I was smitten with the Dainese Street Rider jacket as soon as I saw it on Guy Martin on the cover of a Brit bike magazine last spring, and when a press release pimping it showed up in my inbox from Dainese shortly thereafter, I took it as a sign that the gods wanted me to have one. You should stop reading right now if $679.95 is too much for a jacket; I hate to admit I’ve become a terrible 1%-er when it comes to things like this.
My other favorite jacket is a Vanson Model B, which is still breaking in after what, three years? The Dainese is the polar opposite: It’s constructed of a soft brown leather that’s as comfortable as your baby blankie right out of the box, so soft it almost feels like suede but isn’t (though they call it Roma suede). It’s available perforated or not, and since it was springtime with a long hot summer to come, I went with the perfed Summer version. The whole front of the jacket is shot full of small holes, also the insides of the sleeves and the side sections in back –all the areas where you’re not likely to go sliding down the road.
Inside, there’s a perforated nylon liner throughout, and on back and the backs of the shoulders, there’s a layer of soft nylon mesh fabric, nearly 2mm thick, that provides an excellent breezeway between your body and the leather. This is what Dainese calls the TF (TechFrame) with 3D Bubble lining, “the latest evolution from Dainese in the field of safety,” but it also makes the jacket cool.
On triple-digit days, in fact, this is the coolest jacket I’ve ever worn. In a dry climate like SoCal’s, mesh jackets tend to dry you out and let the hot air bake you. This perforated one keeps in just enough of your natural juices to give that lovely convective cooling effect as it routes air all around your sweaty t-shirt and expels it out back. On cool days, though, even in the 60s, it can get downright chilly with an 80-mph wind chill factored in. The jacket has no liner, but there’s room for a layer under mine. (On those days it’s time for the Vanson, or to quit being such a west-coast weenie).
Protection-wise, we’ve got really good hard armor in the critical elbows/forearms, along with a little padding in the shoulders with Dainese’s trademark aluminum sliders on the exterior. It’s certified according to EEC Directive 89/686, which sounds good. There’s a zippered pocket for an optional back protector (G1 or G2), and another zipper to connect to Dainese pants runs almost all the way around the waist. (The jacket mated right up with the quite-a-bit older Dainese pants I had on the rack; seems like they haven’t changed that design in years, good on them.)
Fashion-wise, you be the judge. I’m blessed with an off-the-rack body, and my size 52 Euro feels like a custom fit. The Street Rider is supposed to bridge the gap between retro and modern bikes, and it works for me on anything from scooters to sportbikes to Hogs. It doesn’t fit as snug as some sporty jackets, but snug enough that it doesn’t flap or fill up with air like some. And it’s a jacket that doesn’t feel out of place at all when you take the car; it’s a snazzy Italian garment for crisp fall evenings (if not cold, windy ones).
How do I love this pelle? I’ll let you count the ways: If you look back to just about any road test or bike ride I’ve been involved in this summer, you’ll see the Street Rider. If global warming is here to stay, at least I’ve got the right jacket for it. Yes, it’s too expensive. But instead of an expendable item, you really need to think of your motorcycle jacket as a thing that’s going to be with you longer than most of your motorcycles. This old Dainese thing, for instance, is still hanging in the closet hipper than ever, and still another favorite.
In terms of protection, comfort and all-around niceness, though, it’s kind of amazing that “leather jacket technology” seems to be advancing along with everything else. The Street Rider is another keeper.
Euro sizes 46 – 58 (36 – 48 U.S.)
Black or Brown, Summer or Winter