their elbow slider has looked pretty much the same since a removable plate was developed for Marc Marquez, and the material that touches the pavement does not produce sparks.
Shown here on Jorge Lorenzo’s leathers, the Alpinestars solution is a small removable plate held with a hook and loop fastener. Note the size difference between the latest Dainese model up top and the Alpinestars model directly above.
Dainese has put in a fair bit of research into elbow sliders before arriving at the one Rossi wore at Sepang:
Along with Stefan Bradl, Pol Espargaro also wore this design several times during the 2014 season. Compared to the Alpinestars model, which is a relatively small slider attached in a fixed location on the elbow, this one has a large area of loop material to choose from, allowing the rider to move the slider around as desired. Bradl has made good use of this plastic (rather than titanium) slider, having worn through all but the final E of the Dainese name.
Looking through images specifically for elbow slider details, I noticed that at the end of the 2014 season Bradl and Pol Espargaro both appeared with this one:
Perhaps Rossi’s Sepang slider isn’t new after all, as this looks like the same design. The material of the slider itself looks a bit different, but perhaps it’s only paint or some other coating, as you can see in the top most image how the color has been removed at the point of friction.
A top view of this newest slider in action:
Rather than allow a smallish slider to be positioned as desired, the new design uses a much larger pad in a fixed location.
The slider pad is complimented by a metal plate just below it:
I believe this is to protect suit and rider in the event of a crash that finds the rider sliding on his back and with an elbow down on the pavement.
This type of elbow protection isn’t new, or course. The older Dainese design with the titanium plate is this type of protection rather than an elbow slider designed to function like a knee slider. In 2009, Loris Capirossi wore a Berik suit with this type of elbow protector:
The Berik suit worn by Hiroshi Aoyama in 2014 is similar in this area:
Knee slider-type elbow sliders are fairly recent on MotoGP leathers compared to the above style of elbow crash protection. Still, why has Rossi been so slow to adopt the use of a proper elbow slider-equipped suit, especially given that Bradl and Espargaro have been testing different designs?
Straying, as I love to do, into the gray area of Speculation, I’ll posit the possibility that Bradl and Pol Espargaro test designs of elbow sliders (and possibly other suit features) in competition to see how they function as part of their deals with Dainese. Or perhaps they simply contribute this development because they don’t mind doing so. It’s possible, given Rossi’s well-known devotion to routine and superstitious nature, that he doesn’t want to switch mid-season to a difference even seemingly as small as an elbow slider. We’ll have to see what he lines up with in Qatar: old style titanium elbow protection, or new style removable Dainese elbow sliders.
Top Photograph: ©2015 by Darren Marlowe – All Rights Reserved
Other Photographs: ©2009–2014 by Scott Jones / PHOTO.GP – All Rights Reserved