Dainese’s Smart Jacket LS Sport Is the Summer Jacket of Your Dreams
A lightweight, full armor, textile air jacket perfect for hellish heat.
While summer may be in its last throes for much of the country, there’s still plenty of warm weather motorcycle riding to be done. Heat can suck the fun out of a long ride like no other, which makes getting the right gear that much more important. You want something lightweight and breathable but still robust enough to take a hit and protect you. Dainese’s Smart Jacket LS Sport aims to be that piece of kit.
Built around the brand’s D-Air airbag tech, with woven textile fabric, armor, and good looks, the Smart Jacket seems to have the right set of tech specs to make you yell “Shut up and take my money!” at Dainese. But is it?
When Dainese offered to send me one to test with Honda’s CB1000R, I jumped at the chance. It’s been years since I swapped summer jackets, and this could make me finally hang up my Alpinestars GP jacket. Or is Dainese’s marketing just a ploy to worm many hundreds of dollars out of me yet leave me wanting?
I’m here to tell you it’s a damn fine jacket.
What Are You Getting?
The Smart Jacket LS Sport has an outer construction of the brand’s Mugello textile. It’s lightweight (the entire jacket weighs four pounds), perforated for airflow, and is as tough as a woman going through labor without an epidural. Like other motorcycle textiles, Mugello is designed to be dragged across the cheese-grater pavement and save your hide from becoming cheddar. There are two pockets on each side, and Dainese’s crest is emblazoned across the chest.
Beneath the surface is where the real fun begins. Not only do you get another pocket for your phone, but there’s Level 2 armor on the elbows and shoulders. And as mentioned above, the Smart Jacket is also equipped with Dainese’s D-Air airbag, which envelops the rider’s chest, back, and neck when the system detects a crash.
According to Dainese, the Smart Jacket’s D-Air has an algorithm that “detects low sides, high sides, and object/vehicle and rear-end collisions,” along with collisions at stoplights. The system has a 26-hour battery life, which you charge through a USB-C port inside the jacket in the lower back. The airbags are also quite stout, and Dainese claims the front airbag meets or exceeds CE Level 2 and disperses three times more energy than standard armor. The rear airbag is said to meet or exceed Level 1 and disperse more than four times more energy than standard jackets.
You’ll also know that it’s on as there’s a little green LED light that illuminates when active.
Thankfully, and for the first time in a while, I didn’t properly test any life-saving technology. What I found surprising is that you don’t ever feel like you’re wearing an uninflated airbag. There’s no sense that it’s about to pop or even that it’s there. The Smart Jacket is just as snug/loose as any of my other jackets. It feels normal, even when the sun is scorching the pavement and you.
Through an Oven
When the Smart Jacket first arrived, it was the height of summer in Utah. Along with all the beautiful arboreal expanses, tall pines and aspens, and snow-capped peaks, if you dip into a few of the valleys you’ll find yourself in hellish desert. There’s no life, no greenery, just endless expanses of baked rock and brown grass wilting in the sun. And that’s exactly where I repeatedly took the Dainese.
I covered about 400 miles, and the average ambient temperature never fell below 85 degrees. There was one stretch that dipped into the low 60s, but it quickly gave way to 100 degrees a short 20 miles later. Given we’re at a higher elevation—my house is at 7,000 feet above sea level—the UV index makes our high summer temperatures seem that much hotter. There are a lot of jackets marketed as summer jackets that’ll keep you cool but don’t in those conditions. Dainese delivers.
My hottest parts were my legs in my Alpinestars jeans and my head in my Shoei helmet. Even when I stopped to take pictures of the motorcycle and posed for a picture in full gear on an abandoned couch, the Smart Jacket kept my torso supremely cool. It was exactly the right companion for riding in the heat for extended periods of time. It also soaked up bug strikes with reckless abandon, never imparting any real impact to me.
I did have an issue with the Smart Jacket’s collar. Where it met my neck, it tugged at my beard’s stubble and routinely caught it no matter how I adjusted the jacket, the collar, or myself. It wasn’t bad enough for me to stop or release the collar’s buttons, but it became annoying during a few rides. If you’ve recently shaved or keep a stubby beard, it might do the same thing to you.
As you might’ve guessed reading the above, I love Dainese’s Smart Jacket LS Sport. There are a host of excellent summer jackets on the market from companies like Alpinestars, Rev’It, Klim, and Icon. They’re equally lightweight, breezy, and have superb protection, but aren’t as expensive as the Dainese’s $859.95 price tag. The Dainese, however, comes with something those jackets don’t: peace of mind.
I felt safer than I have in my standard jackets because of D-Air. It offered me an extra layer of protection where standard armor can’t. I felt as if I could ride a little bit faster and have more fun with the CB1000R. It made me a more confident rider. That’s key when you’re out amongst the cagers of the world.
You can purchase D-Air separately and wear it beneath any jacket you already own. It won’t save you much, however, and you have to remember that it won’t fit as seamlessly as one that’s integrated from the factory.
Whether my belief in D-Air and the Smart Jacket as a whole is misplaced or not is beyond me until I actually need to use it.