The Imola 200 Mile race was born with powerful bikes, spectacular settings, and talented, hard-fighting riders. The riders’ knees become yet another tool to be skillfully wielded, so Dainese invented the Istrice model knee slider.
Another innovation introduced by Dainese between the '70s and '80s was the knee slider, the pad now featured by every professional suit on the market. Also this product was born on the racetrack, thanks to the relationship that Dainese has always succeeded in establishing with its racers. These were the days of the first Imola 200 Mile races. The idea came to Imola agronomist Checco Costa, a man who’d been organizing big races for more than 20 years, when he flew to the USA to watch the 200 mile race in Daytona. The formula seemed to guarantee success in Italy as well because it offered all the right ingredients: extremely powerful 750 cc motorcycles, spectacular settings, and gifted, combative riders. Following the growing success that greeted the first editions, Californian Kenny Roberts was signed on, and motorcycle racing changed forever. With those enormous, powerful two-stroke 750 cc bikes, you had to angle closer to the ground, and Kenny, the "Goodyear Man", angled closer than anyone. That was one of the reasons they called him the "Martian". If the occasional rider had grazed the asphalt with his knee, Kenny literally scraped the ground, and even applied a carefully calibrated weight, to the point of detaching layers of the suit's leather below.
It was Kenny Roberts' idea: protect my knees with something like a sled that also keeps the suit from moving around too much. Chunks of full-face polycarbonate helmet visor were cut for the purpose first, then plastic lubricant bottles. Silver canvas-backed adhesive tape was used to fasten the pad to the knee. This was the birth of the slider, affectionately also known as the racing suit's "soap pads". Dainese signed the first industrial design: the Istrice knee slider (named in honor of the "porcupine" spikes that emerged when the leg was flexed) that featured a set of soft cylinders that came out of a special base (applied to the suit's knee) when the leg was bent.